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What is a Wrist Bag?

By Lauren Romano
Updated May 21, 2024
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A wrist bag is different from a regular purse because of its size and design. Typical purses are larger and have a longer strap that usually fits over the shoulder. Alternatively, a wrist bag is a small purse with a tiny strap that fits around the wrist of the wearer.

The wrist bag is often used in situations where using a typical purse would be cumbersome or would not look particularly attractive with the outfit the wearer has on. For example, one may use a wrist bag when attending a concert, going out dancing or while wearing an evening dress. It takes up little room, especially when the wearer needs to walk through a crowd.

A wrist bag is also known as a clutch because, while it is being worn, the wearer will usually hold it in the hand. It prevents the bag from swinging around and hitting the wearer or hitting anyone in close proximity. The thin design of the purse makes it easy to hold and keep controlled.

Considering its small size, it is not ideal for someone who frequently carries an exorbitant amount of items. Many are the perfect size to carry only a few items, such as money, some makeup, keys, a cell phone and not much else. A wrist bag, depending on its size, can also be used as a makeup bag in a larger purse.

Although a wrist bag is typically thought of as used by women, there are men’s wrist bags available. They usually come in darker colors, such as a rich brown or black, and are without any frills. Many of the wrist bags for men are made of leather and have a more masculine design then those for women.

Many types of wrist bags are colorful and have elaborate designs on them. Some people may shy away from using large purses with such designs on them, so a wrist purse allows the opportunity to carry something decorative without it feeling so overwhelming. In some cases, the intricately designed bag can be the only accessory needed for the outfit.

A wrist bag is a good alternative for someone who needs to carry around items but prefers not to carry a purse. It is also a good first purse for a young girl, considering its small and non-complex design. It makes a great fashion accessory to use for day or night no matter what your age.

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Discussion Comments
By ceilingcat — On Dec 31, 2011

I've actually never seen a wrist bag in action, but it seems like a pretty clever idea to me. I don't carry that much stuff with me when I'm out and about. In fact, I never fill my purse up all the way.

I bet something like a wrist bag would suit my needs perfectly. Also, it seems like it would be hard to lose something that is strapped to your wrist!

By JessicaLynn — On Dec 30, 2011

@SZapper - Your comment about needing to carry an inhaler with you actually reminded me of a good friend of mine. She has a few medical problems she needs to keep medicine with her for, and she usually carries both a wrist bag and a larger purse.

She mostly keeps the wrist bag within the larger purse, but sometimes she'll just carry the wrist bag and leave the purse sitting somewhere. For example, we went somewhere awhile back and she checked her purse, but kept the wrist bag for emergencies. This system seems to work for her!

By SZapper — On Dec 29, 2011

I didn't know that a wrist bag was a type of clutch purse. I always think of wrist bags as fairly tiny and inconspicuous, while clutch purses seem to usually be a bit larger. I'm no accessory expert though!

I have to say, I prefer to carry a larger clutch than a small wrist bag. I invested in a small wrist bag for clubbing a few years ago. It was just big enough to hold my car key, ID, money, and my inhaler (I'm asthmatic and I don't dare go anywhere without that.) However, I stuffed it too full and it broke after a few uses.

When I got a clutch bag that was a little bit bigger and didn't have wrist strap, it worked out a lot better for me.

By manykitties2 — On Dec 29, 2011

I love having a wrist bag for when I go out clubbing. Nothing is worse than bringing a huge bag with you and having to pay to check it. Leaving your purse unattended in a club is of course a huge no-no.

I think the key to wrist bags is getting ones with a bit of sparkle that match anything. The versatility of a little black bag with a few sequins is overlooked by a lot of women. I love how my wrist bag matches everything I'm wearing out. Plus, it keeps all my cash safe. Very handy indeed.

By letshearit — On Dec 28, 2011

If you enjoy sports a men's wrist bag can be really handy. I have a small black one and it is a perfect substitute for my wallet when I just want to carry some ID, my debit card and a little bit of cash.

The key to buying a wrist bag when you're a guy is to find one that is simple as possible. I actually ended up getting mine from a shop that sold sports equipment. It is easy to wash which is a must if you are going to be playing anything in it. The bag will get a bit sweaty.

By shell4life — On Dec 28, 2011

@wavy58 - Yes, I carry a wrist bag with an inner zipper pocket. The main section also zips, so it is extra secure.

I got the bag so that I would have a safe place to keep my money. I go to gatherings at my friend’s house often, and her brother has been imprisoned for theft before. I don’t feel safe leaving my purse lying around her house, so I carry the wrist bag with me all around her house.

I haven’t told her that I don’t trust her brother. In fact, one of the reasons I got the wrist bag was to spare her feelings. She would have suspected something if I carried my big purse around from room to room, but the clutch is inconspicuous.

By wavy58 — On Dec 27, 2011

I had a wrist bag that snapped shut, but things could fall out around the edges. I mainly carried it with me to parties so that I would have something to store my tampons in, and I was so embarrassed when they fell out!

Does anyone know if there is such a thing as a compartmentalized wrist bag? Even just one little zipper pocket on the inside would make me feel more secure about carrying around tampons. I’d rather not have them out in the main compartment with my keys and makeup, because they would be too visible when I opened my bag.

By OeKc05 — On Dec 26, 2011

@cloudel - Wrist bags are awesome little things to have on hand for an elegant occasion. I had to attend a New Year’s Eve party that my company was throwing, and anyone who knows me knows that I don’t go anywhere without my fully packed purse. I managed to find a wrist bag large enough to hold a few things I could not do without.

I got the largest one I could find that would still be comfortable around my wrist. It is black with sequins and white rhinestones, and it can hold my cell phone, makeup, keys, and even a miniature toothbrush with toothpaste.

My friends tease me about the toothbrush, but I’m very conscientious about oral hygiene. The main reason I didn’t already own a wrist bag was because I didn’t think it could hold all this stuff, and I’m so happy that I found one that will!

By cloudel — On Dec 26, 2011

My coworker bought me a wrist bag. We were about to attend a community ball, and she set me up with her friend as my date. She knew that I would need something to carry my makeup in besides my giant purse.

She asked me what color my dress was, and I told her purple and gold. She got me a gold satin wrist bag with a golden rope wrist strap. She said that gold would match almost anything, so I could use it over and over.

I loved the little bag. I did a lot of dancing that night, and it was so convenient to have it strapped to my wrist. I definitely would not have wanted to go on a fancy date without my powder and lip gloss, which fit perfectly into the bag.

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