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Shop smarter not harder
Shopping for a new handbag can be stressful. Not only do you have to decide on a style (and trust us there are plenty), but you also have to choose how much money you are willing to spend on the accessory. Handbag prices run the gamut. Fast fashion chains like Zara and Mango carry trendy, affordable pieces while major department stores like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom have a curated selection of splurge worthy finds.
There are benefits and drawbacks to either approach. If you aren’t willing to drop a ton of cash, purchasing a budget handbag allows you to test out a new style you aren't ready to commit to, but it can also compromise on quality. While splurging on a luxury handbag requires a chunk of change up front, it acts as an investment in your wardrobe. Unlike clothing items, handbags have major staying power - if you don’t believe us, check out your grandmother’s accessory closet - and some brands, like Chanel and Hermes, can even appreciate in value over time.
Regardless if you are looking to splurge or save, we gathered a range of retailers that have options for every budget. Though these selections are mostly online, some have physical locations you can visit if you prefer.
Ahead, find the best places to shop for a new handbag regardless of your budget.
Best Accessible Brands
Zara’s vast selection of trendy accessories is no secret, but we would be remiss to leave it out. Thanks to its affordable price points, if you’re considering trying out a daring design but aren’t sure if you want to invest a chunk of change into it, check out Zara’s selection. We recommend going in person if possible, because the Zara website is notoriously hard to navigate. Also bear in mind, Zara changes up their inventory every one to two weeks, so you can’t spend much time pondering your purchase.
The U.K.-based brand has gained popularity with both Gen Zers and millennials for its vast selection and low price point. While ASOS sells bags from their namesake line, the site includes options from brands like Nike, & Other Stories, French Connection, and more. Though most bags are priced fairly affordably, ASOS has frequent sales, so if something pricier catches your eye, be patient. A coupon code will come.
Beyond the variety of styles and reasonable price, what puts ASOS over the edge is the return policy. They accept items for 28 days after receiving, and all you have to do is drop your order off at your local UPS.
With quality this high, you will definitely fool your friends into thinking you splurged on a designer bag. At Mango, stylish sacks range from $40 to $120, so you can try a new style without breaking the bank. Another fast fashion retailer, Mango has an expansive offering of handbags, however, these silhouettes tend to be more classic rather than trendy. Think neutrals and traditional shapes. We have our eyes on the Leather Shopping Bag in yummy olive and the Double Strap Bag. Mango has a few brick and mortar locations in the US, but if you can’t make it to one of those, the website is organized and easy to navigate.
This French-born brand strives to make pieces that last. To accomplish this, they try to stay away from trends and instead, create timeless pieces made from eco-friendly and high quality materials. They only release new collections four times a year with a few one off launches monthly. The brand is also B-Corp certified, meaning that it passes rigorous testing around sustainability and transparency. Their bags are no exception to this. These styles are on our radar. The Milo Bag is compact enough to carry around easily but roomy enough to fit a book, wallet, and a couple lip balms while the Sacha Bag is the perfect shape to stash your iPad. Similar to Mango, Sezane has a few physical locations, but overall, shopping online is fairly easy to operate.
If you have spent time scrolling through your Instagram feed, you may have seen a JW PEI bag on the arms of one of your favorite fashion influencers. Their digital popularity is far from a mystery. Founded by a husband and wife duo, the pair believed sophisticated design was possible without all the bad stuff. Each JW Pei bag is made out of vegan leather and recycled plastics and priced at an accessible cost. With prices ranging from $60 to $120, their sculptural styles feel like a safe bet. Their Gabbi Ruched bag is their most recognizable style, but we love the Joy Shoulder bag for its casual coolness.
If you buy something but don’t fall in love, never fear. JW Pei has a 30 day return policy.
Dagne Dover totes are known for their easy to organize interiors as well as their life-proof fabrics. Case in point, their line of neoprene duffles can be tossed in the wash when they start to get dirty and their totes (which are made from recycled bottles, by the way) are stain-resistant, and can be cleaned by a quick wipe down. Not only that, but their purses contain multiple pockets and pouches, so you don’t have to leave your stuff scattered across the bottom. Dagne Dover bags start at $60 and go up to around $360, and their return policy allows for 30 days to return or exchange.
Best Luxury and Designer
Home to designers like Burberry, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, and more, this luxury department store has a wide selection of both new launches and cult-classics. Department stores are a more accessible destination for in-store shopping. Bloomingdales has over 80 locations across the country in case you prefer to pop in. For those who prefer to shop online, no worries - Bloomingdales’ site makes it easy. If you have brand loyalty, you have the power to view the brand’s page for product details, more information on the designer and the store’s returns policies. But if you haven't locked in on what style suits you, check out the reviews for other shoppers’ opinions on how the product wears, or check out their recommendations from curated pages like “New and Noteworthy” or “Back to the Office.”
Like Bloomingdales, Nordstrom has multiple locations across the country - 345 to be exact. Because of their wide selection, Nordstrom is a crowd pleaser. For example, in addition to carrying popular affordable luxury brands like Kate Spade and Tory Burch, Nordstrom also carries names like Chloé, LOEWE, Alexander McQueen, and many more. That being said, their selection is anything but overwhelming. Thanks to their easy to navigate site, you can filter options by color, brand, feature, material, style, and price. They even have a “Recently Viewed” carousel that runs across the bottom of the site that keeps track of each item you view, so say goodbye to multiple tabs. Still not sold? Nordstrom’s biannual sale offers major savings, and while it may take some serious digging to find a discounted major luxury purse (don’t worry we believe in you), there are other ways to find savings. Their system is simple: the more you shop, the more Nordstrom rewards you. With each purchase, you rack up points which can be used toward future discounts.
Once upon a time, nobody believed customers would buy luxury items from online retailers. Nowadays, sites like Moda Operandi make us wonder how we did not shop like this sooner. Simply put, Moda is a cool girl’s one stop shop. The online retailer sells legacy brands like Valentino and Prada, but it also saves space on its virtual shelves for fresh finds from The Row, Staud, and Simone Rocha. While shopping from Moda Operandi is an exclusively online experience, they don’t skimp on the luxury experience. Items ship quickly, and arrive in beautifully wrapped boxes and garment bags. They also host virtual Trunk Shows which allows customers to preview and possibly preorder the new launches coming to the site.
You may have browsed Net-a-Porter’s site for investment pieces like a traditional yet modern trench coat or a transitional knit dress, but what may surprise you is that their handbag selection is just as enviable as their clothing. The sleek design mixed with the expert curation make shopping at Net-a-Porter feel like a milestone. Our favorite part is that depending on when you place your order, shoppers in the tri-state area are able to receive their orders the same day. In other areas of the country, express shipping starts at $15.
Net-a-Porter is a luxury retailer, but there are a few ways to save a little. For example, if you are looking to clean out your closet, Net-a-Porter accepts your old items for store credit.
If Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi feel a little too intimidating, check out this upscale yet approachable retailer. The user-friendly interface makes shopping a breeze, and their expansive selection has something for everyone. Yes, they carry top players like Marc Jacobs and Marni, but they also leave room for newer, more approachable brands like Clare V. and Isabel Marant. One of our favorite features of the site is how functional the tabs are. You can utilize the discover feature to discover bags under $300 or sort them by trend like cool crochet or neutral tones. But our favorite part is that US Amazon Prime members get free two-day shipping on all Shopbop purchases, even designer handbags.
Best for Used and Vintage
The Real Real
Designer handbags are an investment piece, but only a few appreciate in value over time. Shopping from resale sites ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck. The RealReal believes in luxury fashion’s staying power, and it is their mission to extend the life of luxury goods as long as possible. Their expert authenticators evaluate each piece that comes in, and determines the value based on a proprietary algorithm. When you buy resale, there’s no guarantee a certain style will be available, but their curated pages feel tailored to your individual style. Once you find a piece that you like, each product page details the condition of the handbag and ranks it from fair, shows signs of heavy wear like scratches on the hardware and worn corners, to pristine, no signs of wear and includes original packaging. Still not convinced? You can text a secure number to get in touch with one of their experts who can answer any questions you may have.
Fashionphile was one of the first luxury resale shops on the scene, and from the beginning, they have prioritized the shopper’s experience. Buying from Fashionphile feels just as fun as walking in your favorite brand’s showroom. They offer free shipping, free returns, and their Refresh program allows you to sell back a purchased item if you have buyer’s remorse. Not to mention their curation includes everything from Chanel to Hermes - we are talking Birkins galore - so you don’t feel you are sacrificing on anything except for high markups. Their site lists their prices next to the estimated retail price, so you can easily evaluate what type of deal you are getting. Their quality scale ranges from giftable, aka pristine, to flawed, or with noticeable defects.
Christian Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes are just a few of the 50 designers who call Rebag home. Their bag selection runs the gamut from bedazzled clutches to embroidered totes. Each bag has undergone a strict vetting process by in-house experts who thoroughly examine each bag and evaluate their quality. Just like The RealReal, Rebag employs a ranking system from fair to pristine, so buyers know what they are getting before they click “Add to Cart.”. Beyond the discount upfront, shoppers can look out for discount codes for additional price cuts, or they can make an account and get up to $200 off on your first purchase of $750 or more.
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