How to Choose your First Designer Bag, 2023

Choosing your first designer bag is exciting! The first thing you'll need to figure out is your budget. Once that is determined, then you can start really inspecting the bag for quality. Today we will discuss different designer bags based on your budget, what to look for in a bag.

How to choose your first designer bag
Diane wearing a Black Special Order Hermes Birkin Bag © PetiteinParis

If you found this article, then Congrats on buying your first designer bag. I can distinctly remember the first designer handbag I added to my collection. The excitement of going to the store, trying on different bags, and finally bringing that bag home.

One of the biggest concerns I hear from people when they are buying their first designer handbag is the following, “What if I spend so much money on a designer handbag and in a few months or even next year it’s out of style?” 

I totally understand that fear, which is why I do endless amounts of research to ensure I recommend bags that are considered timeless, will stay in style for years and are high quality bags.   

First Designer Bag if your budget is under $1,000

There are so many designer handbags if your budget is under 1k. In fact, when I started writing this article, I ended up splitting it into two articles because I found 10 incredible designer handbags under 1k. I highly recommend you check out that article.

Strathberry Tote Bag

Strathberry Tote Bag Size Medium in Black
Black Strathberry Tote Bag © Strathberry

I highly recommend the Strathberry Tote Bag as your first designer handbag. This bag is perfect for someone who is looking for a structured bag that is chic, timeless, and has both a top handle and a cross-body strap.

This London based brand is making big waves, and I've been a huge fan of their high quality bags for years now. I recommend picking up a Strathberry bag before they go too mainstream and raise their prices. For reference, I have the Strathberry Nano tote it's so cute, small, and easy to style, I love it.

Price: $495 – $975 depending on size
Shop Strathberry Tote Bags

LongChamp Bag

Longchamp Nylon Bag in Beige
Beige Longchamp Nylong Bag

The LongChamp nylon bag is such an easy bag to style and wear. If you are looking for a more casual type designer bag, then this bag is perfect for you. I would opt for the Longchamp Nylon Le Pliage bag with the long strap, that way you can wear it as a shoulder bag. One of my favorite features about this bag is how light it is.

Personally, I love this bag for traveling because it's light and the nylon material makes it easy to clean if it gets dirty.

Price: $155 – $250 depending on size
Shop Longchamp Nylon Bags

Gucci Bag

Mini Gucci Bag under 1k
Mini Gucci Bag Dionysus

I love small bags being popular, because that means a bag that Gucci carries is on the list for first designer bags under $1,000. The Gucci Mini Bag Dionysus is a great bag is you are looking for a big designer name but at a more affordable price. I love how easy this bag is to transition from a day to night bag.

I recommend, if you are thinking about buying this bag, buy it sooner rather than later. I anticipate it going up in price in the future.

Price: $990
Shop Gucci Mini Bags

First Designer handbag if your budget is between $1k-3k 

Many designer handbags fall into the budget of $1-3k. There are 3 bags that I recommend if you fall within this category: Celine Belt Bag / Celine Luggage Bag, the YSL Lou Lou Bag, or the LV Neverfull Bag. 

Celine Belt Bag

Celine Belt Bag Mini in Beige
Celine Mini Belt Bag in Color Beige © Streetystylebest

First on my list is the Celine Belt Bag. This bag features a trapeze design and is the ultimate Parisian IT bag. Through the years, it has gained popularity. This is such a classic, timeless piece that is worth investing in. If you are wanting a Parisian Chic bag, then I definitely recommend the Celine belt bag. The Celine belt bag comes in many sizes to fit your personal needs.

Price: $1,950 – $2,700 depending on size
Celine Belt Bag

YSL Lou Lou Bag

YSL Lou Lou Bag size Small in Beige
YSL Lou Lou Bag Size Small in Beige ©

No list would be complete without a Saint Laurent LouLou bag. If you are looking for a bag is so effortless to style and will help elevate even the simplest of outfits, then I recommend the LouLou bag. I absolutely adore this bag and believe it would make for a great first designer handbag. The LouLou bag comes in different sizes to fit your personal style.

Price: $1750-$3200 depending on size and material
Shop YSL LouLou Bag

LV Neverfull Tote Bag

Louis Vuitton Neverfull Travel
Louis Vuitton Neverfull Bag Size MM ©

The LV Neverfull tote was my first designer bag I added to my collection. I still love this bag to this day, and I definitely recommend it. It's a high quality, timeless tote bag that will last for years. If you are looking for a tote bag that is easy to wear and easy to style, then the LV Neverfull tote is a great option!

The most popular Louis Vuitton Neverfull Size is the MM, however if you are unsure what size would fit you best, then I recommend checking out this LV Size Guide article I wrote about the different sizes. 

Price: $1,960 – $2,100 depending on size
Shop LV Neverfull Bags

Other popular brands to check out that fall into this 1-3k budget category are Gucci bags, Many Prada pieces, as well as Loewe Bags. 

First designer handbag if your budget is $3k + 

If you have a budget over $3,000 you certainly have the most options. In the over $3000 budget there are many brands I tend to recommend. I love investing in classic pieces that are not only a good investment, meaning you can resell them for at least 80% of what you paid for, but also handbags that will last for years to come. 

Classic Chanel Flap Bag in Caviar
Classic Chanel Flap Bag in Caviar Leather © Chanel Community

Classic Chanel Bag

If your budget is over $3k, then I definitely recommend a Classic Chanel Bag in Caviar, this bag is so effortlessly chic and timeless. The Chanel Classic Flap bag is the most iconic and popular Chanel bag. If you are looking for a luxurious everyday bag, then this bag is perfect for you. In my opinion, it will continue to be around for years and only increases year over year in price. There are also several popular Chanel bags you should check out as well.

Price: $8,200 – $9,500 depending on size
Shop Class Chanel Bag

Lady Dior Bag

Beige Lady Dior bag price
Beige Lady Dior Bag Close up © Diorcommunity

If money wasn't an option, the second bag I would recommend is the Lady Dior. Thanks to Lady Diana, this bag will forever be on the map as an iconic, high quality, timeless, chic bag. If you are looking for a classic piece that you will carry endlessly and will have in your wardrobe for a lifetime, then the Lady Dior is perfect for you. It can be worn as both a handle bag or as a cross-body.

Dior has a lot of popular bags, but the Lady Dior is my absolute favorite. I personally have it in the matte black in size small and I find myself constantly gravitating towards it.

Price: $5,300 – $6,500 depending on size
Shop Lady Dior Bag

Hermes Birkin or Hermes Kelly Bag

Hermes Birkin 25 in color Gold with Twillys
Hermes Birkin Bag Color Gold Size 25 © Hermesfans

If you can really splurge on a handbag, then I undoubtedly recommend a Hermes Bag. Hermes is the upper echelon of designer bags. The Hermès Birkin or Hermes Kelly bag are the ultimate it bags with impeccable craftsmanship. If you are looking for the crème de la crème of designer bags, then the Hermes bag is perfect for you.

Price: $8,500 – $15,000 depending on size and leather
Shop Hermes Birkin & Hermes Kelly Bag

In short, if your budget is over $3,000 for your first designer bag, I recommend a Classic Chanel Bag in Caviar, a Hermes Birkin bag or Hermes Kelly bag, or a Lady Dior bag. These are all timeless pieces that really hold their value. 

What to look for when buying a designer bag?

Closeup of the Chanel Flap Bag
Detailed photo of the Chanel bag © ChanelInternational

The most important thing to look for when you are buying a designer handbag is quality. I always tell people if you invest in high quality handbags, and take care of them, they will last a number of years.

If you are buying the handbag in the store, then I highly recommend looking the stitching, does it line up, does the open and, does the zipper unzip and zip easily? These are all essential things to inspect when you’re looking at a bag. It’s easy to get excited, try on the bag, walk around the store with it, but whatever you do, NEVER buy a designer bag with inspecting it first. 

It's important to make sure the bag is perfect before ever leaving the store. Many brands have several bags in the bag, so if the current one isn't perfect, don't be afraid to ask for a different one.

Should you buy your first designer handbag secondhand? 

Hermes Birkin horseshoe club size guide
Closeup of Hermes © Streetstylefashion

I think buying your first designer bag secondhand comes down to a personal choice. I can see both sides. 

I love buying secondhand designer bags because it is sustainable, gives a new life to the bag, many times they are in great condition, and sometimes (not always) you can get the designer bag for a discounted price.

On the flip side, I get the thrill of walking into a designer store to buy your first handbag, it truly is a great experience. Some places, such a Hermes and Louis Vuitton, even offer you champagne!

Recap on how to choose your first designer bag

Chanel top handle bag
Chanel Caviar Top Handle Bag © Chanelcommunity

When it comes to buying your first luxury handbag, the main thing is figuring out your budget and stick to that price point. Once you determine your budget, then you can really figure out a bag that fits your personal style.

Regardless of what your budget is, I always stress the importance of inspecting the bag to make sure it’s up to the high quality standards it should be. The last thing you want to do is get home and realize the stitching is off. I'd love to hear, in the comments, what was your first designer bag?

Sincerely Petite in Paris,

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  1. Josephine Villar says:

    It was really nice to know these informations. Thank you very much. All information are useful. I very much appreciate it.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      You’re welcome, so happy to hear you found it helpful!


  2. Nissa Oktavia says:

    Hi Diane,

    Hope this comments find you well
    I just want to thank you for this “how to choose your first designer bag” because it really does helps!
    I’m getting 30 this year so i want to give my self a designer bag as a reward for surviving in this world but i am not sure if i deserve that. Then i stumbled your article and read that paragraf about stick to the budget and hey thats answering my concern about whether i deserve that designer bag or not hahaha i might be not yet deserved to buy that 3k++ bag but i think i do deserve that 1-3k.

    Thank you for helping me in makin this small dreams come true,
    Cheers from Indonesia,

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Nissa,

      I’m so happy to hear you found my article useful! Please let me know which bag you end up purchasing!

      I hope you have a great day!