A good designer handbag does more than just make a stylish fashion statement designed to withstand the test of time. It’s also a functional and well-constructed carryall that’s designed to get your daily must-haves from point A to point B. However, as with anything “designer,” the price tag can be high—from the hundreds to the several thousands—and sometimes, you don’t know whether you are paying for quality or just a name. We spoke to several fashion experts to help us create a list of top designer handbags that are worth the investment (and are functional as well). No matter whether you’re looking for a sizable day tote or a petite clutch to carry at night, our curated selection can help you find the best fit for whatever your day brings.
How to choose the best designer handbags
Not all designer bags are created equal. As evident based on the above, some are best for evening gatherings, others are ideal for the office or commuting, and additional options are useful for weekend activities or travel. Consider your day-to-day needs and lifestyle before purchasing a bag to ensure you will reach for it frequently and not simply leave it hanging in your closet.
Everyone’s budget varies. It is important to take into account your personal budgetary concerns when shopping for a designer bag. In doing so, you should also determine whether you wish to invest in one bag that you will reach for on a near-daily basis or if you would like to build a larger collection of bags that come in at lower price points.
Ask yourself: Are you looking to invest in a piece that will appreciate in value over time, or do you prefer to purchase bags without worrying about eventual resale possibilities? These are all important decisions to weigh as you prepare to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a designer bag.
It is, of course, imperative to take your personal style preferences into account when shopping for a designer handbag. Are you drawn to logos, or does their presence bother you? Are you looking for a bag that will be instantly recognizable, or would you prefer something a bit more off the beaten path? Do you mainly dress in neutrals, or are you looking for a brightly colored bag to complement your bold outfits? These factors and more should all be considered as you embark on the shopping process.
Our top designer handbags picks
Our top designer handbags picks
Coming in at under $300, the Kate Spade Bleecker Large Tote is an affordable yet stylish pick. “It’s a classic leather tote bag, which can carry a lot,” says fashion and lifestyle blogger Titilola Sogunro of Titi’s Passion. “I like that you can easily add an organizer insert to increase its functionality.”
It is available in six colors that range from black to rose; the tote bag is large enough to house a 13-inch laptop and also includes a small interior zip pouch, making it one of the best work bags for women.
Best black designer handbag: Chanel Classic Flap Bag
Chanel’s Classic Flap Bag has somewhat of a cult following among fashionistas, many of whom opt for the traditional black color with an accompanying gold chain link strap. “This is a timeless style that will never go out of style,” says fashion and travel blogger Kat Jamieson. Thirteen years ago, Jamieson purchased her own Classic Flap Bag. “Not only has it significantly increased in value, but it still looks brand new,” she comments. “If you love it, buy it now!”
She recommends that those eyeing this purse opt for a vintage make, given that Chanel recently switched to gold-plated hardware in lieu of solid gold.
Best designer handbag for moms: Goyard Saint Louis
Incredibly spacious and easily packable, the Goyard Saint Louis is a fantastic designer handbag option for moms, says stylist and fashion consultant Deborah Watson. “It comes in lots of beautiful colors, it’s seasonless, and you can clean it easily with just a simple baby wipe!”
We love that the St. Louis style is available in three sizes: The smaller PM, larger GM, and the ultra sizable XXL.
Best designer shoulder bag: Brahmin Esme
Priced at $225, Brahmin’s Esme bags come in a wide range of vibrant colorways and are a go-to statement piece, says lifestyle influencer Greivy. “I have been wearing and collecting these bags for a few years now and I’m obsessed with the quality and colors that are released season after season,” she adds.
Best casual designer handbag: Clare V Grande Fanny
Jess Keys, life and style blogger at JessKeys.com, considers Clare V’s Grande Fanny bag to be one of her most worn items. “I love that the Grande Fanny comes in so many color options and that you can mix and match with dozens of strap options,” she shares. Better yet, Keys appreciates that the fanny pack is larger than most but lays flat against the body. “Day or night, it’s stylish, on-trend, versatile, and comfortable at the same time.”
Blogger Katie Sturino, founder of Megababe, author of Body Talk, and body acceptance advocate, is also a proponent of the Grande Fanny bag. “There aren’t a lot of fanny pack straps that fit my body, so I’m glad I found this one,” she says. “The cream coloring is such a staple: It’s neutral and goes with everything, allowing me to mix and match with my straps based on the outfit and occasion.”
Best minimalist designer handbag: Cuyana System Tote
Those who wish to carry a logo-free designer handbag will appreciate Cuyana’s System Tote, which is my personal favorite option to carry while running errands, attending work meetings, or exploring the city. (It also made our list of the best travel totes for women.) Stylish and sleek, the bag is elevated yet comes at a manageable, under $350 price point. Those looking to customize the bag further can choose to add a strap, organization pouch, and other accessories, available directly from Cuyana.