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Not every fashion lover has an extensive collection of designer handbags and a floor-to-ceiling inventory of vintage Chanels—even Carrie Bradshaw had to start somewhere. And unless you’ve been a die-hard follower of the fashion community for years, it can all seem a little overwhelming. If you’re ready to start your own collection but aren’t sure where to begin, we’re here to help. Behold: the ultimate guide to choosing your first designer handbag.
One of the first things to consider when picking out the perfect designer handbag is what the bag will be used for. Do you plan on bringing it along with you to brunch every Sunday? Or will you carry it by your side to the occasional cocktail party? Maybe you’re looking for something that can function in both situations—a real fashion unicorn. Believe it or not, many designer handbags are made with a distinct function in mind. Every handle, clasp, and pocket tells a story of its purpose. That’s not to say we all can’t break the rules a little, but for the most part, it’s not a bad idea to stick to the guidelines.
Another thing you’ll want to consider is the size of the bag. It may be tempting to go extra big (or even extra small), but again, you’ll have to think about how the bag will be used. If it needs to serve as an “everything bag” that will hold your books, makeup, and other odds and ends, it should be sized accordingly. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a clutch to take with you on a night out for drinks, do you want a smaller clutch that needs to be held, or a larger one with straps that can allow you to have both hands free? Sometimes, bags of a certain size require us to make small sacrifices—try to anticipate if you’ll be wishing you had more space or if you’d rather your handbag be more portable.
Virtually every designer has a signature style that is not only conveyed through their designs, but reflected onto the wearer themselves as well. In a way, wearing a certain designer is almost like branding yourself as part of an exclusive community. An outward display of your style can often represent your personality, so putting forth the right image is something to strive for. Of course, it’s not all about how others perceive you—wear something that makes you happy! If you consider yourself to have an edgier style, there’s nothing wrong with going with the classics, and vice versa.
Color is one commonly overlooked aspect of the process of choosing the perfect bag. Many people assume that bags of a neutral color will get more use, and that’s partially true. Neutral-colored bags might be more versatile, but if your style is bold and colorful, then a beige bag might have no place in your wardrobe! Purchasing a handbag that will get the most use and mesh well with your existing closet is key. After all, who buys designer handbags just to have them sit on the shelf collecting dust? (Not us!) A good rule of thumb is to have at least 2-3 neutral-colored bags that can be wardrobe staples (like a black, a gray, and a brown), and then a wildcard, such as a navy, striped, or patterned one.
As expected, price should be a consideration as well, though price isn’t everything. As you’ll come to realize, designer handbags are priced the way they are for a reason: they have rich history, are backed by the ingenious design masterminds of our time, and have a reputation that have carried their names through the decades. The price of luxury is one that many are willing to pay, and for good reason. If you do consider yourself to be a financially-conscious shopper, there are plenty of ways to get the look for less. Renting, buying second-hand from sites like Cash In My Bag, and building your way up to more expensive bags are all ways you can begin your designer handbag collection without spending a fortune right off the bat.
At the end of the day, your designer handbag collection should be something you’re proud of. Guidelines on size, style, and color can only take you so far; the rest is up to you. What are you waiting for?