With the holiday season in full swing, now is the perfect time to treat yourself to the luxury designer handbag that you have been dreaming about all year.
Naturally, finding and choosing the perfect bag is no small feat, so our designer handbag buying guide will whisk you through the labyrinth of options to ensure you choose that perfect item.
We will start by helping you to properly assess your needs, including narrowing down a price point, considering the amount of time you wish to use your bag, whether you prefer something classic or modern, various color options, and everything else that you should consider when selecting your perfect handbag.
Designer Handbag Buying Guide
Essentially, this designer handbag buying guide will help you feel more confident when you are ready to purchase the handbag that is right for you. We have made sure to leave no stone un-turned, and no detail overlooked as we help you find exactly what you are looking for.
Know How Much You Want to Spend
Before we go deeper into detail about the various types of bags that are available for you to choose from, it is important that you have an amount that you are comfortable spending in mind. By determining a budget, you can narrow down your options and save time by not looking at handbags that may be way above, or too far below your budget.
When figuring out the price point of bags you wish to consider on your shopping journey, it is best to come up with a range of what you would like to spend, as the prices can vary wildly depending on the designer, materials used, and whether the bag is part of a limited collection.
Because we are focusing on designer handbags in this guide, prices generally start around $1,000 US and can go as high as $100,000+ US! So, be sure to carefully plan your preferred spending level so that you can avoid any surprises.
Choose From The Most Desirable Designers
If there is one main take-away from our designer handbag buying guide, it would be to choose a bag from a desirable designer. Below are 11 classic designer handbag brands that I personally would stick to, especially when choosing your first designer bag.
Founded by fashion icon Coco Chanel, this luxury fashion design house based out of Paris, France has truly pioneered the industry into what it is today. Known for everything from classic handbags to tweed jackets, and pearl necklaces, they represent the epitome of high fashion and are recognized as a global leader in luxury goods.
Another French fashion icon, Christian Dior has always had more of an edgy, fashion-forward design style. Known for using bright colorways and exotic materials, the house of Dior is also well known for their wide range of fragrances. Dior would be the perfect option for something that is ahead of the trend.
Everlasting world of Givenchy is a combination of elegance, femininity and style. Established in early 1950s by a young visionary Hubert Givenchy, the fashion house gradually grew its range and rose their ateliers to the top of the international fashion. Young and ambitious Hubert Givenchy’s style is his signature style of an aristocratic chic.
Italy certainly has made its mark in the world of global fashion, and Prada is among its most famous brands. Known for their minimalist, chic designs, this fashion house has stood the test of time and their handbags are instantly recognized by those with an eye for luxury.
Also hailing from Italy, this forward-thinking designer collective has had an amazing resurgence over the last few years, thanks to their Monster collection. Having the massively talented Karl Lagerfeld as their former creative director benefited them immensely.
Possibly the most exclusive fashion name in the industry, Hermes has reigned over the leather goods market for more than a century and is truly a status symbol. Their most sought after handbag, the Berkin, can retail for more than $100,000 US in its most limited production runs.
When it comes to notoriety, Gucci counts itself as the most famous fashion designer in Italy and is instantly recognizable thanks to its pioneering double-G monogram trademark. Gucci is commonly worn by Hollywood’s elite.
The most famous luxury brand in the world, Louis Vuitton began as a leather goods manufacturer specializing in high-end luggage and custom-made cases of all sorts. They have expanded to include a full-line of luxury goods, including fine champagne and spirits.
The fashion house of Yves Saint Laurent was founded in France more than a century ago and represents classic style with its wide-ranging assortment of products. They are a go-to for cosmetics, fragrance, and shoes as well.
The French fashion house of Chloe has been a favorite of fashionistas everywhere, thanks mostly to their simple leather handbag designs which pay homage to horseback saddles. Their collection of stunning eyewear is another reason they have made their mark on the fashion world.
Rounding out the list, Celine is almost exclusively known for their Phantom bag, which has a striking design form. However, they also create a refined collection of ready-to-wear apparel that is showcased on runways and lauded by style gurus.
Choose a Style That Suits Your Needs
The style of handbag that you choose is really based around how you plan to use the bag and what you are comfortable wearing. The most common type of bag that women gravitate toward is the tote, mainly due to the fact that it is the perfect size for frequent use, extremely practical, and super-versatile.
For those who prefer something a bit smaller, and easier to carry around, a cross-body or shoulder bag should do the trick. Many designers have crafted these bags to be able to use additional straps, allowing a shoulder bag to be transformed into a handbag.
A clutch is best suited for those occasions where you only need a small bag for essentials, such as at dinner or a banquet. The backpack is a perfect choice for travel and exploration.
Everyday Bag or Occasional Use?
If you are planning to use your bag on an everyday basis, the tote is by far one of the most practical options. Thanks to its healthy size, most women can fit everything they need in their totes and those with small children have even more reason to celebrate because they often double as diaper and bottle bags.
On the other hand, if you are in search of a bag that will only be used on occasion, you are better of seeking out a more unique handbag, such as the Celine Phantom. This classic, yet striking, style is perfect for those moments when you wish to present something special, yet it maintains a practical level of functionality.
Classic Piece or Fashion Staple?
The choice between a classic piece or a more fashion-forward staple is really a personal one. If you plan to grow your collection over time, it may be best to choose a trendy fashion staple so that you can make your mark on the world and stand out. If you care less about what others may think about your bag, you may opt for a more classic Prada or Chanel bag for understated elegance.
Longevity may be of great importance to you if you wish to have a bag that can last a lifetime, and maybe even one that you could pass down to generations after you.
In this regard, choosing a timeless design from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, or Hermes would probably be the best bet. These designers are known for their high-quality manufacturing processes, in addition to recognized designs that have already stood the test of time, and will likely continue to do so for many decades to come.
Choose Your Perfect Fit
You definitely want to make sure that you choose to buy a handbag that fits you well. Just as you do with your clothing, you would be best suited trying on various options and maybe even taking some photos with the bag to make sure you are picking the right size for you.
After all, some of the larger bags can become quite heavy with all of the leather and hardware used to make them. Choose something you can carry with ease, and wear without worrying if it is outside of your proportions.
Choosing the Right Colour is Important
Colour is a very important quality to consider when shopping for the perfect designer handbag. If it is your first bag, you may be better off going with classic black leather or darker brown shade, as these colorways can be worn with almost anything that is already in your closet.
Navy blue, gray, and white or creme can be the next best choices as they are neutral and adaptable. Once you have some basic colors in your assortment, go for whatever catches your eye and makes you happy!
Consider Up and Coming Designer Brands
Do you like to stand out and be different? Or, maybe you believe you have stumbled upon something special that you think may become the next big thing in fashion? Well, in this case, you may wish to consider going for some of the lesser-known up and coming designers out there like Medea and Nico Giani.
Sometimes, it is desired to have people notice and be curious about who you are wearing. You would also be doing your part to help up and coming designers get noticed and you can feel good knowing that you are helping to support the future evolution of the fashion world.
Vintage, Preloved Handbags
You do not have to break the bank in order to make a splash of a fashion statement. There are plenty of vintage bags available on the market, and a good portion of these preloved bags are in mint condition.
Thanks to the huge increases in online shopping over the years, it is easier than ever to seek out consigned and pre-owned designer handbags. In fact, many ladies will sell their lesser-used handbags to these shops so that they can use that money to buy their next one. Take advantage of this great opportunity to build your fashion collection at a discount to retail.
Looking for an Investment or a Seasonal Designer Handbag?
When shopping for your handbag, be sure to consider whether you are looking for something that will be a long-term investment that you can use for many years or something that is seasonal and current. This decision should really be based more on what you may already own. It also helps to consider your future needs when making your purchase.
Why Your First Bag Should Be a Classic
If this will be your first time buying a designer handbag, you should forego the current trends and opt for a classic style. Starting with a classic handbag from the likes of Chanel or Louis Vuitton will form a solid foundation around which you can continue to build your collection over time.
Remember that a classic bag will never go out of style, and can always be your go-to if you ever have trouble choosing which purse to use on any given day. These are also much easier to sell on the secondary market should the need arise.
Choosing a Designer Bag That’s On-Trend
As far as current trends are concerned, you can look to fashion magazines and blogs to get an idea of what is in for the season. There are many well-known stylists who are happy to share their wealth of fashion knowledge in print and also on television. Social media is also a great place to look when trying to figure out the current trends in fashion. Be sure to follow Vogue, Elle, and Cosmo so you can stay on top of your fashion game.
How ‘Designer’ Do You Want to Go?
In your quest for additions to your wardrobe of handbags, you also must consider how obvious you want it to be that you are holding a designer bag. The styles can range widely from designer handbags that have their names and monograms printed boldly all over, to more understated options that still offer the high-quality fashion that you may be seeking. In this case, decide ahead of time if you want everyone to know what you are wearing, or if you prefer to be a bit more mysterious.
Beware of Counterfeits!
It is extremely important that you are careful about where you decide to purchase your designer handbag. The world is chock full of counterfeits, and you should be especially cautious if you are making your purchase online.
Your best bet is to go directly to the boutique or website of the manufacturer when shopping for high-end goods. You can also shop securely with one of the many authorized department stores like Harrod’s or Saks Fifth Avenue without worrying about falling prey to scammers.
Does the Country of Manufacturer Matter?
Decide whether you care about where your handbag was made. Some people prefer to shop from designers who manufacture within their home country and support their local economy. Maybe you are more sensitive to human rights or environmental issues. Whatever the case, any luxury handbag designer should have their manufacturing information readily available for you to help you with your decision to purchase.
Know Your Right to Return
One of the other important things to consider when buying a designer handbag is the return policy of the retailer. Always ask in advance, and be sure to preserve your receipt in the event of a defect or change of heart.
How to Take Care of Your Handbag
Caring for your handbag properly will ensure that it will last you for many years to come. In most cases, the top luxury brands provide dust bags to help preserve your handbag and protest it from dust and sunlight.
These dust bags are also great for preventing accidental scuffs or scratches if you happen to be traveling with your handbag. Keep your bag clean and dry, and always take your bag to the original designer in the event that you need extended services such as repair or deep cleaning.
Buying A Designer Handbag As A Gift
As the holidays are approaching, you may wish to purchase a bag as a gift for someone you hold dear. In this case, it would be helpful to do your best to discover their needs and consider what they already may have in their closet.
Find out the basics, like their favorite colors, or the colors that they wear most often. Also, consider their lifestyle so that you can better choose between handbags that are better suited for busy women who may need something more practical for everyday use, a travel-friendly bag, or something a bit more special for those who might reserve their designer handbag for special events and occasions.
The world of fashion is far-reaching and it is really a form of wearable art that has transcended the test of time. With the holidays nearing, this is the best time to gear up for perusing the stores for gifts, and with this guide, you should have no problem making the best of your shopping experience.
You now have all of the tools necessary to make an educated and informed designer handbag buying decision. Use this designer handbag buying guide any time you wish to make your next luxury bag purchase, and you can rest assured that you will be able to choose the perfect bag each and every time.
Wishing you all the best on your fashion journey, and hope that you will enjoy your designer handbag collection for many years to come. Happy shopping!
Before you go, I have also put together a review of the most elegant designer handbags that I think you will enjoy.
Discover Your Perfect Designer Handbag
Please take a moment to browse through my hand-picked collection of elegant designer handbags.
There may just be the perfect bag waiting there for you!
Ingrid is an avid perfume collector, experienced Youtube fragrance reviewer and prolific writer who has been working in the fashion industry for over 30 years. I love nothing more than losing myself in the Harrods fragrance department to discover something enticing. Ingrid’s Full Bio.