Shoulder straps, whether they’re one option or the only option, are one of the most important details I look for in a bag. Years ago, when I began buying more and more handbags, I tended to buy bags purely based on how they looked, instead of their functional details. As I began to delve into the handbag world more and review bags more closely, I realized the importance of a good shoulder strap.

Maybe my obsession with finding a great shoulder strap that’s usable and comfortable isn’t as important to others, though; some of the most popular handbags on the market have unusable straps.

I know this is a problem with so many more bags than the two I’m going to talk about here, so please let me know which bags have given you problems in the comments below. This issue reared its head when I did a purseonals on my Givenchy Antigona; it’s a bag I adore that happens to have a short shoulder strap.

Balenciaga-Giant-City-1-600x400

The strap on my Antigona is so short that if I try to put it over my shoulder. the top handles poke into me. And if I push the handles back, it just looks awkward. Another bag that I know has this issue is the Balenciaga City Bag. I also love this bag, but the shoulder strap is tight and really doesn’t sit on my shoulder comfortably. A friend of mine recently told me that the short strap is the reason she’s never bought a City Bag. Instead, she prefers the Balenciaga Town, which has a longer strap.

So what’s the deal? Why do some of the most popular bags not have shoulder straps that are comfortably usable? I can’t think of a good reason, and that bothers me. I can sometimes look beyond it because the design of a particular bag is something I adore overall, but I can’t deny that a short shoulder strap is a major purse peeve.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Winn

    One of the reasons I love my Celine Trapeze is that the shoulder strap is the perfect length and totally comfortable and wide. A lot of shoulder straps, even if long enough, are way too thin and uncomfortable to wear.

    Maybe one of the reasons for these crappy straps is its often not something most people think about at all when making a purchase (or at least, not a top priority for most), but rather something that bothers us as we spend more time wearing a bag once we own it. If a bag can sell well with a whatever shoulder strap, why put time and money into improving it?

    • Yep! My Trapeze strap is really nice in length and width as you said. I like something that feels like it will sit on my shoulder comfortably and not budge.

      I do agree – brands probably aren’t too concerned because people are still running out and buying the bags, so that kind of makes it a moot point for them

      • Emma

        I love the Celine Trapeze..but the ‘buckle’ is really impossible!Sob!Sob!

    • anon

      Yes! It would be great if other brands would adopt how Celine does their straps on the Trapeze.

  • anon

    I never saw the Balenciaga City bag’s strap as difficult at all. The bag is so slouchy that the straps never feel tight and are loose or have the handles hit my underarm.

    • Ya it’s definitely not as big of a problem as the Antigona for me, but I still find it a tad too snug on me. I just get really annoyed at a bag that ends up rubbing into my armpit.

      • anon

        I see what you mean. I know you’re on the taller side, so it must affect you a lot more than it does for me. If only the Antigona handles could go down-it would be perfect. Haha!

      • Emma

        Firstly,Givenchy shud hav produced the Antigona in a size inbetween der small and medium.Iv had both and sold dem off.Small is a tad too small,with straps too short(and yes the handle irritates my armpit!) and the medium is a tad too large!The same with der Lucrezia!

    • kemilia

      Ditto for me. I had a City (sold it because I didn’t care for it due to other reasons) but loved the shoulder strap option, never slipped off my shoulder either, and so light weight too. I do feel there are often small variances in bag sizes/straps year to year that affect how they sit/hang, just my thought on that, no proof!
      Megs–I love that pink bag no matter what though.

    • Karen

      I too have the city and it was never a problem. I pull the handles down whenever I use the shoulder straps so it doesn’t hit my armpits.

  • Ellejays11

    The only reason I can think of is that the inclusion of the shoulder strap is for consistency in “look” across sizes, or its more of an aesthetic, design feature, than a practical feature? I can’t really think of a bag where that would sincerely be the case, but with the Small Antigona, when you hold it through the handles and the strap drapes across, it is kind of a nice look (IMO).

    The Medium Givenchy Antigona strap is pretty perfect, in my opinion. I had initially purchased the small smooth-leather version of the bag and returned it after trying to wear it around the house. Same reasons: stubborn zipper and short, impractical, shoulder strap. I thought maybe the zipper issue was due to the stiff nature of that type of leather, but maybe not. The medium has become my everyday bag, and not zipper issues with this sizing!

    • YES! The Medium doesn’t have this issue, I tried it in store recently and was lamenting that I have a small not Medium!

      • kindled

        obviously this isn’t a real solution and I don’t truly advocate it, but it sure would be tempting to pick up a medium in the same color, swap the straps, and return the medium with the dinky short strap.

  • B

    I tried on the Chanel GST and had that issue. For my build/height it was too short. It didn’t sit comfortably and the bags bulk was uncomfortable as well.

    • I was curious about the GST fitting on me. I’m guessing it won’t work on me well either

      • Emma

        The GST straps r worse!Dey never stay on ur shoulders!Besides,i like my bags to retain der shapes..if u carry it on ur shoulders,dey flatten up real fast.Iv had 3GSTs before n sold dem all before dey lose der shape..sad but true!

      • Karen

        I have a GST and the straps were never an issue. I just put one strap over the other on my shoulders.

      • ellavanw

        Hm, I posted above; I am 5’8″ and the GST fits me fine. It’s very comfortable; my workhorse bag. The straps totally stay on my (narrow) shoulder and their length is proportionate to the size of the bag. Love the GST.

    • anon

      Are you on the taller side? I’m on the shorter side and although I didn’t find the problem to be too terrible, its definitely not the most comfortable bag for shoulder carrying. It also had the problem of the strap falling down, so I ultimately skipped on putting this bag on my wishlist. I don’t like it when a bag is all up in my underarm area, you know? lol.

  • Bipasha

    Is it because a man who does not carry a handbag designs it?

    • Always my first thought! Or their fit model is much smaller than me. I am tall (5’11”) and not model frame, so it could very well be that!

  • renyoj

    Here’s my question: Why don’t companies make optional adjustable crossbody straps for their lines? I would gladly pay extra for a better strap for some of my purses to make them more useable.

    • Some companies do – but it’s very few!

      • renyoj

        Would you provide a list in the future? I only know of Louis Vuitton.

    • anon

      I’m thinking that, besides aesthetics, it costs more for the company to make longer straps(?). Since it’ll be more leather and hardware and whatnot. So of course, companies will be in favor of non adjustable straps for profit. I’m just guessing thoughX)

  • I find the Antigona medium to be the perfect length, so I’m sorry the small doesn’t live up to that, but I just have to say that your face in the lead image is PERFECT! That is exactly the face I make when I find myself hoisting my stupid YSL duffel up for the umpteenth time. Curse skinny straps!

  • justa9url

    It’s funny you chose these two for this particular purse peeve because the strap is basically what has been stopping me from acquiring these two bags. Fortunately, Balenciaga came out with the Velo, which is more squared than the City, but I prefer that, and it has a long strap that can be worn cross body. As for the Antigona, I’m still waiting.

    • anon

      I love the Velo, very much prefer that over the City and you can also somewhat adjust the Velos now to make the strap either long or more similar to the shorter City strap. I used to debate over the Antigona too, its because of this reason (and the fact that I have enough top handle bags) that I’ve put it off my wish list. If only the straps could go down like the Lucrezia. *sigh*

    • Rumbabird

      Yes, I love the Velo too – in addition to the crossbody/shoulder option, it’s also a very comfortable, removable strap.

  • AAAA

    I actually find the Balenciaga strap to be perfect for me, but I am petite. I tend to have more of a problem with straps that aren’t long enough to hit my hip/be cross body bags, but are also too long for me to be able to kind of clasp them near my body with my elbow (if that makes any sense). I guess these are short vs. tall person issues.

  • anon

    The Antigona would be the absolute perfect bag if the handles could just go down like the Lucrezia.

  • busterholl

    The answer is mautto.com. I’ve had her provide 55″ adjustable straps (for my last 5 bags) at an average cost of $40. Each is almost a perfect match.

  • catlanta

    Agreed! I have purchased both in the past and have sold both for that exact reason. The Louis Vuitton Bandouliere 25 or 30 is a great option. You can use the removable strap as a cross body, adjust it as a shoulder bag or remove it completely.

  • The answer is perfectly simple. The short strap looks better when the bag is held by the top handles, as it drapes over or just slightly below the bag. My bags with long shoulder straps are more usable, but the long strap doesn’t look good when it droops in a long loop below the bag. It takes away from the overall aesthetic.

    • Maya

      So true. Look at the nano, gorgeous bag but you have to kind of fold the long strap when you’re holding it by the top handle, same with all these mini/baby designer bags with the long strap. It looks awful when you hold it by the top handle.

      • My Prada tote also has a long strap but it’s made to tuck inside the centre compartment when not in use. Sigh it’s perfection.

    • Iréne Shûkriya-Dutta Scharief

      Yep!!! The only handbag that has a shoulder strap that is long enough and also looks aesthetically pleasing is Emilio Pucci Newton bag. I have one. You can flatten the top handle when you want to use it as a shoulder bag.

  • sandy

    I have both bags in question and when I carry the bag using the strap I push it behind my arm, toward my back. In this position I can carry them nicely….

  • Moneytruck

    That’s precisely the reason I bought the Givenchy Lucrezia instead of the Antigonia. Top handles fold down and the “short” shoulder straps are just long enough to keep the bag above the waist which makes it a bit more secure and held closer to body than if the shoulder strap was longer making the bag flop about against my hip or butt. I’ve had my blue croc embossed Lucrezia for a year and a half now and I gravitate toward it more often than I expected when I purchased it. It’s a perfect work bag, I throw all kinds of heavy crap in there and carry it by the shoulder strap. I normally get sick of a new purse within three to four months even if I carry it occasionally and that has not happened with Lucrezia.

  • FashionableLena

    Maybe with the shape and silhouette of the bag, a longer strap would cause the bag to tip over while on the shoulder. But, yeah, I always try-on bags before I buy. I don’t like armpit bags either. You can get them over your shoulder, but the strap is so short that the bag sits right under your armpits.
    After so many years, I’ve discovered that I despise handheld bags.

  • Anon

    I feel the same with Bottega Veneta convertible bag. How does anyone use the short secondary strap?

  • BonneChien

    That was the one thing I do not care for on my Bal is the shoulder strap. The bag folds up like a clamshell while using the shoulder strap. The leather is too soft too hold a structure and the strap appears to be only decorative. Aesthetics are apparently most important, function not so much.

  • ellavanw

    I’ve always resisted buying bags with both top handles and a shoulder strap. I have this weird pet peeve about them: I think a bag should either be a handbag or a shoulder bag, not both, and having both makes a bag look cluttered to me. The only exception is the Kelly . . . because it’s the Kelly. But I suspect that when and if I get a Kelly, the shoulder strap will stay home.

  • Michelle Roberts Mcgraw

    I love bags that have handles and shoulder strap. The best of both worlds!!!! I often find the opposite to be true, most shoulder straps are so long, they hit the bag at my knees…just a short girl problem. Or how about a cross body bag that isn’t quite big enough to sit long enough….why not that 2″ more? Or adjustable? I have to say a lot of my high end bags sit, in favor of more functional lower priced bags!

  • klama torby

    I make bags and let me tell you ;-) – making a good strap is a real pain:
    -it requires a surprisingly large surface of leather (you’d be really suprised – long, wide strap has to be double sided and uses as much leather as half of the surface you use for the bag itself)
    -it adds weight to the bag
    -long straps (especially if thin) have to be cut from particular parts
    of hides to counter stretching and, accidentally, that runs across the
    most attractive parts of hides and sometimes the hides are not long
    enough (smaller skins)
    -if its adjustable even more so
    -it is totally underappreciated by the buyer. I make bags using handstitching and a long strap is as much work as 1/3 of a bag. Nobody wants to pay for it.

    The esthetic part of the equation:
    -adjustable straps look sporty, not elegant. I prefer adding a D-ring and folding it in half.
    -if you’re short/petite, chances are (expecially in case of a cross body) – you will be dragging the strap across the floor when holding the bag by the handles and thus can seriously trip over it

    -if you sell it already adjusted and a buyer moves the buckle to adjust it to themselves, the “ex-factory” position of the buckle leaves an almost permanent impression on the leather. People want their bags in virgin conditions, they do not want to see any signs of previous life. In fact – you should exhibit your bags in store with buckles unbuckled, but there is no way to open a sliding regulator once it’s fixed in place.

    and so on, and so on….

    • kimmie

      I really appreciated this information.

    • Iréne Shûkriya-Dutta Scharief

      Thank you for this valuable information.

    • GidanNodza

      I make bags also and the reasons you spelt out are so on point!

    • Love that you shared this info!! Def insightful!

      • klama torby

        Thank you :-)
        We tend to think that if a bag is expensive it would not be a problem to be generous with the strap. The truth is the bean counters look everywhere to extract some extra economies. Some parts of the bag are a priority and some (less visible ones) are the ones to be eliminated. This is why we all read about those “luxurious canvas lining” (few brands still do suede). Even if you look at how the handles are attached – things get simpler to make operations faster and cheaper. Imagine how much faster, cheaper and convenient it is to replace a strape with a chain… How convenient it is to say that PVC is eco-friendly/cruelty free and leather is not. You can than cut your bag out of a unified, homogenous, continuouns run of fabric. Price tag has nothing to do with it. Brand owner morale is the key.

    • I’m also a bag designer. Came here to say the exact same thing, but you beat me to it!
      I hate to blame the consumer, but let’s say that there longer straps have a perception problem that we are constantly trying to work around.

  • Amazona

    Okay, NOW you hit the nail straight on the head! Kudos.
    Being 182,5 cm tall (yes, the 0,5 cm is very important) & having a broad frame and a full figure = a constant headache with handbags. People are like “yeah it’s got a 20 cm drop so it’s just perfect to carry on your shoulder” and I’m like “b***h please, at least 27 or it ain’t happening”. I prefer 30 cm so I can get the bag easily on and off my shoulder with one hand. And that’s just for totes and hobos!
    Also, in wintertime, wearing a thick jacket makes the problem even worse. I can’t even count all the bags I’ve either purchased and carried once or steered away from completely after realizing it’s not going to work for me. Most high end designers seem to think all women are a size 0 because – if not counting messenger bags – the straps are too short for anything else than to carry on the crook of the arm.
    I’ve found my favorite bag brand a couple of years ago. I need to have my hands free and my bags are always stuffed to the brim; that’s one big reason to love Lumi. Some of their bags have interchangeable straps and at Lumi they’re actually helpful to the point where they gave me straps from another size Supermarket bag because the one I was wanting had straps that felt too short for my liking. =)

  • whateversu

    Really? The reason why my city bag has been very overused is because the strap works so well for me! Is it because I’m maybe shorter? I’m 5’3″.

  • Iréne Shûkriya-Dutta Scharief

    Am I the only one who thinks shoulder strap on a HANDbag makes the bag look confused? Is it shoulderbag or is it handbag? I normally take the shoulder strap off when I buy a handbag that also has a shoulder strap.

    • The Givenchy bag pictured has a shoulder strap that you can’t remove, which I find SO weird. I didn’t put that together until now!

  • Giselle

    This post is on point!! I struggle when picking a new bag. I prefer satchel styles with 2 handles, but all the straps are short. So the options are limited either shoulder strap or totes, which I’m not a fan of.

  • sk

    I have the Balenciaga City….the shoulder strap is the reason I hardly use my bag

  • cbl

    i find both the handles and the strap on the balenciaga city giant 21 hw to be very comfortable on my shoulder.
    i have a chloe sally bag and the shoulder strap is the most uncomfortable thing ever. it has these sharp edges that dig into my skin so i would never wear it with a tank.
    another useless strap for me is the one that came with my dior granville. the strap is crazy long and not adjustable. but at least it’s removable.

  • Lori Lemon-Geshay

    Can you purchase a longer strap for the Balenciaga City? Any recommendations are appreciated!