While it’s nice to find amazing deals on everyday items, sometimes we just want to embrace the finer things in life. Simply put, some things are actually worth the splurge. There are some of us who covet our fine jewelry pieces or won’t hesitate to buy a pair of designer shoes, but there’s a whole other category of us who’d rather put our hard-earned money toward a designer handbag instead.
But what defines a luxury bag? “Luxury is about status, covetable pieces that align with customers emotionally,” explains Monica Botkier, handbag and accessories designer, founder of the eponymous label Botkier and author of “Handbags: A Love Story.” “Luxury usually signals quality materials, craftsmanship, expense, creating a uniqueness and barrier to entry that makes one feel special to be part of the club. Today it is about being represented by a brand’s ethos.”
Stylist and creative director Jessica Diehl believes that “desire and scarcity are the emotional components of luxury.” Essentially, she thinks that the price tag doesn’t matter and that luxury can mean different things to different people. She recommends asking yourself if you’d be happy if it were your only bag. If the answer is yes, buy it.
But if you’ve never shopped luxury, it can be hard to make that first purchase. “I only recently started investing in luxury bags now that I finally have the means to do so, and for me, it’s a total game changer,” shares freelance editor, writer and content creator Kristin Corpuz. “Not only do I love the act of investing in both myself and my wardrobe, but even the simplest outfit of a T-shirt, jeans and sandals is easily elevated with a designer handbag.”
Ready to look for yourself? With this guidance in mind, keep reading to check out some luxury handbags that are worth the splurge. We promise it’s OK to treat yourself.
Christian Louboutin Cabata East-West Leather Tote Bag ($1,350; neimanmarcus.com)
We couldn’t complete our list without an option by Christian Louboutin, especially for those looking for a bag to match their beloved red-bottom shoes. We love the sleek Cabata leather tote bag that’s made in Italy, and it’s structured and spacious, according to reviewers.
Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bag ($695; mansurgavriel.com)
When you ask Botkier about what it means to be a luxury bag, she explains that the “Telfar shopping tote today is as this Mansur Gavriel bucket bag did before…that creates a frenzy around one strong silhouette in multiple colors that drop, sell out fast and keeps demand high.” Get your hands on this polished yet casual style that won’t break the bank.
Bottega Veneta Padded Cassette Bag ($3,200; nordstrom.com)
Bottega accessories are taking over right now, including this Padded Cassette Bag that’s recommended by Diehl. But just because it’s trending doesn’t mean you have to get your hands on one. Her advice is to “pick one [bag] you can wear with most anything in your wardrobe. Be honest with yourself about your general style, not the trends you are into right this moment.”
Jacquemus Le Chiquito Clutch ($550; ssense.com)
Why is everyone sporting a version of a micro bag these days? We have this Jacquemus Le Chiquito Clutch to thank for that. “This is at a great price point and take on the classics, yet clever in the way they have the handle detail,” explains Botkier. “It’s small and crossbody that’s appropriate for everyday wear.”
Be prepared to only carry around the essentials with this cutie that’s also a favorite of Corpuz’s despite it being a trend. “I always looks for pieces I know I’ll want to wear for a while,” she says. “I typically pick colors that match my aesthetic and forgo the more buzzy colorways that don’t really suit my style.”
Chanel Classic Lambskin Quilted Handbag ($5,220; rebag.com)
“With a classic Chanel like this, you’ll always get your money’s worth,” says Botkier. “It’s a fantastic classic that you would never want to get rid of, or it’s an heirloom if you’d want to pass it down.” Although this is the most expensive pick on our list, this Chanel is clearly a timeless piece to covet for years to come.
Marc Jacobs Snapshot Colorblock Camera Bag ($295; neimanmarcus.com)
One reviewer describes this Marc Jacobs bag as “attractive, elegant and sophisticated” for its vibrant colors and fun strap that will get you plenty of compliments for sure. This would be a great option for someone who has never had a designer bag before or doesn’t want to drop too many coins.
Bottega Veneta The Mini Pouch Leather Clutch ($1,550; nordstrom.com)
You’ve likely seen this Bottega Veneta bag taking over the industry, a style that’s a new trend for the brand that’ll keep you up to date, according to Botkier. She shares that this “retains its value so you can always sell it, as well as being a nice update to your closet.” This bag might be for you if you want a designer option that shows you’re in the know of the latest accessory trends, in this mini or the traditional size.
Saint Laurent Monogramme Grain de Poudre Leather Wallet-on-Chain ($1,590; neimanmarcus.com)
“The leather quality is superb and the black-on-black hardware is so sleek. The size is perfect for a night on the town,” shares one reviewer of this top-rated Saint Laurent bag. Not only will this match practically any outfit, it’s also big enough to fit your phone, keys, wallet and perhaps a couple makeup products.
Celine Triomphe Clutch ($1,500; celine.com)
“The lines are clean, the functionality is there and it’s not too big or small,” describes Botkier of this Celine Triomphe clutch. “It’s everything you could want if you’re trying to have a bit of status without going overboard.” You can get this bag in a variety of color options and sizes to suit your bag needs.
Chloe Marcie Small Satchel Bag ($990; neimanmarcus.com)
Is a satchel-style bag more your vibe for everyday wear? Grab the Chloe Marcie Satchel Bag that’s made of pebbled leather and features bow-shaped buckles on the handles. “Chloe handbags are the perfect balance of classic sophistication and contemporary edge,” says one reviewer who purchased this style because it’s not too trendy.
Loewe Heel Dotted Leather Saddlebag ($990; saksfifthavenue.com)
Botkier explains that “if you love the way bags are built or crafted, you’ll get the durability out of this” — in fact, she had a hard time picking a style since the brand carries so many good ones that show true craftsmanship. In the end, she’d go for the Loewe Heel Dotted Leather Saddlebag that can be worn as a crossbody or belt bag.
Gucci 1955 Horsebit-Detailed Textured Leather Shoulder Bag ($2,700; net-a-porter.com)
“This bag is your simple shoulder bag,” says Botkier. “What’s amazing is the red and green with gold hardware that was born and bred in Italy. It gives you this heritage feeling of the house of Gucci” without being overstated. She thinks that this bag has a simple flair to it that’ll span any age demographic and is easy to dress up or down.
Dior 30 Montaigne Flat Bag ($3,240; rebag.com)
Dior’s 30 Montaigne collection is a tribute to the House’s historic address, designed to showcase the true craftsmanship of the brand. The timeless style of the flat bag comes recommended by Diehl and is sure to pair well with any essentials in your closet.
Balenciaga Neo Classic City Mini Croc-Effect Patent Leather Tote ($1,990; net-a-porter.com)
“Balenciaga’s City tote was its breakout bag in the early 2000s, and the brand keeps coming out with iterations of it and it never gets old,” says Botkier. The bag was spotted on the arms of fashion editors and style icons alike, so much so that Botkier wanted it so badly. She thinks this style is worth the splurge because it’ll retain its value from a reputable designer.
Brandon Blackwood Kendrick Croc-Embossed Box Bag ($275; saksfifthavenue.com)
You won’t regret splurging on a bag by Brandon Blackwood, a Black handbag designer whose work has been sported all over Instagram by fashion insiders and celebrities alike. Whether you bought the brand’s iconic “end systemic racism” tote last summer or are looking to shop for the first time, this versatile Saks-exclusive trunk bag is sure to become a staple accessory.
Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag ($3,815; rebag.com)
It’s important to note that both of our experts had picks by Chanel, which is a great indication that the brand’s styles are worth the splurge. Diehl would opt for this 2.55 handbag, a classic rectangular shape that was created in February 1955.
Burberry Note Medium Leather & Vintage Check Crossbody Bag ($1,350; neimanmarcus.com)
The Burberry Note Crossbody Bag has a 5-star rating at Neiman Marcus, receiving high marks for its high-quality leather, lightweight design and ability to carry necessities. We also love the subtle Burberry print panel on the front of the bag as well as inside that doesn’t scream flashy at all.