Shopping for a designer bag is equal parts exciting and stressful. It's an accessory that can be worn again and again (hello, cost per wear!), but there's no denying it can be a punch in the gut when the credit card charge hits your account. If you wish you had a handbag fairy godmother to help decide what styles are worth it, you're in luck. We enlisted Victoria Slane, designer and luxury handbag buyer at Nordstrom to share some insight. Who's better to help guide you than someone who literally buys bags for a living?
"When I'm selecting an assortment, I like to ask myself, Who is the customer for this? Where are they wearing it? Will they want to pull it out every day or season after season?" Slane tells Who What Wear. (Yeah, a lot of decisions go into merchandising that gorgeous handbag section.) But she says one thing is nonnegotiable: "Spending money on any item should be about what it means to you," says Slane. "Whether it's a tried-and-true bag that's been around for years or a brand-new designer bag on the arm of every influencer, if it makes you happy and you will wear it and enjoy it, it's a good investment."
If you're still unsure where to start, Slane is sharing 20 styles that have a special place in her heart, from current It bags to all-time classics. "Bags that balance iconic elements such as silhouette, hardware, or branding details with emotional elements such as a bold color or interesting fabrication are the perfect balance to me," she says. Keep scrolling for some of her under-$300 picks, too. "As what constitutes 'investment' varies from one person to the next, the most important factors are that the bag functions for your life and that it makes you happy when you carry it," she explains. "This is more important than if a bag is popular or not."
The Style Stalker / Szymon Brzóska
Valentino Garavani Medium Roman Stud Leather Shoulder Bag
When asked whether she could only buy one bag in 2021, Slane couldn't quite narrow it down. "Asking a handbag buyer to pick one bag is like asking a mother to pick a favorite child!" says Slane. "If we're speaking to more classic items, I have my eye on the Valentino Roman Stud bag in a gorgeous flamingo pink. This is the kind of bag you pull out for running errands, and it also works for special occasions or a night out."
Nicky Hilton carrying the Valentino Garavani Medium Roman Stud Leather Shoulder Bag.