Designer Handbag Collection and Buying Guide

Venice, CA


I’m so excited to share my designer handbag collection with you!  I love investing in gorgeous bags in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Well, maybe not colors haha. I pretty much just stick to neutrals as you can see.  I have a wide range of neutrals from dark brown, to saddle brown, tan, taupe, black, and white.  My style philosophy is – if I am going to splurge on a bag, I want it to be classic, high quality, and timeless.  I want to be able to wear it with anything and have it for years to come.  All of these bags have held up beautifully through rain, snow, heat, travel, and moving across country.  I’ll highlight my favorites below (and be sure to watch my Youtube video for all of my shopping tips. Like where to buy Chanel bags and more!)

3 Tips for Buying Designer Handbags

When it comes to buying designer handbags – you can of course go straight to a designer or department store to purchase them. But I recommend doing these 3 things before you do.

1. When you’re traveling abroad in places like Europe, ask the retailer to give you a tax refund receipt and form.  Fill out the form and make sure your receipt and the item you purchased is within arm’s length when you’re arriving to the airport.  Head to the VAT refund stand to get a special stamp and submit your form.  You have the option of receiving a % of your purchase back (I believe it’s 20%)  which you can either take immediately in cash or have put back on your credit card in a few weeks if you choose to submit the form via mail.

Note this must be done at the airport before you leave the country. Also, be prepared because the line at the VAT refund stand can be LONG (it’s usually a 1+ hour wait especially in Paris). But it’s soooo worth it because you can get hundreds of dollars back from your purchase.

2. Buy vintage and gently used bags from trusted consignment stores like The Real Real, Rebag, or Vestiaire Collective.  You can also use Poshmark (but I am not sure about their authentication process.). And if you’re in NYC, I love What Comes Around Goes Around (which is also online at Shopbop!)

3.  Go to designer stores in states like Las Vegas that don’t have sales tax and save up to hundreds of dollars on a bag.  I called the Las Vegas Chanel store years ago to purchase my first bag and had them send it to me to avoid the tax!

How To Choose a Timeless Style

If you’re torn on what style of bag to buy – I always like to check Pinterest to see how other women have styled the bag, and think about the decision for a few weeks (especially if it’s a larger ticket price) before splurging.  It’s important that you’ll LOVE the bag for years to come not just for 1 season when it’s “in” because if it’s super trendy, it could be hard to style a few months from now, or even consign/sell down the line.  As you can see from the video, I’m a huge fan of the classics.  I love bucket bags, simple round totes, bags without a ton of embellishment or branding – and things that don’t necessarily scream “designer” or the newest, hottest, latest, “it” bag.

My Favorite Handbag Styles

Some of my favorite bag styles are the Chloe Nile, Mansur Gavriel bucket bag, Chanel Classic Flap Bag, Fendi Peekaboo, and Simon Miller tote.  These are bags that I constantly reach for and incorporate into my daily looks.  They can all be dressed up or dressed down and are great to travel with.  The Mansur Gavriel bucket bag is amazing for trips – and everyday life; I bring mine to the grocery store, hiking, or brunch with friends.  The Chanel Classic Flap Bag is THE best black handbag purchase I’ve ever made and can be worn long on your shoulder, as a clutch, or short hanging on your arm.  I am so happy I got the caviar leather because it doesn’t scratch and I don’t have to be too precious with it.

Chloe Nile is really fun for dinner dates and cocktail parties, and the Fendi Peekaboo surprisingly has a ton of room, but isn’t bulky so it’s great for work or shopping/being out + about all day.  The Simon Miller tote style is a relatively new style in my closet and I wear it ALL the time in Venice.  It’s so unassuming, yet I get tons of compliments on it and just love swinging it around town.  It’s the perfect natural, everyday, non designer bag.

My Favorite Clutches

For clutches I love the YSL simple style clutch for date nights, weddings, and cocktail parties, the tiny clutches from Kotur and Kayu, and vintage snakeskin clutches for any occasion.  Every woman should have a red clutch, a leopard clutch, a black clutch, and a brown clutch in her collection. Leopard is such a perfect way to add pizzazz to an outfit!

Where To Buy Affordable Bags

In terms of shopping for budget friendly, affordable bags I love Banana Republic, Mango, Pop & Suki, Clare Vivier, Staud, Forever 21 and Sezane. I just bought this bag for under $70 from Mango (doesn’t it look so luxe?!) and this clutch from Banana Republic for fall/winter.  I love everything from the Staud collection – particularly this bag and this bag.  And this leather bucket bag from Sezane is dreamy!

Watch my Designer Handbag Collection Video

Be sure to watch my entire handbag collection video where I walk you through all of my favorite bags, clutches, straw totes, vintage finds, and investment pieces!  What’s one handbag you can’t live without?!

Jessica Alexander Photography

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