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Your Stylist: Investing in your first grown-up handbag

Resident Image stylist and market editor Melissa Magsaysay soothes your sartorial woes in the weekly Your Stylist blog column.

Hi Your Stylist-

I recently turned 30 and realized it’s probably time I ditched the worn out H&M or Aldo bags and got myself   a grown-up bag with a real designer. My friend at work recently bought a used Louis Vuitton Speedy off EBay. While I like the size of her purse and that there’s a “green” factor that helps both the environment and my pocketbook, I don’t want the same thing. I also know this is weird, but I have a strong phobia of snakes, and even snake-skin bags and shoes kind of weird me out. I’m somewhat flexible on price if it means I’ll have the purse for years. Keeping these stipulations in mind, do you have any suggestions? KW, Los Angeles Ysldowntown1395

There’s nothing quite like the first grown-up bag that will hang from Chloe1895 your arm making you feel polished, put-together and confident: Your new best friend that comes with the price tag of about $1,000.

But because you’re ready to take the plunge and replace all of those disposable bags with something that you will keep and use for years to come, there are several designer styles to consider.

Your friend’s Speedy bag is a classic shape, and of course, you can’t really go wrong with the brown-and-beige LV logo leather. If you like that shape, take a look at the Bayswater bag from Mulberry. It’s a solid rectangle with a top flap and turn closure. It’s a Bayswaterbrown950 classic and truly grown-up bag, but not something all your friends already have.

The Downtown bag from YSL is another iconic style that will serve you well for years to come. I love the angular shape of this one and the zippers and hardware add some edge. For something that looks more vintage and down to earth, the Paraty bag from Chloe is another style that will transcend several seasons. The cognac-colored leather will work in both the summer and a California fall, and the long and short straps give you options to hand-carry or throw it on your shoulder.

One of my favorite new bag lines is Jerome Dreyfuss -- especially if you want a bag that not everyone is going to be toting around.  The Parisian designer makes buttery leather bags in interesting and vivid colors as well as several  Novelladreyfuss neutral shades such as this luggage leather hobo.

If the eco-friendly aspect still intrigues you, a Southern California-based label called Novella Royale makes high-end bags from recycled leather jackets. The styles here are trendier, with studs, fringe and smaller sizes, but the Clover and Van bags are on the more classic side. Plus you have the peace of mind about carrying re-purposed leather.

Whichever bag you choose, congratulations on making this important step in stocking your closet with big-girl bags. Each one is an investment, but remember that a beautiful bag can transform the simplest outfit into something really special.

Send your style queries to

-- Melissa Magsaysay


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Photos: Top left: Yves Saint Laurent Downtown bag, $1395/ Top right: Chloe Paraty bag, $1895/ Middle left: Mulberry Bayswater, $950/Mulberry. Bottom left: Novella Royale Clover bag, $644/Novella Royale. Bottom right: Jerome Dreyfuss Bob bag, $995/Jerome Dreyfuss.
Comments () | Archives (17)

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What a crock! A handbag is not an investment. The sign of a mature adult is not giving into peer pressure or media advice. I'm shocked at what foolish piece of advice from this column. Is the writer an investment counselor? A money manager? Or some girl with a keyboard?

A grown up would buy a good quality, stylish bag for no more than $200 and invest the other $800 in her 401k or the stock market. It's time that women stop buying overpriced "necessities" because someone tells them to and start thinking of taking care of themselves in retirement.

Plenty of handbags under $200 befit an adult woman. Granted, they may not have logos splashed all over or highly recognized like a Chanel 2.55 or a Birkin 35.

BTW, that Mulberry Bayswater bag in leather is so heavy without anything in it. If you always carry it on one side, you'd have a lower back alignment problen down the road.

Oh, come on. Live a little! Buy that nice luxury of a real grown up bag. But I would definitely recommend a nice Fendi bag. Anything Fendi. I have 3, one over 10 years old, and they still hold their value and are really cool. But beware of fakes! Buy from the Fendi store or a reputable department store. I would follow this advice with any handbag, frankly. Don't trust Ebay for something like this where there are so many fake handbags around. But don't judge folks who want a little luxury. If that handbag makes you feel good, do it!

I agree with the previous comments. $1000 for a purse? That is the least "grown-up" purchase I could think of making. Check out, there are some beautiful hand-sewn leather purses there for under $200. also has some great hand-sewn bags. You'll support an artist rather a label & have something unique .

I agree with the notion that anything over $200 is a waste for an accessory if it it may last two generations. I just bought my first "grown up" purse and I decided to go for real leather. I found the best bag on Etsy that was hand made locally for $150. It's unique and made very well with a warrenty. I couldn't ask for more!

Seriously! You're not a grown up if you spend $1000 on a handbag, you're an idiot. It to me is a clear sign of low self-esteem and an external locus of control and worth. I've got nothing against 'investing' in a professional wardrobe, that's sensible and is absolutely necessary in many professions. Blowing a grand on a bag is not an investment, it's throwing your money away. "Investments" are by definition a use of money that will yield a return. You can "yield" the return of a professional wardrobe with a $50 handbag. Good Lord.

"Investment" means something which will appreciate, earning the owner money over time. 95% purses do not do this.They depreciate. Being a grown-up means not listening to hype about "investing" in over-priced consumer goods. Get a purse you can use for 1/10 the price and find something better to do with your money. A lot of people are struggling in this economy.

Spending hundreds of dollars on a purse is silly--spend it on a personal trainer or a pair of good running shoes and hit the gym fatties.

So you're referring to the grown up woman who's still living like she's trying to be Miss Popular in High School? This is a BS posting and I'm wondering who's paying you to splash their designer names all over it. Ahmen @money in the bank!!!! Ladies, puh-leez! Support local artists and craftsmen and purchase from them. Plus, logos are so over done and you can't tell which are real and which are knock-offs. Plus all these bags pictured in your posting...I've seen them in TJ Max, Marshals, and Target...BFD!

I am a grown woman with a professional job. I have never spent more than $350 on a purse. Some are "brand" names, some are not. What's wrong with a well made leather bag that's not the "it" brands with the ridiculous mark up? Can be had for a few hundreds. (Perlina and Fossil make some nice ones.)

All you people talking about finding cheaper bags and putting your money in a 401K are boring trolls. If I want to buy a bag I'll save up and buy a bag. Yes, I have a 401K and an IRA waiting for me when I hit retirement but I also like to have nice things from time to time. Someone reading this is probably getting ready to respond by saying " Well I can get nice stuff off for $4 and it was made by Native Americans who farmed the leather from their own livestock "


If that works for you then fine. But if I want to buy a beautiful bag that I'll use for the next 5-10 years then I shall have it. You guys can do what makes you happy and stop acting like little girls with a chip on your shoulder.

I love this discussion! This is the first comments section that's ever made me laugh aloud. Has anyone mentioned how many starving children you could feed for the price of an expensive handbag? I'm happy to see such a charged issue openly discussed during these sensitive recession times. I wonder how many starving real estate agents you could feed for the price of an expensive handbag.

LV is so over, as are thousand dollar bags. Any woman carrying such a sad and desperate hunk of ego reinforcement into her office or a client's office would be mocked mercilessly behind her back.

Anything over $50 on a handbag is a luxury. My current bag cost $25 at Target and it competes with anything in the $20-90 range as far as trend, quailty and use.
This article seems like it was written for the Oprah's of the world who can afford that luxury. I don't understand women walking around with $1000 bags and make minimum wage.
Status symbol you say? I'll pass. I'd rather spend that money on a real status symbol like an education.

I really resent this article and I think it is a slap on the face to the thousands of unemployed people in the US, to the business owners who are closing or have had to close their businesses and to the state employees who are dealing with reduced pay and furlough days. Shame on you for writing and your editor for approving such an insensitive article, when so many in our country are struggling every day to put food on the table. How about teaching young women how to be trendy and how to transform the "simplest outfit into something really special" without the need of spending $1000 in a purse. And for those who have $1000 to spare, how about teaching them how to get a great bag for $50, save 75 % of the difference and donate the other 25% to a homeless shelter or a charity of their choice?

Sounds like someone with more money than sense, paying $1,000 for a purse. Get yourself a nice leather one for $100 or less. It'll hold up fine and you can spend your other $900 on something else.


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