Purse vs. Satchel

Handbags are a primary accessory that women often use to complete their outfits. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. However, handbags also serve the purpose of helping the owner carry things around. Both men and women need bags to carry their belongings. However, they do so in a slightly different way. Men are seen carrying backpacks, laptop bags, satchels, and rarely, briefcases. However, women generally carry shoulder bags, purses, and handbags.

Purse vs. Satchel

Thus, you have your significant difference in the purse vs. satchel debate. Satchels are considered a majorly masculine accessory, whereas purses are more feminine. The article below will help you decide the other differences between a purse and a satchel.

Purse vs. Satchel: Definition


A purse is a small bag that lets you carry coins or essentials. The first time people used purses in general vernacular, it referred to a coin purse that many women would carry around. Purses in the 21st century are small bags that women use to carry their essentials. They still allude to a smaller handbag. Purses generally don’t have a lot of space, and thus, their function is limited.


A satchel is generally a bag that can carry books. A satchel is also often cross-bodied and used to carry heavier belongings. Satchel implies size since there is enough space in it to hold books. These bags have been around for a long time but are now returning to fashion. Satchels are often used by men when traveling to carry their personal belongings, amongst other things.

Purse vs. Satchel: Major Differences

Now that we know the definitions, we can get into the major differences between purses and satchels. Some of these may surprise you even if you think you’re an expert on handbags!


Purses are available in different materials, including leather, cloth, and vinyl. Purses are also often made from plastic and polymers now. The variety in materials allows people to use purses for various occasions. The different materials increase the diversity of the aesthetics and the function of purses.

Satchels distinctly use leather. The material also refers to the bag’s history as common folk used it to carry heavy books in olden times, as leather is a durable material. Leather is also waterproof, which can make satchels much more protective. Leather, however, also requires extensive care, and the aesthetics it lends to satchels are not as diverse.


Purses will have a single or double strap, depending on the kind of purse it is. Purses also have short straps that can be made from the same material as the rest of the purse, or metal. Chain links and metal straps are ubiquitous in purses, especially in small ones. The length of the straps can also vary.

On the other hand, Satchels have straps that are much longer. The reason for the length is that satchels are generally worn cross-bodied. The strap is placed on one shoulder, and the pouch generally slings on the opposite hip.


Purses cans serve a function, but they don’t always have to. Sometimes, purses are present only to complete an outfit or allude to a person’s aesthetic, meaning they are only used for making a style statement. However, some purses serve functions like carrying small belongings or coins. Purses are small, which is why the things they carry will also be small and less.

Satchels are larger in size, and thus they can carry a number of things. Satchels can also serve an aesthetic purpose; however, they rarely do. Satchels are defined by the purpose they serve, i.e., carrying books. However, books aren’t the only things you can carry in a satchel; many people use satchels to carry laptops and other belongings that can take up more space. The leather can protect electronic devices such as laptops and tablets, which would otherwise be difficult to carry.


Purses have a very different aesthetic compared to satchels. Purses have much more variety and can occur in various colors and designs. Purses are also smaller, which is why they go well with outfits as they don’t take up much space in a frame. Purses lend themselves to a minimal aesthetic and lean towards elegance. They are also available in brighter colors that can make them stand out.

Satchels are made from leather, meaning there’s only so much variety that you can have in terms of aesthetics. They are more functional than purses and showcase a much more rugged/ boho aesthetic. There’s something about satchels that lends them to a cowboy aesthetic in fashion.


Purses have refined interiors that are made from a variety of materials. Purses generally only have a single opening where you can place all your belongings. There might be a small coin pocket or one internal zipped pocket, but that’s the extent of compartments that purses offer.

Satchels, on the other hand, can have a variety of spaces. Satchels have much more space so that many different items can fit inside them. There are likely to be multiple pockets and compartments that can help you store your belongings in a much more organized manner. Many satchels come with extra pockets to hold your water bottle and a separate section to protect your laptop.

Cultural Connotation

Purses have always been used to refer to a woman’s accessory or bag. Purses are embellished, colorful, and bright: a stereotypically girly aesthetic. When men carry purses, the purses get referred to as man-purses. Fashion is slowly blurring the lines of the gender binary, which is why this cultural connotation may no longer be in play in the next decade. Still, for now, purses have a feminine connotation.

Satchels are much more neutral and rarely have any extra embellishments, which is why they are non-binary. Any of the sexes may use satchels.

Final Thoughts

The question of purse vs. satchel requires a thorough analysis of your personal preferences. We think understanding the difference between the two can be helpful in you deciding which of the two you wish to purchase. Purses are of all kinds and are generally more specific and colorful. However, satchels are much more neutral and have a generalized function and aesthetic. We recommend that you make a list of your preferences and find which one of the two fits your list better and opt for that!

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