The last time I was in Europe, I accomplished one of my goals, investing in a designer handbag. This was a big decision for me because before my shopping trip to Saint Laurent in Paris, the most expensive bag I owned was a $180 Kate Spade bag I got at the outlet mall.
But because I was prepared for the investment and did my research, I wasn't met with sticker shock, but rather excitement. I was definitely nervous because, I mean, I'm not used to luxurious spending like this. I was sweating and nervous, but I think it was just the fact that I was finally doing something I had always dreamed of as a kid. And I was buying it in Paris of all places! A dream indeed!
Anyway, it was a wonderful experience browsing the store with friends, drinking champagne (okay I just drank water, but it was an option), filling out the necessary paperwork for the purchase (yes, this is serious), and walking out of the store with the shopping bag in hand (walking around Paris on cloud 9 for sure)!
As I mentioned, I did my research and quite a bit of thinking, which more or less helped me make my decision. After purchasing my Lou Camera Bag, I also learned quite a few things I wish I knew beforehand. So in case you're planning to take the plunge, here is my advice to you!
1. Ask Yourself Why You Want to Make This Investment
Sometimes Instagram can make us feel like we need certain things or need to lead a certain lifestyle that may not be wisely attainable. I know I can get caught up following my favorite influencers and wanting their outfits head-to-toe. But we can't compare each other, especially when it comes to unimportant materialistic things that bring no true value to your worth as a person. Plus, if you wait for when the time is right to actually invest in designer, it'll be a much more meaningful purchase than putting a $3k bag on your credit card.
2. Do Your Research
This step is probably the most important because you have to know exactly where you're spending your money. Is this a brand that you feel confident in purchasing from? Is this item worth the hefty price tag? One thing that I was really conscious about was the style and dimensions of the bag and how it would compliment me. By that I mean, will this bag be proportionate to my height and build? I don't want to look like I'm carrying a mini bag (just my personal preference). I also don't want to look like I'm carrying around a carry-on. I've seen some people with Louis Vuitton totes that look so disproportionate and not elegant at all because they're too large compared to the wearer.
3. Classic or Trendy?
Are you looking to invest in a classic style, like a Chanel Boy Bag? Or are you more into trendy pieces like a Bottega Veneta Pouch? Whatever it is, it should be something you are comfortable investing in and something that will go with your personal style and aesthetic. Don't buy a bag aspiring to match your style to it. It should be the other way around.
Similar to deciding whether you're going for a classic or trendy style, you should also decide if you want a season-less piece, or something more particular. I'm personally not attached to specific colors for specific seasons, but I do think that some colors are just easier to style during certain times of the year. For instance, my Lou Camera Bag is black and gold. I wear both colors all year round, but I especially love wearing my baby in the Fall and Winter seasons (also at night time events). So during the Spring and Summer, I store Lou away and opt for a lighter color option (not designer). This kinda gives my bag a break too. Don't want to wear her out too much too quickly.
5. Decide on a Price Point
Now, I didn't purchase a $6000 Chanel bag, but my bag was still, in my mind, an investment. It's crucial not to get caught up shopping Hermes Birkin Bags when your budget is looking more like a Gucci Marmont. I'm not saying you shouldn't aspire to have a Birkin, I'm just saying it's important to stay realistic. I honestly was way under my budget when I bought my bag, but at least I was conscious of the price point of the bags I was shopping. And as I mentioned before, if you can't afford it right now, it's totally okay. A designer bag is just a bag. Don't put yourself in a terrible financial spot just to have that Celine. When I was getting ready to buy my bag, I saved up and put that money aside because I didn't want to feel like this bag wasn't fully mine or that I should have put that money elsewhere. To this day, even when bills have my head spinning, I don't regret my Saint Laurent purchase. Not even one bit.
6. Will This Be a Functional Wear?
After years of trying different styles, colors, and sizes of bags, I realized I wanted a bag I could use everyday. I went with a simple crossbody bag with gold hardware because those colors go with most of my wardrobe. When shopping for your designer bag, think about when you want to use it, what you plan to carry in it, and how often you plan on using it. This may also help you decide the price point and brand you end up shopping.
7. Consider How You Will Maintain & Store Your Purchase
One of the most difficult things for me was figuring out how to store my bag. When I bought it, Saint Laurent gave me a dustbag and shopping bag. But since my bag is a rectangular shape, I don't necessarily want to just leave it sitting somewhere. So I bought a Saint Laurent box on Poshmark, placed it in the dustbag, covered it in tissue and put it away. You have to realize that a designer bag is not just a bag you can leave on the coat hanger (that would totally damage the strap!). Be mindful and know about how to care for the material, shape, and color of the bag. That will help maximize it's value and wear.
8. Pre-Owned or Retail?
I personally prefer the idea of shopping designer pieces retail and at the actual designer store. It just feels so much more luxurious. It's also a great experience, especially for someone like myself, who, again, doesn't normally shop designer. But pre-owned options are also great because you not only get better pricing, but you're reusing materials which is really much more ethical.
9. Be Picky With Who You May Bring Along
When I bought my Lou Camera Bag, I was in Paris with newer friends that I grew to know better while traveling. I trusted them and felt comfortable having them go with me to make my purchase. They were super helpful when making the final decision (I couldn't decide between a red or black bag), and were enthusiastic about being there. I haven't had enough experiences to know, but I would suggest maybe not to bring along people who will only try to talk you out of buying something. Avoid bringing people who will make you feel guilty or shallow for making this investment. I mean, I'm sure there are exceptions and they may be actually trying to knock some sense into you. But again, if you are mindful of your choice and have done your research, trust yourself and do the damn thing.
10. Think About Additional Purchases That May Be Necessary
Something that I never even thought about when buying Lou was the card holder or wallet that I might need. I don't think I realized it until months later. So when shopping for your designer bag, think about those additional costs that may pile on. For instance, if you're investing in a Dior Saddle Bag, are you planning to buy a crossbody strap as well?
I don't know everything about shopping designer, but I did learn a lot from my first purchase. Oh, and that red Prada Odette bag you ask? It's on my wish list!
What important things have you learned from shopping designer? Do you have any advice for newbies or veteran designer shoppers?
Thanks for checking out this post!
-The B of V