Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Top 10 Designer Handbags: what to Invest and what NOT to Invest into?

{last updated in June 2013}

Below I listed some of the handbags I consider to be true investment pieces. They have major lasting power and don’t go out of style with the new season. All of these can be worn daily which guarantees high mileage. You may not want to flaunt your Chanel 2.55 everyday but that’s your decision. The way I see it, handbags and clothes are there to be worn and enjoyed!

Please note: I converted all prices to Euro, and gave an estimate rather than an exact price. Bear in mind that prices for luxury goods go up several times a year. I bought my Prada large Saffiano tote in 2010 for 1,100 Euro. In April 2013 it retailed for 1,450 Euro. If you plan to buy one of the below investment bags, you might as well do it soon before it goes up in value :).

1. Chanel 2.55 flap bag - starting at 1300 euro

Classic 2.55: medium lambskin gold chain

Reissue: medium Metallic and small regular

The iconic Chanel 2.55 flap bag was first created by Coco Chanel in February 1955 (hence the name). The chain strap was revolutionary at the time: Chanel wanted to free women’s hands during banquets: they could now enjoy canap├ęs and drink champagne at the same time. Today the 2.55 handbag comes in two versions: Classic and Reissue. Karl Lagerfeld reintroduced the Classic version in the 80s. It came with a signature interlocking CC clasp and was a major hit. In 2005 Chanel revived the original design, which they called Reissue. The Reissue handbag looked exactly like the original from 1955 with the signature Mademoiselle clasp. Both versions come in small, medium and jumbo sizes. For a first time buyer, I suggest the medium size gold chain lambskin Classic flap bag. It will serve you for decades if not longer. Alternatively you could go with the small or medium black metallic Reissue with silver strap. Metallic adds a wow factor to the Reissue bag. Avoid seasonal multicolored and fabric versions of 2.55 – they will give you a major case of buyer’s remorse. Reissue bags are slightly bigger than Classic and you can learn more about exact measurements and prices here.

2. Prada – all bags – starting at 1100 euro

Miranda Kerr with various versions of Saffiano tote

Left to Right: Sienna Miller with Cervo tote,
grey satchel, black Cervo, black Napa, brown Gauffre

Although my all time favorite Prada bag would have to be Saffiano tote, you can’t go wrong with any Prada creation. These handbags will last you ages and will never go out of style. I suggest grey, black, blue and burgundy colors.

3. LV Speedy, Neverfull or Noe bags – starting at 500 euro

I call Louis Vuitton’s Speedy the gateway drug to designer handbags… A lot of ladies I know bought speedy as a first designer handbag. (My gateway drug was a Marc Jacobs oversized black leather tote, which I still use!). You can choose the monogram print (LV letters) or Daimler print. As with the Chanel mademoiselle clasp I prefer when logos are a little more discreet, and would always go for Daimler print. If Speedy is too small for you, try one of LV's Neverfull totes. I went for medium size Daimler GM and use it as a work bag, even my laptop fits. Just recently LV relaunched Noe and Petit Noe totes in bright colors. I would go for Noe in Epi leather in black, which is a timeless classic.

4. Loewe Amazona bag  - starting at 1500 euro

I remember spending one hour in Madrid Loewe store just looking at all the handbags. I left empty handed, as the bag I wanted had a hefty price tag of £1450. Amazona comes in various sizes and patterns and I would go for them all except Amazona 28, which is a little too small. 

5. Celine Boston tote and Constance shoulder bag - starting at 1300 euro for Boston tote

Celine Constance

Celine Boston Tote

I adore Celine bags! Celine Constance, although very demure, is a major showstopper. I would love to bag one in black or tan color (pictured above). Boston tote is a very practical choice. I prefer the multi colored versions, but monochrome looks just as good. It's a perfect work bag.

6. YSL Muse and Muse II – starting at 1200 euro

Left to Right: Kate Moss with Muse Two, grey Muse,
multicolored Muse Two, grey patent Muse Two, blue Muse.

There are two versions of YSL Muse and Muse Two. Each comes in variety of sizes. I prefer Muse Two in two-tone colors. It’s a real show stopper! After recent rebranding (2012) Saint Laurent reissued Muse and Muse two, so these bags are going nowhere and rightly so. 

7. Balenciaga City – starting at 1200 euro

This is the handbag I’ve been pining over for over a year and finally bought it (see here). It’s perfect for day and night! I would highly recommend to go for City, which is larger than Balenciaga First and less bulkier than Velo. Also, I’m not a big fan of large silver studs, so would go with more subdued black studs as pictured above.

8. Givenchy Nightingale or Antigona– starting at 1330 euro

Mary Kate Olsen with Nightingale

Miranda Kerr with her Antigona

A shopping assistant at Selfridges once told me that Nightingale is the first bag to be sold out during sales. Balenciaga City is the second. I think that speaks for itself. Smart barganistas know what to go for ;). Just recently Givenchy launched a new handbag Antigona. It's more structured and less slouchy than Nightingale and is absolutely timeless!

9.  Louis Vuitton Sophia Coppola bag - starting at 3000 euro

I realize that this bag is on a pricier side but if you think of all the mileage you'll get from it, I believe the price is justified. I would go for dark grey or black suede version, as spotted on Kate Moss. Coppola tote does not shout "It Bag" or "bag of the season". It's subtle and classic and will never go out of style. 

10. Mulberry Bayswater or Alexa: starting at 800 euro

Kate Moss with Bayswater, Alexa Chung with eponymous Alexa bag.

I’ve been planning to buy Bayswater for sometime now, but I can never decide on texture and color. I love the shape but I'm afraid it may not be very practical for daily running around town. It's a great work bag though. The most stylish laptop bag ever made has got to be Mulberry for Apple black patent Bayswater! As for Classic Bayswater: I would highly recommend tan, metallic black or suede grey. The light pink color is fantastic for summer! If Mulberry Bayswater is a bit too serious for you - I would go for small Mulberry Alexa in tan color (that's what I did and have no regrets). It's a perfect bag for any season and outfit!


And below are some of the handbags that in my eyes do not qualify for investment pieces, and what’s worse, give me a nervous twitch! I apologize in advance for offending the proud owners of some of these handbags. All I can say is: If you are deciding on an investment piece and liked my picks above, stay clear of the items below )P.

Gucci monogram: It’s really unfortunate, but there has been so many Gucci print knock-offs , that I choose to stay away from these. Unless it’s a mini satchel you wear during your travels… If you love your Gucci – go for their leather hobos. A timeless classic, although very expensive, is Jackie Hobo (approx 3000 Euro).

Gucci Jackie Hobo

Orla Kiely is particularly popular in Ireland and I’m getting Orla Kiely pattern anxiety at this stage. I admit that having a cotton or nylon tote a rainy weather is a godsend, but I can think of gazillion of more appealing options. The below options are tad pricier but so much more fabulous: Sonia Rykiel, Anna Hindmarch, See by Chloe, and Stella McCartney for LeSportsac all have nylon and cotton tote range.

Mulberry Antony messenger: I often spot this ugliness on tourists. I understand that you can carry your passport and tickets, but the shape is just so old school. In this case practical turned it to a bad case of boring!

Chloe: don’t get me wrong, Chloe makes beautiful handbags, but being an owner of Ada, I can tell you its one bulky and uncomfortable handbag. Chloe bags are renowned for being very heavy. Another downfall is that Chloe introduces new shapes each season, which makes bags from previous seasons slightly obsolete. Chloe Paraty would be one exception - which is the only Chloe bag I really like.

Hermes Birkin: I know, I know, this one is quite controversial – but I honestly think that Birkin looks good on celebrities and affluent women in their 40’s through 60’s. In either case, these ladies don’t associate the term investment with a handbag. I suggest a very simple formula here: if a handbag of 3700 and above euro is beyond your means and will keep you making credit card repayments for a year, don’t buy it.

This logic applies to all of the above handbags: a handbag is not an investment piece if after buying one you survive on toast and water for the rest of the month. It is an investment if you get a minimum of 3 years wear out of it and in some cases pass it on to your children.

If you are on a tight budget I suggest Zara bags for very a simple and chic design or River Island for funky & colorful pieces. Just today I saw a fantastic looking tan bowling bag at Zara (SS 2010 collection) – it could easily compete with an oversize Lily for its chic factor! Now that you know which bags you like, you can always scout the High street for discreet imitations.

check out my list of top 10 designer clutch bags here. 


  1. "This logic applies to all of the above handbags: a handbag is not an investment piece if after buying one you survive on toast and water for the rest of the month. "

    I would have to disagree with this statement my dear the words of a Carrie Bradshaw "...I bought it because I felt it nourished me more..."


    Besides, living off toast and water for a little while is good for your figure ;)

  2. LOL. I'm 100% with you and Carrie on this subject but I know I won't survive on toast and water...More importantly I need some money left over for shoes!

  3. Great post! I agree with most of the things you posted here, I see gucci fakes everywhere which is unfortunate, however I have to say I wouldn't invest in a LV for this reason as well! As for the mulberry antony I completely agree! Horrible bag! The bayswater is much more classic and you can see it looking the part for many years.
    As for the birkin...I love the style, but the price is just ridiculous! However there are some really good quality bags out there for much less money that you think that sell bags that are great quality...just do your research! Of course it depends on whether you are willing to sacrifice designer names for quality!

  4. Hi Maxwell,
    Glad you enjoyed the post!
    I agree with you: designer handbag does not mean high quality. And high quality can often goes without a High End designer tag. I stick to Zara!

  5. Any thoughts on the Givenchy Pandora bag? I just bought it in sand and think it is a very nice quality chic yet hip bag but... where do you put a bag in this color when out for a meal? I have a purse hanger and will bring that along but... the bag has no "feet". Do I just do the best I can and enjoy the bag? (PS, I originally bought a dark blue Balenciaga Velo and returned it. Did NOT like the hardware (classic) thought it was kind of cheap and would scratch easily when you take the strap off. I might be too old for that bag anyway (a very young 49, since you are likely asking ;-)

    1. Hi Melody, I thought I replied to your post earlier but can see now it didn't go through :(. Pandora and Velo are nice bags. I was considering buying Velo in light pink but decided not too, for the same reasons you listed. Pandora is definitely a hipper carry-all version. It is also more subtle and doesn't scream designer - which I like. As for where to rest your Pandora - I would ask for a third chair at the restaurant. I see a lot of women do that :). And you are definitely not "too old" for any bag! Hope you enjoying your latest purchase.


  6. Wonderful post!!! I enjoyed reading it very much, I bought my very first Chanel for my 21st birthday this year! (Classic Jumbo Flapbag Caviar/GH) I am in love with it and therefore I baby it way too much! :/ What are your thoughts on "babying" handbags?
    It is absolutely the prettiest bag in the whole wide world :)

    1. Thank you :) - I'm glad you enjoyed it. I own a small reissue in black but would love a Jumbo in Caviar! you made the right choice as you'll get a lot of day wear from this bag. Re "babying": I used to "baby" my bags too much, to the point that I would use my "good" bags only on nice occasions and realized that it's such a waste of money. So now I try to wear all my bags, including Chanel :). You paid a lot of money for your bag - you should definitely enjoy it! Caviar leather is very durable too.