Dear new collectors in our community: we’ve all been there. You’ve spent years scrolling through Instagram, following Fashion Week, and peering into the windows of Saks, and the time has come. If our experience was anything like yours, the anticipation has reached its peak, and you are now certain that there is no better time than the present to take the plunge.
If you’re at this point—or think you might be inching ever closer to it—this article is a must read. After talking to members of our community, both seasoned collectors and newly-minted fashionistas, and discussing it among ourselves, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to picking your first luxury bag. (No, we don’t take these matters likely, and that’s something of which we’re rather proud.) Every decision you make in your handbag journey is important, but perhaps none will ever be as memorable as your first designer treasure. Let’s make sure it’s the ‘right’ one, shall we?
First things first: pick a price point. Even Birkin collectors know that budgeting is a must, and it’s important always to consider carefully how much you are comfortable spending on a bag. Something that you may want to keep in mind is that your first luxury bag is an investment—and not in the sense that it will necessarily increase in monetary value over time (though hopefully it will in sentimental value!). You’re not spending money on a whim, but rather to get a lifetime, or at least a number of years, of wear.
For some, this may be a bag under $1,000 or $2,000 (if so, check out some of our curated lists below!). For others, this may be a Chanel Classic Flap. What’s most important is that your first luxury bag is one you truly want. If you’re going to be carrying around a bag and wishing desperately that it were another, it may be wise to take a step back and reassess. At the same time, recognize that this is only the first step in building your lifelong collection! There will be plenty of room to grow over time—not every bag (and certainly not the first) has to be a Holy Grail bag.
Read more on budgeting and get bag inspiration:
Lifestyle (& Personal Style)
Once you’ve decided on a general price point, it’s helpful to reflect on how you go about your days. When do you see yourself using your new luxury bag? Are you in the office a lot? (And if so, what kind of bag would you want to take with you each day—a structured satchel, a large tote?) Do you spend much of the year traveling and wandering around new cities and landscapes? (In that case, a medium-sized cross-body might be the way to go, given its extreme versatility.) Are you the kind of person who has a lot of essentials and therefore needs a large bag? Are you frequently on-the-go, requiring easy day-to-night transition bags? Do you wear neutrals often and want a pop of color, or would you prefer to keep the bag simple—a beige or black, perhaps?
These are all questions you may want to ask yourself in order to gain a general sense of the shape, size, and color of bag that best fits your lifestyle. Remember: you’ll likely want to get a lot of wear out of it! For that, you’ll need a trusty, adaptable companion.
Read more about lifestyle and bag choice:
Another important factor to think about is how the bag’s style will last over time, especially given your personal tastes. First and foremost, remember that trends should not dictate this purchase. If you feel strongly about a bag that is currently on trend, then by all means go for it. But trends are like the wind, and only your personal style flair will remain—find a bag that complements those traits, and that may be able to adapt with them over time.
Something in particular to consider is how you feel about logomania. Logos regularly go in and out of style—right now, for instance, it’s highly popular to evoke the largely branded quality of 80s bags. Maybe you want passersby to know immediately that you’re carrying a Gucci or Chanel; maybe you would like to be more discreet. Ask yourself if logos are important to you, and if you want your first luxury bag to be, noticeably, a luxury bag.
Read more about logomania and longevity:
Cost Per Wear
In the vein of using the bag over time, it’s worthwhile to consider cost per (estimated) wear. It can be useful to see longevity, wearability, and cost as interrelated, and to conceptualize what the daily spending might look like.
Perhaps you expect to use your bag every day for at least two years. If you bought a Chanel Classic Flap in medium ($5,400), for instance, the price per day would be $7.40. If you used a Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM in Monogram Canvas ($1,320), the price per day would be $1.80. Calculating use in this way may help you to make better financial decisions given your budget. It may even help you budget better to finally attain your desired handbag.
Read more about personal finance:
Given that you’ll want a lot of use out of your first designer bag, we recommend that you seriously consider bag care. While this may seem less important, be assured that it is highly practical to ask how a bag will wear over time. Some leathers (especially smooth, supple ones) wear worse than others. These often require certain treatments, creams, and repairs after periods of wear that may add unnecessary stress to your life. Lighter leathers may also appear dirty more easily. While you may prefer a certain material aesthetically, ask yourself whether that is more important to you than durability over time. In short, decide how much ‘babying’ you’re prepared to do, and consider whether worry might take away from the enjoyment of simply using the bag.
Read more about bag care:
Not to get too “Marie Kondo” here, but what sparks joy in your life? Intuition, gut, personal preference, whims that just won’t go away—all of these matter when you’re faced with difficult decisions. If you look at a bag and feel a little warm and fuzzy, that’s a good sign. If you pick up a bag and it feels right—and it’s within your budget—it probably is. It’s easy to get bogged down by layers of advice, as important as advice can be, and to feel caught between the opinions of friends, influencers, fashionistas—even PurseBop! In matters of the heart (and believe us, handbag collections almost always are), you have to trust yourself. So go forth, prosper, and come back with tales of your new luxury companion. We can’t wait to hear all about it.
We hope this little guide has helped you along this fun—but sometimes difficult!—process. Again, all we can leave you with is that we’ve been there. We know this is an exciting time for you, but also one that can be more than a little nerve-racking. Spending a considerable amount of money on a bag is a big deal, and we hope we’ve given you the tools to feel confident in your decision.
Tell us—are you about to dive into the world of luxury bags? Or have you recently? If so, what was your decision-making process? And which bag stole your heart? If you would like any personal advice on your decision, let us know below!