Step One: Ignore The Trends
We all fall prey to seduction from seasonal ‘It’ bags. From the Celine Phantom to the JW Anderson Logo crossbody, there are certain styles that feel like the absolute must-haves of the moment. But unless you have an unlimited pot of money and own several classic designer bags already, our advice is to forget the trend pieces; often the design that makes them so hot now will be what dates them in the future, meaning more often than not you’ll regret your decision long term.
Step Two: Consider Your Needs
So, we’ve agreed you’re going for a classic, and hopefully by now you’ve narrowed down your price point. Next, you need to think about what this designer bag is going to do for you. If you’re investing in one bag and one bag only, it needs to be multi-functional; that means ideally, it works for both day and night. Chloé’s bags are often the best example of this – from the Faye to the Drew, they’re compact enough to look good for evening, but have a long strap and hardwearing finishes which make them great for everyday too. However, it’s possible you have no interest in a piece for your 9-5, and are after something more special; alternatively, you could be eschewing an evening look and going only for practicality. Just be really clear on what exactly you want this piece for, as that will help narrow down your choices.
Step Three: Only Shop From Handbag Brands
We all know the classic designer bags the experts always tout as most worthy of investment – typically, that’s a Chanel 2.55, and Hermès’ Kelly, Birkin or Constance. However, all these options will set you back over £3000, so it’s essential to look elsewhere. So, how to narrow down the choice? We strongly recommend looking only to brands that specialise in accessories. Many designer names are first and foremost ready-to-wear labels, and whilst they may offer a selection of handbags, that doesn’t mean they have the same level of craftmanship and attention to detail. If it’s something classic you’re after, brands that really know what they’re doing when it comes to bags include Louis Vuitton, Celine, Loewe, Saint Laurent, Prada, Gucci and Chloé.
Step Four: Get To Know Your Shortlist Intimately
Whether you narrow down a shortlist or have your heart set on one design, it’s time to get to know every nook and cranny of your potential investment piece. If you’re splashing serious cash, you need to be absolutely sure this bag is going to work hard for you – this means a long strap option, several compartments, a pickpocket-safe fastening and lastly hardwearing leather.
Step Five: Don’t Be Seduced By Price
We can’t stress enough how important it is not to get over excited by sales or seduced by the tiny version of the full-size bag that you love. It really is worth saving that little bit extra to get exactly what you want – if you compromise, chances are you’re not going to get that smug feeling every time you use your piece. Make sure you’re getting the design you really, really love.
Step Six: Make Sensible Colour Choices
Tempting though a pink bag may be, it’s important to make sensible decisions when it comes to colour; we think black is the safest way to go (yes, you can use it in summer too), whilst taupe or grey also score points for their versatility.
Step Seven: Try Vintage Or Pre-Loved Bags
If you’re looking for a discount, it’s worth checking pre-loved sites like Vestiaire Collective. If it’s Chanel, Hermès or Goyard you’re after, expect to pray a premium; for everything else, chances are you can get a few hundred quid knocked off the original price. Just be vigilant about quality, and never buy anything without its authentication certificates and dust jacket, as these are essential for resale.
Step Eight: Consider Smaller Labels
Sure, all those classic designer brands rank high on your wish list, but if you want to spend a few hundred pounds as opposed to a few thousand, there’s a set of new labels well-worth having on your radar. They may not have the long-term cache, but they’re smart, grown-up and well made. We recommend Elleme, Danse Lente, Boyy and Wandler.