Reader Question | Cross Body Handbags



Reader Question:

After having my third child last summer and said child is now running around (trying desperately to run as fast as the other two, I might add) I literally cannot carry anything on my shoulder and wrangle my trio.  But I NEED my purse, right?  

So…can you guys do a post on cross body handbags?  I haven't seen one yet and I would really like your style take on what's available.  As for me, personally, I walk everywhere, so comfort is important…and on days when we dart out for a quick errand, a cross body that is large enough for a diaper/wipes/outfit change wouldn't hurt either!
– Elana


Elana!  Don't get me started on handbags.  They're my kryptonite, and Hubs does not appreciate giving up yet more shelf space for the collection (or the credit card bill said collection produces), but I do hear ya' on needing your hands free at all times with three babes in the mix, and my third isn't even walking (much less running) yet.

There just seem to be a lot of gyroscopic moving parts these days–once we finally manage to wrangle ourselves into the car, I find myself breathlessly counting them OCD-style (1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, "Henry, is the baby in the car with us?").  But it just so happens that I do believe something as simple as a handbag can help establish a modicum of sanity, even during these crazy days of early child rearing. 

So here are my picks:

Yummy Cross-Body Bags for Mamas



Oryany woven tote
$275 –






Big Buddha tote handbag
$95 –


Vintage satchel
$200 -


Cross body shoulder bag
$27 –


Shoulder bag
$95 –



ALDO Seelbinder
$50 –



Motif 56 M-Dori
$168 –


Happily, I've found a bunch of affordable (and some not-so affordable), yummy cross-body handbag options, and it came as a shock to me that my hands down fav is a $40 find from Target.  I am seriously crushing on the Chocolate New York Satchel ($40).  The structured, ladylike satchel handbag silhouette is going strong and still feels fresh.  I'd love to offset the prim vibe with army green (Houlihans, an anorak or sleeveless military shirt), or play it up with a full skirt and espadrilles.

Check out how ASOS styled (another big crush) the Cambridge Satchel and the Color Block Smart Bag (love!):

Image3xl        Image3xl

My other fav, the Motif-56 M-Dori ($168 on sale at Zappos from $240), isn't quite as affordable, but has fab details that make it well worth the investment.  I'd wear this with anything from printed shorts to a tie-dye kaftan, a black maxi, or use it to add (a lot) of interest to a standard t-shirt and jeans/cutoffs outfit.

A close runner up is the Big Buddha J-Courtney ($95, use Big Buddha coupon code BAG20 for 20% off).  The woven details, vintage Aztec print and huge interior make it a winner as a diaper bag replacement and will rock with a tiered maxi skirt and denim vest.

All of the picks should be large enough to carry the essentials without feeling over-stuffed.  If you're in a city and walking all day long, I would avoid carrying heavy toys, water bottles or books and throw those in your stroller basket instead for comfort.

Hope this helps, Elana–thank you for your kind words and for writing in!

– M.


  1. I have two kids under two which has forced me to rethink the whole diaper bag concept because I never have free hands in which to carry anything extra. What I have now: a small Marc Jacobs cross body for my keys, phone, camera, glasses and wallet, a tote filled with both kids essentials that stays in the car, and a large purse with both kids essentials always stocked and ready to go. If I am ever out by myself or just running quick errands with my kids I bring my MJ bag for myself and have all their stuff in the tote in the car. If I’m taking both of them on a long excursion that has us away from the car for awhile, I’ll throw my wallet, keys and phone into the big purse which gets shoved under the stroller. I’ve found that for quick errands I usually only need my own small cross body and the insurance of having everything I need in the car. I usually never even take it out of the car! I do far less lugging around this way. It’s awesome. So yeah – bottom line – cross body bags are essential for moms! 🙂

  2. AWESOME – it’s like you guys read my mind. I’ve been looking for an awesome cross body bag to trade off with my Makr Rucksack that I blatantly ripped off from Shana 🙂
    Elana – I have a 1 and a 2 year old and I’m about to pop with #3 right now and I LOVE the backpack diaper bag thing. As mentioned before, I ordered the Makr Rucksack that Shana owns (I think you can just do a search on the blog to see the pictures and link to order) and I LOVE it. I’m not at all a sporty girl and I don’t think it gives off that vibe at all. I can’t even explain how many trillions of times easier it is to hold my girls hands while they walk and not have anything to worry about carrying anything or even bonking them from the side like a cross body bag sometimes does (I’m looking for the cross body bag as something to trade off when we’re going out to slightly more formal events, out to eat etc.) The Makr Rucksack is huge and I’ve even emptied it out and stuck our bags of groceries in there to carry back up to our second floor apartment from the car – all while being able to hold the kids hands!!! Can’t recommend it enough!!

  3. Right now, I am carrying the Fossil Key-Per Tote. I swear by Fossil for good quality bags for a decent price-I got mine at Macy’s on clearance for $60, and I see that right now some prints are on sale for $89.
    I get compliments about this bag constantly! I have a 3 year old, a 1 year old, and I’m due any day with my third. I carry a lot of stuff! I will soon have two in diapers again and I need the hands free option, so I always have to have a cross body bag. I like the Key Per bags because the outside easily wipes clean, but it doesn’t look like a diaper bag. It’s a reasonable size so that you can carry everything you need and still not be wheeling it behind you. I love it! Plus the strap is long enough that I can just loop it over the stroller/cart handle and keep it out of the way when I’m walking in the store.
    Not my print, but the bag:

  4. I love my Ellington Bella Hobo It is the only bag I use early fall to late spring. Fit diapers when I needed them (now a spare change of clothes) and everything I can possibly need easily.
    For summer I still haven’t found the perfect crossbody so I just use a lands end tote for everything. Maybe not the most stylish option, but highly functional.
    OH, and I could not function without a HOBO Lauren wallet for all of my items (works as a clutch when the kids aren’t around too).

  5. I have a fossil keyper bag too, just like Amanda. I LOVE the bag and also always get compliments on it. My only addition is that I also bought a three pack of mini organizing bags (also from fossil) so that I can keep my mommy stuff (glasses case, chapstick, ponytail holders, etc) separate from my baby bag stuff. That way I can just pull out my mini bag and transfer it to my regular purse for days that I’m at work. So convenient!

  6. I definitely recommend a cross body. No swinging bag that whacks your child as you bend over and no constant adjustment like a shoulder bag!
    I have been using this bag for about six months now and it has been great. I’m not sure that it is super fashionable but I put all of my stuff, phone, wallet, ect in the outside pockets which are very accessible and have a few diapers, wipes, and snacks stashed in the main zippered compartment. Much easier to keep my hands free!

  7. Ok, I have a question about crossbody bags. I love their practicality, but have generally shied away from them because I am a petite person with a larger chest (32DD). I wonder if a crossbody bag would look right on me because:
    1) will it overwhelm my frame?
    2) When the strap is laying across my chest and between mah boobies, does it look bad or tacky or anything?

  8. Thanks for all the fabulous suggestions, ladies! And I love that crossbody from Target, definitely my fav of the bunch. I literally have quite a wish list for the hubster now…maybe Christmas?
    Amanda- I just went out and bought a clearance Fossil key-per @ Dillards. And it looks like I can wipe off all of the dirt from the playground, sticky popsicle hands, and accidental baby poo
    (don’t ask) off of it!
    Jamie-I LOVE that makr rucksack. I think Shana was wearing it in a gorgeous off-white color…which, for me, would become unbearably filthy in a matter of weeks. I checked the website and noticed the black one, perfect! And with a pricetag of just $160, I think this is a reasonable “splurge.” Thanks!

  9. I LOVE cross body bags! I have a two year old son so when I’m not toting our diaper bag, I sport a cross body bag. I just ordered the Cambridge Satchel in neon pink from their website and I’m so excited for it to arrive. I’ve had a Chanel large classic flap bag for years that can be used like this and invested in the Celine nano luggage which is a perfect cross body too. So great to be hands free when my son is asking “hold you?” His way of saying “hold me!”
    A blog for stylish moms despite all the spilled milk!

  10. They are somewhat pricey but I HIGHLY recommend MZ Wallace bags. They have a few crossbody styles (I have the Paige which is medium and there’s also a bigger Hayley). They are lightweight nylon and have so many pockets and zippers for organizing all your (and your kids) stuff. You can tell they’re designed by women – a lot of thought went into each pocket and maximizing the space in the bag. Plus they look nice and come in a ton of colors each season.
    I’m a recent convert to the crossbody and like many have noted, they are fantastic for when you have your hands full or are holding small hands. I also feel like they make me stand up straighter and are probably better for my posture.

  11. Dear Juliet. It is really sad to hear that you think we copeid someone else. During the last Fashion Week in Amsterdam we did photograph famous people with our bag. And ILFN did that with their bracelets (which we love and actually wear!). But that doesn’t mean that we copeid it. We just didn’t know it. It’s not that the put-a-celeb-on-the-picture-to-promote-our-website- thing’ is really original. Many websites and even magazines did that.Are we bad?!? Well, we don’t think so. In fact: Garance Dore and Susie Bubble really liked it and posed with it. Garance even asked for our bag, so we think we did a good job, right?Just relax! There’s no need to be bitchy about it. Fashionland is to lovely for it. And yes, we can laugh about it. Hopefully we’ll see you at some kind of fashion party in the future. Then you can see we’re not copycats at all.XoXo (yes, we did copy that line from Gossip Girl. Guilty as hell!)

  12. This isn’t necessarily the most fashion-forward bag – more of a hipster vibe – but it has served me well through 2 kids (small diaper wallet, 2 sippies, snack, compact outfit change, keys, phone): Rebecca Pearcy’s Queen Bee/Chickpea Baby bags. I actually have the smaller “truckette” bag (purchased pre-kids) that fits the aforementioned items, but she makes true diaper bags (that don’t look like diaper bags). Point being, even her smaller non-diaper bags do the trick. Check her out:

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