The Rules for the Purchase That Will Elevate Your Wardrobe

August 14, 2014-

By Lauren

Want to look like a million bucks, or make people wonder if you have it in your wallet? Stop spending money on those LBD’s and start thinking about LBB’s— A timeless, structured, black, leather handbag. I KNOW this is not in everyone’s budget, but if you can can cut down on other purchases here and there to save, it’s worth it.

While any nice accessory is always a great addition, if you can only pick one, just remember that shoes are easily worn, sunglasses are easily broken, jewelry is easily imitated but a nice bag can last years and years while pulling together many of the looks that are already in your closet. Not sure where to start? Here are my rules for that perfect purchase for the girl on a budget.

Black Gucci Chain Purse

Go black because you’ll always go back. Why black? Because it is a color that exudes sophistication. Brown generally tends to lend itself towards a more casual look, and the “it” color of the season is often nowhere to be seen in the next.

Forget twerkin’ for a Birkin. As someone who cannot fathom splurging on a Birkin at this point in my life (I just don’t see the big deal … Maybe it’s because I don’t have one, maybe it’s the conservative Midwest spender in me… ), I feel that there are much better classic looking bags that retail for thousands and thousands less that will do the trick. I’d much prefer a classic, quilted Chanel if I was going for a bigger ticket bag.  And to be honest, I really only see Birkin’s regularly in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, and if you run with a crowd that has them you already do too.

Gucci Soho handbag blackStay away from anything too trendy. Always go for timeless—or timeless with a slight twist in the detailing. We all love a good Rockstud, but that “trend” is already starting to die down.  And that “Falabella” will also eventually fall-a-off-a too, though I love both for now if you have the budget. But if a bag demonstrates any majorly bold trend and this is a one time purchase for you, pass it up.

Go for a bag designer, not a shoe designer. Make sure you are choosing a line that is known for it’s bags or is a designer that will always be an icon and has staying power.  Think Gucci, Chanel, Saint Laurent; Or even a Tom Ford, Victoria Beckham or Alexander McQueen (if you are an edgier fashionista) in the name of staying power. Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin do a fabulous shoe … Don’t splurge on one of their bags. In fact, don’t even buy one on sale.

Don’t worry if you don’t have big bucks.  If you don’t have it in your budget to pay full price, websites like The Real Real offer already worn pieces that are in pristine condition at a deep discount. I purchased a studded, Burberry crossbody from them that was like new when I received it, dustbag and all. It originally retailed for around $800 and I got it for under $300 (with a coupon code), and that worked well for me because it was a trend-driven bag.

Stay away from designers that have “cheapened” themselves. Kors, Coach and Tory Burch are great bags and definitely not anything to shake a finger at. But if you are looking for something that is truly high end, save a little longer for a bag with designer that is a bit less accessible (ie not available at Macy’s). Note: I’m not saying I wouldn’t carry these, I own a Kors, but am speaking from a luxury perspective. Consumers have paid $1000+ for a Michael Kors bag that now most people cannot differentiate between that and a $300 MICHAEL MICHAEL Kors purse.

Make sure the metal accents match you accessories. Are you a gold or silver girl? Most of my accessories are gold, so my primary bag has gold accents. Something about pulling it all together elevates your entire look to the next level.

Go Leather. I love a suede bag for a 70’s chic look, but black leather will always be in style.

My Go-To Black Bag:

Chain Trim Jacket

Gucci Soho Leather Shoulder Bag Available Here /  H & M Chain Trim Blazer (Shop Similar) / Bebe Skinny Jeans Available Here / Anne Michelle Lonestar Pump Available Here  / Celine 41044S Available Here

Now that we have that down, my go-to bag is my black Gucci Soho shoulder bag. It has a little added edge with the chain, but Chanel has had chain straps for years and they have proved to be totally timeless.  And although some may think the Gucci symbol is overstated—because it is—I’m not splurging on a bag that no one knows what it is. Especially living in Chicago where fashion is an afterthought, and most people don’t recognize a nice bag unless a name is slapped on it. Sorry, I’m not that modest and just fashion-loving enough to be that superficial about my bag.

The out-to-dinner outfit I’m wearing above—a Gucci, H & M, Bebe &  below $50 bootie combo—is a prime example of the bag elevation factor. My Soho bag is a go-to, and when most people see a nice bag they often automatically assume that— if the rest of your look is pulled together — the rest of your wardrobe is high end as well.  That bag made my chain trim blazer from H & M look like a Kors. It even makes a casual outfit with jeans look better  (Note: Throwing on a big pair of sunglasses never hurts either).

 Having trouble figuring out the right bag for you? Check out these amazing bags by classic designers that are total classics, or classics in the making.

The Purchase That Can Elevate Your Whole Wardrobe

(Hover on the center of the individual handbag  image and click to shop)

(Right to Left Clockwise): 1. Givenchy Antigona Bag 2. Saint Laurent Medium Sac de Jour 3. Chanel Quilted Flap Bag 4. Alexander McQueen Heroine Tote 5. Saint Laurent Tassel Crossbody Bag 6. Louis Vuitton Epi Alma

Bonus Bag:

Black handle bag with zip pocket

Tom Ford Charlotte Zip Pocket Tote


Have you seen something on the Real Housewives or any other celebrity fashion you can’t live without? Post a comment below, tweet @BigBlondeHair or leave a comment on  Big Blonde Hair’s Facebook page.

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  1. Angie Haering says

    Love that your a gold girl. I am too! Black and gold are my favorite colors in fashion! So easy and they match everything! I also love these tips! I would never spend the $$ on a Birkin or a high end MK bag but I am all over the MK bag I got on sale in a seasonal color for $207 all leather and it was a good size. How do you feel about Celine bags? Trendy not timeless?

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