Luxury Bag 101: How to choose your first high-end handbag - SACLÀB
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Luxury Bag 101: How to choose your first high-end handbag

Splurging on your first high-end designer bag is a major moment in your sartorial life. Once you have made the decision to spend a (let’s face it) considerable amount of money, finding the right brand and model is the next big challenge. To navigate you through your journey, we have compiled everything you need to know before selecting your very first luxury bag. Text by Leonie Görke

Love at first sight?

Once you dive into research online, you will soon realize that buying a designer handbag can be more than a mere accessory. It can be an investment piece that dramatically increases in value, depending on its scarcity and future demand. It may seem tempting, but we advise a first time buyer to always go with a passion investment. Choose a bag you really love, not one that only looks promising on paper. 

Think of it this way: The first luxury handbag you splurge on, save toward, or reward yourself with, will always have a special place in your heart (and in your closet). If you ask collectors today, they will most likely remember the first trophy bag they scored with a smile on their face.

However, it is smart to avoid one-season-only bags that are trending on Instagram. Instead, we recommend choosing one that is a little more universal and classic. Naturally, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t opt for an exciting, colourful, mood-boosting piece – rather, imagine yourself wearing it ten, twenty, or thirty years from now.

Once you have a dream bag in mind, ask yourself the following: 

  • Does it suit my budget?
  • Can I identify myself with the brand? 
  • How many occasions do I have to carry it? 
  • Do I see myself wearing it decades from now?
  • Does it combine well with my wardrobe? 
  • Does it fit everything that I need?

1. Define your Budget

Arguably, this is the least fun but most important step when shopping for your first luxury handbag. You should clearly define what you are willing to spend, and make a hard-headed plan if you want to start saving up money to fulfil your bag goal. If you want to score a piece in the top-tier luxury niche – think Hermès or Chanel – you can expect four-figure price tags. To do the math and check the numbers, it can be extremely helpful to use a cost-per-wear calculator. It tells you exactly what your new bag costs in the long run, each time you wear it. Here you can also take resale value and maintenance costs into account. Good to know: If you purchase your first bag with SACLÀB, your first bag spa treatment is on us!

2. Choose a brand 

With hundreds of luxury brands on the market, it can be tough to find exactly what you are looking for. You should bear in mind that quality always wins when it comes to handbags. Excellent craftsmanship and long-lasting materials are key to ensure you can wear it for years to come. Brands like Hermès, Chanel, Dior, or Bottega Veneta are well-established and coveted manufacturers of leather goods.


To choose the right brand, think of values that appeal to you. If you appreciate heritage, prestige, and remarkable artisanship, Hermès might be the perfect fit for you. An Hermès bag surely is costly, but with some dedication you might score a budget-friendly option on the luxury secondhand market. The Hermès Birkin, Kelly, and Constance are much-admired as the “Holy Trinity of Hermès bags” – and pinnacle every collection. 


Hermès’ fellow French couturiers Chanel and Dior are a little more affordable, but similarly rich in tradition. Both work with extremely refined yet timeless designs, and regularly re-invent their classics. Chanel stands for effortless Parisian chic, featuring whimsical and playful details. Chanel bags are most recognized for the leather’s quilted diamond-stitching, “CC”-turn lock and interwoven leather-and-metal chain strap. Aside from the iconic Chanel Timeless and Chanel 2.55, the house has created an array of awe-inspiring collector’s pieces.

Bottega Veneta

Renowned for exemplary techniques and Italian artisanship, Bottega Veneta is another high-in-demand bag brand. Intrecciato, the famous leather weave that dates back to the 1960s, is for Bottega Veneta what diamond-quilting is for Chanel – the handwriting of the house. Opting for Bottega Veneta is a great choice for anyone who adores subtle design and extra-fine craftsmanship rather than flashy logos.

3. Choose a model 

Once you fell in love with a brand, choosing the right model to invest in is a thrilling process. There are three things you should be aware of at all times: the bag’s size, care requirements, and occasions. Already set on investing in an Hermès classic? Read our First-Time Purchase Guides for the Birkin Bag and the Kelly Bag for what you need to know before, in detail.

Size comparion for the Chanel Reissue and the Double Flap
Size comparion for the Chanel Reissue bag
Size Chanel 2.55 Reissue

Size in cm

Chanel Timeless Classic

Size in cm

Mini 224: 20 x 14.5 x 7.5 Mini Rectangular: 20 x 13 x 5
Mini Square: 17 x 13 x 6.5
Small 224: 20 x 14.5 x 7.5 Small: 23.5 x 14.5 x 6.5
Medium 224: 20 x 14.5 x 7.5 Medium: 25.5 x 16 x 7.5
Large 224: 20 x 14.5 x 7.5 Jumbo: 30 x 20 x 10


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