Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

July 25, 2019

GUEST POST by Whismy in Her Wardrobe: Choosing a Designer Bag.

     Today's guest poster is Jordyn from Whimsy in Her Wardrobe! I've loved following Jordyn's blog for a few years and I'm so happy she is one of my guest posters this week while I'm away. She's chatting all about designer handbags- what a fun topic. Take it away, Jordyn! - xoxo Annaliese

Hello lovelies! As you may know Annaliese is on vacation in her home state of Maine. Like you guys probably do, I follow Annaliese on Instagram and love her daily stories (If you don't follow Annaliese on Insta, why not? Pop over and tell her you miss her).

A quick bit About Me:

Though I've followed Annaliese on Southern Belle in Training for years and have come to consider Annaliese a friend, I realize I'm essentially a stranger on this corner of the internet. Before I jump into handbags & why you should listen to my recommendations, I should probably share a few facts about myself. I am currently a full-time law student in Washington State, where I live. Last summer I married my best friend at a winery in Napa Valley, my husband and I are both named Jordyn, though we spell it differently. I am a coffee enthusiast, skincare & handbag fanatic and consider myself Taylor Swift's biggest fan (August 23rd can't come fast enough). I blog over at Whimsy in Her Wardrobe, come say hello would you?

Choosing an Investment Bag

There comes a time in every fashion lover's life when she finds herself innately drawn to an expensive handbag. Whether its by Louis Vuitton or Tory Burch, Chanel or a local designer down the street, you may find yourself asking, "am I crazy for seriously considering dropping this much money for a utensil to tote around my lipgloss and sunglasses?" You may be crazy, but, alas, you are not alone!

I use the term "investment bag" loosely throughout this article. I know a purse will never be the same kind of investment as a piece of real estate or a 401k. An investment, when it comes to wardrobe, is a piece that can be worn and loved for years to come. For me, an investment piece, in terms of my wardrobe, is something that initially is a splurge but I will wear it so much that eventually the cost-per-wear makes it worth it (more on that in the "cost-per-wear subsection" below). An investment bag can be $100, $1000, or for some, much more. I'm not a bag elitist, and use the term investment not as a specific price marker because an investment means different price points for different people. We all are comfortable with different price points, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't consider the same factors.

A few beautiful "Investment Bags" that Caught my eye recently:

Top Left to Right: Coach Carryall | Tory Burch Satchel| Louis Vuitton Artsy |Celine Belt Bag Bottom Left to Right: Rebecca Minkoff Crossbody |Chanel Shopping Bag |YSL LouLou |Mulberry Heritage Bayswater[/caption] I've compiled a list of several points to consider when investing in a bag, along with some tips & tricks to make your search a little easier.

Utility & Aesthetics

When you first find yourself questioning whether a bag is worth your hard-earned cash, the siren's call often stems from the aesthetics of a bag. No shame, I'm a sucker for pretty things too. Something about the craftsmanship of the piece makes your heart flutter in a way you never imagined an inanimate object could. Still, most of us cannot obtain our every whim when it comes to fashion, it's not affordable nor is it practical (the closet space in my apartment is pretty dismal, can you relate?). As a practical matter we can't all spend on bags like a Kardashian, and consequently we must consider the functionality and style of a bag before we pull the trigger.
  • First and foremost, ask yourself if the bag is super trendy or if the style will still look nice in a couple of years? My eye is often drawn to trendy pieces because they feel fresh, funky & aren't yet oversaturated, however, when the trend goes stale, I usually find myself apprehensive to wear a trendy-piece. Belt bags and side-packs are examples of obvious trends.Unless you love a style enough that you think you'll wear it enough to justify the price before the fad fizzles out (or you just don't care and you'll continue to wear it after that point), then I suggest avoiding trendy bags when investing in an expensive bag. Want a better idea of what is trending in bags now? A simple google search will do the trick, and this article is a great start for Fall 2019.
  • Are you someone that babies your bags? Are you willing to maintain them? Or do you like a bag that you can toss around without much worrying? Certain styles and materials require more TLC than others. Untreated leather may need to be protected from rain, lambskin scratches more easily than caviar leather and lighter bags may absorb color-transfer from denim, depending on the material. Be realistic and don't purchase a bag if it doesn't fit into your lifestyle.
  • Next you should consider the color of bag you want. If it is your first investment bag, you probably want a versatile piece you'll be able to mix-and-match with almost anything in your wardrobe. Black, navy or brown can all be safe choices, however, given your style you aren't always limited to those options. Take a few minutes to think about your wardrobe. What colors do you wear most often? If you tend to wear all black, or neutrals, you may be able to seamlessly incorporate a bag in a bold color into your wardrobe. Personally, I don't own a red bag but I love the way it looks with a neutral wardrobe as a pop-of-color. This one by Tory Burch would make a great investment piece. Don't forget to consider neutrals like slate gray, taupe, olive green and blush. The most important thing to consider is your wardrobe and what is workable according to your daily wear.
  • Considering the functionality of an investment bag is absolutely critical! There are beautiful, stylish bags out there, that functionally are incredibly inconvenient for daily use (think mini-bags that are so small they cannot fit an iPhone). What are your specific needs? Are you looking for a work tote that has room for your laptop, lunch box and wallet? An evening bag that only needs to hold a tube of lipstick, your ID and your cellphone? Or something in between? Beyond size, consider a bag's design. For example, the Celine Luggage Tote is known for being heavy, while most Louis Vuitton canvas bags are quite light on their own. Do you want a bag with lots of built in pockets and compartments (like this one by Dagne Dover)? Or do you need to consider purchasing a purse insert to make your bag more functional? Make a list of bag must-haves before you spend your savings on a new piece that may not meet your needs.


After considering what you want from a bag aesthetically and functionally, it's time to move on to the research stage of your hunt. It is important to do your research whether you have a particular bag in mind or if you are looking for an investment bag generally.

I love the utility of the Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 30, but had to do quite a bit of digging before I decided which size and style was the best for me.[/caption]
  • Think about a brand's reputation. Now, I don't mean you should take into account which designer all of your favorite celebrities and influencer's opt for (they probably have quite a few bags anyways), but rather the brand's reputation when it comes to quality and craftsmanship. You want to find a brand that will stand by its product should there be any manufacturer defects, or offers repairs for flaws within a certain time period. Personally I have nothing but good things to say about Tory Burch, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Celine, but there are hundreds of other brands out there and you should do some digging and see what others have to say.
  • If you aren't a big Youtube person you may not realize but Youtube is filled with handbag review videos. Before making any major handbag purchases I like to pop over to Youtube and watch a few reviews. I personally enjoy "wear and tear" videos as opposed to unboxing videos because the reviewer is able to share how well the bag has functioned over a particular length of time. It is so much more helpful to hear about someone's feelings on a bag after they've used it for a year than when they are starry-eyed over a brand new purchase.
  • Purseblog is a great resource for anything and everything in the handbag world. As a purse lover, I can spend hours scrolling through the confessionals and celebrity style sections (it's my guilty-pleasure). Purseblog not only has brand specific guides, but offers tips for buying preloved bags and forums where you can discuss bags by brand. The forums can be really useful if you want to learn more about a particular style of bag or about the quality of a specific brand.
  • In addition to Purseblog, I like to peruse brand specific Facebook groups (like this one all about Louis Vuitton). You'll definitely find die-hard fans of a brand in these sort of groups who can give you honest advice about certain bag styles, defects and functionality. You can even ask questions about the quality of a specific year if you plan to buy a vintage or preloved bag. Through the Louis Vuitton group I learned about Louis Vuitton's repair policy should a bag wear down more quickly than it should, and about which reseller sites offer reputable authentication (Fashionphile consistently gets the best reviews).
  • When it comes to research, your best resource is yourself. If at all possible you should visit your local mall and try a bag on in person before purchasing.Though it isn't always possible to get your hands on your coveted handbag, seeing a bag with your own eyes and feeling it with your own hands can be illuminating. Even if you plan to eventually purchase a bag online, it can be really useful to test out the hardware and see how your dream bag fits on your body.
  • Find out a brand's return policy. Nothing is worse than splurging on a beautiful, designer handbag only to regretfully realize you made a mistake. Whether you decide you aren't comfortable with the price, you don't actually love magenta velvet that much, or you realize your wallet won't fit in that want to know what your options are before the money leaves your bank account. 💸 Before you swipe your credit card make sure you fully understand a brand's return policy. You can ask in store or look it up online. Some brands will only exchange a bag for in-store credit, others will give you a full refund so long as the bag hasn't been used, still others will exchange a bag so long as it isn't damaged (even if it is used).


A YSL bag I recently purchased preloved in excellent condition from The RealReal.[/caption] Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to talk budget! When shopping for an investment bag, it is important to set a budget for yourself. Do you want to spend $100, $500, $1000 or more? I used to think about price as its own factor, without considering the aesthetic, utility and function of the bag. Now, I like to think about price from a cost-per-wear perspective. I like the cost-per-wear perspective because it takes the utility of an item into account. The more you wear an item, the lower the cost-per-wear! If you spend $1000 on a bag and wear it every "work day" in a typical year that is 261 days. $1000 divided by 261 wears equals out to roughly $3.83 per wear. You can lower the cost by wearing the same bag more often: Say you wear the same $1000 bag to work every day for three years, your cost per wear is $1.27. Or, by lowering the cost of the bag: If you spend $500 on a bag, and wear it every working day for a year (261 days typically), you spend approximately $1.91 per wear. Using the cost-per-wear perspective generally means I'm willing to spend far less on a quirky statement bag (like this pig bag by Kate Spade) then on something I know I'll wear more often (like this backpack I reach for constantly). The cost-per-wear analysis is useful because it allows you to take your lifestyle, budget and style preferences into account. If you know you are the type of person who will wear the same bag everyday for years, it may be worth spending a little more as you are likely to have a lower your cost per wear. If you are the type of gal who likes to switch handbags daily, or to wear trendy bags, you might consider spending less so you can keep your cost-per-wear relatively low. Or maybe you want to purchase an expensive bag that can only be worn twice a's your choice, but be sure to think about how much that bag will cost you each time you wear it out.
  • My final point to consider when it comes to pricing out an investment bag, is to think about purchasing a preloved handbag. Not only are preloved bags more environmentally friendly, but you can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars! I personally prefer Fashionphile and The RealReal because I trust the authentication process and have found really beautiful pieces, in excellent or new condition. However, there are quite a few smaller sites out there that specialize in designer resale (here's a list of sites that Harper's Bazaar recently ranked "the best").
I've worn this popular Gucci crossbody so often that the cost-per-wear has to be under $1. Well friends, I hope you find my advice useful when it comes to purchasing an investment bag. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all perfect handbag.This article summarizes some of the most iconic handbags of all time, however a bag that is perfect for me, your favorite blogger or even your best friend, might not be perfect for you. Taking into account your lifestyle, preferences and budget are way more important than having the hottest "It bag" of the moment. A bag won't change your life, make you feel any differently about yourself or get you a promotion. However, as with any fashionable piece, the right purse can elevate your wardrobe and add flavor to your style. Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your dream bag is, or if you have ever chosen an investment bag for your wardrobe.

Tell me, what is your dream handbag?

Thanks again for reading, and thanks to Annaliese for having me! If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my recent Nsale Try-On, this post on where I splurge & where I save in my wardrobe, or this older post where I share my honest thoughts on subscription services Rent the Runway and Le Tote.


  1. I love your definition of an investment bag! These are great tips to think about before making an expensive purchase. Although I don't have many bags, my mom acquired a bunch of bags over the years. Interestingly enough, many of them have come back into fashion and are coveted by her granddaughters and daughters. She doesn't have very many super expensive bags, but she always chose quality bags and now years later, they are still in great shape!

  2. What a fun post! I also call my designer bags investment bags. I love all of her picks and tips too.

  3. Love this post and so helpful if you're deciding on making the investment! There are some beautiful bags and I think a designer bag that you love and will use for years is a great investment piece!

    cute & little

  4. I used to be OBSESSED with designer bags! I could never afford the price tag though, so I always opted for finding them in thrift stores, which meant all the ones I got were quite outdated 😅 I'm glad there are posts out there like this - and videos on YouTube - that remind you of all the important things to think about when looking to purchase a designer bag, because they really ARE an investment, and shouldn't be chosen willy-nilly!

  5. I'm not a fashionista, so buying a designer bag is not really an investment for me. But I can see how for others this could be a good investment.

  6. Such a great guide! I still have yet to purchase my first designer...anything! But I want a bag or a pair of shoes to be my first investment piece. This was so helpful to read!

  7. Wow, this is a lot of great research! The only "designer" bag I really own is a Dooney, because they started making Disney prints. I got one I really love and I'm so impressed with the quality of it too!


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