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Louis Vuitton’s Classic Speedy or the Hermes Birkin bag? Or both? Here’s our ultimate guide on how to choose and buy your first designer handbag!
Designer handbags are the most sought-after women’s high-end accessories and for good reasons. Other than the supreme functionality, and being on every girl’s wish list, designer handbags represent lifestyle and personality. It’s hard, after all, to go wrong with a designer handbag!
So, let’s start with the obvious – how do you choose your first designer bag?
Unless you’ve been a die-hard follower of the fashion community, choosing your first designer handbag can seem a little overwhelming. There are so many fashion houses, so many designs, colors, and materials.
The demand to meet every buyer’s need translates into the agony of choice. The wealth of appealing options on the market could, perhaps, be the only problem when it comes to choosing your first designer handbag.
In an effort to lighten the load, we’ve narrowed down the criteria for picking your first designer handbag.
Choose your brand
The most important decision in choosing your first designer handbag is deciding the brand you want to carry. You want to choose a brand you can identify with. A brand that whets your appetite.
The aim of the game is a designer handbag logo that you always want to carry around. With the wealth of designers in the market today, it could prove helpful understand the history of the brand.
Behind the seamless stitching, the beautiful facades and of course the logo, are people and a story of how the bag came to life. The Hermes Birkin bag, for example, was inspired by Jane Birkin, a famous actress, and singer.
Or, perhaps, the story of how the Louis Vuitton left home at age 13 and walked to Paris. A journey that took him three years all while he was working on perfecting his craft of box making.
To me, Louis Vuitton is a luxury brand that tells a story about seemingly unachievable dreams and travels. It’s synonymous with French craftsmanship, quality, and durability.
Sometimes it’s also helpful to look at older collections of the label or various complete looks through clothing, for a sense of style of the brand. This will help identify with a style that is compatible with yours.
Classic or seasonal?
With each season, comes new designer bags. Classics persist season for season. These are handbags that have been released by a designer house for years.
Classics have a heirloom appeal and are not restricted to season or trend. When buying your first designer bag, it’s best to go for the more classics ones. Reason being, a classic designer bag is time-resistant, and its value will appreciate when the bag is out of season.
The ‘it’ hit or the season bag is more about taste more than anything. Think about it, would you rather be thought of as an on-the-trend fashionista or someone with a timeless sense of classic fashion?
Probably the most important decision before splurging for the bag: what will you be using the bag for? Work? Travel? Special occasions?
Given that you’re spending a small fortune on your first designer bag, I bet you want to wear it as often as possible.
Although your first luxury bag can’t always fit the shoes of a superhero (or do everything), consider investing in a bag that transitions seamlessly from work to lunch and then of course shopping and finally into the beginnings of your evening.
The Prada Saffiano Lux Tote and Givenchy Antigona, are all workhorse classics that boast the added advantage of neatly fitting a 13-inch laptop and A4 documents.
However, if you prefer not to lug your bag around every day, do you honestly need such a big bag where the space remains unused and sinks quickly into chaos?
If not, a small-sized luxury bag with a shoulder strap is essential! Just a small space for you or should your life find its place.
If you’d prefer to have and to hold your luxury bag as often as possible, the color you choose should go along with the rest of your wardrobe. You can combine neutral/safe colors with ease compared to eye-catching colors.
As far as one-fits-all handbags go, black is obvious, but a more sensible choice. Gray, oak or tan are also classic color choices, with an added bonus of requiring less upkeep that white.
A rich caramel, a deep brown or even a mulberry shade designer bag has an allure that can be dressed up or down. The forest green, on the other hand, is a modern classic that works with pretty much any outfit.
If the adventurer in you finds black drab, but you’re not looking to shy away from a practical color, textured leathers will distract from the monotony and add visual interest to your style at the same time.
However, you can go for a colored model when you’re looking to create a real eye-catcher. If beautiful and radiant colors underline your personality, who’s to say you can’t splurge on that hot pink bag?
A handbag’s material can greatly affect its appearance (casual or dressy) or distinguish it as a daytime or evening style. More often, the same designer handbag is offered in diverse materials.
Probably the most important decision when it comes to the material:
How resilient or delicate are the different materials? Is the material susceptible to water or scratches easily? How well will the material age with time?
For example, Louis Vuitton handbags offer various types of canvas or leather to choose from.
However, an even better question would be how well do you treat your bags? Are you the kind of person who chucks a bag aside after using it?
Untreated leather is highly vulnerable to water, so if you like to walk in the rain without an umbrella (or live in Seattle – pun intended), it’s best to avoid this option.
Smooth leather, on the other hand, is more easily scratched, hence not ideal for those who throw their bags onto the ground or the floor of their car.
Some designer bags, like the Celine Luggage, come in different linings, such as lambskin and suede, so it’s also important to take to account the level of your hygiene when making a decision.
What can you afford?
If we all had an unlimited amount of disposable income, we’d probably have a wall to wall closet filled with clothes, shoes and forever live in a luxury handbag heaven. Right?
Unfortunately, even Carrie Bradshaw had to start somewhere, and an important step to choosing your first designer bag means fully understanding your financial capability to purchase the bag.
However, as you will come to realize, the price isn’t everything when it comes to luxury bags. There is no reason not to splurge on a bag rich in history, backed with design masterminds of our time and a reputation carried through the decades.
Although the price of luxury is one that many are willing to pay, it’s important to consult your budget before making large impulsive purchases.
Buying a designer bag from well know designer such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Chanel comes with its own perks. In addition to being a shiny, arm candy, these bags make the best returns when re-sold.
If you’re about to drop some major dollar bills on a designer bag, it’s best to invest in the classics as they fetch a higher price over time. Keep in mind, a luxury handbag is an investment, and equally so if you’re investing in property or splurging on some shares.
A designer handbag can actually provide returns. The Hermes Birkin is well known to skyrocket in price after it’s been purchased due to its scarcity, celebrity appeal, and quality.
Reviews and reality
Research! Research! Research!
An all-inclusive research is the most useful aid in any decision-making process. Looking at photos of designer bags is not merely enough. You have to go through extensive reviews, either in text or video.
A review always highlights an opinion and only after reading or watching several reviews, you will get a realistic impression of your dream designer piece.
However, nothing quite beats an in-person presence. Once you have narrowed down to which bag it should be, make sure you visit a shop of the brand or a second-hand designer store for inquiries.
Both online reviews and a feeling of the bag itself can be very sobering when choosing a designer bag for the very first time. Focusing on reviews alone can be misleading as with some great designers, consumers will mostly pay for the name rather than pay for quality.
Do your homework, look for a seamless finish, sturdy handles, a smooth zipper and a look for a lining that’s durable and easy to clean.
If your high feeling continues after an in-person impression, you can say yes to the bag! Nevertheless, do not rush into a purchase just yet.
Perhaps even more so, this is the perfect time to think about your outfit combinations in the future. Take out a few clothes from your closet and visualize your bag. If you can reach multiple possible outfits to wear with the bag, then it might be time to make the brave decision.
How to purchase your very first designer bag
Now that you’re finally ready to commit to your first designer bag, it’s time to consider where you’d prefer to purchase your long-awaited luxury handbag.
While there is no huge difference between purchasing a designer bag from a boutique vs. the brand, where you buy bag can partly allow you to buy a bag that is outside your budget in a normal setting.
Buying in a luxury store
If you purchase your bag in a stylish store specializing on the desired label, you will receive the complete designer treatment. Friendly help and advice, sparkling wine or champagne and the glamorous brand-related packaging.
This is the place to be if you’re looking for the heart-racing moment that comes with a designer handbag wrapped in layers of tissue. There is nothing like a chic shopping experience on your first designer bag.
However, it’s important to note that the price of the bag will be significantly higher in the luxury stores as is the case on the designer’s website. The price of the bag is reliant on the label and the exclusivity.
Sale and outlets
Are you’re working on a budget or looking for a more affordable designer bag, it is advisable to wait for the sale offers by o department stores and online dealers. After all, who hates a good deal on such a pricey possession?
Sale by online merchants, however, is restricted in most cases to ‘in the season’ designer bags and some brands such as Louis Vuitton will fetch for the same price as the one in a luxury store.
Outlets, both online and offline, usually accommodate higher discounts compared to sales. But, you are more likely to find leftover trend pieces.
Although we recommend opting for a new designer bag as it’s going to hold a sentimental value to you, buying a pre-loved or a new bag is more of a personal choice.
On the other hand, pre-loved buys offer huge possibilities. The pre-loved marketplace for designer bags is huge, and you could end up saving hundreds of dollars contingent on the designer house and condition of the bag.
That said, it’s important to purchase pre-loved models from reputable sites since the internet is filled with sellers wanting to rip you with knockoffs. There are many serious trusted sellers with qualified employees and expansive experience with designer bags.
It’s also possible to find new pre-loved designer bags, some of them still with their original price tags, for a lower price compared to buying one in the luxury store.
However, with the increased popularity of pre-loved purchases, the difference in price will save you only a couple of dollars, if any.
Nonetheless, it offers you the opportunity to find designer bags from the early 90s or designer handbags which have already sold out everywhere.
If you favor an offline purchase, you can always visit second-hand designer shops that take responsibility for authenticity.
Our Top Picks for an Ideal Designer Handbag Investment:
Picking your first designer bag is always a flaunt thing; where do you start when you’re looking to make such a large investment in an area you’ve never made one before?
As you may have gathered, this is sort of our thing and below are our top picks for designer bags we’d considering starting your designer bag collection.
Prada Saffiano Tote
Prada’s patented Saffiano Tote bag is a win, win, win kind of bag. Finished with the best quality calf leather, this designer bag comes in striking shades while at the same time being both scratch and water resistant.
This bag achieves levels of It bag importance, making it a must choice for a whole generation of high-powered women for very good reasons.
In addition to the tough leather, the Prada Saffiano Tote combines efficient shape and structure to give you an exceptional contender for an everyday bag that’s as elevated as it is useful.
If you want to look elegant with a modern twist, a Prada Saffiano Tote is a very good starting point.
Louis Vuitton Speedy
First launched in 1930, the Louis Vuitton Speedy is by far one of the best-known designer bags today. Although Louis Vuitton has a lot of classics that would make fine choices for a first designer bag, Speedies offer the freshest-feeling among them all.
Louis Vuitton Speedy bags start at $890 for the 25-cm monogram version, and you’re not going to find a better deal for such an iconic bag from one of the biggest luxury companies on the planet.
Speedy bags come in a range of size, from petite to quite large, to suit every style. If you’re working on a budget, the Louis Vuitton Speedy is perhaps the best way to enjoy a designer bag that has an important historical place in the lineage of the luxury handbag.
The Louis Vuitton Neverfull Tote
Although it was only created in 2007, the Louis Vuitton Neverfull Tote is one of Vuitton’s all-time most successful bags.
The Neverfull offer the best of all worlds in everything from bright, durable Epi Leather, to tried-and-true Monogram Canvas.
Just as the name suggests, the Neverfull will carry a chunk of all your stuff, with room to spare and without showing signs of stress.
You can carry as much as you want (not your whole kitchen sink of course), feel less awkward about it and look good doing it.
Ever since the initial Chanel 2.55 bag was sold in February 1955, its grounding debut continues to seduce luxury bag lovers all over the world. The Chanel 2.55 is arguably the most iconic and recognizable bag in the world.
With the bag growing old gracefully, investing in a Chanel 2.55 bag is more so similar to investing in stocks or shares. Chanel is at the forefront of selling goods with an ever-increasing price tag.
Coco herself designed the rectangular ‘Mademoiselle lock’ of the 2.55 and given that the bag is extremely hard to find, the price of the bag appreciates by around 30% every year.
Chanel 2.55 is the ultimate timeless designer bag that makes for an excellent first-time investment.
Certain designer bags hit the I’ve got to have this wave and ride it into the sunset, and the Givenchy Antigona is one of them.
There are very few bags that become an absolute must-have in plain black leather, but the Antigona did. The beauty of this designer bag lies in its shape that is different from most bags and clean lines that make it wearable day after day, outfit after outfit.
Antigona’s boxy silhouette lends a masculine edge that will sharpen any outfit. Crafted from Italian leather, the Givenchy Antigona is a hardworking tote that every modern woman will love to pieces.
Celine Luggage Tote
Celine bags have become increasingly popular. The prices have doubled, and the waiting list is very long.
The Celine Fashion House has some clear trademarks especially the details put into their bags that makes every single piece a fashion statement around the world.
Debuted in 2010, the Celine Luggage Tote has in recent years become a trend that is here to stay. With its fabulous designs, texture combinations and the sturdy finish, the Luggage Tote makes an unusual yet fabulous bag that stands out from the crowd.
Fendi Petite 2Jours Tote
Two things come to our mind every time we come across a Petite 2Jours. First, this bag is to die for. It’s rare to find a designer handbag that looks as detailed, luxurious and sophisticated as the the 2Jours Bag does.
Even at a grocery store, a lady carrying the Fendi 2Jours Bag one way or another achieves to appear composed, all thanks to her bag.
Other than the Hermes Birkin, very limited handbags have this type of power. The Fendi 2Jours Bag has a rigorous structure, a matter leather finish and laid-back hardware that lends the bag a carefully modern look.
The Petite 2Jours is just perfect. Not too big, not too small, and always sophisticated. The bag has a seeming agelessness, and there is scarcely a better bag that’s such a great combination for a first designer bag!
MCM Milla Bag
MCM is not what comes to mind when you think of a designer brand, but that works as an added advantage. It’s not every day you will see your first bag everywhere you go.
The MCM Milla bag is everything you want in a designer bag with a price to boot. While simple, this leather bag features a clean and luxurious overall design, with dimensions that make it perfect for everyday use.
If you’re a sucker for multiple interior pockets to separate all your goods and make it easier to find what you’re looking for, then you’ll love the MCM Milla Bag as your first designer bag.
At the end of the day, your first designer handbag should be something you’re proud of and can’t wait to love and to hold! Our guidelines on model, color, and style can only take you too far. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to take the brave step!
What do you think the perfect first designer handbag should be? Let us know in the comments below, then check out 10 Designer Handbags Under $1,000.