Written by Sajid Bin Mohammad
A delightful dilemma!
Dear PurseBop, I have been saving up for my first Birkin, and am trying to decide on a color. My heart craves a bright pop, but my logical brain says neutral. What do you suggest & why?
Honestly, suggesting a color for your very first Birkin is like being in a therapist’s chair. It’s difficult to choose a particular one without knowing every minute detail of your life! And even then, one might not end up with that “perfect” color.
That being said, you have taken the first (and possibly the most vital) step towards making this grand purchase. And that is actually saving up for it. Kudos to you!
Now, you just need to decide on the hue. And we don’t really mean ‘just’. After all, for that first (and perhaps only) Birkin, you want to get it right. In the world of handbags, saving for a big spend and then discovering you don’t like it, is quite disappointing.
So, to help you decide, let’s break it down into a series of questions (much like a therapist would) and try to address each. Hope they are of help!
First, you’ve mentioned that you’re undecided between a bright color and a neutral (to tell you a secret, all of us are!). So, I’m presuming that you’d like to get the most use out of it. That is, it wouldn’t be a “special occasions only” purse. This could also mean that you’d like to opt for a basic leather rather than an exotic (if you’re interested in exotics, I highly suggest you visit this article we shared in the past on the topic).
Since you’ve saved up specifically for a Birkin, we should take into consideration that you might be buying from a reseller and not from a boutique. Plus, buying from the boutique means that, unless you get extremely lucky, the bright pop/neutral color you desire is less likely to materialize out of the backroom. So a giant congratulations on keeping your eyes on the prize!
Now the issue we need to address is the colors of purses already in your collection and what have you actually been using. Maybe if you already have a designer purse in red or purple, another in that shade isn’t necessary.
Is a Black Birkin the Answer?
Of course, the natural go-to for many is a black bag, and when it comes to the Birkin it needs to be addressed. Now, you may need to sit down for this advice because… I wouldn’t advocate anyone buying a black Birkin. At least not as their first bag. Why? Solely because I think there are way too many Birkin lookalikes out there, all of which come in black. Buying a black Birkin, therefore, takes out the “Birkin-ness” from the Birkin itself. Plus, nobody does colors as well as Hermès. So why would you want to opt for a black? Ironically though, noir is at its best in a box calf Birkin. But that again feels like a “special occasions only” bag. So to simplify things, we’ll leave that out.
Of course, there may also be workplace requirements or norms to have a black purse. And that brings us to our next question. Do you plan to carry your Birkin to work? Will it attract attention? Regardless of color, are your colleagues likely to recognize your purse and pass judgment on your expenditure? Do you feel safe carrying or storing it in the area?
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that you would, in fact, carry your B to work and there aren’t any restrictions in place when it comes to colors. Even then, if you have been carrying mostly black/neutral until now, transitioning to a colorful bag probably won’t feel comfortable, at least at first.
The good news is that Hermès offers a wide array of black alternatives. There are ranges of dark blue, navy, grey and even dark green that would suit a workplace just as well. But, let’s not jump ahead to color suggestions, without addressing a few more issues.
Which Birkin Color Would Complement Your Wardrobe?
So the second question that we must answer is what your wardrobe looks like stylistically and colorwise . Do you wear a lot of jeans? Do you gravitate towards a lot of vibrant tees and tops? Or are your outfits mostly monochromatic? These little details have particular bearing when you (like all purse-lovers) work your outfit around your bag.
For example, if you’re an avid wearer of denim, it would be safe to steer clear of lighter shades (the horrors of color-transfers are well-known). And if your outfits are generally very colorful, it might be helpful to have your Birkin on the neutral side to balance your outfit. On the other hand, if your everyday attire is all-black, a B in Rouge de Coeur would be a delightful complement!
So, What Exactly is a Neutral?
At this point it is also important to understand your definition of a neutral shade. Generally, neutrals refer to black, brown, beige, grey, white (if you’re courageous enough) or some variation of these. However, for many, red, baby pink, and navy may all feel just as versatile. Experimenting with such colors gives you more leeway into the daring territory of Hermès’ color palette.
For example, if you happen to have a pink purse as your daily carry, getting your Birkin in Rose Shocking could provide that perfect pop of color in a shade you’re comfortable with. For this, you could test your compatibility with a bright using a more affordable purse in a similar colorway as your everyday carry first. That will help you decide whether your colorful Birkin would be a go-to or a closet ornament.
Do All Colors Suit All Sizes?
Speaking of daily carries, another relevant issue to delve into is size. As a work bag (for your laptop or tablet), B35 or even B40 may be the best. However, 35 or above may be considered a more casual style and not versatile enough for nights out. Additionally, the B40 really limits your color options. And, as a side note, be aware that those bags can get heavy.
On the other side of the spectrum, the B25 may feel too dressy to be casual (even if you have perfected the art of daily minimalism). Of course, it depends on what you generally carry, but one might decide that certain colorways suit the B35 more while certain others fit the B25 better. Indeed, classic bag fashion advice is that the bigger the color pop, the smaller the bag. In this respect, perhaps the B30 is a happy medium. It allows either a pop or a neutral seamlessly.
Additional considerations include the hardware – GHW or PHW. Don’t get too bogged down on that though. It’s a matter of personal preference. Certain colors also may look better (to you) in specific leathers. Again, it’s a matter of what you like.
Okay then, What’s the Verdict?
So, given the factors we have taken into account, can we reach a decision? I say yes! Firstly, if you think feel a neutral is the only thing you’d actually use, you could opt for gold. It looks good in both GHW and PHW and is a rich shade of tan (which is a color I’m irrationally biased towards). Personally, I prefer it over Etoupe, Etain, or Gris, but plenty of other fashionistas completely disagree with me. Just know that these shades tend to have cool undertones.
Bottom line, you really can’t go wrong with a shade of gold since it works in all seasons! Moreover, you can dress it up with the numerous twillys and charms Hermès offers. And to make things more interesting, you could opt for this Tressage version.
Or a dark blue that’s practically a neutral in itself. Now, the general neutral blue would be something like Bleu Nuit. But I am actually a sucker for the navy/gold combination of this Bleu Saphir – a true jewel-tone neutral!
The best thing about a dark blue shade is that you wouldn’t have to feel guilty if you accidentally happen to have pen marks on your B – Bleu Saphir’s (or most Hermès dark blues’) inky blue backdrop provides the perfect camouflage until you can get your hands on leather care products.
Now, onto the more fun colors! I personally feel that you couldn’t ever go wrong with an orange Birkin. It’s just a little brighter than Gold and provides the perfect vibrancy. Plus, it’s unmistakably Hermès! Some, however, may argue that it’s a more summer color, being lighter than Gold, but if you’re feeling confident, you should absolutely go for it!
You might have noticed, although nearly none of the colors I suggested are your average neutrals, they aren’t shockingly hued either. In fact, blue, oranges and purples signal just the right amount of adventurousness on the wearer’s part without losing their versatility. In short, they could be termed “cool neutrals”. Now, greens (like the fabulous Vert Vertigo, Bamboo or Menthe) could also be termed one. However, some folks find green harder to work with as it is a more unconventional handbag color.
Therefore, before purchasing your first Birkin, do experiment with colors and see if there’s one that makes your heart sing and you will use. If not, there’s always a comforting neutral to fall back on.
Updated: October 26th, 2021