Stella McCartney spring 21 collection shell handbag

Best new handbags for every picnic you take in spring 2021

From designer ‘It’ bags to colourful shoulder bags; playful motifs and printed, roomy, wipe clean totes; these are the handbags that will pep-up your spring picnics.

The outdoor eating, drinking and socialising klaxon has officially sounded and the weather is hotting up, ready to make our ‘rule of six’ get togethers even more momentous.

Designers have already offered up a vast range of picnic appropriate outfits for spring, from Gabriela Hearst’s bold multicoloured print dresses, to Versace’s under-the-sea printed shirts and trousers, Isabel Marant’s cut-out mini dresses and Etro’s tie-front, bright short sleeved shirts. But the handbags shown by designers at the spring collections were game-changing. Loewe’s fresh take on the basket bag, amongst many other designers offering up basket inspired elevated beach bags, Chloe showed a logo-adorned canvas bag which was an instant sell-out and there too many pretty floral and printed totes to name.

With most of our travel plans on hold, it’s time to nail our summer wardrobes for the UK and the perfect place to start is with a new accessory. And a new handbag is the perfect new season pick-me-up.

Illustrator and founder of the Happy News newspaper, Emily Coxhead, is a positivity expert and shares her insights into the importance that small mood-lifters like playful accessories can have on your everyday mood. She explains: “It’s super important to recognise the impact of little mood-lifting things on your contentedness, especially considering how the past year has been for so many of us. It really is the tiny moments of joy and kindness which make such a difference to our days and when we notice them or pass them on to somebody else it has a ripple effect far greater than we realise.”

“Playful accessories lift not only my spirits but can those of people around you. People always seem to compliment bright colours or patterned clothes and it makes you feel good and want to pass that on to somebody else too. I’ve even had a few people say they’ve dressed a certain way or put on a certain brightly coloured dress/bag/pair of shoes etc. inspired by me and it’s made them feel happier or more positive and I love that! I notice I always smile when I see somebody on the tube wearing something colourful amongst the mostly black and grey clothes.”

“My ultimate new season bag is the Kate Spade ‘everything puffy dots large tote’ bag, I absolutely love the bright peach melba colour and dotty pattern, it’s perfect for so many outfits but more importantly can fit ALL of my stuff in whether I’m on a trip to London or to the beach, it’s big enough and flexible enough to fit everything in for any possible weather outcome.”

Here’s our edit of the most playful and uplifting handbags for the season ahead.

  • Mulberry

    Mulberry typography tote bag
    Playful spring bags

    In celebration of Mulberry’s 50th anniversary, the brand launched The Typography Capsule, bringing a playful finish its most iconic pieces. 

    Reinforcing Mulberry’s Made to Last commitments, the heritage material Scotchgrain has been reinterpreted to sustainable standards, with the introduction of Bio-Synthetic material - using inedible foodstock that would otherwise go to waste. We’ll be loading ours up with baguettes with a chic day out. 

    Mulberry typography tote bag, £795

  • JW Anderson

    JW Anderson leather baseball cap handbag
    Playful spring bags

    The most chic take on playful accessories, JW Anderson’s tan bag, crafted to resemble a button-topped baseball cap is the perfect addition to chic tailored separates for an elevated weekend look.

    JW Anderson leather baseball cap bag at MATCHESFASHION.COM, £490

  • Hermes Circus Sakarecre bag

    hermes blue circus sakarecre bag
    Playful spring bags

    With a subtle nod to the joy and imagination encouraged by the circus this pretty pastel blue bag from Hermes would look great with a zesty tangerine or lemon dress and chic cream or tan sandals.

    Hermes blue circus bag, £490

  • Kate Spade New York everything puffy dots large tote

    Kate Spade everything puffy polka dot tote bag coral
    Playful spring bags

    This pretty peach tote is versatile enough to work as a work and weekend accessory. Pack this versatile tote with your favourite tipple, snacks and blanket and you’re good to go. Wear yours with blue jeans and an oversized white linen shirt.

    Kate Spade polka dot tote bag, £195

  • OFF-WHITE floral print mini leather tote bag

    off white tote bag at
    Playful spring handbags

    This abstract floral printed tote makes a stylish statement. Wear yours with your favourite black summer dress all season long.

    Off-White floral tote bag at Selfridges, £890

  • Chanel Foldable tote bag with chain

    Chanel printed tote bag
    Playful spring bags

    Not a picnic bag but it could be, this fashion forward Chanel tote is foldable making it super useful and versatile but you also a great investment piece. Channel the french and wear it with tapered trousers, ballet pumps and a fine knit.

    Chanel tote bag, £1650

  • Chloe

    CHLOE Embroidered cotton tote bag at selfridges £790.00
    Playful spring bags
  • GUCCI + Ken Scott Dionysus super mini floral-print leather shoulder bag

    Gucci floral shoulder bag
    Playful spring bags

    Match the flora and fauna in friends gardens and pretty picnic spots with Gucci’s mini Dionysus bag. The collaboration with Ken Scott is a showcase of the artist’s signature botanical prints which would look great with a crisp cotton midi dress and sandals.

    Gucci + Ken Scott floral shoulder bag at NET-A-PORTER, £700 

  • Guess x FriendsWithYou Crossbody Bag

    Guess x FriendsWithYou pink crossbody bag googley eyes
    Playful spring bags

    The uplifting Guess x FriendsWithYou collection includes totes and crossbody bags adorned with googley-eyes and fluffy clouds. Wear this neat peach style with wide-leg jeans and a striped shirt with a statement oversized collar.

    Guess x FWY crossbody bag

  • Kate Spade New York puffy puffer fish crossbody

    Kate Spade New York puffer blowfish blue handbag
    Playful spring bags

    New York label Kate Spade have owned the whimsical, joyful accessories world for some time and their current sea-inspired bags from this puffer fish to a polka dot crab style are some of their best yet. Wear yours with jeans and a bright crew neck jumper and trainers.

    Kate Spade blue crossbody bag, £325

Lead image: Stella McCartney Spring 2021 collection

Product images: courtesy of brands