The great thing about small leather goods is, they are a great way to dip your toe in and get a feel for a brand, before committing to a higher priced item like a handbag. You can pick up an SLG on the preloved market for a fairly affordable price and see how you get on with it.
When I picked up my preloved Multi Color Pochette (for an absolute bargain £187 – hear more about that here), I knew it would need a bit of love to help bring it back to life. Luckily, I have plenty of products to help do just that.
It was my 31st birthday earlier this week and last year I shared what I got for my 30th (I got the Chanel WOC which was incredible!). You seem to really enjoy seeing these and I LOVE sharing them with you. Feeling so unbelievable grateful as always, and I of course treated myself to a couple of amazing Louis Vuitton unicorns…
So, you’ve decided you’d like to take the plunge and buy your first ever designer handbag. It might be for a special occasion like your birthday, a reward for an achievement or milestone you’ve hit, or just because you deserve a treat. Whatever your reasons, I’ve come up with some things you should think about before you hand over any cash.
What is your budget?
For some people, this isn’t the first thing they need to consider, but if you’re like me and you don’t have a money tree in your back garden, the cost of an item is often the first thing I think about. Do NOT under any circumstances get into debt for a handbag. You shouldn’t even consider buying one if you can’t afford it.
If you have saved up and you do have the money, how much are you actually willing to spend? You can pick up a designer bag anywhere from a couple of hundred all the way up to thousands and thousands of pounds.
You can save yourself a LOT of money by browsing the pre-loved market, something I would always recommend if you have a particular handbag in mind. Not only is it a sustainable way to shop, but you can pick up a bargain if you’re not too bothered about having the in-store experience.
If you’re not sure where to start, read my top tips for buying pre-loved luxury handbags. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scammers and people selling fakes online so it’s important to be extremely careful.
What do you want to use the bag for?
Think about why and where you want to use your new designer handbag. Do you want to use it every single day for work or school/university? If so, you should consider the material – something robust like canvas or grained leather. Will you be carrying a lot? Does it need to fit a laptop? A large, roomy tote bag would be best for this.
Are you looking for something you can use on weekends? If you are, I’d opt for something casual as opposed to dressy, and something that is going to go with all kinds of outfits. Think about the shape and silhouette – a boxy, camera-style bag that you can wear cross-body is great for casual weekend days spent shopping or running errands. This is generally a time when you want to be hands-free.
What if you’re looking for something you can wear on evenings? Think dinners, nights out or fancy occasions. A smaller bag or wallet-on-chain would be best here – a clutch bag or something with a dainty chain. Think about classic textures and colours that will never go out of style.
A caveat here would be to think about your lifestyle. If you’ve got your eye on an evening bag but you very rarely go out on the evenings, you might want to have a re-think. You don’t want to end up with the bag just sitting on your shelf after spending all that money.
How do you like to dress?
Take a look in your wardrobe and work out your personal fashion style is. Are you a casual dresser who normally wears a simple t-shirt and jeans? Do you follow trends? Or do you prefer to keep it classic with tailored blazers and a pair of heels? You want to make sure the bag you buy is going to go with the majority of your outfits.
Print out a photo of the bag you want, or search for an image online on your phone. Hold it up against your outfits (and your shoes!) and see how many it works with. You might like the idea of that bag but is it actually going to fit with the rest of your wardrobe? If not, you’re less likely to want to wear it.
What is the re-sale value of the bag?
Of course, not everyone purchases a bag with a view to sell it one day, I certainly don’t. However, we all make mistakes and our tastes can change as we get older. It’s always worth checking what the bag generally sells for on the pre-loved market, just incase you eventually decide it wasn’t for you after all.
Nobody likes to lose money. We can do as much research as possible and try the bag on multiple times before purchasing, but we’ll never know how it is actually going to work out for us until we own it and we adopt it into our daily life. It’s always a good idea to check how much you could potentially get back if you did decide to sell.
Deep down, which bag do you actually want?
It can be very tempting to go for the bag that’s ‘sort of’ similar to your holy grail, except it’s quite a bit cheaper and much easier to get your hands on. When I was thinking about buying my Chanel wallet-on-chain, I tried on so many other versions in the hope I would find something I loved equally as much (and that was kinder to the bank balance).
The requirements were simple: a small black bag with gold hardware and a chain strap that could be worn cross-body or over the shoulder. I tried on bags in Mulberry, Strathberry, YSL, Dior and many more. They were all very nice bags, but they just were not the Chanel WOC. If you can afford not to settle, aim to get your number one choice.
If you are putting off your purchase because of the price, I’m sorry to say that it is only going to get more expensive. Brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton have very regular price increases, and they are not small hikes either. So if you really do have your heart set on something, it’s probably best not to wait too long until it becomes completely out of reach.
Don’t rush it
The last point I want to make is not to rush. I know once you have something in your head it can be difficult to be patient. My love for designer bags grew throughout my 20s, but I waited until I was 28 before buying my first luxury item (and it wasn’t a bag, I started with a small leather good).
I saved up enough money so that I wouldn’t feel too guilty about it, and treated myself for my birthday. It felt so much better knowing I was ready to spend my hard earned cash on something I had put a lot of thought into beforehand.
Talking through my best and worst purchases of 2019. I didn’t go on too much of a shopping spree, but I did buy a few things. I also had my 30th birthday last year so that was an occasion I wanted to mark with something special. Among the hits, there were also a couple of misses…
I now have a total of seven Louis Vuitton pieces so I wanted to do an updated collection video to show you each one in order of when I got them. I also thought it would be really interesting to go through how much I paid for each item on the pre-loved market and compare that to the retail prices. The amount I’ve saved is incredible!
A Keepall has been on my wishlist for quite a while. For weekends away, I was lugging around a small suitcase which seemed a bit too much for most trips. A Keepall looked perfect for my needs, but I definitely didn’t have the funds to buy one brand new!
I can’t tell you how long I’ve been searching for this item! They are always sold out on the Louis Vuitton website, and therefore people have the cheek to try and sell them above the retail price for those that can’t wait for them to come back in stock. I knew I wanted one preloved and was only going to buy one for the right price and in good condition. I had seen so many REALLY worn ones but held out for something better. And here she is…
Oxfam have launched #SecondHandSeptember – a campaign to try and discourage people from buying new clothing and accessories for the entire 30 days of the month. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion and highlight the importance of limiting the amount of clothes we send to landfill.
I am a huge champion of vintage pieces, a sustainability enthusiast and a lover of buying on a budget. Most of my collection is second hand, so I am constantly on the lookout for pre-loved websites selling luxury accessories.