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I’ve bought and sold my fair share of designer handbags over the years. In most cases, I settled for prices much lower than what I paid and there were only a handful of situations where I was lucky enough to break even, or come close to it. (I’ve yet to experience a windfall or an ‘investment’ in the true sense of the word!) In recent times, the turnover of buying and selling has significantly slowed down and I put it down to the fact that kids are now in the picture, but also – I’m pretty content with my collection – and it has taken me years to get to this point!
Bag buying is a costly exercise, especially if you’re prone to changing your mind or you’re easily swayed by trends. Throughout the buying and selling process, I’ve gained insight into what my bag style is and what I truly value.
#1 – Buy for your actual life, not your fantasy life
While this might be stating the obvious, this particular point took me a long time to accept! I’ve bought so many bags that I dreamed of wearing, but the problem was that I didn’t have a particular lifestyle or style aesthetic to pull these off. In the same vein, I previously loved the idea of having a big collection, but my actual life didn’t, and still doesn’t, accommodate this.
Bags that I bought for my ‘fantasy life’ included numerous designer clutches by Prada and Miu Miu in my 20s. At the time, I thought I was getting bang for buck given I was getting a designer ‘bag’ at a lower price. ‘Small designer bag’ – who was I kidding?! 🤣 Considering the obvious limited capacity of a clutch, and the fact that in my actual life, I like to carry things with me (not just a lipstick and one credit card!), clutches just weren’t practical. I even found that on occasions where clutches were warranted, such as weddings or date nights, I’d go to pack a clutch but more often than not, would opt for a handbag in the end because I’d want to carry more with me.
In recent times, I made the difficult decision to let go of my Celine Luggage Tote (and I talk through my decision making process here). In short, I came to the realisation that while I’d love to have a large bag collection at my disposal, it ultimately doesn’t align with my lifestyle to have handbags sitting idle at home.
#2 – You shouldn’t be working around your bag, it should be working for you
Other costly lessons learnt include making concessions for bags that weren’t perfect for me, but settling for them anyway. A bag that has an uncomfortable strap, or a fiddly closure, or some sort of design feature that doesn’t work for you – should signal a big red flag. And if it’s something that you’re not quite happy with, chances are, you probably won’t reach for it. So save your pennies for a bag that you don’t have to work around, but one that works for your lifestyle and how you like to wear it.
#3 – Buy bags that you’ll actually use, and not just what looks pretty
I’ve always loved the look of colourful and statement bags, and admire them when worn by others. I’ve owned my fair few statement coloured handbags in the past, hoping to achieve the same sartorial edge of those I admired. I found that when I’d reach for them, I’d end up swapping them out for a more neutral toned bag, or just one of my black handbags. So after a few expensive lessons over the years, I’ve come to realise that colourful bags don’t work for my style aesthetic.
That probably explains why I have so many black bags in my collection!
#4 – Cost per wear should be part of the equation
I always find it amusing that often the lower priced items are the ones that I wear the most. This rings especially true with clothing but also extends to my handbags. My Celine Trio Bag is one of the cheaper bags in my collection and because of my lifestyle, is my most frequently used bag.
That said, my Chanel Classic Flap which costs more than my entire Celine collection put together doesn’t get used as often as I’d like! While it is a classic bag, and I won’t ever consider parting ways with it, I do think that just the one Chanel bag is enough to last me a lifetime. Sometimes, it’s impossible to know how often you’ll use something until you’ve got it.
If you have any bag-buying lessons, please share them below! As always, thanks for stopping by.