How to Buy the Perfect Handbag (And Not Get Ripped Off) may earn commission when you buy something through the links or banners on this page.

Are you itching to buy the perfect handbag? Maybe you’ve had your eye on a designer bag for a long time. Or, maybe you’re just sick and tired of cheap bags that just don’t last.

Whatever your motive is, making the splurge and buying a nice handbag is a really important investment. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare yourself so you’ll be happy with it for years to come. Keep reading to learn how you can buy the perfect handbag.

Why buy a handbag?

When it comes to buying a designer item, there are lots of options. You can go for a jacket, eyewear, jewelry, clothing and of course, handbags. And there’s one very good reason why handbags are a smart investment.

Handbags are the quintessential accessory for every woman. You use them almost every single day and if you make a smart purchase, it can be an item that you keep for years to come.

But before you swipe your credit card, you’ll want to follow some helpful steps. Here they are.

Define your style

Before you go shopping for the perfect handbag, step back and analyze your style. Now, that might sound a bit dry and boring, but it’s actually the best first step you can take.

Is your style minimalist? Hipster? Classic? Feminine? Flashy? Subtle? Upbeat? Alternative? The list goes on and on. But knowing your distinct style will help you find a designer brand to match.

The truth is, a classic Chanel bag is a beautiful option, but if you’re more of a tomboy, that probably isn’t the right bag for you.

And while it’s important to stay true to your style, it’s also important to follow some simple guidelines to make sure your bag isn’t too trendy in the years to come.

So, consider these things when you imagine your perfect handbag:

  • Color: Avoid lots of colors and flashy prints. Instead, choose neutral, monotone colors. Or, stick to classic, timeless prints that won’t go out of style anytime soon.
  • Material: If you plan to get a lot of wear out of your new handbag, look for durable leather, like caviar, which is a more textured and hard leather. Lambskin leather is certainly a luxury, but it’s soft and delicate, and it will be more difficult to maintain.
  • Shapes: What kind of shape do you want your bag to be? A minimal wallet? A tote? A cross body satchel?
  • Structure: Do you prefer a bag that’s stuff and structured, or do you prefer a slouchy bag that has a looser feel?

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Choose your favorite designer

There are lots of designers out there, and some can be trendy. So, right now, one or two designers are going to be in vogue, but in a year or two, the trend may move to another designer.

Basically, it’s very easy to get swept up in the trends and what people say is fashionable. But have some fun and discover all the designers out there. This way, you can find the designer that really lights you up and inspires you.

Then, once you’ve found your favorite designer, you can head straight to handbags and explore what they have to offer.

What size is the perfect handbag?

Some people will tell you to go for a small-to-medium sized handbag when you make your first big purchase. But the truth is, the right size handbag all depends on how you use your handbag.

For example, when you’re finished getting ready for the day, and you reach for your handbag, what kind of bag do you usually want to carry? Something light and minimal, or a big, spacious tote bag?

You want to find a bag that will do what you need it to. So, decide what you usually take with you, and how you usually use your handbag, and then, look for bags that match your size requirements.

But just remember this one, important tip. You might think you need to buy a big bag to get your money’s worth. After all, you’re spending a lot of money. But the truth is, bigger isn’t always better, especially if you tend to wear smaller bags.

Do your research

Most women would agree that there are top designer brands to consider when purchasing the perfect handbag. Louis Vuitton and Chanel are easily the leaders in designer handbags. And they still offer designs that have been around for years, and will probably still be valuable for years to come.

So, if you’re considering making the dive into designer handbags, you can’t go wrong with these two irreplaceable brands.

Consider the re-sell value

Another reason why it’s a good idea to consider buying a Louis Vuitton or Chanel bag is that they have a very good re-sell value.

Now, that’s not to say that you make a big investment with the intention to sell it back. But you won’t know if you like your new handbag until you actually have it and use it on a day-to-day basis.

And if you’re not pleased with your purchase, you want to be sure you can re-sell it and still make some money.

Therefore, if you like the following bags, they’re great first purchases because not only are they classic, but they’re also a top re-seller.

But it’s a good idea to take your research even further.

For example, once you know which designer you like, and which bag you’re interested in, keep digging even more.

If possible, go to the store and see the handbag in person. In fact, try to see it more than once. Try it on, feel the material, and think about it.

If it’s not possible to see the handbag in person, go online and do as much research as you can. Youtube is a great resource to find bag reviews from savvy women who’ve made the leap and purchased a designer handbag.

You can also check out Instagram and style blogs to see reviews, pictures, angles, styling ideas and more. This will help you see the bag in real life and whether or not it will fit in your wardrobe.

Test a knock-off or dupe before purchasing the original handbag

You might absolutely love a given handbag, but the truth is, you really won’t know if you love it until you actually try it out. So, once you’ve found what you think will be the perfect handbag, look for a knock-off.

Stores like ASOS, H&M, Zara, Forever21, and others offer similar designs at a fraction of the cost. And if you can find a decent dupe, it gives you the opportunity to really test the waters and see if the designer bag you like will actually work for you and your lifestyle.

Save and budget

No matter how valuable and classic your ideal designer bag is, it’s never a good idea to put yourself in financial peril for it. So, once you decide on the perfect bag, it’s time to set up a responsible budget and save.

Taking time to save also gives you the opportunity to decide if this is the bag you really want to spend all of your hard earned money on.

Decide if you want a brand new or pre-loved handbag

  • Tips for buying a brand new handbag

If it’s within your budget to purchase a brand new handbag, then set a careful budget, save consistently, and look forward to the day when that perfect bag is yours. Designers like Chanel and Louis Vuitton don’t go on sale, but there are many other designers that do.

Both Philip Lim and Alexander Wang, for example, offer good sales online. So, you could even score a designer bag for 50% less if the timing’s right.

Otherwise, designer bags sold at stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue and Norstrom do get marked down. So, follow the sales, sign up for email notifications and chances are, you can buy your perfect handbag without paying full price.

Another great way to save on brand new handbags is to sign up for Ebates. When you do, you can get a huge percentage back.

If you can purchase your bag in person, make it a special event. Go to the store, enjoy the luxurious atmosphere and afterward, bask in your big new splurge.

  • Tips for buying a pre-loved and pre-owned bag

If a brand new bag is out of your budget, that doesn’t mean that bag is out of your life for good. In fact, there are many great places to find gently used, pre-owned designer bags.

And depending on your budget, you can find bags in mint condition, or with minimal wear. In the end, you get to decide your budget and the condition of your bad. And it’s a good compromise between staying within your budget and finally getting your hands on the perfect handbag.

The following sites are all great resources for savvy fashionistas who want a pre-loved handbag:

Follow your heart when buying the perfect handbag

The most common piece of advice women hear when they want to buy the perfect handbag is to invest in a classic piece that will never go out of style. But perhaps the most important piece of advice you need to hear is this:

Follow your heart.

If there’s a bag that’s been on your mind for months and months, it doesn’t really matter if it’s trendy or classic. If it’s special to you, it’s the perfect handbag for you. It if sparks joy in you and makes you happy, what better way to spend your money?

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