Guide to choosing your first designer handbag so you don’t make a costly mistake

Guide to choosing your first designer handbag so you don’t make a costly mistake


Splurging on a designer handbag may seem extravagant but some careers like sales do call for it. Many might even go as far as arguing that personal image is almost as important as one’s abilities when it comes to getting a pay increase or a promotion.

If you are looking at buying your very first designer handbag, whether it’s for the purpose of career advancement or personal indulgence, you most likely want to get one that can stand the test of time.

Hence, here are some tips for you to choose a bag that will add value to your closet.

8 tips for buying your very first designer handbag

1. Choose a bag that falls within your budget

There are many designer handbag choices in the market. But the most desirable ones are mostly going to cost you at least a few thousand dollars. While it’s tempting to go all the way, consider starting with one that’s less than $2,000. Set a budget that’s well within your means and then only look for bags that fall within it.

2. Prioritise functionality

It’s hard to not fall in love with a beautiful bag. Once you do, you may start making excuses for it. You tell yourself that a design flaw is no biggie. But the problem is, it will be, especially if this is your only designer handbag.

Take the Celine Belt Bag for example. It’s a gorgeous classic looking bag that comes in all sort of stunning colours. But many people have complained about how it’s difficult to open and close. Imagine fumbling with your bag at a cashier with 10 other grumpy customers waiting behind you.

Or perhaps you need a spacious work bag but a Lady Dior bag caught your eye and you can only afford to get the mini one. What do you do then? I say add that into your long-term wishlist and continue looking!

You would probably be using your first designer handbag a lot so you need to make sure that it would serve you well on top of looking great on your arm.

3. Keep it classic

Picture credit: Creative Lab/

Not all of us can afford to buy a few designer handbags to meet all of our fashion needs. If you are looking for an everyday bag that would still look good years down the road, then it’s important to choose one with a classic shape and size.

Bags that hold value in the resale market are usually very classic looking – case in point the Hermes Birkin and Kelly, the Chanel Classic Flap, and the Louis Vuitton Neverfull. However, that’s not to say that you can expect any classic bag you buy to hold value. There are many other factors involved.

The point is that a classic shape and size will help you stay in love with it for much longer because they are versatile and would not look dated with time.

4. When in doubt, go with solid neutrals

If you absolutely love a bright pink handbag, then go ahead and get it. But make sure that you have considered whether it is going to match with your outfits and whether you would still love it say a year later.

Bright colours and interesting prints are lovely but hard to match and they also tend to be hard to sell.

If you are in a dilemma between choosing a yellow handbag and a black one, then I’d recommend you to go for the latter. But if neutrals are not your style and you don’t love them, then go ahead and ignore this tip!

5. Pick a bag that matches your lifestyle

Not everyone who owns a designer bag has a car and eats in restaurants all the time. An average Singaporean takes the public transport, get caught in rain, and has to manoeuvre through crowded hawker centres.

Those are things you will have to consider when choosing a handbag that’s right for you. If it’s an evening bag you are going for, then it’s not a problem. But if you are searching for an everyday work bag, then the leather, the build, and the size of the bag matter.

Lambskin and light colours are usually a no-no for someone who doesn’t baby their bags. You also wouldn’t want a bag that is bulky and bumps around or has features that stick out (E.g. the Celine Trapeze bag). Your heart is guaranteed to ache when you find a scratch or a stain at the end of the day.


6. Research, research, research

Putting so much money into a bag means you need to be educated about your choices. Fortunately, there are many ladies out there with YouTube channels and at forums that can help you make the best possible decision.

They will tell you the pros and cons of the bag you are eyeing on and also give you some ideas on what’s right for you. It’s an amazing online community that you can leverage at any time.


7. Consider pre-owned

When it comes to designer bags and many other things, you don’t have to buy them brand new at the store. The designer handbag resale market is bustling and filled with second-hand bags that are in pristine or mint condition. A quick Google will show you online sites like Reebonz, MadamMilan, and StyleTribute. Also, don’t forget the local pawn shops.


8. A designer handbag is not an investment

There are many articles online that share about how certain designer bags increase in value over the years (they even beat S&P 500!). While it’s nice to know that the bag you own would give you your money back and a little more whenever you decide to sell it (that’s if it’s in great condition and in the right size, leather, and colour), you should never treat it as an investment.

You never know what would happen (for one, demand changes and you may not be able to keep it in tip top condition). So, just buy the bag you like and can afford and not think too much about its resale value.

Which credit card should you use to buy your designer bag?

When you think of buying fashion-related items, the shopping credit cards like the Citi Rewards Card and OCBC Titanium Rewards Card comes to mind. Both these cards give you 10X rewards for shopping spends.

However, you need to be mindful of the monthly or annual caps on your bonus points. From Oct 4 onwards, the 10X bonus points for the Citi Rewards Card will be capped at S$1,000 spend a month.

With that change, the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card is a better option for big-ticket items like a designer handbag. The cap for bonus points on the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card is 120,000 OCBC$ annually, or S$12,000 spend.

This article first appeared on is a leading online marketplace in Singapore that helps consumers compare and apply for financial products such as credit cards and loans.

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