Andrea wrote, “I’ve followed your blog for several years. I remember drooling over the investment handbag guides in college. I am finally ready to purchase my first luxury quality handbag, but am not sure what to get. Please help!”
Honestly, the era of huge statement bags has given way to more understated accessories, namely small shoulder bags and cool clutches (I rarely wear big handbags myself!). Still, if you want to invest, there are a few undeniable classics that are definitely worth the splurge:
1. Chanel Boy Bag
Some would say a fashionista’s closet is simply not complete without a quilted Chanel! Though it seem as if everyone is carrying around a quilted Caviar 2.55, recent times have given way to newer silhouettes, most notably their Boy Bag, which features hammered hardware, a variegated quilted design, and a recast CC logo.
To cop one for yourself, expect to drop at least $3,700. See a few iterations below:
2. Hermes Birkin
By all intents and purposes, this is the big momma of handbags. Starting at $9,000, these exceedingly exclusive pocketbooks have yearlong waiting lists, and can top off at $150,00 for its more exotic iterations.
If you’re up for the splurge, visit www.hermes.com for a boutique near you. True Story: A colleague of mine went to purchase a Hermès Crocodile Birkin at a local boutique, and was told that she couldn’t just buy the $70,000 bag–she had to get on a waitlist, and could only move up the list if she proved to be a brand devotee by purchasing other Hermes items. Ish is real! If you want to get around the rigmarole (and perhaps save some coins), I’d recommend going to a certified resale shop. I love A Second Chance Resale in New York; websites like Fashionphile.com also have authentic, gently used bags for less (with no wait list!). Peruse some new and used options below:
3. Givenchy Nightingale or Antigona
Givenchy Nightingales or Antigonas are also perennial favorites. I’ve had mine for years, have worn it into the ground, and can say with confidence that it’s certainly worth its almost $2,000 pricetag.
The Antigona option is also alluring, offering a more structured feel.
With loads of colors and contrast, you really can’t go wrong.
Tip: Search discount sites like Bluefly.com for more classic styles for less.
Get either here:
4. Christian Dior Lady Dior Handbag
This handbag is definitely not as popular, but it’s just as enticing. I’ve heard from more than a few stylists that this understated bag is slated to be the next ‘it’ item, as it’s already toted on the arms of socialites and the stylish elite.
It has a slick finish, fine details, and you won’t see everyone and their mother rocking one! A medium size can run you $3,000. Get a few options here:
5. Proenza Schouler PS1
The Proenza Schouler guys are the newer kids on the block, but their PS1 is a cult classic amongst the young and chic set.
They triumph with their more electric colors and eye catching patterns: think camo, neon yellow, or seering blue. Get ’em for about $1,600 here:
6. Céline Luggage Tote
Céline totes had their moment a couple years ago, but by the looks of things, the ‘wing’ bags are still going strong. They’re simple and chic, with a silhouette that’s undeniable.
Get them in solids, two tones, or tri tones for about $2,000.
7. Saint Laurent Sac De Jour Tote
Fashioned out of polished calfskin, this work ready signature tote is designed with compression snap-straps cinching the accordion sides. With sleek rolled handles and an embossed logo, the bag epitomizes understated style.
Perfect for traveling or the office, it’s a favorite amongst working moms Jessica Alba and Nicole Richie. Bags start at $2,000 and top off at around $3,000, and come in an assortment of colors. Shop below:
8. Balenciaga Arena
This soft lambskin bag has been in the game for a minute, and has been spied on Cassie, Nicole Richie, and just about every Kardashian.
It’s nickel hardware, hand-stitched detailing, and optional crossbody strap makes it a must. These will run you about $1,600.
9. Chloé Paraty
Boasting a geometric shape and tubular frame, the Chloe Paraty bag showcases the French house’s signature horseshoe-inspired design.
While the lambskin options are delectable, many starlets choose to splurge on the more exotic python skinned offerings, which can ring in at $3,000 and above. Scope out the various colors and options below:
10.Louis Vuitton Alma or Speedy Bag
I’m honestly on the fence about Louis Vuitton, namely due to my aversion to logos and spending major coin on canvas. That said, a Louis Vuitton bag, whether in the Speedy or Alma, is a classic for many fashionistas.
Whether camo or epi leather, ladies truly love Louis Vuitton. You can get one pre-owned for about $600; with more intricate styles, the sky’s the limit:
Honorable Mention also goes to:
Michael Kors Hamilton, $348
If you don’t see yourself ever shelling out 5 figures for a Birkin, but want the look, the Hamilton bag will help you get the look for less. It has a similar shape and clasp placement, with a little more MK gilded jazz. Get yours for about $350 here:
Alexander Wang Rocco
The goldtone hardware on the bottom of the compact bag is what gives it its edge. Though it skews casual, it’s definitely sturdy and timeless. It can ring it at around $1,000, but you can catch it on sale for half price. Get yours here:
3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel
This unsung staple has zipper gussets at the front and brushed gunmetal hardware. It’s understated, yet oh so chic. Get yours starting at $650 here:
Of course this post is about investments, meaning you’re going to spend a lot of money at one time for one item. But rest assured: in most cases you’re getting your money’s worth and will be able to carry your bag for years. Another great things about designer bags: when you’re tired of them, you can still get some money back by reselling them!
If full price is not in the cards for you, try resale sites like ASecondChanceResale.com or Fashionphile; discount sites like Bluefly.com are always good places to look. And hit up sample sales. Gilt goes HAM on Hermès.
I’d recommend Ebay, but you have to be very careful to not buy fakes (make sure you check their rating).
Though it’s always exhilarating to go to a store and yell, “Charge it!”, you can definitely find the same item at a lower price if you hunt for it.
Share where you find your bags for less than retail in the comments!
And also: are there any bags I missed?
See our prior posts about investment handbags here and here.