Ask Belle: Handbags for Graduates
May 9, 2013
I have two questions that I need your help answering. 1) What handbags make the best graduation gifts (splurges) for a woman working in a professional office? 2) Where can I find purses that don’t cost an arm and a leg? My Mom is giving a “nice” bag for graduation (under $300, please!), but I’d also like to know where I can find purses an entry-level salary can purchase.
Thank you for your help, Susie
Handbag Math. A stylish, good-quality handbag isn’t a splurge; it’s an investment. I’ve been carrying the same Rebecca Minkoff Mini MAB since 2008, and it still looks great inside and out. So when you’re calculating whether a more expensive bag is worth it, you need to break it down to cost-per-wear. I’ve carried my Mini MAB so much that I’m at 50-cents or less per wear.
Under-$300 Bags. If you need an every day, carry it everywhere, multi-purpose bag that will work for the office, graduate school, long trips and the gym, you NEED the Lo & Sons OMG bag. Politicians, staffers, lawyers, doctors, public relations gurus all carry this bag, and I have yet to meet a woman who didn’t love it.
Every time Miss M carries hers (which is nearly every day), people stop her on the street to ask who makes it and where she bought it. It’s versatile, chic and made for the busy woman on the go.
If you’re looking for a more traditional leather handbag in the $300-range, I would start with the Coach Candace Carryall ($328), the Cole Haan Linley Satchel ($215) or the Dooney Dillen Satchel ($298).
“Splurge” Bags for Less. If you’re looking to score a great deal on an investment handbag, the go-to place is Neiman Marcus Last Call. The site often has deeply discounted designer bags, and if you catch it at the right time, they’ll have deals on top of that savings as well.
This sleek Foley and Corrina satchel is $224 instead of $425. This stylish DvF satchel is also deeply discounted. If you’re looking for something a bit different, I love the mix of colors and textures on this Pour la Victoire bag. And this beige and ivory colorblock bag would be great for spring and summer.
The other option would be flash sale sites like Gilt Groupe. If you’re patient, you can score a designer handbag for much less. I have purchased all of my Minkoff bags on Gilt and have paid at least 30-percent less. Not a member of Gilt, yet? Join here.
Buying Inexpensive Bags. If you’re looking to add a few new bags to your closet, but you don’t have a lot of money to spend, my first stop would be Zara. The Office City bag would be a great starting out work bag, and it costs just $89.
ASOS is another great choice for inexpensive, chic bags. I love this verdant tassel tote for under-$50. The metal accent bar on this top handle bag is great too. And this colorblock River Island tote is functional, on trend and in an intern’s price range. What’s not to love?
Finding a great handbag at a great price takes a little bit of work. Invest in the basic bag you’ll carry for years, and save your pennies when you’re buying clutches, trendy pieces or when you find a good deal. And remember to clean your bag at least once a year, have leather protectant applied to nicer purses and keep it in a dust bag when not in use.
If you have any other tips for where to find great inexpensive bags or where to find good deals on designer pieces, leave them in the comments.