Fashion & Beauty

Strap Happy

Left: The sedate Martino Midali bag that I bought in Milan several years ago. Right: The same bag with an embroidered strap purchased this September in Venice. Vive la différence. 

By Janet Kelly

TRAVEL opens your eyes to the new and also to what you may have seen before but never noticed. That’s the lofty goal, anyway. On a much more practical level, though, I had one of those “Aha” moments this fall while strolling through Venice with my friend Melissa.

We had both seen handbags accessorized with contrasting straps instead of the predictable matching leather ones but had not been intrigued enough to buy. However, when we saw shop after shop in Venice filled to the brim not only with all types of handbags but also with rack after rack of embroidered, striped and patterned straps (sold separately), we dug into our wallets.

Like us, you probably already have a few favorite bags. Instead of shelling out big bucks for a brand new one, change the look of the ones you have to something more casual or hip or just fun by swapping out the chain or leather strap.

Our picks below range in price from a $17.99 nylon leopard print strap at Etsy to a $350 chain link style from Versace and styles in between from brands, including Clare V, MZ Wallace and Salt.


Clare V’s resin Shortie strap ($85) pairs here with the brand’s Mirabel crossbody bag, but you can attach the fern green handle to any bag with D-rings to change its vibe from sporty to funky to demure. The chain, which also comes in tortoise, neon yellow, black and orange, looks good with neutral hues as well as other colors. Here’s a black-and-white check clutch with a blood- orange chain.


Another Clare V offering, a red-and-navy braided shoulder strap, will brighten up the look of a square sac, as well as a suede small tote.


LEFT: Shearling coats, jackets and bags are Italian fashion designer Simonetta Ravizza’s wheelhouse. Her bags, which come in lilac, orange, fuchsia and red sell for about $900; her leather and shearling shoulder straps go for a third of that price. Besides fuchsia with purple, they come in neon green and lilac and beige and cordovan. They’re $298 at Farfetch.

CENTER: When an evening out calls for some glam, zhuzh up your bag with Versace’s sleekly designed and polished Chain-Link shoulder strap, accented with a charm detail. It’s $350 at Farfetch.

RIGHT: Cinzia Macchi, founder and designer of Milan-based La Milanesa uses recycled fabrics and trims for her handbags. Each of her collections collaborates with a charity to help female victims of abuse. Complement your bag with her pink feather-trimmed shoulder strap ($102, Farfetch) for a whimsical accent.


You can’t buy Gucci ‘s strap with its signature colors apart from the label’s Attache Large Shoulder Bag. But it’s just such a good example of how an accessory can change a handbag from serious and formal to more casual, yet striking.


MZ Wallace’s Micro Crosby crossbody bag ($145) is so darn cute on its own. It looks even better with its sunflower-and-blue-striped strap, which sells for $55.


If you’re wild about animal prints, breathe easy because they never—well, almost never—go out of style. So, buying one or three (they come in five different colors) won’t ruin your budget. They’re $17.99 each at Etsy.

Turn a ho-hum bag into a statement— hook it up with one of Salt’s textured, 41-inch-long Classic crossbody straps ($148) in shades of natural, fuchsia, violet and forest green, finished in buttery black leather. Woven by Columbian artisans, there are more than 20 patterns from which to choose.


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4 thoughts on “Strap Happy

  1. Nancy G says:

    What a great idea! I’m trying very hard not to buy any new handbags, now that I’m retired and basically go nowhere. But I have lots of really good bags from my working days, and may just resurrect some with a new, snazzy, strap. Glad you had a good time in Italy!!

  2. Great idea! Particularly taken with the Clare V shortie strap. Thanks !

  3. cynthia tilson says:

    I love this! How many times I’ve retired a favorite bag simply because the strap had become more shabby than chic. And what a practical solution to turn any sometimes awkward-to-carry clutch into a unique and stylish crossbody bag. Thank you!

  4. Carol says:

    What a great idea! Will be in the lookout and will check out your recommendations.

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