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Designer Bag Buying Guide | 11 Questions You Need to Ask

Designer Bag Buying Guide | 11 Questions You Need to Ask

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Last Updated on November 20, 2021 by

What designer bag should I buy? 11 Tips for Buying the Perfect Designer Purse For You

Designer bag and purse shopping is a big investment for most of us. As much as I’d love to buy a new luxury designer handbag each season, it’s just not going to happen at this time. I’ve always been an over thinker so when I make investment buys, I take ages looking through various designer purse brands, online and in stores and doing lots of research. Including how durable different materials are, if they hold their value, which styles won’t date as quickly and really finding a bag that I love. I want the bag that I can’t stop thinking about and that checks as many boxes as possible. So how do I choose a designer bag? What designer bag should I buy? Scroll down to find out how.

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How do I choose a designer bag?

Designer handbag shopping is a bit like shopping for a house. It’s very personal and nothing’s going to check all the boxes as we all have different tastes, budgets and things that we like. So what style handbag is right for me, is going to be totally different to the next person. But it’s about finding the one that feels most like us, that we love regardless of the boxes it doesn’t check. The one that feels special and that we can see ourselves using the most.

Here’s my specific guidelines, tips and questions I ask when I shop for purses, I hope they’ll make choosing your designer bag easier too.

11 tips for buying a designer bag

How do I choose a designer bag? Before investing in a designer bag these are the questions I’ve found helpful to ask myself, store associates and Google before buying. Scroll down for more details on each Q & A on what designer bag to buy and how to find the right purse for you.

  1. What’s your budget?
  2. Are you looking for an on trend bag or a forever bag?
  3. Check the bag holds its value.
  4. Look at the material it’s made of.
  5. What are you using it for?
  6. What’s their return policy?
  7. Should I buy now or wait for a sale?
  8. Does the bag suit your body type?
  9. What’s your personal style?
  10. Should I shop in store or online?
  11. Does it fit your lifestyle?

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own and I only share products I think you will love too! A lot of these bags were on my shortlist for my most recent designer bag purchase.

1. What’s Your Designer Bag Budget

I tend to be flexible on this as I’d rather pay more for something I love and that will last than save, even substantially, that I don’t love and won’t use as much. However, I still have an idea of the maximum I want to spend. This definitely helps filter out designer purse brands and styles that won’t work for you right now.

2. Are you looking for an on trend designer bag or a forever bag?

If you’re looking for a forever bag I personally would go for more classic styles. If you’re looking for a bag to wear just for that season or year then you could go for trendier bags but you might want to check how they hold their value. See #3.

3. Check the designer purse brand and style holds it’s value

This only really matters if you’re planning on selling your designer bag later on. I tend to use consignment stores a lot to resell my designer pieces as I like to keep updating my closet and get rid of things I’m tired of.

If I’m looking for a bag that I know I’ll keep until I wear it out I don’t care about the resale value. However, if it’s more of an on trend bag then the resale value matters to me. Being able to sell my bag when I’m bored of it is a great way of having a bit of extra cash to put into the next bag. Whether that’s The Real Real, Fashionphile, Craigslist or Poshmark.

Chanel shopping Las Vegas

4. Look at the material the designer handbag is made of

I love Chanel and Dior bags but a lot of their bags are made of lambskin. Which as soft as it feels and luxe as it looks, is very fragile and easy to scratch. If scratches don’t bother you or you’re not planning on keeping the bag long that’s fine.

However, I’m one of those people who likes things to look brand new for as long as possible and scratches really bother me. That’s why I normally look for calf skin, bull skin, caviar or textured leather. Patent leather also shows scratches easier than textured leather. These are things to consider when buying your designer handbag and knowing your lifestyle.

5. What are you going to use your designer bag for?

What you’re using your designer purse for should help you narrow down the size you’re looking for. Are you wanting it for the day, night or both, everyday casual or more dressy. Being able to fit my iPhone (the current iPhone 13 Pro is 6″) is a non-negotiable even with evening bags. So for designer purses that I want to get the most use fron, I try to look for bags that are big enough for the day but small enough for the evening.

It’s also helped me narrow down the amount I cart around which is also better for my back. I just got into using card holders this year for my primary credit cards and ID. That way I can just swap the card holder from bag to bag and not need my large wallet all of the time or have loose credit cards flying around in my bag.

In saying that, I do have my eye on a couple of crystal evening bags from Fendi and Versace that don’t fit my phone but that’s what my husbands pockets are for. I’ve carried his things around for enough years, it’s only fair!

6. What’s the designer purse brands return policy

A lot of high end stores and designer purse brands don’t offer a return policy or have a very strict one. Once you leave the store, that’s pretty much it if you’ve taken it out of the box. Especially if you’ve had it embossed somewhere like Cartier. Which is why I tend to shop online a lot.

As much as I love the whole in store experience and being able to try on and feel bags I also like good return and shipping policies. I like to do a bit of both. To go into the stores to try the designer purses on for size, feel the quality and check the color in person and then hunt down the best price online. I told you I’m an over thinker and do my research. As much as I love designer purchases, I’m also a really savvy shopper.

Versace womens 2 piece outfit Versace white clutch

7. Should I buy now or wait for a sale?

Some designer brands have sales and some don’t. As much as I love a good sale find, I won’t wait if it means missing out on a bag that I love or that’s likely to sell out. There’s also a lot of price increases going on right now due to supply issues and other reasons. So if you’ve been wondering whether to buy now or wait do it now. Some brands are increasing their prices up to $1000. I bought my bag this morning for $933, when I showed my husband this afternoon it was already $1022.

8. Does the bag suit your body type?

Ok, if you love a designer handbag get it but if you’re torn between bags definitely try the bag on and see how it looks on your frame. Because I’m petite most big bags don’t look right unless they’re well structured.

I also like to check the shoulder strap length to make sure it’s long enough and isn’t going to be under my armpit or squish my arms in an unflattering way.

9. What style handbag is right for me? What’s your personal style?

Designer purses and bags in general are such an easy way to show your personality and play with new looks. I tend to prefer classic structured styles when buying investment bags as that’s more me and save fashion forward styles for more affordable brands. 

Does the bag go with your wardrobe and style? Do you have outfits to wear it with? A funky bag might look odd with a classic look and vice versa.

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10. Should I shop in store or online for designer bags?

Where you shop for your designer purse really depends on the brand and where you live. For example you can’t buy a new Chanel bag online from their website so you either have to go to a store or buy one second hand.

If you live close to a store then definitely go into the stores. Especially if you aren’t familiar with the brand or their quality. However, if you’re not near to the designer store you want to shop from or just prefer the convenience of shopping at home, just do it online.

11. Does it fit your lifestyle

When you’re thinking about what designer bag to buy, the material and size of the bag you end up with depends on your lifestyle. If you’re careful or don’t wear rings then lambskin is probably fine for you, if you’re more clumsy like I am or end up putting your bags on the floor then calf or textured leathers a better bet. Do you have lots you need to carry around everyday for work or your kids or can you get away with the minimal. 

12. Do you wear more gold or silver?

A lot of designer bags have either gold or silver hardware. I used to wear a lot of silver but have been wearing gold for the last several years so my personal preference right now is gold hardware.

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