How Much Do You Spend On Bags?

Purses & Pumps :), originally uploaded to Flickr by nikkicookiebaker.How much do you spend on bags? After our discussion on Tuesday regarding whether a reader should spend $2100 on a bag that she was different from what she normally carried, reader E wrote in with this comment:

After reading your post yesterday regarding expensive, professional bags, I wonder who out there can afford such a bag? I am a lawyer at a big firm and live in DC. My firm pays the standard scale — I currently make $185,000 and will soon get a raise to $210,000. While I realize I may be somewhat conservative when it comes to clothes (I tend to buy designer clothes on sale or through Gilt or Ideeli), I am definitely not cheap. I would buy a $350 purse, but that is a far cry from $2100! Like most lawyers I know, I have student loans and a mortgage. However, I don’t save that much money (though I do pay extra on my loans). So my question is, who pays $2100 for a purse? Are these people who have no loans? Who have married money? Or am I just not investing enough in my wardrobe? I am interested in getting your (and other readers) opinion(s).

This is a great question, and we haven’t discussed this since the big discussion on how much people generally spend on clothes a few years ago.*  (Pictured.) I’m curious to hear what readers say here, but for my own $.02, this is how I look at it:

– The vast majority of my bags are in the $300-$600 price range.  Many were purchased for below $200, though, either at sample sales, online sales, or through flash sales (some of where I had “referral points” from recommending different flash sale sites on the blog). 

– When I bought my most expensive bag (my LV), I used money from my aunts/grandmother.  See, every holiday in my family, all the kids get money from all the aunts.  Happy Easter, here’s $50.  When I started working as a lawyer, I decided to use the cash mostly for cab money/random expenses, but to keep track in my Palm Pilot of who gave me what, and when, and save it for some “splurge” purchase.  After three or four years it added up to a lot of money… so I used it to buy the LV, guilt-free.  It always makes me smile because I think of the bag as a gift from them.

– That said: I have way too many bags.  When I was working I tried to switch purses once every few weeks or so, to keep them in rotation.  (For my current lifestyle, I almost never see the vast majority of my collection — I keep pictures of them all so I can easily remember what I have and want without having to rifle through the bags on the tippy top shelf of my closet, mostly covered in dustbags.) (Um: because I am insane, I thought I’d share some of those pictures with you below… I’m obviously not a professional photographer or Photoshopper!)  Looking back, I probably could have/should have saved up the money I was spending on various small purse purchases, and instead bought one really nice purse once a year.   Four $300 purses = One $1200 purse.  I think the majority of women who spend Big Money on one bag do so with the acknowledgement that they don’t like to switch bags and the intention to carry that single bag for two or three years.  Ultimately: do I spend a lot on bags?  Sure.  Do I spend a lot less than some of my friends do?  Yep.  Do I spend a lot more than some of my other friends do? Yep.  (Just to be totally clear: The collection below goes back as far back as law school in some cases, so this is almost 10 years of purse purchases.  When the vast majority of these were purchased, I was a single girl with a lot of extra income — I thought they were a good investment, and I liked that purses “fit” no matter what size I happened to be that morning. I purchase far less bags these days, if only because it’s harder to justify the expense with a baby.  And yes, you probably do recognize some of these from Coffee Break postings and other blog posts.)

– Update: I just remembered that Jean at Extra Petite had a great video about how she’s saved money on Chanel bags over the years by taking advantage of store-wide discounts and store credit card offers (e.g., sign up for a credit card, get 15% off all day)… so keep in mind that $2100 could quickly become less than that if you’re smart about it.

Readers, how much do you spend on bags, generally?  Whatever the price range, how often do you switch bags — and how does that affect your purchasing decisions?  If you’re spending Big Money on the bag, how do you justify it to yourself?

* Fun story: in the “how much do you generally spend on clothes” post in 2009, I listed the price ranges that I generally expect to see for clothing that I wore to work, and neglected to make clear that those were the ticket prices, not the prices I actually pay [you guys KNOW I love a good sale].  Anyway: this was 2009, so I was still anonymous as a blogger, and had a big conference/charity dinner for the day job when the post went live, so I totally missed the fact that commenters were incensed re: some of my “normal” price ranges.  A good friend, who knew my deep dark blogging secret (as well as the fact that I generally turn up my nose at anything less than a 35% sale), happened to be at the event, tracked me down, and said, YOU MUST FIX THIS NOW. So: huddling behind a big round charity dinner table, using my friend’s Blackberry, I posted the update.)


  1. Diana Barry :

    Heh. LOL re the update during the charity dinner! :)

    I usually spend about $200 on a bag, which feels like a lot to me. I get them at Cole Haan and Kate Spade outlets, and I only have about 4, since I only got into bags a couple of years ago. (Thank you, [this site]!) No idea what the ticket prices are.

    With that in mind, any recommendations for a new large bag that could hold my legal files, lunch and pump parts? (I have a Michael Michael Kors large tote now, red, works well but is looking a bit tired.)

    • The new coach line in the legacy leathers look oh so tempting and run large-ish.

    • Our family income is around 170k . But I just have only 4 designer handbags. Out of them I got two of them with gift cards. I am happy with them. They are just coach and kate spade range of bags which I got below 200$. I got them in neutral colours to go with everything. I feel it is waste to buy multiple bags which take up closet space and money. I just have a few good ones which I enjoy. My viewpoint is if I have 2000$ I want to clear out house mortgage or invest it. Even if I have money I just don’t buy a lot of designer stuff which just sits unused . I have never done and will never do it. My viewpoint is if you have a lot of surplus in millions ,then do it. When my money is limited and I have important things to do like clearing house payments , why should I blow my money on unnecessary things.

  2. When I gradueated LAW SCHOOL and told my father I would be workeing in litiegieation, he went out to a VERY important luggage place in New York City and bought me a LIT BAG, and he had them emmboss my full name on it, so that if I were ever to loose it that I would get it back. Also, by haveing my NAME on it, it would not get confused with all of the other lawyer’s, who had similear litieigation bag’s like it, b/c it look’s the same as other’s who are goeing to court every day with case’s and breif’s. Yay!!!

    Mine is very large so I carry every thing in it, includeing my gym clothe’s and my lunch, and my purse. It does NOT really pay to carry to many things on the SUBWAY.

    My DAD NEVER told me how much he paid for the bag, but all of the guy’s come up to me to admire the bag. Unfortunately, that’s also how some doofus got my name and called my firm to see if I was interested in goieng out with him. FOOEY! I guess I have to take the good with the bad! Yay!

    • Senior Attorney :

      “Gym clothe’s.”

      That? Is pure comic gold.

    • Lawstudent :

      You being a lawyer has to be a joke….your spelling is horrendous! And your stories always involve your dad and come off as so childish…

      • Lawstudent,

        Don’t be mean to Ellen!

      • Laughing Hard :

        OMG, you are so right about that! This chick can hardly write English, and she claims that GUYS come up to her to admire her bag? REALLY? Must be uber-flaming gay guys, cause no guy I know would ever come up to any woman and admire her bag. Do they want one to go with their pink skinny jeans and canary yellow thong with hearts on it? This is pure comedy:

        “When I gradueated LAW SCHOOL and told my father I would be workeing in litiegieation”


  3. I’m in big law and use one purse for two to three years. I don’t really rotate. That being said, I only spend about $300 on each one, sometimes a bit more. I can’t imagine spending $2100 on a bag I would carry for only a couple of years. I’d have to carry that thing forever – which just isn’t going to happen with a bag that gets so much wear and tear.

    • I’m with b23 (though now in-house). I use the same purse every day for as long as it looks good, and tend to spend $300-500.

      I also have a small clutch/cross body that I use for casual outings where I don’t need to carry much, a formal clutch, and an MZ Wallace bag that I like for travel. All black.

      I may be the least interesting person on this blog, but it works for me :)

    • Same here. Although I do typically switch to a different bag for summer. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $400 on a bag, and I view that as a lot, even though I spend pretty freely on clothes. But I wear my clothes all day, while my bag mostly sits in my desk drawer, so that makes sense to me.

  4. Nothing annoys me more than when someone refers to an insanely frivolous purchase as “an investment”. Buying a purse is NEVER an investment. It may be a worthwhile purchase, especially if you will get a lot of use out of it, but it is not an investment. Calling it that is just a way to justify spending the equivalent of a mortgage payment on something that you could easily do without.

    • Cornellian :

      I basically agree, although there may be a caveat that in some fields (banking, some BigLaw firms), an expensive, recognizable bag is an investment in your career in the same having well-tailored clothing is. It seems like for some firms it’s part of the uniform.

      • Second. I don’t know that you need an “expensive recognizable bag” but it would be weird to go to certain client /professional meetings with cheapo bags that are falling apart.

    • Not so sure about that. My LV is now worth more used than it was when I bought it years ago.

      • a passion for fashion :

        this. all of mine are worth more. in fact, the small little LV clutch like bag that was so popular years ago is now worth twice what i paid. And i agree with the above that the real “investment” is in you and your appearence. i think the word investment also really means buying a piece that will last for years — a bag or shoe or suit that is classic enough and well made such that — with good care — you will be able to use it years from now.

      • There’s a difference between the replacement value of something (which in this case just means that more women are willing too spend way too much on a bag) and what it’s worth. Unless you can sell your bag on ebay for a lot more than you paid for it, you can substitute replacement value for value.

        • a passion for fashion :

          you can sell the LVs on ebay — or other consignment sites — for a lot more than i paid.

    • My long-term boyfriend of many years bought me a $3000 purse that I pined over for the last 10 months as a combination gift for my birthday and graduation (might be a missed Christmas gift in there somewhere too). It had jumped significantly in price the first time I missed the boat on buying it and the price jumped yet again shortly after he purchased it. Investment? Perhaps not. But to us personally, it’s a good value. I love the thing and he loves that I love it. Many of the commenters mention the purses they own so I get the impression that they own several handbags. I’ve owned exactly TWO designer purses in the last decade, both purchased on Ebay long after they had been pre-loved by a previous owner and purchased at a fraction of its original cost. I value quality, design, and things that last the test of time. Almost every item of clothing I own (some of it designer) was purchased on sale at a minimum of 40-60% off. If purses aren’t really your “thing,” then of course one shouldn’t spend some exorbitant amount of money on one, but there’s nothing wrong with saving up, spending smart, and buying something indulgent, like a purse, every once in awhile.

    • I think “investment” more refers to you being able to use it longer while looking presentable (see comment on lawyers/bankers needing to look polished) than the target bag that looks cheap/will fall apart after 50 uses.

  5. I have a large leather Gucci bag that my husband gifted me a few years ago. I would never have purchased something that expensive, but I think it was over $3,000. That said, we’re both 10 year lawyers and have the money to make splurges. (I probably would have splurged on a vacation w/out our kids …) I wear the Gucci out. It’s huge and everything goes in it. Sometimes I think he wants me to be gentle with it, but it was a celebration of not having a diaper bag all the time! It was big enough to stuff a couple of diapers and wipes into.

    He also gave me a DVF Harper Connect bag (and an ipad!) last year for Christmas. I love that bag too. I think it was under $1000.

    That said, other than those 2, ALL my purses are probably under $100, maybe $200. I don’t like changing bags, either. I’ll use the DVF for 6 months, then the Gucci for 6 months. Then rotate again. I occassionally grab a cheap colored clutch for a night out. But usually not.

    I think purse prices are ridiculous. You can get a nice leather bag without a $1000+ price tag.

  6. Most of my collection ranges from $100 to $500 for the bags I use all the time. I’ll probably buy 1 or 2 bags a year, maybe a bit higher for a nice evening bag. I have 2 that were each >$2,500 – one as an MBA graduation present to myself, one as a 30th bday present to myself. both are classic and neutral (and beautiful, if I can add…) and I plan to use forever.

    I’ll switch every 2-3 days, mostly to force myself to clean out change and receipts and other junk. I live in an expensive city but really thankfully have no loans, so I feel less bad about blowing my savings goals every now and again for some french leather. Speaking of, I’ve had a ‘birkin’ savings fund since college that I keep dipping into for ‘fun’ expenses over the years, but I’ve got my eye on one for a 40th bday present.

  7. anon for this :

    I have loans, also work at a large law firm, am married, consider myself pretty well off, and a collection of $$$ handbags. I see it partially as “use per wear”: I’ve kept my bags (Bottega Veneta, Tod’s, even a Chanel and a few Hermes) for several years already and they’re still going strong. I know I’ll have my BV hobo for at least a decade, and it still looks fabulous four years after I bought it. The Tod’s is my daily workhorse (and cheapest!), and I keep the really fancy stuff (Chanel and the noticeable Hermes–I use my garden party for work sometimes) for personal time. I only get one fancy bag a year, if that, but by now I’ve got a great collection of classic pieces that will last for years and years. They’re all I buy–I don’t buy any other bags ever; rather, I save for what I really want.

    • hahaha I just had to google Hermes garden party because my first reaction was – does this mean your husband is so happy with your s*x life that he buys you Hermes bags???

  8. I tried to find an extra-special splurge bag to use as my work tote last year – my grandparents wrote a generous check for Christmas, plus I wanted to find my “bonus gift.” After looking at Prada, LV, Ferragamo, and the entire Neiman’s sales floor, I wasn’t thrilled with any of them — either they weren’t shoulder bags, weren’t big enough to carry a laptop and files, were too flashy / logo’ed or too plain, I gave up – for the equivalent of a mortgage payment, I’d better LOVE it. And frankly, I reached a mental block as I was seriously looking at the price tags – just because I could comfortably afford the bag didn’t mean I actually wanted to spend that much – after all, it was going to end up on the conference room floor next to dangerous wheely chairs running over the corners :) Fortunately, Coach’s Legacy collection saved the day for me this fall.

    Anyway, like Kat, I almost always buy on sale, meaning I have a decent sized collection of bags that were purchased for $200-300. Now that I have a good collection (a few formal bags, a few daytime bags, and a few work options, each for summer and winter), I’ve found myself totally ignoring the market altogether.

  9. Anonymous :

    The most I’ve ever spent is $400 on a Katherine Kwei tote that I use daily in Fall and Winter for work. Most of my bags are in the $18 to $150 range (but retail in the $200 – $400 range, such as Cole Haan, Kate Spade, and Coach).

  10. Three purses: (1) large tan leather tote for work ~$300 (current one is 3 yrs old, before that had one for 9 years that was the same only black); (2) medium tan leather hobo for weekends ~$160 (at least 8 yrs old — the leather just seems to age instead of getting scruffy); (3) gray satin beaded evening clutch, no idea on price b/c it was a gift from my aunt (but likely in the $30-$50 range). That’s it. No rotating. No $1,000+ bags, but the leather bags are both very high quality leather (no designer label to drive up the price).

  11. Honestly, I think the most I’ve ever spent on a bag is about $120. I’ve spent a lot of time in school – first I got a Ph.D., then a J.D. – so didn’t have the income for anything more. Even when I was working as a college professor, I didn’t carry a purse to work – I had large book-bag type things that were all about function, not fashion (same for law school); my obsession was with finding the just-right laptop case, not purse. (Also, a multi-hundreds-dollars purse/bag doesn’t usually fly in academia, at least in the corners I inhabited.) It’s only since I’ve started working 9-5 after law school that I’ve got into purses, and I haven’t had the money to buy any of the pretties yet.

    But I have started looking, and have started steeling myself at the prospect of spending more. This may change someday, but right now I can’t see bringing myself to spend more than $300. (I showed my husband a $278 Dooney & Bourke bag when we were in a Nordstrom’s recently, and he nodded approvingly. That matters, too!) Obviously if I can find the right sales $300 would get me a more expensive bag. But I also can’t see buying more than one of those a year, if that (I tend to get one neutral bag and wear it into the ground, in part because if I switch bags I lose things).

    (it might also be relevant that I’m clerking and going to a federal job after, so no biglaw salaries here.)

    • (I currently have: one black purse, one green purse – both Tignanello; an $8 bronze purse from Target I can use for fancy occasions; a black “leather” tote thing from Target for $25; and a teeny Coach shoulder bag that I got around 1989. So my collection is pretty minimal!)

    • THIS. I’ve never spent more than like $150 and don’t see myself ever spending more than about $300, regardless of future salary or financial situation.

      • What'sWrongWithYou :

        Seriously. Yes. Do not spend more than $100 on a bag. Don’t you have better things to do wtih your money? I, too, did the Phd–>JD track and am now in Europe making $35000 a year. Who buys that expensive of purses? And who CARES? Sure, your purse shouldn’t be falling apart, but I have perfectly respectable bags that cost me $25.
        America is such a consumer culture, it’s incredible. If it were consumer in activities, that’d be one thing, but in purses? Multiple ones? At more than $1000 each? And people are proud of purses at $300-$1000? WHAT?!

        • I’m sorry, I must have missed the memo saying it’s tell-people-what-they-should-and-shouldn’t-do-with-their-money day.

        • People not making $35,000 a year do.

        • Of note, I’ve met people on modest incomes who sniff at expensive bags just like you do. Except they have really nice laptops, or all the latest apple products. (really makes me laugh that “struggling” 20-somethings walk around with iphones)

          Meanwhile, my biglaw husband his laptop literally held together with scotch tape before it stopped working, and he replaced it with the cheapest functional thing he could find at bestbuy. But he has several pairs of $300 shoes that he takes excellent care of.

          It’s your money, choose your spend.

          • This reminds me of an excellent article I read a while back about how to maximise the happiness you get out of spending your money. The idea was to to:
            1. Spend nothing on things you don’t need and don’t love
            2. Find the best deal you can on things you need but don’t love
            3. Spend as much as you can on things you need and love
            4. Spend everything else on things you love.

          • Miss O. I love that.

  12. I usually buy 1 Kate Spade price-range purse every 2-3 years. My last was from a sample sale and I think it was around $150. I don’t rotate either and tend to get fairly conservative all black leather or nylon bags. I have two kids now so I just can’t justify much more. Maybe someday.

  13. Threadjack, but this morning’s post is already SO LONG! Do you give cash gifts or other gifts to your paralegal? Obviously I’ll be giving cash to my secretary. But my paralegal has hours requirements and gets a bonus. She only works for our team, but that is three lawyers. If you do give cash gifts, is it more or less than the secretary or the same? Mid size firm in mid size city.

    • karenpadi :

      Gifts for support staff (including paralegals) is a know-your-office thing. I’d ask the other lawyers on your team what they are doing. In most offices, cash gifts are preferred along with a nice card with nice messages from the lawyers.

    • As a junior/mid-level associate, I never gave gifts to the paralegals who worked in my department. However, I think that the partners and counsel usually gave them something.

  14. I think there are people, and I aspire to be one of them, who save money by buying expensive things they love. They take good care of the items and keep them for years. They don’t buy a bunch of junk that they’ll just end up purging.

    If someone who has that mentality spends $2100 on a bag she’ll carry for years, rather than needing to buy the latest Kate Spade or Cole Haan bag in the newest color(s) every season, I imagine the $2100 handbag buyer comes out ahead financially.

    • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

      I’m one of these aspirants. I don’t have a ton of bags– I’ve got about 5 cheap ones (mixture of stuff from Filene’s basement and Chinatown no-name bags) I bought in my first year after undergrad, when I moved to NYC for work. I took good care of them and they’re still in good shape today.

      And then, I have a $1000 leather briefcase, which I have used only 6 times in 6 years, but know I’ll have forever. And then my $600 Ghurka bag, which I bought for myself when I got a major promotion. I use this bag and one of my ancient (I’m well in my 30s now!) cheap ones every single day.

      I love looking at bags, but rarely feel tempted to buy. I think I might get myself a nice clutch or small purse when I turn 40, though. And I’d probably spend between $250-$500.

    • That is true, though it’s all relative – a lot of us are in the price range where the most we can really do is a Kate Spade/Cole Haan discounted bag we’ll carry for a few years (and I’m sure that seems really excessive to others). So while it is totally about your individual financial situation, I still get that “wow” reaction when I see the big price tags of some bags because it’s just about where I am in life.

    • I am 25 and have had a large Burberry leather tote I purchased 3 years ago for $1400ish. Other than a small longchamp ($100) and clutch ($50), it is the only bag I have used for the past 3 years. It still looks good and I can probably get another 2 years out of it at least, which will put it at an average of $1.30 per use assuming I use it every day (which is def an overestimate) but anyway my point is that I love my bag and don’t plan on buying another one for a few more years and refuse to feel guilty about it :)

    • I have decided to become that person. I spent $1000 (combined xmas money from parents boyfriend and family) on a LV, and have spent 300-400 on another couple of bags. The rest of my bags are in the under $100 range, and I did collect many of THOSE over the years. The only bags i ever want to use are the LV and the $300-400 ones. With that said, it annoys me that I have about a dozen or so $100ish bags in my closet that are ok but i never want to use. I spent $1200 total on those, never use them, and could possibly sell them on ebay for a total of $50, bc nobody wants no-named used purses. Meanwhile, the $1000 LV i use all the time, love, and if i really wanted to i could get at least 600 or more out of it.

      I decided to not buy another bag unless it was really what i wanted, even if it was not cheap. Cnsequently i haven’t bought a bag in a year and a half, and i have my eye on a couple in the $1000-1200 range. I dont need a new bag now and probably wont buy one for another year or two, but when i do, it’s going to be a nice one. I definitely am at the point where id rather buy very few items that are good quality, more expensive and that i love and appreciate….than have ten times that amount of stuff that was one tenth the cost that i dont really like all that much.

  15. des-pairing :

    Um, bags.
    -One for work, on which I spent ~$200 and plan to use for ~3 years.
    – One small clutch for fancy / formal events. It costs ~$200.
    – One small cross-body for running errands etc. It’s a second-hand Coach I got at consignment store for ~$50 and I wear that baby to the ground.
    They are all black and go with everything, so I don’t need to spend more money on more bags. I don’t need a bag collection!
    I did recently consider buying a (black) designer bag in the $500-$1000 range as a milestone gift for myself but the ladies here have steered me into the direction of jewelry instead.

  16. I think it has a lot to do with personal taste- what you’re willing to spend money on over other things. For example, my husband (the biglaw lawyer) has a growing collection of Allen Edmonds shoes ($300ish/pair, though he does shop the sales), but he’s absolutely horrified at the cost of furniture anywhere outside of Ikea. In fact, he’s not even happy with Ikea prices.

    I make a bit more than a quarter of his biglaw salary (that’s what I get for living abroad as a writer, like a hippie, while he went to law school), but have a collection of 5 brahmins and 1 kate spade bag, though some were gifted. I just can’t stand the quality of cheaper bags. I rotate them frequently (using 2-3 of them per week) and plan to buy 1-2/year. In fact, if I could drop the money on a Ferragamo or LV, I would. To sustain my expensive habits while accomodating my less-than-stellar salary, building my savings, and paying my loans, I just cut costs elsewhere.

    It’s a choose your battle (expensive habit) kind of thing.

    • Totally agree. My husband winces at spending more than $30 on any one piece of ordinary clothing, but will drop $150 on a running jacket and $100 or more on tights. But he will also buy one running jacket and use it until it falls apart (which is a long time, when he buys good quality). I can’t bear to spend more on workout gear than Target charges, but probably have more changes of workout clothing than he does. As long as the parties in question can afford what they like, it’s all good.

    • I was trying to say something similar in my comment below, but I think you said it better. Totally agree. We all have our things. My SO will only buy jeans on sale at the Gap($40 or less) but he only like Brooks Brothers suits. I have another friend who has probably purchased half of whatever Anthropologie has ever sold but she considers J Crew too expensive. We all have our value judgments. I would spend $500 on a bag on sale but consider a bag that is $300 full price too expensive. There is no right or wrong. And no one should feel like they need to spend a specific amount on a purse or on anything else. Buy what makes sense to you.

  17. LadyEnginerd :

    Paging Magnolia!

    This might be too little too late (just saw your comment from Tuesday’s bag thread) but… I love love love my Tom Bihn Western Flyer. It might be too big for everyday commuting (no compression straps to help it size down), but if I pack smart using the packing cubes, I can fit a laptop, some files, and a week’s worth of casual outfits in there. It comfortably fits underneath airline seats side by side with my purse. I don’t know how much stuff you haul around every day, but there’d be a lot of extra room in there if I used it to commute to work.

  18. Never more than $200 but usually they are between $200-$400 when they go on sale. I only replace my purse every season. Once one of the four in rotation dies, I buy a new one. I have about 30 little clutches and small purses all ranging from $5-$75. Those are for evening events or weddings or dates. I don’t think I could spend more than $500 now. My salary is $50K-$75K range and I have $200K in student loans though so not likely.

  19. I am married, still have boatloads of student loan debt, no kids (yet). All of my bags are sub-$500, and I probably buy 1 new bag every 1-2 years. I’m trying to be more judicious in my purchases, so I’ll buy things to fill specific needs (i.e., I “needed” a brown bag because I didn’t have one). I would love a classic Chanel purse one day, but that might be a long time off. Right now it’s a bigger priority to me that I build my emergency fund and pay down debt.

  20. Sorry for the TJ but I need some holiday gift basket ideas. I work for a small start-up and we wanted to gift one of our partners a gift basket with chocolates/sweets for around $250. There are so many options online and I want to make sure we choose a high quality store with nice products. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Zabar’s has good ones. I have also heard Harry & David’s recommended here before.

    • If you’re in New York, Brooklyn Larder has some really fantastic options.

    • I love chocolates from Fran’s in Seattle. Especially the grey salt caramels…my office will be getting small boxes of those this holiday season.

    • If you’re in NY, New York Mouth has some really interesting baskets with locally-made things.

  21. Legally Brunette :

    I’m not a bag person, I never peruse them online and until recently had really cheap ones. My current handbag is one I bought at the Coach oulet for $120. I also have a Kate Spade bag from the outlet that I bought for $210. These are the most expensive handbags I own and I only bought them because DH insisted.

    I will say that now that I am carrying more expensive handbags, I am taking much much better care of them than when I had a $35 handbag.

    I will never buy a $2100 handbag, even if won the Powerball lotto, simply because I don’t care enough about handbags. But, if you are someone who is really into them and will take very good care of them, I could see paying that much money. But for me personally, no way.

  22. I don’t know if it’s an East Asian thing… but most women over the age of 20-something have some sort of “designer” bag.

    On the one hand, it’s completely RIDIC to spend that much money on something.

    On the other hand, every time I’ve tried to find a nice leather bag w/o the logo/name/label, it’s still $500 or more or comprable, and in that case, I feel more comfortable with the company reputation/warranty et al behind it.

    With that said, I have 2 bags that retail > $1000, but randomly found for under $700 and both were milestone gifts from my bf.

    The LV that was a gift from my mother I use EVERY day, so cost per use is quite small.

    I’m still looking for a good evening bag/clutch thing, but haven’t found one yet, so have yet to pull that trigger.

    I find that many of the cheaper bags get worn out looking and thrown out.

    My aunt was a designer/earned a lot when she was younger/before child, and she STILL uses her fancy bags all the time and they still look great.

    • I also want to add, that ever since I got the nicer purses, I have no desire to actually buy any other purse (other than to fill a gap) and even then, I still haven’t found that piece worthy of shelling out $.

      If having one or two nicer bags means that I don’t spend the $30-$100 on crap bags that get worn out or just not as nice etc, it’s probably better for my wallet/closet/environmental impact in the long run.

      • Yep! once i got some nicer ones I cant bring myself to buy cheap purses, yet i also am not going to run out and buy designer ones all the time now, so in an odd way, getting that $1000 purse has curbed that aspect of my shopping habit.

    • It’s a particularly big thing in HK I think. In most of the offices I’ve worked in, the thing for designer bags (and big diamond rings for that matter) included assistants and support staff too.

  23. DallasSkirtEnvy :

    Bags- full disclosure- Healthcare consultant, not lawyer
    Each year:
    1 $120-150 leather purse per year that is fully utilitarian (Cole Haan on sale, Clarks) that I beat to hell traveling and generally being a mom.
    1 $50-70 clutch per year (Banana Republic-ish)
    1 vintage/that’s damn cool/, I don’t know the brand because I bought it at
    Every ~3 years:
    Whatever the lightest, most airport worthy laptop bag there is that fits my crap in an organized way.

    I can fully admit I’m currently madly in love with this Tory Burch bag :

    but that bag is the same value as my season of Opera tickets and I would rather go to the Opera.

  24. I think this is a very personal question as everyone has different priorities/needs. At this point in my life, I don’t see myself spending $2200 on a purse. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with it if you can afford it and it makes you happy. I try not to judge people’s spending habbits because you really don’t know anyone’s life. Maybe they are spending $2K on a purse but think it’s wasteful that you’re paying $150/mo. for cable, year after year. We all make our own choices.

    That said, I definitely have a softspot for nice bags and I love a good sale, so I have spent ~$500 for a Marc Jacobs bag that was 60% off – I love it and don’t have any regrets about it. Most of my other bags are in the $200 range (sale, not retail, price) and I also have two more expensive bags that I received as gifts, one of which unfortunately didn’t hold up so well due to a design defect and the other which I use as my everyday giant work tote.

    I think it ultimately comes down to your individual needs. Now that I am 31 and have the bulk of my basics set, I am starting to really appreciate buying a lot less of “stuff” and just buying things that I really love for the long term. I think a well made bag can be part of that. Plus, it’ll last longer than $800 shoes so I feel like I am being sensible (joke).

  25. I just want to respond directly to Reader E. I know exactly how you feel – when you live in an expensive city, a BigLaw salary is great, but at least for me, it’s not enough to casually slide over the credit card on a $2500 bag. I think a lot of people who are making these purchases on a regular basis are in double-income households, or don’t have kids, or don’t have loans. So take heart! There’s nothing wrong with you and you don’t have to buy a pricy bag to “invest enough” in your wardrobe. I know I’d rather spend my money on other things.

    • from someone who is in a Biglaw/midlaw double income household, no kids, and now paid-off six-figure loans, I’m still not comfortable sliding over the credit card for a four-figure bag!

      I am too worried about (1) finding a bigger place with room for future kids in the next few years, (2) starting to save for kids’ education (we are funding 529’s already, which can roll over to the family members we’ve designated if for whatever reason things don’t go according to plan, since god only knows what scary sticker shock tuition will look like in 20 years), (3) keeping our retirement savings moving, and (4) keeping the golden handcuffs at bay.

      • Stephanie :

        Smart. I’m ex-Biglaw, now in house, dual income household, with two kids in an extremely affluent beach suburb of LA. Those $2K bags are for the wives of the bankers pulling in millions a year and living in McMansions, not a wage slave like me. Although I suspect that many of the buyers of those bags are, in fact, young 20-somethings whose decisionmaking skills haven’t totally matured. For me, I’ll stay in the $300-500 range.

  26. About every 2 years, I’ll treat myself to a nice bag that I will carry frequently. They are under $500 each. For me, it isn’t worth worrying about every little nick and spill. My friend with the super nice purse collection will put napkins underneath her bag if she sets it down. I don’t have the energy to baby accessories like that. But, I do justify spending money on nice jewelry, cars, etc. so I guess it is just a matter of priorities.

  27. My current bags are by far my nicest, and I don’t think they are that fancy. I am a consultant, one kid, married, ~$200k total family income, low cost-of-living city. No student debt, but mortgage and car payments. I have a Longchamp Le Pliage bag that I use as my everyday/diaper bag. This was a gift. I also have a Lo & Songs OG laptop bag for work. And I have a Kate Spade wallet that I bought on sale last year. (It’s probably nicer than the bags.) I can’t imagine spending $300, let alone $500+ on a bag but this thread makes me think I should rethink that.

  28. Love bags. Blame this site. Husband and I together make mid 6 figures; 2 kids, no mortgage (though it’s coming). My student loans are being paid by my hospital as a recruiting bonus. I have probably 6 bags, all probably in the low 200s. Many Kate Spade, all bought on super sale, Nordstroms anniversary sale. I try to rotate monthly. They give me pleasure, and my vanity likes the compliments I get on them (live in an area where everyone is exceedingly practical). Next purchase? Probably a leather Longchamp.

    Funny story: I was picking up toys in our living room one night, ranting at my (almost) 4 year old about how many toys he had, how we were going to have a new rule in the house that when he a new toy he’d have to pick another toy to get rid of. Sweetly, he looked at me and said “what about grown up toys?” I asked him what he meant. He replied “Like daddy’s skiis. And your purses.”

    So so busted. My husband and I laughed until we cried. And he’s right. So I’m thinking abotu a black leather Longchamp to replace a Cole Haan black leather bag.

    • Diana Barry :

      LOLOLOL, this is awesome!!!! (My 5yo would totally say that!)

    • Hold up…

      2 kids?? Did you have the baby?????

      • NO sorry. Thinking ahead. 1 preschooler. 1 fetus. Thinking about it more from a financial rather than biological perspective. Sorry

        • SF Bay Associate :

          It’s so wonderful to hear that you’re thinking this way now :). I clearly remember that very hard day you had last spring and I’m just bursting with joy that this pregnancy is going so well that you’re already referring to yourself as a mother of two.

    • This is too precious. What a smart little guy!

    • Awesome. (And I secretly, at night every so often, grab a toy or two, particularly something uggy plastic or super-low-rotation or grandparent-purchased-that-makes-noise in the headed-to-Goodwill donate bag. I’ve never yet been busted on it.)

  29. For those of you who just carry one handbag and don’t rotate, what do you find is the most practical color? I tend to just carry one handbag for 1-2 years, until it starts to look shabby. I used to always buy black, but then had an epiphany a couple years ago that my black handbag looked dated, heavy and well, matronly, especially in the spring/summer. So then I switched to a light taupe purse, which now seems a bit off with my heavy fall/winter clothes. I know the solution is that I should probably just have one purse for fall/winter and another for spring/summer, but that’s probably not going to happen. So for those of you who carry one purse all year round, what color is best?

    • Grey works really well. I also love certain shades of brown (the kind that look nice with black, too).
      I do think the black bag is making a comeback. I shunned black bag for years for the very reasons you cite, and now made a total 180 – I think they’ve started to look really chic again.

    • karenpadi :

      My current purse is a purple-ish burgundy from Cole Haan. My nordie’s stylist seemed a bit shocked (I guess I was wrong that it’s a neutral?) but, eh, works for me.

      • Purple purses are the best! I had a royal purple bag from BR a few years back that I loved, but unfortunately a piece of the hardware broke off and they could not fix or replace the bag. My current everyday purse is the red/burgundy color that BR is selling this fall. I can’t be bothered to rotate my purse more than seasonally (also, I am not that organized and would be perpetually missing something).

      • I had a dark purple Coke Haan and wore it with everything. I mainly wear blacks and greys.

      • YES. I’m a huge fan of my Cole Haan bag in deep violet.

      • Yep, this. I have a gorgeous eggplant-colored bag for work (my first big designer purchase to celebrate my first promotion, it was $1k+)… there is seriously no color it does not match! I am so tempted to buy another bag in this color because I think it is the perfect neutral. Gray would definitely be my second choice.

      • If you live in a place that justifies an almost complete change of clothes with the season, you probably should have 2 bags. Although if you live in NY black is fine all the time :-).

    • This summer it was a kelly green bag, this winter is dark peacock blue. I have also done varying shades of red. For me the secret is that it adds a pop of color, but the styling is clean lines/classic so it doesn’t look too trendy.

      • Merabella :

        This. Right now I’m carrying a kelly green bag, but I have a white coat, and I think it looks really chic. The bag is very classic in terms of the lines/styling so I don’t think that it reads as too trendy either.

        I would say color is the best option because it looks good in winter & summer.

    • Red. Bag is small and very structured (handles, feet). Have had it since 2006?

      I’m a brunette and do lots of black, grey, white, and light blue.

      Am thinking of getting a tealish epiphanie bag (even though they are camera bags) for the next one though. But they also do red.

    • Does it help to consider what colour shoes you wear most often ? (but then I’m old-school and like matchy-matchy.)

    • Burgundy. Or caramel.

  30. I tend to buy one bag for work in the $200-300 range and then use it every day until I’m sick of it. I currently have a Marc Jacobs bag. I don’t think I’d ever spend in the $2200 range (although my husband and I are both lawyers, we’re public interest and not big law). Plus, that kind of money can be used for travel (the upside of not being big law is actually taking vacation).

  31. karenpadi :

    I am tough on bags and don’t rotate them out. I will carry my purse everyday until it falls apart. I used to only buy bags that were less than $75. But they wore out so quickly and I had to keep buying a new purse every 3 months.

    So I’ve upped my purse budget to $200-$400 dollars and wear them out in about a year. I figure I’m at least breaking even. Plus, I love the feel of soft, buttery leather. It makes me so happy.

  32. Wow. I’ve never spent more than $60 on a purse, and that was a *lot* for me. I have one nice file bag I got as a graduation present from DH that was around $90, I think (at a Wilson’s Leather outlet). I’ve looked at bags in the $100-$150 range, but I honestly can’t imagine a me that could consider anything more than that. I guess I’m super cheap… I definitely need to have DH read this thread, though! :)

  33. I have similar questions about who are these people who actually spend this kind of money on here a LOT. Granted, I live in a cheap part of the country, so I make less (and need less) than most on here (I pay less in mortgage than what most of you seem to pay in rent, for a house that really is spectacular). Plus I grew up poor (well, lower middle-class, had the necessities but always struggling) and am generally pretty cheap.

    For me, I’m not really all that interested in bags – I’d rather spend money on tops or suits or shoes, personally (although I’m often shocked by what folks here spend on those, too). I honestly think that the most I’ve ever personally spent on one for myself is about $35. My husband’s bought me a nice Coach one for $325, but, believe me, I never would have bought it on my own. I have about 5 that are acceptable, though I mostly switch between a red Samsonite laptop bag ($60, at Office Depot, also a gift from hubby, though I could have bought that one on my own without feeling too uptight on it) and the Coach one if I don’t need to carry notebooks/laptop. I also have a little black nylon bag from the Gap that I honest to god was gifted by my college roommate in 1998, which I still use regularly and find perfectly acceptable.

    If my financial position gets more comfortable (i.e., student loans get paid off), I would probably upgrade to the $100 range (I, er, saw some nice ones at JC Penny the other day), but, like I said, I just can’t get too worked up about it when my $13 dollar green one from Target works perfectly fine and I think it’s cute.

    • a passion for fashion :

      I grew up in the middle, middle class but have always had a passion for fashion — i fondly recall my mom taking me back to school shopping with a budget i could spend any way i wanted (the budget was small, like $100 bucks or so, but this was in the 80s) and i had to decide whether to spend on guess and esprit, or go for the JC Pennys. Because of this background, i think i have a fairly good sense of money and value. That said, as me (and my husband) have become more successful, the amount of money i am willing to spend on things has increased.

      I dont have a $2100 bag, but i have a handful in the 500-1500 range, at least a few of which i paid full price for. I also have many, many (think 50+) pairs of shoes in the 300–700 range, some of which were full price. I of course love a good sale, but i just love clothes and shoes and bags and coats. its like art to me.

      But this is all becuase we can afford it. We are almost 10 years out of law school and both have biglaw jobs. We have purchased a home, have a good savings, and our kids have everything they need (and want — think the above story about too many toys!)

      All of this is to say that i think this is an example of at least one of the kinds of people who spends this kind of money on these things — 2 income biglaw type salaries 8 or more years out.

      • karenpadi :

        Passion: I can totally relate to the $100 for a years-worth of clothes every fall. I resented clothing with a passion. I still hate clothes-shopping.

    • I definitely didn’t “slide over the credit card” for my bag. When I got a new job with a large raise, I gifted myself a Mulberry Polly Pushlock after months of consideration. Also as a single person at the time, there was no one else buying me fancy gifts–so if I wanted it I had to make it happen myself. No regrets. Though I still find myself carrying a $250 Lodis Margot tote most days given it’s ingenius design for city living: (i.e. easy access to magazines during subway ride, outside pocket for workplace badge, key chain for apartment fob, separate pockets for iPhone and Blackberry, tall enough for file folders and wide enough for laptop or book.) Also while I love the Mulberry, I found it breaks my heart to put it through a metal detector everyday with the associated wear and tear. But man oh man it’s gorgeous and makes me feel independent and classy whenever I pull it out.

  34. manomanon :

    I have a single beautiful Kate Spade bag that I got at the outlet this summer once I got my current job(first job out of school) It was originally 400 or so I got it for 160 and got a wallet from the same line (category? style? I don’t know what they call it) but in a different color. I haven’t actually used the bag yet- I sent it home with my parents because my living situation has been a bit wonky until a few weeks ag. But this is a bag I can see myself using in 20 years (which is good because I will never be making a major salary in the non-profit world) I have a nice coral colored beaded clutch that can work year round (I think) that I got on clearance for 60 as an evening bag.
    Other than that purchase- I tend to max out at Longchamp prices, I have a large and small of that as well as a bunch of fun bags from Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and C. Wonder.
    I worked for and with people who could afford $2,100 bags and did-it worked for them and their lives, but I think part of it came from valuing the difference between a lot of cheap bags and fewer, nicer bags.

  35. I have a Rebecca Minkoff mini mac that was about $200 as my current bag.
    Before that, I used either a Jcrew clutch (~$45) and a black fake leather bag from (~$50). Prior to that, it was a bag from Zara TRF that was about $30 and one from that was maybe $40.

    It pained me to spend $200, so $2200 would probably give me a coronary.

  36. big dipper :

    I’ think some of the above posters made this point, but everyone has their “thing” that they like to splurge on. Taking my parents as an example, they spend significantly less than their friends/our relatives on other things (clothes, cars, never dine out) but take amazing vacations.

    And I’m a coat/dress person. I rarely dine out,never spend more than $30-$40 on an article of clothing or accessories, but with dresses for work and coats – those are my jam. Those are just the clothing items that make me feel happy, so I spend minimal money elsewhere so I can save for a beautiful, timeless coat or work dress.

    Cat mentioned that she likes to spend on high quality handbags because they always fit. I like to spend on high quality coats because I can wear a beautiful coat every day from November through March, year after year, and look stylish and put together while traipsing through the cold. On a cost per wear basis, I personally feel like I get my money’s worth with coats.

  37. Does anyone have a recommendation for a nice, work-appropriate non-leather bag? I don’t eat meat and avoid buying leather (my one exception is a pair of Cole Haan black pumps because I’ve yet to find a nice pair of non-leather plain black pumps for those important conservative, suit-wearing occasions). My day-to-day bag is just a Le Sportsac bag, but I would like to upgrade.

    • Do you like the Lo & Sons bags? I don’t think the straps are leather (I have the TT), but you should check to make sure.

    • Matt & Nat! (I found out about them in a comment thread here!) They’re really nicely made, cute bags, and they’re vegan. I ordered one and had to send it back because it was the wrong size for me, but it was a great bag. They seemed to have very work appropriate stuff.

      • karenpadi :

        Second Mat & Nat. My wallet/wristlet is Matt & Nat. I’m not vegan, and only learned they were vegan after I bought it. Very well designed and very high quality. It’s lasted abusive-me over a year now (and still going).

    • epiphaniebags

      They are camera bags, but the smaller ones can be purses. All synthetic.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Stella McCartney’s entire line is vegan, I believe.

  38. I have a vintage Louis Vuitton purse my grandmother had (but never used) from the ’70s. It’s not my style and I’m unlikely to ever use it. Any suggestions on the best way to sell this? Is there much resale value for vintage designer bags in great condition?

  39. Lady Harriet :

    I spend much less on just about everything than most of you ladies, but I have a much smaller salary and more free time to thrift shop, so I can get away with buying things used. The majority of my clothing budget goes to shoes and bras, but with an unusual bra size and troublesome feet I decided in the last year that I had to start spending more on those for the sake of my physical comfort. Usually my shoes and bra cost 10 times or more the rest of my outfit put together!

    I don’t think I spent more than $10 for any of my bags, but almost none of them were bought new. Right now I’m carrying an all-leather black cross-body bag every day. I think it’s Liz Claiborne, but there are no labels on the outside and it’s similar in style to the old Coach bags. I have a large collection of sequined/brocade/embroidered bags which are really more appropriate for summer playtime or dress up than work, so I only have a couple of purses that I would consider using on a daily basis now. (I’m in Florida, so at least I can use summer things most of the year.) I also have maybe 4-6 really tiny fabric purses that I used when I was in college and didn’t need to carry much more than my bike key, phone, ID, and lip balm around campus.

    I’m trying to become more discriminating in my purses and only buy things that are made completely of real leather. The fake stuff just doesn’t last. I still regret not buying a purse I saw at a thrift store earlier this year. It was light mauve leather with a long strap, but I was working retail at the time and couldn’t justify the $37. It was definitely worth the price, I just couldn’t spend it for something I didn’t absolutely need at the time. Oh well, something just as awesome is bound to come along sooner or later!

  40. AnotherAnnon :

    I bought the LV neverfull monogram tote 4 years ago as a gift to myself on finishing my 2 year rotational program at work and getting placement after that. I have used it every single day for work ever since.
    That was my most expensive bag purchase ever (700-800$) and I intend to use it for several more years as it is still in very good shape. I did not buy other bags in between (except for 1-2 clutches).
    Few days back I ordered an OMG with their 30% discount (under 200$) and will use it whenever I need to lug around heavy stuff and don’t want to strain my LV.
    I am very lazy to rotate purses so I never felt a need for several purses in different designs.

  41. Sweet as Soda Pop :

    I have 2 everyday purses, several inexpensive clutches (Target), and just ordered, thanks to all of the conversations here this week, the Lo & Sons OMG for my daily work tote (I’m rather short and narrow-shouldered, so I thought the OG would look ridiculous on me). The 2 purses are a Hobo International taupe tote, featured here and purchased by my boyfriend for a gift when I pointed it out, that cost between $200 and $300, and a brown leather Rebecca Minkoff satchel that I got for $200 at Marshall’s. It had originally been $500 and I love it. I rarely change out purses, and don’t like to spend a ton of money on them. That said, I own upwards of 50 pairs of shoes, from Target brands to a couple of pairs of Louboutins. But I like shoes more than purses.

  42. anon for this :

    I have a few bags in the $2-300 range that I regret having purchased. They just don’t work for commuting on public transportation, walking to and from the office/court/clients’ office, etc. I bought them because I thought as a lawyer I should have a certain look, but using a bike messenger-type bag is just easier, practical and comfortable.

    • Same here.

      Signed, banker with expensive bags in the cupboard and a functional nylon one on her shoulder

  43. emcsquared :

    So I’ve been wondering about this – I never spend more than $60-$70 on a bag (usu. from Marshall’s or similar, sticker prices usually $100-$150), and I buy one every 2-3 years, and rotate them when I feel like it. I abuse them, but most of the ones I’ve bought keep sticking around and don’t look beat up (and the ones that do look beat up become “beach bags” or winter clothes storage).

    Do people notice that I’m carrying around a less-than-luxury bag? I’m not a very fashion-conscious person, I usually can’t tell if a cute outfit is Target or Michael Kors, so I tend to forget that others can tell…

    Also, in the vein of not being a fashion-conscious person, I have no idea when the bags I’m buying are knock-offs because I likely haven’t seen the “real” bag. Do people notice this and/or look down on it? It’s not like I’m trying to pretend I spent thousands on a bag – I only buy the bag because it meets my needs and looks good.

    • Susan (edna_mode_nyc) :

      I think most people would not notice. What they’d notice is probably a bag that is beat down with loose threads, and scuffing. But you keep your bags in good shape, so that’s not really an issue.

      I’d say that if you like the bags you’re carrying, think they look nice, and they’re functional for you, then keep on truckin’. Anybody who’d judge you for not having an expensive bag is not anyone you’d want to have in your life, I’m thinking.

    • Most of my work bags are from Target. I’m sure people notice, but I don’t really care. The bags have a rough life with me and don’t last very long – a better quality bag would fare better but I haven’t wanted to splurge on one yet. This post has reminded me to keep my cheapo bags in better shape though (no more loose threads!).

    • You can get a leather purse for around 100 dollars at JCP or DSW. They don’t look cheap. The quality of the leather is not a good as the designer bags but they work and they are professional.

  44. I’m usually a sucker for a good Kate Spade outlet sale and say I purchase one every year – outlet price plus the sale plus the outlet coupon – I think my last Kate Spade outlet bag was 65% off. It then goes in rotation – I have several Kate Spade bags that are my work staples that get rotated in/out as the season changes (currently carrying black, also have yellow, a lobster one (blue/red), brown, and pink).

  45. Just as a tip: Purses are an excellent item for re-sale for Ebay. At least that’s how I justify spending more on purses than any other item of my wardrobe. First off, people on Ebay know the product they are getting, can be sure it fits and purses never make you look bigger than you are.

    But in all earnest, when you think about spending an extra $ 100-200dollars on a brand name purse versus a non-brand, I always go on ebay an try to see what’s in demand and therefore re-sellable. Generally I’ve opted for the more expensive version in the past and then wore it consistently for a year and re-sold it just before it started to show a lot of wear and tear (sometimes even after). With this method, I’ve managed to re-sell purses after a whole year of wearing them for nearly full price. Once, I even acquired a $ 1200 designer purse used for $ 400 on Ebay and sold it at a small profit after wearing it a few times and discovering it wasn’t my dream bag afterall. Even if you sell it at half price – for some of you that might still be a good option.

    Of course, there are no guarantees you can get rid of it and one must be very careful with Ebay. Take careto only purchase from accredited sellers or individuals with stellar ratings and lots of detail photos of the bag that assure you it’s not a knock-off.

  46. I may be a weirdo but I love my collection of SeatBeltBags. They run from below $100 to around $220, and they are colorful and can carry anything. The company is close to my office in Southern California, so I know they are made locally, and are the primary source of color in my wardrobe. They also make a great conversation starter just about anywhere with any audience.

    I’m usually changing out once a month or so, rotating between bags in my collection. When I travel I use one of their wristlets as my wallet and it works great.

    • ADORE seatbelt bags. in my world, they get as much love as my big digit leather bags

  47. Married, work for a university, have student loan debt.

    I own 6 purses, a blue Cole Haan crossbody (gift), a cognac Fossil crossbody, a maroon Franklin Covey laptop bag, a yellow Cole Haan satchel (gift), a black Reaction shoulder bag and a hot pink clutch (Target). I tend to wear really saturated dark colors in the fall/winter and bright but still saturated colors (no pastels for my skin tone) in the spring/summer and I have a hard time finding black bags that I like where I have this random assortment of colors but in shapes that I love. I think I bought everything on sale or at TJ Maxx and the gifted Cole Haans were actually hand-me-downs from my sister who worked at a department store. I balk at spending more than $200 on a bag but I also have been able to talk myself out of more expensive bags. If I fall in love with one, I think I could raise my ceiling without too much mental anguish.

  48. TO Lawyer :

    I love this! I’d say most of my big bags retail for between $200-$400. I think I have 3 in this category that I rotate throughout the year. I spend much less on clutches etc. because I need them but use them rarely.

    I used to buy a ton of bags for $50-$100 and they would wear out and look cheap so I prefer spending more and really using and abusing my bags.

    However, I’m currently coveting the Coach Candace Carryall which is $458 dollars in the leather and colour I want. I’m trying to convince myself it’s far too much but I keep visiting it online. Also really want a Rebecca Minkoff MAB – I fell in love with one in purple last year but ultimately decided to be practical instead.

    • I’m really not sure about the MAB. I loved the way it looked online and in-store, bought one in black with gold hardware. For me, itdidn’t hold up all that well with daily use. Maybe it’s because the leather is too soft or the bag needs an extra bag base insert, but for me it just looks floppy and worn. This is after maybe 6 months of daily use. I’ve read on some forums that the quality of the MAB used to be better, but I don’t know if this is a quality issue or just the nature of the bag itself.

  49. Love reading this. I am trying to not be so cheap with handbag purchases. I could rarely bring myself to spend more than $80 on a purse. I finally spent $200 (after a year at biglaw) and loved the bag more than anything else (probably an $800 bag, on super discount). But still couldn’t break my habit of buying cheaper bags and never being happy with them. My aunt gave me a small LV (cross body/evening bag) and I have worn the heck out of it on the weekends and maternity leave and it looks as good as new, three years later. That finally broke the message through. I need to just wait and spend the money on a bag that I really love. I still can’t get above the $200 threshold, but have been so much happier with my new coach legacy bag and brahmin. I don’t think I will ever get to four figures, although I really lust after some of them.

    Jewelry on the other hand, no trouble dropping big bucks on it.

  50. I’ll fess up: I bought a $3,400 prada tote bag about 6 months back and it is my favorite purchase of all time.
    Before this, I generally spent $100-200 on handbags that retailed for up to $500. All of those bags were purchased during law school, while I had a significant employee discount with a designer we all know and ended up with several nice handbags in a short period of time (think 5-6 bags). When I finished school and started working I didn’t buy any at all for about 4 years. Eventually I realized the bags I purchased as a student didn’t work for my everyday life now and since I’d never purchased a big-girl work bag, I decided to really spoil myself and used most of my bonus from last year on this purchase. I probably won’t be buying another bag again for several years. If you need background: I work biglaw in NYC and am married (but not to someone with a biglaw salary).

  51. Midwest Transplant :

    My current work schlepping bag was from LLBean. They have a similar leather tote for sale now, but my version has woven leather and was purchased about three years ago for $150. It still looks great, but I’m interested in getting something a little lighter and smaller. Would like to pay less than $150 if I end up with a nylon option, and would pay a little over $200 for something in leather.

    I have a black crossbody bag that I use all weekend, but occasionally break out a canvas zippered tote if I have more to carry. Special occasions call for a cheap clutch that I’ve had for years. I recently tossed a bunch of $30 – $100 bags that I never used or were getting grungy. So everything is streamlined. My real splurge was a Nantucket basket purse for over $2k. Of course I’m far to scared to ever carry that baby around town.

    • Midwest Transplant :

      Black leather crossbody bag was a vacation splurge of almost $200 (oops). Definitely not worth that in quality, but now I’ve been using it for four year, so I guess it held up.

  52. I have an expensive purse habit. I’m a junior partner at a mid-sized firm, but I tend to splurge on shoes and purses. I don’t think of them as investments. They’re treats. I came from a decidedly lower-middle class background, have a mortgage, car payments, etc. But instead of taking a luxury vacation, I’d rather spend $8k on a purse. It might seem ridiculous to some, but it makes me happy and it’s my money.

  53. I can’t even fathom spending as much as $300 for a bag, really. I carry a CourierWare walking bag every day to work (lifetime guarantee, $55 with the customized upholstery on the flap), and for special occasions I bring out either the $50 red patent bag I got at Macy’s on sale a few years ago, or the black $70 bag I got in Sienna five or six years ago. But then I work in government, in a western city not known for its fashion, and I think it would be a detriment to my career to be seen carrying a $1500 purse.

    (Now, if you were asking about ski boots, or climbing equipment, then I’m your gal for the big-ticket items! I’m spending a lot more on good quality exercise clothes and equipment than I did when I was younger.)

  54. sdchicky619 :

    I have expensive taste, but I can’t bring myself to spend a lot on bags… I think because I like trendier styles that tend to look dated after six months to a year. Typically, I only spend $50-75 on everyday purses, going-out clutches, cross-body bags, laptop bags, etc.

    I do have a tradition of buying a bag whenever I travel to Europe, I love having such a special souvenir. My favorite bags were purchased in Italy and Spain; both were under $75 but are great quality and make me happy when I wear them.

    To balance out my trendier bags, I have a few classic Coach styles that I’ve received over the years as gifts. Someday, when I’m making the big $$, I will treat myself to my dream bag: the LV Speedy.

  55. DC --> NYC :

    I used to live in DC and am currently located in NYC. I have noticed that bags in NYC are a way bigger deal then they are in DC. I never would have imagined I would spend $800+ for a bag while I was in DC, but now I would purchase one a year or so.

  56. A different Em :

    I used a custom-made leather purse (about $150 at the time) for about 10 years before the seams finally gave out – I’ll probably get it fixed up at some point, but for now I’m using a small laptop bag as my primary purse. I also carry a backpack for bigger/heavier things (lunchbag, file folders, etc.), since I don’t think there is such a thing as an ergonomic purse. Can’t see spending more than $200 on a bag, but then I value a relationship with the crafter more than a brand name in and of itself.

    I only started using a purse because I had a hard time finding work-appropriate pants with pockets.

    Of course, I’m an engineer and my household income is $180k (in suburban Canada), so perhaps my values and those of my local peers differ a bit from the target demographic here…

  57. I have only 3 purses, total cost $6000 (LV epi + 2 BV Hobos).
    Saves loads of space and I think my total cost is still lower than what Kat might have spent on her bags (not being judgemental – just an estimate based on the # of bags she featured in the photo).

    And I have NO desire to buy any of the ‘IT’ bags that come out every season – expensive or not.

  58. I’d add some historical perspective about the cost of nice bags. I paid USD 500 or under for my Gucci and Prada bags when I was a young analyst in the 90s/ early 2000s, and I’m not imagining this because I have old copies of Vogue featuring this kind of price range as well. Prices really started escalating in 2004 – 2005 as the euro strengthened. But the euro is up 40 – 50% against the dollar depending on when you’re counting from, whereas bags (and designer fashion for that matter) are up 400 – 500%.

    As a financial professional, I’d say the trade would be to short bags, long pearls (whose prices have come down a tonne since the 1990s as good-quality Chinese pearls have made their way to the market).


  59. Well this thread is forever but I’m adding my $.02. I have a small crossbody Kate Spade purse (,default,pd.html?dwvar_PXRU2233_color=001&start=10&cgid=handbags-cross-body) that I LOVE. Growing up, I was never a purse girl. I bought two larger Coach purses and liked them at the time. But this Kate Spade is it. Large enough to fit my big wallet and other necessities for going out. That’s all I need. I’m also very tall and I feel like I can’t wear a smaller crossbody bag because I’d dwarf the bag. I have a Lo & Sons Brookline bag for work. I recently bought a tan foldover Tory Burch purse inappropriately the same size as my Kate Spade.. but 3 mos later, I havent even used it and sort of regret buying it. I bought it thinking I’d be a person who can rotate bags. No. I can’t do that. It’s just not me. Something important always gets left in one bag. The other bag never gets put away. My house becomes a mess. It goes on.

    Ugh I’m almost tempted to buy the same purse in the same color just for when I wear mine out to the point where it’s not acceptable to use. Crap.

  60. lovelyrita_metermaid :

    Like Kat, my most expensive bag purchase was funded with money from relatives (in my case, college graduation money), and it’s nice to have a tangible, frequently-used reminder of them. It’s a black Marc By Marc Jacobs hobo bag (I believe it’s called the Huge Hillier Hobo), and it’s so far lasted me for 4 years, not much the worse for wear. I think it cost about $400 when I bought it, and I don’t regret the purchase–it’s large enough to hold a lot of stuff, and I’ve yet to find an outfit it doesn’t look good with. These days, I mostly use it on weekends, and use an all-black Le Pliage bag for work (which really needs to be replaced…).

    I’d gladly pay $500 for a bag I like as much as the Marc Jacobs one, but at least at this point in my life, I can’t personally imagine spending more, or going for something significantly flashier (much as I admire the look of a classic Chanel bag). Some of it’s just about the money–I’m a recent law school graduate, and while I’m not in a great deal of debt, I work for a public agency, not in Biglaw. I think some of it is also just a matter of the circles I travel in–very expensive designer goods just aren’t common among my friends (lawyers or otherwise) or coworkers, so there’s a part of me that would feel kind of out-of-place carrying a $1000+ bag. But really, to each their own! We all have our own spending priorities, whether that’s bags, clothes (my weakness), vacation, our car, eating out… For all I know, I would gladly spend more given a bigger salary or a slightly different lifestyle.

  61. Work: I carry one work bag (black, Cole Haan), with one alternative (black, Kate Spade) if I have my laptop. Both were around $500 ticket price, but purchased with reward points, etc., and so technically “free”. I need to get them both touched up soon, and when they start looking icky (we’re a few years in already), I’ll probably look to spend $200 on a bag worth more but on sale.

    Personal: I am a clutch addict. $100 or less on each, though. I also have a number of bags in other sizes and colors generally in the $100-250 range, always purchased on sale. That said, I don’t buy them regularly – I’ve gotten to a point that I have the bags I “need” for various outfits and occasions, and would rather splurge on shoes :).

  62. As I get close to paying off my student debt and am still enjoying a BigLaw salary, I have considered upping my bag budget from $200-300 per bag to somewhat higher. I do love a good bag.

    I am having second thoughts, though, in part because I have been reading a book called “Deluxe” about the luxury industry. The book talks about how the retail prices for most designer bags are 10-12x of their production costs. Apparently many LV bags are marked up to 13x production costs! I find the markup absolutely shocking. The book talks about how the profits from accessories like handbags are used to fund money-losing clothing collections and runway shoes for the brands (which are important for marketing, though).

    Does anyone else find it hard to stomach paying 10-13x of production costs just to get the prestige, warranty, etc. of a designer bag? I suppose getting designer bags on sale helps somewhat, but still.

    • the clothes you buy are also marked up 10-15x production cost (regardless of whether its luxury brands or not). i used to work in fashion production and have never been able to pay retail price for everything after what i learned.

  63. CPA_Acting_Poor :

    I have the opposite problem with status bags — I can’t carry one that looks too expensive.

    For accountants, obviously expensive cars or bags can be viewed negatively — like people think we’re embezzling, or foolish with money. (Maybe we made really good investments!) Plus, I work in industry, alongside coworkers who make a lot less than I do. They notice everytime I wear something new.

    The fashionista in me really wants a “big girl, big city” bag. But I can’t carry anything recognizable, lest I rile the natives. In the words of the illustrious Ellen, “FOOEY.”

  64. I love variety and get bored with bags easily. I probably have 20 bags in rotation at the moment, and own maybe 50-75 total? With that much variety, you can’t always go for top dollar (unless you’re an A-list celebrity). Bags that I use for work are $100-$300, and usually on sale, so originally as high as $500. Brands would be Longchamp, Kate Spade, Coach, Michael Kors, Latico, etc. I tend to do classic leather bag shapes but in unusual colors. I work in a corporate but non-profit environment and think it’s fine to carry, say, an electric-blue or canary-yellow bag, as long as the cut is classic and the leather is high-quality.

    Fun bags can come from anywhere, although I try to find interesting designers from places like Boden, ModCloth, etc., rather than buying stuff at Target.

    My most-commented on bag of all time is my current one. Siliconized rubber metallic burgundy Longchamp tote. Bought in France on a business trip so paid about $130 rather than the $220 or so I would have paid here. Buying local designers on trips is almost always a great idea, because you not only save money, but have something for back home that not everyone else will be carrying.

  65. I absolutely love purses and, having no other big “vices” consider this to be a relatively safe one. I have a fairly decent collection, some acquired at full price (ex: LV purchased as gift to self after passing the bar exam) while others I’ve secured at outlets (hello Prada outlet in Italy!). My most recent purchase was the LV Alma bag in Paris (so hey, I saved on import taxes). All that said, once I buy any of these, I am then on a self-imposed “purse-ban” for an entire year. No clutches, no “deals”, no nothing. The bags make me happy, stop me from frequent easy purchases on lower priced bags and I’m building a collection that will last me my entire life (and hopefully end up in a future daughter’s closet one day).

  66. I think this is a regional thing, as well as a personal view of what’s worth spending money on. I’m an attorney in California, no student loans, no kids, no mortgage. I have never spent more than $50 on a purse, I think $30 is actually the most I’ve spent. I can almost imagine spending up to $100 on a really nice purse, but that’s a real stretch. I also have no idea who spends more than $100 for any article of clothing (other than a suit). I only spend >$100 on running shoes.

    But I do spend money on doggie daycare…. :)

  67. Dual income, 2 kids, 2 houses, loans paid off and I have 2 bags at around $2k and a few more around $700-1k. All of them are in rotation, as are my spendy designer shoes. I don’t buy like I used to (before kids), but I also don’t need to since nothing needs to be replaced. I’ll admit that it was a bigger deal for me the first time I spent money on a $320 coach bag back in the day then any of my pradas – I wasn’t used to having any money or spending money then. ;)

  68. I have 4 large “work” handbags in regular rotation that retailed at $300-$600 each, and 6 super-cute-but-too-small-for-everyday that retailed at $100-$400 each, but I’ve never in my life spent more than $200 on a work bag or more than $100 on a non-work bag. I’m terrible at saving money for things I want, but really good at pulling the trigger on an impulse purchase when the deal is right (I love ebay). I can see the value in spending $200 on something I’ll carry every day. To be fair, I’m not in court very often, and my “briefcase” is an older Kate Spade large tote I found on ebay for around $25. I don’t need a serious, high end briefcase.

    Also, I “invest” in dust covers if not included, and get my everyday bags cleaned and conditioned once a year, just like I do for my expensive boots.

    I stick to the cheapy-cheapies for evening bags. I just can’t see the difference between the hot pink poly satin bow pochette I got for $14 at Target, and the similar poly satin bow pochettes I saw at Nordstrom for $118; if I’m only carrying it 4x a year anyway, craftsmanship and durability aren’t really an issue.

  69. I somehow stumbled on this post. I am a successful single professional woman in my early thirties, making $500, 000 / year, no mortgage (thankfully!), no student loans, no real expenses. I am not cheap by any means and like to enjoy life now and then. Would never spend more than $500 on a purse. Just my 2 cents.

  70. Student4Life :

    I think everyone has a different threshold for what they are willing to spend and on what. For instance, I would never spend the money on Loboutin heels, but I had no qualms shelling out almost $1,800 for my LV bosphore backpack. Mind you, I sold 2 of my vintage LV bags on Ebay to help offset the expense by $700. I usually buy my LV bags pre-loved from Ebay sellers myself, but I found that the bosphore backpack was not available at the typical 40% off retail, so I opted to buy it new. My “nice” purse collection totals 4 LVs- the backpack and 4 pochettes for evening use (red and black epi’s and monogram, which I find go with all possible wardrobe situations). I do have some evening clutches found at steep discount (Loehmann’s) when sequins or satin fabrics are more appropriate for cocktail and black-tie affairs. Speaking of dressy affairs, is anyone else using Rent the Runway for evening dresses? I am now spending a lot less on dresses that only get worn 1-2x max and love that I can always have something new to wear! love, love, love Rent the Runway!!!

  71. Hello all! I just came across this website searching handbags online and have spent the last few days going through old posts. I’m so glad I found this community! I finished law school in 2008, spent 3 years working in a mid-sized firm, and one year ago transferred to in-house at a large Silicon Valley tech company. I am just now beginning to feel more financially secure and in a position to upgrade my wardrobe. Most of my current wardrobe is from Macy’s, I especially love the Calvin Klein dresses and Tahari suits. I am planning an outlet expedition after the holiday madness and am also planning my first real handbag purchase (budgeting around $300). I look forward to getting new ideas from Ms. Corporette and you all!

  72. My post before where I showed off a Victoria WorkingCute rolling wheelie bag from CareerBags got pushed to moderate bc I put the url, so trying again. It was $245, most I’ve spent on a bag by a LOT, but it fits my ginormous mac which I schlep to work every day, And it’s ROLLING. Plus it’s super-professional and super-girly and so hard to find something that’s both, and additionally fits the mac and rolling.

    Mostly my purses are from Target, but damn this thread, now I have my eye on a Brahmin. I think I had better buy something from Target TONIGHT to attempt to scratch that itch. Way too much in student loans to get used to purse purchases in that price range. Right? Oh, wait, it’s Xmas, and my parents were wanting to get me something nice, hmmmmm.

  73. Back again. Personally, I only started spending money on bags after I started work as an attorney (my previous purchases were all under $50). I only have two “expensive” bags which I purchased for between $250-300 and they are my everyday workhorses. Beyond my new Lo & Sons, a cheapo CK bag for emergencies, and a couple of old clutches which from Aldo, I don’t have other purses.

    Anyway, I treat my bags well but I use them heavily. To me, it’s worth spending money on something I use so much and, especially, in my professional life. Furthermore, I found it’s always worth paying for the value of good quality leather and well made pieces. I don’t buy often, but when I do, I do a lot of research and don’t mind spending as much as I can reasonably afford. That said, $2100 is very expensive and, as my question suggests, I am very much on the fence about purchasing it and may not do so for months, if ever.

    • I should mention that since moving into a small NYC studio, my spending habit have really really changed. Now days, I rarely buy things and when I do, the price point is much higher. I don’t have a lot of space, so I only buy it if I love it. While I peruse the flash sale sites, I don’t buy. Also, my wardrobe is pretty basic – a lot of Zara and similarly priced pieces. My weight has been going up and down in the first few years of practice and I can’t commit to anything expensive until I stabilize my lifestyle.

  74. The most I have spent was $750 for a Dior bag

  75. I am still a student so I feel like I’m practically on a different planet compared to most of the commenters, but it seems I have a similar handbag budget… I typically spend anywhere from $50 to $200 on handbags valued from $100 to $400; I buy at discount stores or off-season. I have only purchased three such bags in the last five years and two are still in my regular rotation. I find that I definitely get my money’s worth purchasing bags that are well constructed with solid materials versus the throw-away bags I have tried at trendy retailers. I have tried some $30 purses a few times but it always fails miserably – I bought one that lasted about two months before the lining was ripped to high hell, and I tried another this summer but one of the straps ripped out after only a week! I carry a fair amount in my purse (small makeup bag, wallet, receipts, mini mouthwash and lotion bottles, hand sanitizer, small notebook, phone, etc.) but I am not overly rough with them.

    As my income stabilizes, I anticipate my purse budget will continue rising. I am looking to replace my five year old black purse with another with a more structured shape and expect I’ll spend around $300 on it. I also expect it will last at least a few years. Kudos to everyone here for being frugal, but if I made the salary you all are making (nearing ten times my annual student income), I don’t think I’d feel guilty if I treated myself to a $1-2k handbag every so often. That said, I’d surely expect the thing to be very versatile and last me quite a while. That way, I am sure I’d absolutely get my money’s worth–the per-use cost would be low and I’d genuinely enjoy carrying a handbag that made me feel polished and a little bit pampered. :)

  76. I’m a few days late to this post. I’m a physician not lawyer but I find this site a fun read. Plus a lot of it overlaps when it comes to bags, clothes, etc.
    When I started residency I wanted a Chanel jumbo flap bag. At the time it was around 2k and way out of my budget as a resident. When I finished residency I bought it but by then it was 4200.
    I joined a private group and used the majority of my bonus to pay off a chunk of med school loans but then used a small amount for that purse.
    I love it. That purse is now 4900 but I wouldn’t consider a bag an investment lol, and I don’t plan on selling it ever.

    To be honest since that purse I have bought 3 more Chanel bags, none that expensive but they are all around 2000-2500. Apparently Chanel has a service to clean your bag to make it look new again for 100-200 bucks but I have never needed to have a purse cleaned…

    I also have a couple Louis Vuitton and a few Coach purses. I probably have about 10 purses total. I like to have a nice purse with my outfits. To each their own. I care about my purse and my watch but my clothes are always sale clothes from Ann Taylor and my shoes are always whatever is at Macys. I wish I put more effort into my shoes but shoes bore me and they all hurt so I don’t care for them lol. I do have a few fancy Louboutins for dinners out/parties.

    My husband is also a physician and we don’t have any children yet.

  77. I can explain, I have 9 bags avg 3k each. I’m lucky enough to not have any debt and I work in finance. I’m in my 20s and have no other obligations. I generally enjoy shopping and going out, but I also realize this will not last forever after I have a family. Most of my friends are like me and we all realize that once we have kids our money will to our family and now is me-time.

    So just to let u know it is possible to completely support yourself, shop and still put money away. But I like in NYC, so my situation is very common.

  78. $6.99 at GoodWill – but I do wash it before I put anything in it. Who gives a flying FIG about your purse when there are children starving in this world. What a bunch of shallow idiots.

  79. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I have a lot of Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Cole Haan bags that I am selling right now, presumably to buy one nice designer purse (Burberry? Ferragamo?) that I can use every day for years. However, I suspect that when the time comes, I am not going to want to hand all that money I made over for one bag. The student loans, mortgage, emergency fund, retirement, etc. (all THAT fun stuff) really scare me.

    I’m trying to psych myself up to buy a $300+ nylon bag (MZ Wallace). Do those EVER go on sale?

  80. Tiffany Anderson :

    The most I’ve ever payed is $5,100.00 for a bag it’s a Chanel one like I love Chanel I have lots of bags from there I also have a lot of bags from Michael kors,coach,louis Vuitton,prada,Gucci,Marc Jacobs,guess,and juicy couture. But they are so worth it like my mom and dad buy me them if your wondering I’m 15 and you might be wondering how I get the money well my dad is a surgeon and my mom is a lawyer

  81. I only have one bag bought 5 years ago for $15. Still going strong. I think i can use it for another 5 years. There are a lot of things on my wish list, and handbags are not there. I want to take my whole family (inclu my parents ) around the world. Buy each of my kids a house. Save towards my retirement (i need 5 mil, i figure), after that if i still have a few mil laying around. Then may be i would consider buy a bag $100.