For decades now, there hasn’t been a single year where a chain bag didn’t make it on to the fashion week runways. Delicate chain handles or straps on bags are a timeless design, although every once in a while they get a chunky or colorful update.
The chain bag can be part of all kinds of styles, with gold chains adding hints of luxury, silver chains showcasing elegance, and gunmetal gray chains giving edgy and avant-garde vibes. Brightly colored, plasticy-looking chains add a hint of pop art irony.
In this article, we’ve collected 19 of the most iconic, unique, or simply gorgeous chain bags that are totally worth getting. We’ll tell you a bit about the origins of the chain strap bag, and give some fun facts about the different types of chain bags around. We’ll give tips for choosing the right shoulder chain bag for you, as well as some styling tips to suit every occasion!
The Trend of Chain Bags: Contents
From the iconic Chanel chain bag to other designer classics, we have collected the coolest chain strap bags in the industry, but let’s start from the timeless black chain bag!
Coolest Black Chain Bags to Get
1. Chanel 2.55 Wallet on Chain Bag
This is the bag that’s enough of a big deal to have its own Wikipedia entry, and is largely responsible for women’s handbags ever having straps. Originally designed by Coco herself in 1955, this wallet variation on the 2.55 Chanel chain bag is smaller but still timelessly chic. It is made of calfskin leather in a cushioned diamond pattern with a secure envelope-style closure, and golden details. You can buy it directly from Chanel.
2. Stella McCartney Reversible Tote Chain Handbag
This might seem like a typical black chain bag from a first glance, but in reality, a few zippers and some maneuvering turn it into a tan bag, making for a perfect two-in-one. The inner part is earthy and great for daytime, while the black outer part has a bit of edge. Part of the edge comes from the dark gray metal of the straps and zippers, which have a punk feel. Order this Stella McCartney chain bag online from Net-a-Porter!
3. Frame Pouch Shoulder Chain Bag
You can never go wrong with a bag that has a vintage feel, especially when it comes to chain bags. This one is designed to look like an oversized coin purse, complete with a kiss-lock closure and golden detailing. The golden chain strap is long enough that the medium sized bag can be worn cross-body. While this Mark Cross bag might seem simple from a distance, a glimpse at the bright red lining proves that there is more to it than meets the eye. Find it at Moda Operandi!
4. Givenchy Nano Black Chain Bag
Nano bags have been one of the hottest trends on the runways in the latest couple of seasons, with this black chain bag on offer from Givenchy being a prime example. This tiny bag will add a sophisticated touch to any outfit, with its box shape, gold hardware and the quilted pattern on the leather. It is available through Farfetch.
5. Saint Laurent Sunset Black Chain Bag
No one will have any doubt that you’re carrying a Saint Laurent item with this shoulder chain bag. The Sunset satchel bag is a comfy medium sized bag, with a unique way of adjusting the gold chain straps that allows it to be carried both cross-body and over the shoulder. This iteration of the iconic chain bag is made with smooth cow leather and displays the YSL logo in gold. This bag is sold online via Net-a-Porter.
6. Structured Vintage Shoulder Chain Bag
This black chain bag combines sleek structure with vintage charm. It snaps shut with a metallic double handle in a half circle shape, while the bag’s chain strap is removable and perfect for carrying over the shoulder. The bag is on the smaller size, perfect for a low budget, and ideal for evening events. Pick it up at Nordstrom!
7. Crinkled-Leather Chain Handbag
If you have a preference for modern designs, this is the perfect black chain bag for you. It shows that chain bags can absolutely be designed with architectural and sleek elements in mind – not everything has to be a timeless classic. This Bienen-Davis bag is medium sized, made with black crinkled leather, and can be carried as a clutch as well as over the shoulder. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
8. Graffiti Shoulder Chain Bag
A chain bag made for downtown girls! This is an urban twist on Balenciaga’s BB chain bag. The black envelope design was updated with a bright Graffiti-style print. Despite the funky elements, the bag is made of fine leather and still has a timeless structure. You can buy it from My Theresa.
Other Trendy Chain Bags to Get Hands on
9. Gucci GG Marmont Round Shoulder Chain Bag
This is a fun variation on the more classic Gucci Marmont, a famous designer chain handbag. Round handbags always draw attention, but this red leather variation goes above and beyond with its golden Gucci hardware and chevron print. It is on the smaller size, and made of matelassé chevron leather. Buy it directly from Gucci!
10. Box Chain Bag
A box chain bag is absolutely a statement bag that is best suited for women who are extremely confident in their style. This lovely take on box bags is made with cow leather in soft gray, brown, and white tones, with gold for the detailing. The chain is chunky which is perfect for a modern look. It is available at Forward.
11. Chainmail Chain Bag
Forget about chain strap bags – a full chainmail bag is the way to go! This Saskia Diez little bag will cling and clang wherever you go, adding drama to your day. It’s a perfect party or clubbing bag, with a strap long enough to wear cross-body while you dance the night away. It is sold online via Net-a-Porter.
12. Dainty Beige Chain Shoulder Bag
Cream and gold are a perfect pairing – just take a look at this dainty See By Chloe purse! This chain strap bag is made of beige cow leather, and adorned with long golden straps and hardware. It’s a perfect daytime satchel, especially for warmer seasons when white exudes coolness. Get it through Shopbop!
13. Chloe Drew Bijou Chain Bag
Combining unique touches with timeless elegance is not an easy feat, but this bag accomplishes it. Its quilted saddle design in a claret shade is never going to go out of style, but it still stands out with a unique golden lock and a chunky multi-link chain. This chain bag is on the smaller side of things, and makes for a wonderful evening bag. Find it at Farfetch!
14. Prada Cahier Shoulder Chain Bag
Opt for this pale blue Prada chain bag if you’re a bona fide book lover. It is shaped to look like a vintage book, and is made of blue ostrich leather with a gorgeous gold trim and a chain strap that fits the old timey design perfectly. You’ll want to save this little Prada bag for special occasions, because it is definitely beautiful enough to be a collector’s item. Order this chain bag for yourself from Moda Operandi!
15. Fendi Kan I Envelope Chain Strap Bag
This is another take on classy chain strap bag designs, this time using mint colored ostrich leather to give a modern touch. This pastel Fendi bag is perfect for fans of color blocking! While it might seem small, the inside is roomy enough that it could work as a handbag for daytime. Find it online at Net-a-Porter!
16. Valentino Rockstud Chain Strap Bag
Yet another edgy chain bag option, this time from Valentino! This little red bag is studded with gold studs for that punky touch, although a cushioned pattern on the leather balances them out. The unique element we must address, however, is the leather handle from which the chain straps are attached to the bag. Because of this, the bag has a fascinating two-level effect when worn over the shoulder. It is available at Forward.
17. Two-Tone Shoulder Chain Bag
Alexander McQueen is a brand instantly associated with edgy designs, so with that in mind, this bag is almost understated. It is a medium sized chain bag made of black and off-white leather, with a gorgeous pin closure that is shaped like a butterfly and studded with Swarovski crystals. The chain strap is only long enough for carrying over one shoulder, although this bag also looks gorgeous as a clutch. You can order it from Net-a-Porter.
18. Triple Compartment Chain Bag
Get noticed carrying this patent crimson chain strap bag! While most designers have shied away from patent leather lately, Burberry went for it, releasing this lovely bag. The bag has a thicker, more modern chain strap, and it boasts three compartments for easily carrying all manner of things. It’s a great errand or day trip bag, but it can work for evening as well! Get it for yourself from Farfetch!
19. Belt Chain Bag
If you’re living for the ‘90s revival in fashion, you’re going to love this belt chain bag. It is made of iridescent blue white leather in a half-moon shape. The chain strap is a silvery tone, and it can be worn around the waist, over the shoulder, or even in a cross-body style that is particularly popular with European fashionistas. It is sold online though Shopbop.
Coco Chanel is credited with creating the very first bag with a shoulder strap, single handedly making it okay for women to have their hands free. That bag, the 2.55, was created in 1955 and it had the chain straps that have since become a classic shoulder bag element.
Some of the earliest fashion houses to introduce a shoulder chain bag include Saint Laurent, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton. These days the truth is that every respectable designer bag brand has at least a few chain strap bags on offer!
Chain bags come in a variety of styles and designs, with the following being the most common:
• Starting small, clutches and designer wallets, especially with an envelope design, are often the first choice when it comes to chain bags. These small bags are small and elegant, best for just an evening out. The chain straps are often removable to facilitate carrying them by hand.
• A minaudière is another type of common chain bag, though it some cases it is considered more of a jewelry item! Minaudières are made of a solid material in a round or square shape, and they are often covered in jewels. They are the kind of chain handbag almost strictly reserved for formal events.
• The most common modern shoulder chain bag design is a small flap bag, like the Chanel 2.55. This bag is normally medium sized, and in modern days almost every designer label has a flap chain bag or five on offer.
• Saddle bags are bags with a flap closure and a rounded bottom, which means they cannot stand up when placed down on flat surfaces. Those who like the old school look of a saddle will appreciate it combined with a chain strap.
• Geometric bags like round or box bags are very commonly manufactured as a chain strap bag. These bags tend to stand out because of their unique shape, so the chain straps give them some added elegance.
As you can probably tell, most chain bags are a small or medium option, ideal for carrying out to shorter daytime excursions, or for evening occasions.
If you need a large bag that will hold everything you might need for a full day (or maybe even two) outside of the house, then chances are you’ll have to stay away from chain strap bags, and instead opt for a bag with more durable leather straps.
• With that out of the way, then first thing first, since you are looking for a bag for yourself, consider your personal needs. For a typical chain bag for day-to-day needs, opt for a medium sized option. They’re not quite large enough for a book or tablet, but they’ll certainly fit your wallet, phone, and all kinds of other bits and bobs you might need throughout the day.
• If you need a chain bag for evening occasions, have a look at all the gorgeous clutches and wallet chain bags out on the market. These smaller bags can hold a phone, a lipstick, a few cards and paper bills, but they won’t necessarily fit a whole wallet and they certainly won’t be roomie enough for your whole makeup pouch.
• When it comes to color, choose based on your personal sense of style. A black chain bag will go with literally everything, but it can be a little boring.
• Solid colored bags in other shades will be a bit livelier and more intriguing, but they’ll still have a classic appeal. For daytime, colorful chain bags are awesome with color blocked outfits.
• Lastly, multi-colored and uniquely shaped chain strap bags will make a serious statement! You’ll have to be more careful styling them, but it’ll be worth the attention they’ll garner.
• A busy printed or embellished chain bag will be harder to style, but it can be an excellent way of adding excitement to your look if you tend to dress conservatively in solids. It can also be an excellent bag to own as part of a collection, although you might also want to have a few more traditional bags on hand.
• A note on designer chain bags: if you’re looking for an investment designer bag, you are better off choosing something simple and classic with good resale value. A black chain bag will be prudent, since those will never go out of style and they rarely lose their value, like the Chanel chain bag.
• Chain Bag for Evening: A chain handbag looks absolutely incredible with evening dresses! A black chain bag will go with any dark outfit. For lighter dresses or suits, however, it is best if there is another black element in the outfit, such as shoes or jewelry. For an extra mindful touch, ensure that the metal of the jewelry you wear is the same color as the metal of the chain and hardware of your bag.
• Chain Bag for the Office: Professional environments are often quite restrictive, but chain handbags have been around for so long that they happen to cause absolutely no controversy. Any color chain strap bag can work with business casual outfits, as long as the color of your bag is well coordinated with the rest of your outfit, either by following color blocking principles or by having the color of your bag also show up in your outfit.
A neutral black, white, or brown bag will be easier to style, of course. As previously mentioned, make sure that the metal of your bag’s chain straps matches your jewelry.
• Chain Bag for a Bright Chic Look: A white, pastel or multi-colored chain bag fits perfectly into a spring or summer daytime look. Lighter toned outfits look most elegant with a lighter toned chain bag, although a black chain bag can add a really unique contrast – particularly if there is at least one black element in the outfit.
• Edgy Chain Bag Style: With the ‘90s revival going full force in the fashion world, you will be thrilled to know that a chain bag can absolutely fit into your grunge-inspired look. A red or black chain bag will go perfectly with a band T-shirt tucked into a pair of ripped jeans, particularly if it is made of non-patent leather.
Photos via @asliceopi, @bartabacmode, @collagevintage, @alexandralapp_