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What is a Shoulder Purse?

Lauren Romano
Lauren Romano

A shoulder purse is one of the many types of purses on the market today. Some may argue that it is one of the easiest to carry around compared to other types. The strap of this type of purse fits over the shoulder and hangs straight down.

The size of a shoulder purse can vary from quite small to very large. The style can be one that is appropriate for evening or for day, casual or dressy. In some cases, the purse can go from day to night. Shoulder purses are made from various types of materials. They are not always the typical rectangle or shoulder shape; they can be other shapes as well, such as triangle or round.

A shoulder purse.
A shoulder purse.

The shoulder purse strap may have one clasp on either end of it, which can attach to small hooks on either end of the purse. To convert the purse from a shoulder purse to one that is hand-held, you can easily detach the strap by pressing on the clasps. This is useful for someone who wants to wear a purse two different ways. The shoulder purse may also have non-detachable handles in addition to the strap.

Carrying a heavy shoulder purse for an extended period of time may lead to pain and discomfort.
Carrying a heavy shoulder purse for an extended period of time may lead to pain and discomfort.

Some shoulder purses have one shoulder strap while others have two. For a shoulder purse that has one strap, the strap gets pushed over to one side for the person to get into the purse. For those that have two straps, the person can push each strap over to their respective sides in order to get into the purse. Some may prefer either one or two straps according to their comfort level; others may choose the number of straps according to the aesthetics of the purse.

The size of the straps on a shoulder purse vary depending on the style of the bag. Some shoulder straps are so short that the zipper on the top of the purse fits directly under the arm. On others, the straps may be longer. Some may prefer to have the purse sit closer under the arm than to have it hang down loosely.

There are several factors when choosing a shoulder purse. The aesthetics of the purse is vital. Another factor is the size of the purse as well as the size and comfort of the shoulder straps. With so many types of shoulder purses on the market, buyers are bound to find more than one that fits their style perfectly.

Discussion Comments


Shoulder purses are my favorite type of purse. I just bought a new shoulder purse tonight, and I love it. The strap isn't too long, nor is it too short. It is in a neutral color, which I love, because that way it will look good with most of my outfits.

Shoulder bags are the most comfortable type of purse that I have found so far. Of course sometimes I have to shop around to find one that fits my shoulder comfortably. I can not stand the kind that do not stay on my shoulder, they are a nuisance and defeat the purpose of being a shoulder bag.

I like my shoulder bags to be medium size, enough to fit a little bit of everything, but not the kitchen sink.

I like to have a purse big enough to fit my everyday essentials; wallet, cell phone, camera, lip balm, etc. But I also like a purse to be able to fit things I just like to have around, just in case; books, medicine, important piece of mail, etc.


I have a massive canvas shoulder purse that I love for dragging around basically everything I own. I hate being without so many things, that a large. simple bag is a real asset. The trouble comes when I want to find something or need to change to a more stylish purse.

What I found is if you are having issues with things getting lost is that buying a simple purse organizer can do wonders. This bag within the larger bag holds all of your vitals so you can easily switch from one purse to another. This handy contraption has made my life easier and I don't have to worry anymore about leaving my keys in the bottom of one bag while I use another. Plus, if you can't find a specific purse organizer you can always buy a small shoulder wallet purse for the job, and just detach the straps.


In my opinion I think that all women should at least have one really nice black shoulder purse in her collection, and perhaps a simple brown shoulder purse to mix things up a bit. For myself, I love the oversized bags because they make me look smaller. You would be surprised at how accessories can trick the eye into thinking people you're thinner than you actually are!

I actually use this to distract people when I am feeling especially puffy. Nothing works better than a bright, stylish purse if you are trying to keep someone's attention off your tummy. Wearing dark clothes and making the purse your focal point can be a bit of a secret weapon.


I have a vintage shoulder purse that belonged to my grandmother. It is white and kind of lacy looking but in a really nice and elegant way. I actually use it on occasion but only when I am going somewhere fancy. It is a great purse but also kind of a family heirloom so I want to make sure it lasts.


I personally like the purses that come with handles as well as a detachable-attachable strap. So you can use it as a hand purse if you want, or a shoulder purse depending on your mood.

I think both types have their place. I like to hold my purse by the handles if I'm going out to dinner or to work. But if I'm heading to the mall for shopping, I put on the straps and wear it as a shoulder purse.

I actually learned to do this abroad where pick-pocketing was really common in the markets. When you wear the purse over your shoulder, people can't grab it out of your hand and run with it. It's always attached to you and it's there by your side. It's much safer to use and your hands are free to hold and look at items you want to buy.


@SauteePan-- There are more and more types of shoulder purses out on the market now. I've been seeing so many small ones with several pockets. You wouldn't lose anything in those because they are so organized.

I have a really cute and stylish shoulder purse for going out at night. It has a very vintage look to it and a metal strap. I love this purse. It's just big enough to keep my credit card, cell phone and lip gloss. I love using this when I'm going out on the weekends.

Shoulder purses are not just for gals though. I've also seen some leather sportive ones for guys to use, either casually or at outings.


I use an over the shoulder purse daily when I'm going to my college classes. It fits all the books and notebooks I need for that day and I like that it looks fashionable too.

The only problem with it is that if I wear it straight down and it's heavy, it will keep slipping off my shoulder. That's why I always wear it criss-cross over my head. I don't even have to hold onto it then because there's no way it would slip off.

If it's heavy and I walk around for a long time with it one, my shoulder does pain a little. But I've found the solution to that too! I switch sides and put it over my other shoulder when one shoulder is tired.


@subway11 - The problem with the large shoulder purse is that your stuff tends to get lost because it is so big. I have the hardest time finding things especially when I am in a hurry. I also tend to put everything is a large over the shoulder purse.

I haven’t found the right size purse for me. I do like wearing a handbag on my wrist, I think that it looks kind of chic, but I think that the shoulder bag purse is more practical.


@Jennythelib- I know what you mean, but I really like the leather shoulder purses with the thick padding on the shoulder. They are really more comfortable and give you a lot of support.

I tend to develop back pain if my purse is too heavy which it normally always is, but this type of strap really cradles my shoulder for extra comfort and limits the amount of back pain that I get.

I have tried buying smaller purses, but I get frustrated when I can’t fit anything in them and then I go back to the larger purses.


I was so happy when the short shoulder strap purses came into fashion. Remember the long ones that used to hang down by your hip? Well, I'm very short, so I always had to get cute with the strap. Sometimes you could detach the strap, and then I could tie knots low down on the strap to shorten it. Other times the strap was not detachable, and then I just had to tie a very attractive (ha!) knot in the top of the strap, right above my shoulder. Otherwise, the purse would hang too long on me.

But the short ones often have adjustable buckles to make the strap just right, and with the straps being so much shorter, it's just not a problem. No more knots! Plus, it's just so much more comfortable to have the bag in the hollow between your arm and your torso instead of bumping around next to your hip all day.

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    • Carrying a heavy shoulder purse for an extended period of time may lead to pain and discomfort.
      By: olly
      Carrying a heavy shoulder purse for an extended period of time may lead to pain and discomfort.