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Where to shop for the best summer beach bags

Essential beach bags and where to find them in Vancouver (and online)
beach-bag-cult-gaia
The perfect beach bags are totes made from bamboo, wicker, and rattan, like this one from Miami's Cult Gaia.

The fashion gods really woke up and said: "Summer is for rattan and wicker tote bags."

Every major designer under the sun has released their own versions of basket bags and many of them come with heft accompanying price tags.

For someone who already has the perfect bag in mind by a specific designer, I would always recommend checking out sites like Poshmark, The RealReal, Mine and Yours, or other trusted second-hand resellers for the real thing at a discount. After that Winners usually has last season's "it bags" in stock and significantly discounted and, because this trend has been around for so long, there will probably be a few to choose from there. 

However, if you're still out of luck, whenever something gets popular in the fashion world many other mid-range and high-street brands jump on the bandwagon with their own interpretations.

So with that in mind, here is where to shop for the best beach bags this summer.

Indigo

Indigo has two options for summer bags (both by Love and Lore) that I think can be summed up by the question "what kind of day do you want to have?" Are you heading off with three kids and a husband in tow or are you jet-setting around the Riviera with a fashionable silk scarf around your head Audrey Hepburn style? Both are perfectly acceptable but have very different needs.

If the former, the summer tote is large enough to fit everything including the kitchen sink to keep the family happy all day long and it's made of sturdy canvas to manage the weight of all that responsibility and for easy cleaning. It comes in pink, blue, or yellow stripes and looks classically seaside. The canvas tote in sand floral is also nice and less loud.

If the latter is your plan, the rattan drawstring tote is much smaller but very fashion-forward. The rattan weave shows a peekaboo of the floral canvas lining that draws closed to keep all the items inside in place. And the burnt orange leather detail makes it sophisticated enough for everyday and durable enough for travelling around. It will fit all the basics plus a trade paperback for some solo reading by the sea with a glass of wine.

Aldo

I love Aldo for bags. They release fun collections that are on-trend and resemble designer items without the massive price tag. Upon walking into an Aldo recently, a friend of mine literally turned to me and said "you picked a good year to be you." Which is to say, Aldo is currently all about the pastels and pearls. Their travel collection includes an adorable luggage item that is only available in-store and can't be found anywhere online so keep an eye out.

In terms of beach bags, the Legoiri is large enough to fit everything you'd need for a day out but not too large that you'd feel weird about toting it into the bar for happy hour when the sun gets too much. I'm also a fan of having accessories that can be used for different occasions and purposes so the navy-stripped version feels nautical which is a cute touch for a summer bag without being in your face about it.

Kate Spade

My personal favourite version of the structured basket bag comes from Kate Spade. The New York fashion house has a lovely collection of summer bags with wicker detailing like the squeeze wicker 3d grapefruit crossbody which is too small for a beach bag but still super cute for summer. The voyage wicker small top handle crossbody is also a favourite since it looks like a mini picnic basket (and it's on sale right now).

But the perfect wicker beach bag from Kate Spade is part of their new cabana collection. The sunkiss cabana straw medium tote is round with a bit of palm leaf embroidery for added visual interest. It has to over the shoulder straps and sits nicely against the hip, just below the elbow. Not too big and not too small, it's the Goldilocks of cute beach bags.

Anthropologie/Nordstrom

In the same vein as the basket bag trend, this Pearl Embellished Tote Bag is less structured and open to the elements like a traditional beach bag. But it has pearl detailing that makes it extra just like the person who would rock up to the beach wearing it. It's an easy carry-all but for people who like the concept but don't want to actually use it as a beach bag. There is a straw clutch version too.

Or if pearls aren't your thing, Anthropologie also has a version with a preppy nautical bow embellishment and lots of other plain ones. In general, Anthropologie is a good place for summer shopping. It feels like it sits in wait all year round for people to return to the boho look. It can be a bit pricey though so this tote by BP. at Nordstom is a great alternative for just $45.

Amazon/Etsy

The last amazing beach bag trend is the bamboo slat bags. Popularized by brands like Cult Gaia and replicated many times over, it is a chic fashion-forward staple in any summer wardrobe. Sadly, Nordstrom Canada doesn't stock Cult Gaia and the bags are only for pre-order on the brand's own site, with shipping delays until September.

Etsy has a few that look similar and would make great beach bags because they're large enough to fit a book, water, snacks, etc. but they are more expensive than other options such as Amazon.

Amazon has imitations of every style of bag on this list, but it's this one that is in such high demand and expensive everywhere else that makes the list from the online giant. Especially since Amazon has a few variations of the wooden purse. This one is the closest to the original and there are people online who are making cute little inserts for it so that your items don't poke through the slats. But this more boxy version with a wooden beaded handle is super unique and would be great for a date night on vacation - it makes me what to book a holiday right now.