Well, it depends on whether you’re riding a horse, motorcycle or bicycle, or making a fashion statement. If you’re riding, then a saddle bag is a tote that is attached to the saddle of any of the aforementioned modes of transportation. If you’re simply walking about town, then a saddle bag is a women’s purse inspired by the saddle bags made for horses, typically in leather, featuring a curved bottom, flap closure, and either a shoulder or crossbody strap.
You may or may not be surprised to learn that many of the top women’s handbag designers got their start in alternative forms of leather work, like luggage and saddles. This type of artistry translated well into high quality, luxury handbags (think Hermés, Louis Vuitton), and brands that might otherwise have remained unknown, gained widespread exposure as women started to require purses for their outings. Long story short, because these purse makers were experienced in equipping travelers and equestrians, some of the details from their brand’s signature leather pieces, like hardware and tooling, carried over into the handbags. Eventually, the saddle bag interpretation became quite literal, with leather purses that were designed to look like what a horse might carry, with curved lines, a slim profile, and secure flap. These were particularly popular in the 1970s, and have made a comeback, especially as a boho accessory.
Saddle bags, despite their retro vibe, are totally classic. There are a variety of styles to choose from, ranging from bohemian vintage, with fringe, to sophisticated and polished, with an English saddle look. A saddle bag purse is typically small to medium sized and carried either as a shoulder bag, or as a crossbody. The style is effortless chic, but leans more toward casual. It’s the perfect accessory for a concert or festival, and practically perfect for travel. Pair your saddle bag with jeans and boots for a simple, yet stylish, take on the look.