Let’s get it all out on the table – the world of handbags is more than a little daunting. I think this is mostly because when you first become privy to the price tags on some of fashion’s most coveted bags, you want to cry or hide. Chanel – $5,000. Celine – $3,000. Hermes- $10,000+. Eek! Yes, one can always make a case for good quality and craftsmanship, but some of us may not really be in that place right now. Before we can ever dream of spending $3,000+ on a handbag, we’ll likely need to start slow and splurge on something a little less ulcer inducing. So to all fashion lovers who are looking to make the first leap into designer handbag territory, this post is for you. Today we’re talking about the real deal, high end, designer pieces that will last you a lifetime. The ones you’ll look back on fondly as your “first,” and pass on to your daughters… but ones that are NOT in the “I could buy a decent used car with that money” realm. Here are my top picks for high end designer everyday handbags in the $1,000 range. Why $1,000? Well, the hard truth is if you want high end, $1,000 is around the minimum of what you can expect to pay. So, while there are plenty of stylish options from less expensive brands like Coach, Tory Burch, Rebecca Minkoff, and Kate Spade, I consider those to be in a different category – maybe for another blog post. The rules for choosing were as follows: 1) Must be an everyday carryall, no puny clutches. 2) Must be a recognizable, iconic style. 3) High end designer bags only and no secondary mid-range lines – Marc by MJ, See by Chloe, McQ, etc. 4) Absolutely nothing over $1300 – There were a few that came close which I just had to include, but once you go over $1300, you’re in a new category. There are of course several great bags I’m not calling out today – this is simply my personal opinion. These are the ones in the running when I’m shopping for a bag in this price range and the ones I often advise my clients to buy. There’s something here for everyone – from classic and timeless to edgy and obscure.
3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel, $895 – This bag is the perfect mix of edgy, classic, practical, and sturdy. It has the easy and classic elements you want in an expensive bag yet also those creative and artsy touches that set it apart from other bags. It can be dressed up or dressed down, worn several ways (vertical zippers zipped and structured, unzipped and relaxed, flap in tact or hanging out, top handles or long strap, etc). It also comes in a variety of sizes, colors, and fabrics so you can definitely find something that suits you. It’s not quite as popular as some of the others on this list, so it’s a good one if you’re looking to go a little unexpected, yet still a very solid and chic choice.
Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere, $1,250-1,290 – There’s so much to say about this bag. As many of you know, I recently sold my Speedy 35 (the same bag, only no detachable long strap which now retails for $895) so that I could purchase something similar. This was the something similar. After using my Speedy for a couple of years, I was having a hard time only being able to carry it with the top handles. It wasn’t doing me any favors when shopping for clients or shoots and carrying arm loads of clothes. I need hands free. So even though getting the version with the strap is going to run you an extra $400 (gah), that feature is worth its weight in gold. This version of the iconic style was released in 2011 and offers some great customization features – it comes in 3 choices of canvas/pattern/color (which are all great, so it’s just personal preference), and 4 choices of size – the 25, 30, 35, and 40 (though I wouldn’t recommend the 40 because it’s basically luggage). You can wear the straps so many ways – cross body with the long strap extension, on your shoulder without the extension, take the strap off and carry it top handle like a regular Speedy, etc. Who doesn’t love to have options? The coated canvas is very lightweight, so it’s perfect for travel or shlepping around town. Another bonus is that Louis Vuitton offers complimentary hot stamping of your initials which I think is delightful in gold foil. But the best thing LV has to offer is history and timelessness. Louis Vuitton has been around since 1854 and their canvas designs haven’t changed since the beginning. They are never going away. The classic neutral canvas styles defy all fashion rules – they go with everything and on everyone. You really can’t go wrong.
Reed Krakoff Boxer Satchel, $790-1290 – Reed Krakoff, Coach’s president and executive creative director, launched his boutique fashion line in 2010 and the Boxer satchel caught on like wildfire, with good reason. It comes in an endless array of incredibly chic color combos (some solid and some colorblocked) and sizes and the design is just genius. This one is an unexpected choice for a first investment bag in the best way possible. Another plus is that you can often find them on sale (even as we speak there are several good colors on sale for $600-800 on the Reed Krakoff website).
Alexander Wang Emile, $895 – This bag is unique yet minimal and classic at the same time. There’s no craziness going on, yet it’s far from boring. The wide opening at the top makes it easy to find your keys and lipstick, and it fits a ton – definitely more than the Rocco. So this could be the bag for you if you like to carry the world with you, and are looking for something a little artsy in shape. It comes in two sizes, both of which would serve an everyday purpose depending on your habits. The metal feet are my favorite aspect of this bag – especially in rose gold. Keep in mind the long strap isn’t quite long enough to wear cross body.
Alexander Wang Rocco, $895 – Oh you know I love the Rocco. I carried mine nonstop for an entire year after I got it and I still love it just as much as ever. This bag is the perfect choice for the edgy girl, yet the rivets on the bottom add some glamour as well. It’s been around long enough to have me convinced it’s going to stand the test of time, and it’s every bit as respected as the more expensive bags out there. The only thing to watch out for is that this bag is naturally heavy (with the thickness of the leather and all that hardware, how could it not be?). So you may want to opt for the mini (the Rockie) if you don’t tend to carry a lot with you or a heavy bag isn’t your cup of tea. Also, like the Emile, the long strap isn’t really long enough to wear cross body.
Louis Vuitton Neverfull Tote, $900-980 – If you’re a tote kinda gal, this is a fantastic option. The Neverfull comes in three sizes and three choices of canvas. The smaller sizes (PM and MM) are great everyday options and the GM would be wonderful for travel or just those jam packed days and can’t leave anything at home. The side drawstrings condense the size down a bit if you aren’t needing so much space. There’s no long strap, but the top handles are long enough to wear over your shoulder. This is the ultimate carryall and arguably the most practical/convenient of the bunch.
Alexander Wang Pelican Satchel, $985 – I know, I know. It’s controversial that I included three Alexander Wang bags on this list but the truth is that I really do think he designed three of the best bags out there in this price range. The Pelican satchel is the newest of the group, and it’s definitely on another level. It’s also a top handle + long strap style and it comes in an interesting selection of colors and leather textures. It’s reminiscent of the Givenchy Antigona satchel (a $2,500 bag) but not in an imitate-y kinda way. It certainly stands alone. I love how structured and polished it is – great for a professional environment. It’s not quite as ubiquitous as the Rocco or even the Emile at this point, so it’s the perfect choice if you want something a little more unchartered.
Phew! If you stuck with me til the end, extra points for you! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell me – what’s your favorite or first bag in this price range? What’s on your handbag wish list?