A few years ago, I started seeing transparent bags on my social media feeds, mostly in the form of the Shirley bag from Staud.  Last month, I had a chance to admire different versions of the Shirley bag “in person” at Nordstrom when I was in Chicago.  I also noticed that almost every other handbag brand had “adopted” this style!  Here’s what I found, and my thoughts on whether to buy a transparent bag…

The Transparent Bag Style To Buy

There are thousands of choices of transparent bags, from tiny, inexpensive cosmetic pouches to extra-large designer totes. If there’s such thing as the style to buy, it’s a tote bag with leather handles and pouch.

$$$ My favorite style this year is Staud’s Mini Shirley Telephone Transparent Handbag. Those of you old enough to remember landline telephones will love the telephone wire design on the pouch!

$$$ Kate Spade’s Sam Medium Clear Satchel is a large, sporty bag with a cute striped detail.

$$$ Francis Valentine’s version is the Margaret Tote which has a basket bottom for extra structure and style.

$$ Mine is a Banana Republic Transparent Tote Bag with a vegan leather pouch and woven, detachable cross-body strap. (The Staud “original” does not have a strap.) They also have a clear version with white trim, but I thought that this smoke color was unique.

BR Transparent Bag Smoke & Black

$ For an under $50 option, take a look at Topshop’s Seanna bag with its gingham check pouch.

Pros & Cons Of The Transparent Bag


It’s low maintenance. Wipe it clean if it gets dirty.

Most styles are versatile. If it has a detachable pouch, you can use the pouch or the clear tote on its own. You can also use a different pouch inside the clear tote.

There are lots of inexpensive options. Thanks to the cost of plastic and PVC, you can find this style for under $30. Take a look at the Tote Handbag With Pouch by A New Day™ Clear at Target.


Scatches will be quite visible on the clear tote.

It’s a large bag with little useable space unless you don’t mind showing off your belongings. If you carry a large wallet or a lot of personal items, make sure they fit in the pouch.

PVC and clear plastic are not eco-friendly.

To Buy Or Not To Buy

I’ll be honest. I’m quite torn about this lovely Banana Republic handbag, mostly because I’m trying to buy as little plastic as possible. If that’s not an issue for you, (or perhaps you avoid plastic in other ways), then this style is a really good bargain. The circular handles are a perfect size and shape for your hand or the crook of your elbow. The cross-body strap is convenient and comfortable. The pouch is fairly large (approximately 6″ by 10″ by 4″.) If you have a Banana Republic credit card, you may be able to get 40% off with an additional 20% off using the code 20BRCARD (valid at the time of writing.) What do you think? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts!

The Transparent Bag Trend

If you’re looking for a handbag and don’t know where to start, you may enjoy: How To Find The Perfect Handbag.

12 thoughts on “The Transparent Bag Trend”

  1. I’m warming up to the look. I like the idea of comparmentalizing everything and in my dreams I can do that. It would be cool to have smaller pouches that coordinate to put inside a clear bag. I think a built-in pouch ends up looking (at a distance) like that’s what you’re carrying and you lose the whole transparent effect. I do love your choices. The bag from Target would definitely be a safe way to try out the trend because I’m really loving it in the light blue. I do really like yours from Banana Republic but if I could afford it, that mini Shirley bag…..beautiful!


    1. Hi Ruth, Me too. I need to keep my handbag organized, otherwise everything but the kitchen sink ends up in there! LOVE your idea about getting a bunch of coordinating pouches to put inside!!! xo Nipa

  2. While it looks convenient, probably I won’t buy such a bag. First of all it’s from plastic – and I’m trying to reduce my plastic waste, and second of all, I’m very paranoid and I don’t want people to see what’s in my handbag.

    1. Hi Cristina, Me too, but I’m trying to figure out if I can reduce my plastic use elsewhere i.e. not buying drinks in single use containers. That might be a topic for another post! Xo Nipa

    1. Hi Renee, the pouch inside is opaque, so I would put my wallet, keys and phone in there, and leave bigger things like my water bottle, outside. But I know what you mean about not displaying everything to the world! Xo Nipa

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