When to Splurge on a Handbag

It’s been a long time in the making, but after years of deliberation I’ve decided to finally splurge in a real, bonafide, designer handbag! Is it weird that I’m nervous about it? I’m kinda nervous….

Usually I’m the kinda girl who semi-splurges on a bag, buying a Tory Burch or Kate Spade when it’s super on sale rather than buying a more expensive designer bag. And believe me, I’m not the gal who can usually afford a designer bag {I’ve never bought one before!}. But, I recently got a little referral bonus at work that’s been burning a hole in my pocket which inspired me to finally buy the handbag of my dreams. And it’s kinda a win-win because I now I get to work with a friend AND get a little extra dough in my bank account – yaaassss!

So to get inspired {and make sure I don’t totally buy something I won’t forever regret}, I asked a few of my friends about how they decided to splurge on their favorite handbag. And honestly, their advice was super helpful when thinking through what I’m looking for in a forever handbag. If you’re in the same boat as me {tax return, anyone?!}, check out their advice below before splurging in that handbag you’ve been lusting over!Kelly from Kelly in the City – Louis Vuitton Neverfull

Kelly’s go-to investment bag is her Louis Vuitton Neverfull, which is the perfect tote for a busy mom on the go {and conveniently holds pretty much everything you’d ever need!} See why she decided to splurge and how she justified the purchase below!

Kelly says, “I bought my first investment bag last year. Make sure to spend several months–if not a year or two–deciding which bag you’re absolutely in love with, and which one will be the most versatile for your lifestyle and wardrobe. I went with the classic Louis Vuitton Neverfull because I use tote bags the most, and the print–I feel–goes with nearly everything I own. To justify the purchase, I sold a bunch of my older bags on eBay and vowed to not buy any additional ones for several years. I’m sticking to it, and love the simpler, less-cluttered life I lead as a result!”

Kira of The Imperfectionist BlogGucci SoHo Shoulder Bag

Kira is the queen of gorgeous style staples, and she has the best advice for anyone looking to splurge on a designer handbag. If you’re like me and not sure what to look at when thinking about when buying on a bag, her advice below will help steer you in the right direction!

“Jacey Duprie said it best when she said a designer bag can make a Forever21 dress look like a million bucks. But navigating the designer-handbag waters can be tricky stuff, especially for a first-timer. I’m breaking down the four main things to consider once you’ve decided to take the plunge into designer-handbag-land (DHL, if you will).

1) Quality – If you’re going to be spending some serious cash on a designer bag, you’re going to want the quality to be top notch. “Quality” and “designer” are often used interchangeably, but they don’t always mean the same thing. Sometimes you’re paying for what’s trending, or the label’s name. Make sure you opt for a high-quality leather piece if you choose to invest in a designer bag. Buy the best quality leather you can afford.

Four main things to consider when it comes to quality:

  • Leather: The two main factors that determine leather quality are the hide selection and the tanning process. Leathers are typically graded (and priced) based on the cleanliness of the hide, and the overall health conditions of the animal’s skin. There are three types: full grain, top grain, and bonded (you can read more about the differences between the three here).
  • Stitching: Are the stitches equidistant? What type of thread is used? Are the seams clean and sturdy?
  • Hardware: What type of hardware is on the bag? Are there zippers? Good hardware usually means brass, plated in either nickel or copper. The highest quality zippers have teeth that are not sharp and a zip-slider that is also made from brass (not a cheaper metal).
  • Lining: Make sure it is a high-quality fabric that will hold up to your daily use.

2) Style – Trends come and go, but classic styles are timeless. Opt for structured pieces in neutral colors. Structured bags will generally hold up the best over time. Avoid large logos and excessive hardware or embellishment. Do you find you get things dirty easily? Black might be your best bet 😉 Something to keep in mind for people who crave bold color and patters: many designers have fun with their linings, so go for a neutral bag with a bright pop of color or pattern on the inside.

3) Function – Let’s say you’re going to purchase only one designer bag in your lifetime (a true statement for many of us). You’re going to want to be able to use that handbag as many times as possible, right? Get honest with yourself – how will you use it? Are there snaps you won’t open, buckles you won’t clasp? Is it too small to hold your cell phone? Can you fit your wallet inside comfortably? Choose something that will genuinely work for you in your daily life.

4) Budget – Buy the very best you can afford. That being said, be honest with yourself about what you actually can afford. Set a budget and stick to it. Also something to consider: if you saved for an additional six months/year, could you afford a nicer bag? Maybe consider being patient so you can purchase one you know you’ll love forever.”

Jess of The Golden Girl Blog – Louis Vuitton Speedy Handbag 

While Jess doesn’t usually splurge on handbags, she has one or two that she’s purchased over the last few years that she wears on repeat – her favorite being a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag she scored on Ebay in 8th grade {if only we all had that foresight, right?}. When thinking about her next purchase, here’s how she evaluates whether or not to save or splurge on a designer bag:

“When mulling over a big investment like a quality handbag, ask yourself the following:

1) What’s in your closet –  Do I already own something in a similar shape, size, or color. If yes, what does this new bag offer that my current one does not?

2) Versatility –  Can this bag be worn day or night? To a date and to work?

3)  What does it go with – It’s fine to play around with color when it comes to cheaper handbags, but for an investment bag, stick to the basics, like black or tan. This will ensure it goes with everything, and you’ll want to wear it daily tor years. (And then you won’t become known at work as, “the girl with the yellow bag”)

4) Will it stand the test of time – Do you want to buy it because it’s really “in” right now? Then don’t. If you won’t want to wear it in 10 years, buy the knock-off at Zara instead!”

And as for me…well, I’m still trying to figure it out! Thankfully, I have the advice of a few of my favorite girlfriends to help me narrow down this once-in-a-lifetime splurge a little bit more.

While they did a good job articulating most of the things I’m looking for, another thing that’s important to me is finding a designer bag that holds some significance to me. My grandmother Jessie loved all things Gucci – and she had quite the collection of coin purses, scarves and sweaters that she loved. I always adored her and how she thought everything was “charming” {so much so that when I decided to name my blog years ago I knew it had to include “charming” in some way!} and so finally being able to invest in my own Gucci bag is a pretty cool milestone, and homage to Jessie too! Now that I’ve narrowed down the brand, I just need to find the right purse for me!

So far, I’ve narrowed my purse options down to the below, keeping with either a classic black bag or a blush color so they go with just about anything. Since I’m so indecisive, I’d love to know which one you would choose {if any} and why! Otherwise if there’s another purse you’ve been lusting over, I’d love to expand my horizons too 🙂

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  • Drooling/daydreaming at my desk over here….I want them all! I think my favorite is the black Marmont matelassé shoulder bag. I love the shape 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you pick!

    26 and Not Counting

    • Right? I’m having SUCH a hard time – aye! I’m kinda leaning towards that one too….so I’ll let you know what I end up going with 🙂 Excited to see you Saturday! xx

  • Yay I can’t wait to see what you end up going with!! xoxo

    • Thanks SO much for all your amazing advice! I’ll let you know what I end up taking home with me 🙂

  • I personally love the Soho leather disco bag! It’s been on my list for a while and I just think it’s so timeless.

    • One of my friends at work suggested that too! I’ll have to look into it, it’s such a gorgeous. bag! xx

  • I love #1,2 and 4! This was such an awesome post and ironically enough, was thinking what I should splurge my referral bonus on this summer!

    • YAS! We need to scheme together, I can’t wait to see what you end up with! xx

  • Ahhh, any of the bags you choose would be great!!! This is all great advice — but choose what you love the most! I can’t wait to see what you get! 🙂

    xo, Sarah

    • Giiiiirl, me too! I’ve been stressing over it, but I’m sure I’ll pick something I love 🙂 xx

  • Loving these pieces of advice! I haven’t splurged on a designer bag yet, but I’d love to be able to in the next year or so.
    Isn’t That Charming.