A Novelty Purse Is the Only Bag You Need This Summer


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Photography via Lisa Says Gah

We’ll take one, or five, of these kitschy cuties, please!

Summer’s (almost) here, and that means sandals, linen sundresses and, in the case of summer 2024, novelty bags. FYI: Kitschy handbags are the summer accessory. Not convinced? Look no further than the 2024 Met Gala red carpet. This year’s annual fashion fête featured stars like Tyla and Camila Cabello walking the infamous Met steps in gorgeous gowns accessorized with cheeky themed bags. We’re talking purses designed to look like everyday items, from a can of sardines to a martini and an hourglass.

For her first appearance at the Met Gala, Tyla had everyone talking about her custom Balmain dress made of literal sand. Leaning into the look — and this year’s “The Garden of Time” dress code — the South African signer accessorized her jaw-dropping (and tough to walk in) gown with a purse in the shape of an old school hourglass.

Walking the same carpet, Cabello took a cue from the Met newbie, carrying a literal block of ice encasing a gold rose as her bag-like accessory (which was, per the singer’s Instagram caption, a nod to the fact that everything is fleeting). Poetic!

To be fair, this is far from the first time novelty bags have had a moment. If anything, the ladies of Selling Sunset have been onto the trend for a minute. Who could forget Christine Quinn’s iconic chair “bag” or Amanza’s Chanel basketball? And designers like Moschino and Balenciaga have become known for creating kitschy purses that look like everything from McDonald’s fries (delish!) to an oversized red lipstick case or even a garbage bag.

Now, the trend has trickled down from the red carpet and off our TV screens into some of our fave retailers, with stores like Anthropologie and brands including Staud, Edie Parker, JW Anderson and Saint Laurent bringing some of our fave objects to life — and letting us tote them around to brunch or patio drinks with our besties.

The rise in popularity of novelty purses in the year of our lord 2024 shouldn’t be too surprising. The last year we’ve seen method dressing — a styling technique utlized by stars like Zendaya and stylist Law Roach — become ubiquitous on the red carpet. Margot Robbie leaned into Barbiecore for the release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, while the aforementioned Zendaya dressed on theme to promote Dune: Part Two and Challengers. Her Challengers press tour specifically highlighted the fact that inanimate objects, like tennis balls, can be incorporated seamlessly into high fashion looks, and that a quirky accessory can be really chic.

Designers have also been tapping into kitsch in a related, and somewhat chaotic way, with intentionally overly accessorized purses. Recently, designers like Coach and Miu Miu sent overstuffed, bag charm-decorated bags down their spring runwayss. Reportedly inspired by Jane Birkin and her affinity for hanging doodads on her designer  handbags (the actress was, after all, the OG lived-in Birkin enthusiast), the recipe for the perfectly accessorized bag is pretty easy: More is more.

Whether you’re going with a full theme or just want to add a few cute charms to your fave everyday handbag, summer is the perfect time to whip out a kitschy, if kind-of-impractical, bag. With temps rising. you have the perfect flirty ‘fits to accompany them, don’t need a massive bag to stuff with gloves and beanies and summer dressing is just more, well, fun.

In the market for a novelty bag that’ll make even Selling Sunset’s useless handbag bag queen Amanza turn green with envy? We’ve rounded up some options below.

Staud Carmella Beaded Clutch

Staude beaded sardines bag

Arguably the brand that made unique novelty purses (somewhat) accessibly priced, Staud says “Love sardines? Wear the salty little treats on your handbag!” This beaded shoulder bag is perfect for your upcoming Italian holiday (or just a frolick around the city with friends).

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Anthropologie The Fiona Beaded Bag: Produce Edition

Beaded olives on a pink bag

If you’re not ready to go full sardine or citrus fruit with your bag, this Anthropologie purse, featuring beaded olives and a classic ’90s shape, is the perfect entry into novelty purses,

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Edie Parker Tulip Bag

Black bag with green and yellow tulip handle

Is there anything cuter than running around the city with an armful of fresh flowers? (The answer is a resounding no.) Now you can take seasonal blooms with you everywhere with this Edie Parker tulip bag.

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Coachtopia Loop Puffy Heart Bag

Green puffy heart with a link strap

Coach has been stepping up their Gen Z purse game for some time now, and this Loop Puffy Heart Bag from their Coachtopia collection is one of the brand’s latest offerings. Perfect to throw on for a night out.

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JW Anderson Orange Leather Bag

orange fruit bag

A very literal take on novelty purses, like Zendaya’s tennis ball heels from sister brand Loewe, this citrus-shaped bag isn’t for the faint of heart. Naturally, we’re obsessed.

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