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The Next Step: Bags

How to Upgrade Your Handbag Collection | CorporetteHow to Upgrade Your Handbag Collection | CorporetteWhat are the different “levels” for handbags — and how do you upgrade your handbag collection?  I’m curious to hear what readers say.  We’ve already talked about how to upgrade your professional wardrobe, as well as where to buy grown-up furniture… up next in our Next Step series: handbags. I’m pretty solidly in Bucket 3 at the moment.  I had a lot of fun wearing purses a few years ago, striving to wear a new one from my collection every week — but now I tend to reach for the same one whenever I head out, so I can see the sense in having a Bucket 5 bag if that’s the only one you wear. (Here’s what I usually carry in my bag.)  To me, the must-have details in any bag are a good leather or durable canvas (unless it’s a really fun color that I’ve never owned before — and a good sale), interior pockets, feet, a zipper on top — and I always appreciate an attached key fob and fun lining.  Ladies, what are your must-haves?  Which buckets of bags do you currently own — and have you been upgrading them as you move up the career ladder? Which brands am I forgetting in the different buckets? 

Bucket 1: Budget Bags

  • Aldo
  • Nine West
  • Thrifted bags (you often can get great deals)
  • TJ Maxx/Flash sale special (i.e., whatever’s on sale at Rue La La, Gilt, or Hautelook)

 

Bucket 2: Midlevel Bags

 

Bucket 3: Upgrading

(can usually be found on sale or full price for $250-$500)

 

Bucket 4: Splurges

(rarely on sale, usually around $600-$1200 full price)

 

Bucket 5: Money Is No Object

(usually start upwards of $1500)

Bucket 6: Different Ballpark

(can cost as much as five figures)

 Photo credit: Shutterstock / Gadelshina Dina.

 

The Next Step: Bags

Comments

  1. For me, a bag must be good quality leather, with solid construction, durable handles, and several pockets. Most bags I picked up at Marshalls or TJ Maxx disintegrated within a few months. The only bag that’s held up to the abuse I dish out is LL Bean’s Field & Town tote. At $199, I guess it’s bucket 2/bucket 3, but well worth the investment. I’ve beat it to heck and it still looks brand new.

  2. I think Coach (leather) belongs in Bucket 3, not Bucket 4.

    My bags are all Bucket 3 (I have one satchel for day-to-day, a crossbody/clutch for evening/weekend when I don’t need to carry much, and 2 evening clutches). I also have a larger shoulder bag that I use for travel b/c it holds my laptop (it’s actually a camera bag but saffiano leather and looks like a handbag, not a camera bag). All my bags are black.

    When I *make it big* in life, I’ll treat myself to this:
    http://us.louisvuitton.com/eng-us/products/alma-mm-006830#M48883

    • Yay! Another Coach fan! I had Coach in college and law school and ALWAYS found the leather to be top notch! But those bag’s were super schlepper’s that carried alot of thing’s, and now I must be alot more ladylike, Dad says, so he let me buy a nice Michael Kors bag. Of course this is NOT the priceyest, but it is nice and I do NOT put any food in it like I used to with my Coach bag’s. In law school, I put a tuna sanwich in it and forgot about it, and 2 day’s later, I had to throw the whole bag out b/c it stunk like fish! FOOEY! Dad would NOT buy me a new bag, but he should have been happy that I did NOT eat that sanwich. DOUBEL FOOEY if I ate it b/c I could have got sick! YAY!!!!! BTW, Myrna told me a gross story about peeople who were peeing off the Verizano bridge b/f the race started, and peeople down on the lower level were getting sprayed with urine. FOOEY!!!!

    • Anonymous :

      I completely agree about Coach being Bucket 3. I’ve recently branched out with a Michael Kors and a Kate Spade bag, but until then I’d always bought only Coach bags. Some of them were made for the factory (I understand these aren’t real Coach but they’re usually pretty good quality and regularly <$200). But I've also purchased a number of (plain leather, no Cs) bags in regular Coach stores and regular bags that eventually found their way to the outlets for $200-$400. It's true that they do have some $600 bags (including the Borough bag, which I'm currently coveting) but they have a lot of leather inventory under $400 and some of the more expensive stuff does find it's way to the outlets where it's discounted. The price point is really in line with MK and KS, as far as I'm concerned. I think Tory Burch and some others in Bucket 3 are a tad more expensive than Coach/MK/KS.

      I also have the LL Bean Town and Field tote and have had a very different experience than most commenters here as far as quality. It got pretty scuffed up the very first time I took it on an airplane. It's held up well in the sense that it hasn't worn out and can still be used (even after years of regular use) but it shows it wear and tear (scratches, etc) significantly more than my leather Coach bags. This may be because I'm more careful with my Coach bags and/or they're smaller so I don't have to shove them into tight spaces, e.g. airplane seats, as often.

      • Hmmn. Interesting to see everyone’s responses on Coach. I normally think of the brand as having three tiers: logos, boring/regular leather (some of their more “vintage” type stuff), which you can occasionally find on good sales on Amazon or 6PM for as low as $150… and then every time I walk into a Coach store in NYC it seems like every bag I want is $750+. But looking more at the website it seems like most of their bags are $450ish, so perhaps their NYC stores are weighted a bit differently. I’ll move it on up.

        • Shoutout to other Coach “boring/regular leather” fans.

          • In love and in literature [and in handbags] we’re astonished at the choices of others?

            I have this one (http://www.coach.com/online/handbags/Product-coach_classic_city_bag-10551-10051-9790-en?cs=tan&catId=5000000000000408803) and think it’s absolutely gorgeous. My boyfriend called it an old lady bag the other day. Think I stuck my tongue out at him…

    • What larger, saffiano leather shoulder bag do you have? Sounds cute! Would love to see a pic! I love the look of saffiano but I’m skeptical of it at the Bucket 3 price because my friend who works in handbag production said that the saffiano leather Michael Kors (and similarly priced brands) claims to be made of isn’t technically genuine leather…it’s some mash up of leather and other materials that they print into the saffiano look and can technically still call “leather” even though it’s really not. So basically unless it’s super high-end, I don’t know how to tell the difference. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I don’t like knowing that I’m carrying something that’s not what it claims to be.

  3. I’m a big fan of Hobo bags. Great color, great leather. I would probably describe them as Bucket 2.5, possibly 3.

    • +1. I really like the style of the hobo bags.

    • If you like hobo-style bags, check out Opelle. Really beautiful bags, all handmade and excellent quality. The smaller bags would be Bucket 3, with the larger and more elaborate ones creeping into Bucket 4 territory. My husband got me one last year, and I was very happily surprised to find such great quality for less than $1000 (which I would never pay anyway).

  4. I’m surprised to find myself in Bucket 3, but I got there inexpensively, paying bucket 1 and 2 prices via flash sale and seasonal sale. I do not consider myself a bag person at all, but I gave up on cheap bags awhile ago after realizing how bad they can look quickly. I like to have a practical bag to use daily in a seasonally appropriate color. I believe I have 5 or 6 bags in rotation, but some have stayed in the closet for a full year before being “chosen” for the appropriate season the next year. My must haves are good solid construction, something that can take some abuse, neutrality in color and ornamentation, and an internal pocket for phone plus a zippered side pocket (though perhaps my favorite has no phone pocket at all). I have no idea what the latest bag fashions are and am always amazed when someone knows the name of any particular bag, much less every name of every trendy design.

  5. Diana Barry :

    I think I have bucket 2.5. I carry a work bag for my files (just got one from Banana) and then another one as my fun purse – I have 2 Kate Spades, both from the outlet, both in bright colors. I generally only change bags once a year (October and April), bc I’m not a big bag person. I think I spent about $200 on each one. I also have a wristlet that I carry for special occasions (nights out or concerts, etc.) where I don’t want a big bag but need something.

  6. I never mess with multiple bags, so I own one in Bucket 5 and that’s it. I don’t think “Money Is No Object” is a fair title for this category, because money absolutely is an object–I just spent it on one bag as opposed to 3 or 4. Even if I didn’t own them all at once and rotate, I could definitely go through a Bucket 2 (or so) bag every year or two due to wear and tear–and used to. No, you can’t always get better quality for the money, but in this case it worked for me. I have the same approach to coats, but not clothing or shoes.

    • Just out of curiosity, what did you pick as your one Bucket 5 bag?

      • Chloe Marcie, large, in the “nut” color. I don’t think they make the exact one anymore, as I got it in 2011.

        • I LOVE that bag. I was going to get it for myself as a 30th bday present, but I went with yoga teacher training instead. I should have done both.

        • Lovely choice!

    • Anonymous :

      Me too. Also a Chloe, coincidentally. One Bucket 5 bag that I’ve carried almost daily for 7 years. It still looks great and I get regular compliments, so I think it was a good purchase, especial since I got it in sale. I have a few Bucket 3 bags that I use for weddings or if I want to change it up a bit, but it is very rare for me to switch out bags on a regular work or weekend day.

  7. Maddie Ross :

    Along these same lines, how do you all determine whether to keep bags indefinitely, or when to get rid of them (either sell or donate)? I buy primarily bags from bucket 2 or 3 – some kate spade, mostly rebecca minkoff, banana republic or jcrew occasionally if all leather. I usually change bags maybe 2 or 3 times a year. I have quite a collection at this point, but I rarely go back and pull them back out. Do you store indefinitely? Sell? I am reticent to get rid of good bags if they aren’t worn, but I need to figure out better storage.

    • TO Lawyer :

      I store all my bags until they’re in bad enough shape that I wouldn’t consider using them anymore. I’m not sure it’s the best solution because I have a bunch of stuff I don’t use anymore but i feel bad getting rid of them. (and not sure there’s a decent resale value for bags in buckets 2 and 3.

    • Anonymous :

      I buy almost exclusively Bucket 3 (I’m including Coach leather in that as I agree with other comments that it belongs in Bucket 3 not 4). I have probably 15 real bags and 10 or so clutches/large wallets. I take good care of them and rotate them frequently enough that all of them are still in good enough condition to be worn outside of the house, so I haven’t gotten rid of any, even ones that have gone out of style or that I’ve outgrown (e.g. Coach logo bags). I have looked into reselling some of them, but it seemed like I could only get about 10% of the purchase price (e.g. $10-20 on a $150-$200 bag) even though they’re in very good condition. That doesn’t seem worth it to me, so I’ve decided to hang onto them for now – they might make a future daughter or niece really happy some day.

      • Unless hipsters 20 years from now are carrying old Coach logo bags, there’s practically zero chance your daughter will want your old handbags. I’m a grown daughter of a mother who saves everything, and I have a couple of grown daughters, so I know this from experience. There’s no cost to hanging on to them, of course, but consider donating to a women’s shelter or a charity for women who need professional clothes.

        • anon-oh-no :

          i think that is true for bucket 3 and below, but not 4 and above.

          • Definitely not the case for bucket 4 and above. I receive my mother’s vintage Chanel bags. First, they’re still on-trend today as they were back when she was younger, and they hold their value at re-sale.

    • anon-oh-no :

      my bags are all in buckets 3 (kate spade and coach), 4 (Burberry), and 5 (pucci, fendi, LV, YSL, etc), so I have rarely worn them to death ( I think I have 2 kate spades that eventually died — one of the original black fabric from like 15 years ago). I just store them. I rotate bags a lot. Some are basics, some are seasonal.

  8. LilyStudent :

    I would put Zara in Bucket 1 – but then I’m in Europe where their bags are cheaper. Maybe their leather bags would stay in Bucket 2.

    • I agree that the majority of their bags are definitely bucket 1, but have bought two different all-leather bags there that I’d put at a solid bucket 2. I like them because they’re interesting, not branded, and at a good price point for real leather.

  9. TO Lawyer :

    I would put Modalu bags in Bucket 3 (and they are so worth it).

    I really want a Prada double zip tote but I don’t know if I can justify it so I’ve been holding off. Can anyone convince me to pull the trigger?

    • I keep watching a Modalu bag. I know it’s a step up for me and I’m probably there but I just hate to bite that bullet. Your comment is not helping to keep me in check.

    • I have been considering the Modalu Pippa bag for over a year now. Did you pay customs charges on the bag or get a VAT refund/discount?

  10. Mrs. Jones :

    I carry a Lo & Sons bag to work. My “weekend” bag is a cross-body Michael Kors satchel, bought at TJMaxx. I have a couple of evening clutches that I got at a consignment store. I used to switch out purses more, but I’ve lost interest in that. I buy a new weekend bag once or twice a year.

  11. Gail the Goldfish :

    My absolute requirement with purses is that they must zip on the top; otherwise things will slide out and I won’t notice (I once lost a phone this way, and-though I was able to track down the phone– that was the end of bags that don’t zip for me). I’m a big Kate Spade fan, as I find they are the right compromise of quality, design, and price point for me. I buy them when they have their online sample sales and tend to use those purses every day. I have one small leather Longchamp that a very good friend gave me for Christmas one year that I will use on special occasions (mainly because it’s too small to carry the large amounts of stuff I usually have in my wallet/purse), but I’m not sure I could bring myself to pay that much for a bag normally because I’m fairly hard on bags and would feel bad if I destroyed it.

  12. Anonymous :

    Coach leather bags are cheaper than half the bags in Bucket 3. There’s no way that belongs in Bucket 4.

  13. I’d add Tod’s and Ferragamo to Bucket 5/6? I have snagged a few Tod’s on sale at an outlet for work and they are truly great! Classic designs, wonderful quality and pretty spacious.

    • How are the Ferragamo bags? I’ve been considering the “Verve” medium tote, but I haven’t heard about their quality (I’m hoping really, really good, given the price tag).

      I’m also a huge fan of Rebecca Minkoff. I guess she falls in the 3 category, but you can frequently find her bags on sale, especially at Ruelala.com and hautelook.com. I carry my work computer in her “Medium M.A.B,” and it’s great.

      • The quality is excellent (as with pretty much all Ferragamo). My go-to work black bag is a Ferragamo satchel, and I’m probably buying the dark purple large Fiamma if bonus season treats me well. Ferragamo occasionally makes weird stuff, but the classic end of the line is high quality and so pleasantly un-ostentatious.

  14. Does anyone know, are the bucket 3 bags at DSW equivalent to the outlet quality?

    • Maddie Ross :

      I’m curious which of the bags in bucket 3 you’ve found at DSW.

    • I bought a Dolce Vita big tote from DSW and it has held up great. The DSW near me also has Ralph Lauren leather bags. Everything looks like it’s quality, but I can’t say from experience with the brands you mentioned.

  15. I have only ever bought bags in bucket two. It’s hard to pay more than $150 for a bag. I just got a Zara bag for my birthday, and that felt like a splurge.

  16. Anonymous Associate :

    I’m in Bucket 5. I use my Bucket 5-bag for everything, as it contains both black and brown hues and has a laser-cut monogram, which is not as noticeable. I went with a brightly colored (Bucket 5) wallet though. My must-haves were that it went with basically everything and is of moderate size (just need to hold wallet, phone, keys, and a pair of shoes. I wanted more of a shoulder bag, so I got around the lack of feet issue with a Clipa hanger so I don’t ever have to put it on the ground (except on flights). I may go up to a Bucket 6 bag once I am more senior.

    But I don’t really take my bag to court or depos, as I have a rolly litigation bag with a pouch for personal items, so I just throw my wallet, keys, phone, etc. in there. Lit bag is probably Bucket 3, if I had to classify it. There unfortunately aren’t many good options for larger briefcases for women, so I went with a gender-neutral one from Briggs and Riley. Would be interested to see if anyone has recs on a more stylish and feminine bag that is big enough for a laptop, multiple binders/redwells, and has wheels.

    Also agree with whoever said Coach is in Bucket 3.

  17. I have some Bucket 1, some Bucket 2, and some Coach leather (which I’d also put in Bucket 3). I have a wallet in Bucket 6. And I have a Gucci bag which is not in a bucket. Bucket 5 or 6?

    And I haven’t used the bags enough for them to be out of use, but I’d expect I might never get rid of some of these bags, hahaha. Bag hoarder I guess. LOL.

    The frequency of changing bags depends – sometimes I switch week by week, sometimes month by month.

    I think bags that are must-haves are not by budget or by brand – but rather by size! For example, when I started working, I realized I needed a bag that would fit my laptop and my documents – so I have this giant tote now that I use when I need to lug my laptop around and don’t want to use a laptop bag. But for weekend outings, I like to have a bag that is big enough to fit a small notebook or a water bottle. I also have a handful of cross-body bags, because it is really nice to be able to use both arms when you go shopping without worrying about your bag falling off your shoulder.

    I also don’t use my nicer bags as frequently – they’re kind of like “special occasion, let’s take this baby out for a run today” type of bags.

    • DC Lawyer :

      I love this comment! I too have some Bucket 5 and 6 bags (Gucci, Dior, Givenchy), but rarely use them. I think — but do I want to sit this on the floor? what if it rains? I end up taking my Kors (ones without the big logos) almost all the time. And after years, they still look great.

  18. A professional woman :

    I am solidly in bucket 3. Most of my bags are Kate Spade NY and Rebecca Minkoff. I have one Michael Kors that I like, but I am finding that they are becoming kind of like Coach bags, so I don’t see myself purchasing any more Michael Kors. I have a few older Coach outlet bags that I bought when I was younger (which I’d put in bucket 2). I rarely carry them because, I hate to say this, but I find it embarrassing to be seen with Coach these days since EVERYONE has them regardless of income level. I just don’t think they look polished.

  19. lucy stone :

    I’m solidly bucket 3 – nearly all my bags are Coach leather. I usually get them as an outlet steal. I like changing my bags up regularly so I can’t imagine spending more until I’m ready to commit to one bag all the time.

  20. Unlike many posters on here, I’m not a lawyer. I’m in public relations/corporate communications. Maybe it’s different in my field, but bags and shoes are very much a hot topic around the office and particularly at events. Other women in the office definitely notice who’s wearing the latest Valentinos or Louboutins, and who has an Hermes bag. I also find that other women look down on those with the Michael Kors or Coach, as it’s seen as quite “low brow”. There’s a lot of attention paid to who looks polished, who is trendy, etc., and, for the most part, women do come to the office dressed very fashionably and wearing a lot of labels. Keeping in mind that part of this role is to “be seen” and be the face of the company, I can see why it would be a little more label-conscious if everyone’s trying to convey success in some way or another. I have also definitely heard others sneering because a senior level exec (VP or above) has a “cheap” BR bag, for example. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with it, but just giving a different P.O.V. for other professionals on here who aren’t in super conservative attorney roles. In other areas and fields, there are perceptions attached to labels. Something to note.

    • Haha, I am a lawyer but also love handbags and agree – for some reason I am self conscious about bringing my nicer stuff into work and feel like people would notice for the exact oppos!te reasons you mention.

      So annoying that went into moderation

    • Brunchaholic :

      I agree that it’s more useful to work off of the assumption that people judge others based on appearance rather than argue the merits of whether that’s fair or not.

      Now I’m very curious to hear your handbag picks! I don’t want to be fashionable “for a lawyer”– I want to hear about PR fashionable!

      • LOL!

        I actually love bags, but have had to tone down on the purchases because it gets quite hefty on the budget. Around here, it’s all about the Fendi DuJour bags and the Prada saffiano leather totes, both of which are structured and keep their shape even with your laptop and iPads inside. Of course, everyone has the Louboutin Pigalle’s in the 100’s for the office and the 120’s for the events – although I can’t walk in the 120’s without wanting to cut my ankles off. Not worth it. There was definitely a Valentino Rockstud moment when everyone around here had them in either the hot pink or the nude, but that appears to have faded and now everyone’s on the Jimmy Choo Anouks. *Sigh*

        You really can’t keep up…

        But the point still remains – coming to work with a Coach bag will definitely catch stares, and not the good kind. It really depends on your office culture and the field you’re in.

  21. Just an FYI, if you do not care about the brand name, there are amazing leather handbags through independent shops. For example, one year, I got a leather bag custom made through a seller on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/roughandtumblebags).

    I selected the leather, the design, the interior lining colors, the add ons, the strap length, etc etc. Total price all in was roughly $300 for a large Macbook-sized tote. It has held up amazingly well, and I got exactly what I wanted – no sacrificing anything.

    There are a number of similar shops on Etsy, plus other independent designers. The bag I buy this year with my holiday bonus will be from this woman — https://www.alesyabags.com

    • and bags from Lotuff or Frank Clegg are beautiful…and can be customized. Probably in bucket 4.

  22. My bag essentials:

    – black leather
    – gold tone hardware
    – sturdy handles (crook of arm or shoulder)
    – zip top
    – interior pockets (including one that zips)
    – structured design (no hobos)
    – black lining

    I’m boring :)

  23. I’ve been carrying the same black Tumi tote to work every day for over a year. Is that bad? I don’t have time to worry about bags!

    • I do the same. Tumi has great quality and works very well for travel. I’m in consulting, and it also has the right image of professional / quality / not exorbitantly expensive that sits well with clients (and you don’t want them to think they are paying you too much). My co-workers are also generally ‘pro-Tumi,’ so it helps I can chat with guys about Tumi products.

      • +1! Tumi is my best friend. I use the Just In Case Shopper almost every single day (I’m a consultant and travel every week), and I am going 2 years strong. I have a laptop bag and my Tumi which I can turn into a pillow for flights by sticking a jacket or pillow in there. 2 years of carrying the same bag, and I have almost 0 wear to it! I love Tumi, I like to think of it as more of a quality piece of luggage rather than a purse. Its built to take a beating.

        I’m wary of buying actual Tumi rolling luggage as I’ve read that airline people tend to rifle through your belongings because it signals you have high end items to be stolen… I do believe that Tumi is of excellent quality.

    • I’m a huge fan of the leather Tumi Q-tote. It holds everything and then some, looks professional, zips across the top and has the right amount of drop on the handles. What Bucket do you think Tumi falls in?

  24. Would love to be in bucket 5/6 but I am just too hard on my bags. They are gorgeous, and I would love to splurge on one, but I’d just ruin it too quickly. I’m pretty squarely in Bucket 3, and like everyone has been saying, it’s pretty easy to either find them on sale or otherwise at the low end of the price range given (which I think is an accurate range, FWIW).

  25. I have a variety depending on the situation, but only one bucket 6 bag – the YSL Betty bag. It was a splurge but I put away a certain amount from each paycheck for a loooong time and then finally pulled the trigger. I love it.

    My day to day bags are bucket 3 – I want something that will last, but also not so expensive that I will be heartbroken by daily wear and tear.

    As far as additions to the list – what about Jcrew (they have some really cute tote bags), Marc by Marc Jacobs and also Marc Jacobs, as well as Anya Hindmarch. Also Alexander McQueen because a girl can dream!

    Jessica
    www.thebellevoyage.com

  26. Anonymous :

    My daily bag is a bucket 6 (not five figures though!), with the occasional day I need to carry in a lot and use a tote from bucket 5. My purse for weekend errands and the gym is bucket 3, but I got it more at bucket 2 prices. I used to be more along the lines of some mentioned here–10+ bags from buckets 2 and 3–but my style is not really one that means changing purses daily, so I just wasn’t getting use out of some of those. I decided to go with one really nice one that I’d use every day, and use it for years.

    • Anonymous :

      ETA: I just saw the price ranges, and my aforementioned bucket 5 tote, which is a LV canvas tote, was definitely under $1k. I think you could break up LV between the logo canvas pieces (as bucket 4) and the leather or seasonal items, which is where you start getting above $1.5k.

  27. Awful Lawful :

    Holy wow! I never really look at Alexander McQueen bags, mostly because I couldn’t even dream of affording them, but I just saw this bag and I’m completely in love: http://www.alexandermcqueen.com/us/alexandermcqueen/top-handle_cod45241552nk.html

    It is seriously gorgeous! That color is to die for!

  28. I’ve been stalking eBay for a black leather YSL Muse. Do you guys think it’s timeless enough for me to use for another 10 years?

  29. i heart purses :

    I’m not sure where the cut-off is between bucket 5 and 6, since the price points don’t seem to match up. I have a mix of Saint Laurent, Prada, and Chanel, with a few Louis Vuitton that I don’t really carry anymore. Total of 12 bags (3 LV, 2 YSL, 5 Prada, 2 Chanel). I think the Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton are closer to the same price point and Prada is more dependent on materials (i.e., the regular leather are closer to Saint Laurent price but the ostrich tote was twice the cost of Chanel).

  30. Law firm partner with a taste for bags here. Agree w/ I heart purses that I’m not sure how 5 and 6 got divided up. I’m a Bottega lover, have 5 or 6 that i would consider current enough to use, and also a Nancy Gonzalez fan, currently have 3. But my last two bag purchases have been (to my surprise) LV (leather NOT that hideous initial covered canvas), and the price range on all those bags is generally $2K and $5K. Hermes is in another realm, but I haven’t let myself go there yet…. BV may be in the higher end of that range, but I have noticed that they seem to be discounted on Rue La La with some regularity (haven’t tried them, but assume that they are real and all that).

    Also, didn’t see on your list, but Tod’s makes some great super durable bags that I would put at one price point below the above types of bags. Carried them a lot when younger, and still have one great cross-body that’s my go to travel bag as it’s really incognito. Just like you might not want to take your 4K bag to a meeting with a cost conscious client, there are plenty of travel situations where you don’t want a bag that screams its origins.

    • I have been thinking about the leather LV Neverfull. I swore I would never buy LV because I am SO anti the logo canvas, but the leather Neverfull looks really durable and the color selection is awesome…

      • You know, I was debating getting a Neverfull for a long time too because the bag wears great, but then my friend told me about the Dagne Dover tote http://www.dagnedover.com/products/tote and it is AMAZING. It hass a strap to keep my keys on, a water bottle holder (I’ve been screwed one too many times by a leaky water bottle), iPad pocket, laptop pocket, and on and on. I’ve had the bag for two months and I’ve gotten SO many compliments on the color. I got Dagne Blue. :) Definitely my new favorite work and travel bag.

        • I just found out about Dagne Dover this weekend. Am thinking that will be my next purchase. I love that you can have the wallet clutch along with the bigger tote. I got another bag with all the organizer pockets in it but it’s too casual for work and not great quality. Now to decide on colors…

  31. My favourite bags are Mandarina Duck. The leather ones. They are very good quality and have 5 year guarantee. I consider them bucket 2… But then they are muuuuuch nicer than anything Zara.

  32. I own only 5 bags, 3 in bucket 6 (none cost more than $3k) and are BV hobos. 2 LVs in epi leather, each cost $1k. I bought the first of these 10 years ago. They are totally worth it in terms of style and longevity.
    Quality is a given.

  33. Has anyone tried selling their “gently used” Category 3+ handbags on resale sites, like Tradesy? Or buying “gently used” bags in the upper categories on similar sites? I sold two bags on Tradesy–solid 3s: Coach leather and Rebecca Minkoff, both in “like new” condition, and thought hard before deciding against buying an LV Alma bag (for the moment, at least). I bought one category 3 Coach cross-body bag on Tradesy, for about 1/2 the new price, and I was pleased with it. What are other people’s experiences with selling/buying slightly used higher-end bags online, where you can’t examine the goods in person?

    • Read reviews of the seller. Look closely at pictures for signs of authenticity, or lack thereof. Ebay has good guides to buying bags. If you don’t smoke, make sure the listing specifies “no odors” or “smoke free” because you will never get the smell of smoke out of a used bag.

  34. I acquired my purses slowly – at a pace of about one a year. First, a black hobo Prada bag that was on super sale on the Internet. The next year my fiancé (now husband) bought me a brown Louis Vuitton tote for Christmas. The next year, I bought a red bowler bag in Florence – no designer name, just great quality leather. And finally, last year my husband bought me a cream Ferragamo bag. All of the purses are high quality and should pretty much last a lifetime — and I’m officially done with buying purses. I have every color I want – in classic shapes, so there is no reason to buy another one.

  35. Not a Bag Person? :

    I know I’m in the minority here, but I cannot ever see myself spending four-five digits on a bag. I typically have about 2-3 Bucket 1 bags (which are usually actually Bucket 2 bags, but thrifted/ebay) that I spend about $20-$40 on. These will last me several years, look fine, and between the 2-3 of them will go with all my outfits.

    I do see Buckets 4-5 on my NYC commute but I don’t think I’ve seen anything above a Bucket 3 (and mostly Bucket 2s) among the women my office. Granted, I am in engineering, so our office is 80% men, and maybe even the women have a tendency to think of a bag as simply a vessel to hold necessities :) I thought the PR professional’s comment earlier was interesting. From anecdotal evidence (and I present myself/my office as the opposite end of the spectrum), it would seem that the importance of bags as a statement/means of presenting oneself varies widely by field of work.

    • A professional woman :

      I agree, it definitely depends on office, field and city. I am a lawyer, but I have seen a lot of LV, Celine, Chanel, etc. among NYC lawyers. But in DC, the lawyers tend to carry some LV (the neverfull tote is popular), but mostly category 3 – Kate Spade is most popular, along with Michael Kors.

  36. I would add Bodhi to the list in Bucket 3. They have great totes. I travel a lot so stick with Bucket 3 bags so I don’t weep when they get damaged.

  37. March Jacobs is notably missing. This should probably go in 3, though much more upscale than MK and kate spade.

  38. Does anyone else check to see where a bag is produced? I don’t care what the label is, if I’m going to spend $$$ it shouldn’t be made in a sweatshop or by a child.

    • Not a Bag Person? :

      Yep, I do. Same for shoes, clothes etc. but that is another can of worms. I usually buy my bags secondhand: I save money, feel like I’m not directly supporting the businesses using sweatshops/child labor, and get to use something that maybe otherwise would’ve gone to a landfill. Some people feel that this is still indirectly supporting unfair labor practices, so if you are really serious about it, that still may not sit well with you. However, some ethical or fair trade online stores to buy bags I have found include:
      – Fair Indigo
      – Novica
      – Ten Thousand Villages
      – Serrv (currently eyeing their poppy leather purse, but at $148 it’s more than I usually spend on bags…but, I’m cheap :) )
      – Amani

      I have found that many ethical/fair trade bags will be a bit bold in color or pattern for a typical moderate/conservative office, but there still are usually a few more conservative-looking options. However, if labels are a priority for you and/or in your industry, I would look for bags made in EU nations (which from what I understand, would include some of the higher-end brands) under the assumption that they are abiding by halfway decent labor practices.

  39. Can anyone speak to Jimmy Choo bag quality? Any experiences out there? Thanks! :)

  40. Oh, and of course, the division President only wears Hermes Birkin’s… which she owns in several colors. *Le Sigh*

  41. I disagree on the basic premise that a good bag has to be leather or canvas; esp for work. If you walk/train to work, microfiber is by far the best choice. Much lighter weight than anything else and very durable. MZ Wallace all the way.

  42. housecounsel :

    I am kicking myself a thousand times for NOT buying a Longchamps leather at Nordstrom Rack today. I bought a Kate Spade tote instead and am wondering if I should go back tomorrow and exchange.

  43. I am a bucket 2 or 3 person. I like a lot of change and would rather have a lot of options to choose from rather than spend a fortune on one. I get bored easily with my bags just as I do with the same old outfit. I do have to agree that just about everyone is carrying a Coach bag now, but the design works well for me. It’s about what works well for you. I’m pass the point of having to impress.

  44. Hey! Don’t scare everyone away from Bottega Veneta! Non-logo luxury for <$2500:)

  45. Jamaican Law Student :

    Surprisingly, I’m in bucket 3. I carried a Michael Kors tote for most of university and I purchased a Michael Kors Selma satchel, which I love but rarely use since it can’t hold my books and laptop.

    I’m in law school right now and I’m currently carrying the Ann Taylor Signature tote. It’s “vegan leather” (aka fake leather), so it’s much lighter than my other bags. It’s big enough for my books/laptop without being overbearingly huge. I think it’s perfect for students. It’s originally $118, but I got it for 50% off! I don’t think I’d buy a fake leather bag for $118, but I do love the look of it so I’m glad I got it on sale.

  46. NY Working Gal :

    I upgraded to Buckets 5 and 6 when I turned 30 this year, but I certainly understand that that isn’t for everyone. My go-to work bags are Prada Saffiano totes. I have one black and one camel and I can’t see needing another for work use. I do NOT put my laptop in my Prada thou. I have a leather Tory Burch tote that I use for that and don’t mind getting messy. I think the weight of a laptop would wear out a good bag quickly. For going out with friends / personal use I have a couple of Celines, a black Chanel and a beige Chanel (again – I think one of each staple color is sufficient) and a really cool Gucci leopard print calf-hair bag.

    I will say, thou, that I do NOT spend nearly as much money on clothes. I tend to dress rather simply (well tailored, a lot of black/neutrals, sleek lines, classic shapes that aren’t “trendy” and can be worn for seasons/years) and let my bags and shoes do the talking. I sometimes worry about wearing expensive shoes and bags to the office, but I work at a huge, conservative, formal organization where “dressy” is the norm. I also believe in dressing to impress and dressing for the job that you want, not the job you have. (One last point on this – I’m also very young for my role, and I feel that dressing as thou I’m a bit older helps me gain the respect of those who work for me who are – in some cases – older than I am.)

    On shoes, I wear a lot of Louboutin point toe varieties (So Kate, Pigalle) to work, as well as Jimmy Choo Anouk pumps. But, I recently went out of my pointy toe comfort zone and bought the higher heeled classing Ferragamo pumps for work and LOOOOOVE them. Very comfortable, too.

  47. Where does Henri Bendel fit in?

  48. Where is CH?

  49. The Coach thing is bothering me because I have owned several coach and they come in several tiers. You have your cheap and almost tier 1. I’m not a fan of the Cs, but if you look up why they did it I get it. Americans love showing off their brands not realizing that looks cheap. During the recession they came out with their cheaper leather that is lighter weight and not a big deal. Finally they have their much nicer classic and up scale leather that is stylish and can be timeless. Those would be your tier 4. My daddy didn’t buy my purses so when I purchase them I do my research and ask questions. Is it a Chloe? No, but I at least an armed enough to know what to spend my money on if I opt for a Chloe, LV, Chanel or YSL. I may just buy a high end coach because it is a great company with a great tradition of quality.

  50. I like this list, but why guess and calvien klien is not in the list. I thought they were good brands.

  51. young&restless :

    What about DKNY? Which bucket does it belong to?

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