As we’re all well aware (and at times, far too aware), designer handbags are, by their very nature, expensive. Often prohibitively so. As much as we think it’s often worth it to save your pennies and splurge on that $2,000 bag you want, sometimes that’s just not in the cards, no matter how much you restrict your outside-of-the-house activities and how closely you follow our 18 Easy GIF Steps. Or maybe you’re not sold on $2,000 handbags as a concept quite yet and simply prefer to keep your expenditures in a more comfortable realm. Either way, we’ve got your back.

As we do every season, we’ve rounded up what we think are the finest handbags in the land for under $600. Every season, that gets harder to do – the prices of contemporary bags are inching up just like everything else, but we’ve persevered. ‘Tis our duty. Check out our choices below, which range from stalwart favorites to brand new designs, and remember that ShopBop, one of our favorite sources for bags in this price range, is offering 25% off almost any purchase with code INTHEFAMILY25 through tomorrow, October 17.

If you’ve been hoping that American handbag stalwart Coach would do things a little bit differently, your time has come. Last week, we got a peek at the Fall 2013 version of the Coach Borough Bag (that should be landing at Coach.com any minute now) on the arm of none other than accessories tastemaker Sarah Jessica Parker, and now Coach Spring 2014 reveals that the new design will be the foundation of its forthcoming season.

I still can’t get over how little the Borough Bag looks like a “Coach bag” in the traditional sense. Even when Coach makes a really great bag, the design tends to always be clearly underpinned by details and designs from the company’s design history. Heritage is important, of course, but with a brand that elicits the kind of strong opinions (both negative and positive) that Coach does, displaying a little bit of creative dexterity can mean all the difference in expanding your market. In fact, that’s the lesson that Louis Vuitton is learning right now.

The modern, practical Borough Bags, in all their sizes and colors, are the clear winners of the season for Coach, and the line also includes a bunch of roomy totes and a few surprisingly sophisticated dome satchels. To check out all the bags from Coach’s preview, which will be available by early 2014, check out our gallery below. To shop Coach’s current selection, head on over to Coach.com.

We love a party, and we could let one of our favorite bags’ first birthday slip by without a little celebration. The Loeffler Randall Rider Bag turns one year old this season, and we’re marking the occasion by making sure that one of our lucky readers gets to join the Rider Club. (Megs and I are already members, and trust us, it’s a great place to be.) In order to make that happened, we’ve teamed up with Loeffler Randall to give away the Rider bag of your choice. (If I were you, I’d pick the pink calf hair Rider that you see above – as you already know, I’m totally obsessed with it.)

To win the bag, all you have to do is head over to Facebook and like both our page and Loeffler Randall’s. You can enter through October 6, so hurry up, what are you waiting for? If you’re not confident in your chances of being the lucky winner, for today only, you can head over to LoefflerRandall.com and get 15% off any new Rider with the code PBRIDER1YR. For how beautiful they are, the Rider bags are already a great deal, and this code only makes them an even better bang for your buck.

Fashion Week is fun and all, but it’s a different kind of fun to check out collections once they hit their first pre-orders at Moda Operandi, usually mere days or weeks after first debuting on the runway. It allows us to find out design names and prices of our favorite bags, like these from 3.1 Phillip Lim Spring 2014, a lot sooner than we normally would, plus it gives consumers a peek at the non-runway accessories that we can expect from the brands once full collections hit stores.

Lim’s accessory presale is the first to really give us pause this season. Not only is the brand new 3.1 Phillip Lim Wednesday Bag included in several different iterations, including the standout cracked leather version from the runway, but so are Ryder bags in new colors. The fan-favorite Pashli gets both a super-trendy holographic finish (for the mini version) and a super-trendy backpack shape, both of which sort of feel like Lim throwing a bone to the accessories fads of the moment. Check out the accessories from the sale below (it also includes shoes) or shop the full selection via Moda Operandi.

I doubt Tory Burch would be irritated to hear me say that hers is not a “heritage” brand by any stretch of the imagination. It hasn’t outfitted anyone for wars or saddled up any horses in its time, and that’s fine; not even billionaire Burch can go back in time and move back the birth of her brand by 100 years. Heritage is big business, though – high-end customers place tons of value on a brand’s history, and that’s probably why the brand new Tory Burch Saddalrina Large Saddle looks like it could be based on an archival bag from the brand’s imagined past.

Or, perhaps, from a brand like Coach’s actual past. The shape and finish of the leather remind me a lot of both the Coach bags my mom carried when I was a kid and the highly-prized classic Coach finds you can occasionally uncover in a vintage store. The long shoulder strap, the medium-tone gold hardware, the glossy-but-not-shiny finish of the leather – it’s all exactly right. Tory even did herself a favor and omitted her signature logo hardware, opting instead for a block T built into the bag’s turnlock closure. (Turnlock! Another classic Coach-esque thing.)

Coach doesn’t capitalize on interest in vintage-looking bags like this quite as ardently as it could, so, to be perfectly frank, I’m glad someone is. At Burch’s price point, this is what heritage looks like, and this bag does a great job pretending that it has a carefully cataloged predecessor from decades past sitting in an archive somewhere. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $495.

Also available in tan via Bloomingdale’s for $495.

Coach Saddalrina Large Saddle Bag

Fashion Week, with all its lavish parties, decked-out street style looks and high school-cafeteria-on-steriods seating arrangements, can make even someone pretty flush with cash feel like a bit of a pauper. Seriously, where (and how) do people get all this stuff? After a few seasons of the circus, you also start to ask why anyone thinks they need it, and at that point a bag like the ONE by Ampersand as Apostrophe Half Tote becomes pretty attractive.

Fashion swings from one extreme to the other like the weightiest of pendulums, and minimalism – especially in accessories, where things are easily taken to their most maximal – is a natural response to the nearly baroque levels of embellishment we’ve seen recently. Everyone’s eyes need a break from trying to figure out how they’re supposed to focus when met with a bag covered in python, studs and fur, and thankfully, this is the sort of visual break that can also help out your wallet. A simple, well-executed, sharp leather bag doesn’t have to cost a fortune because it doesn’t require the extra man hours needed to make crocodile look like leopard or whatever.

That’s why Celine’s extremely simple Cabas totes struck such a chord, and it’s likely why people are still asking me on Twitter where they can get Mansur Gavriel’s unlined, hardware-free, solid-color shoulder bags. This Ampersand as Apostrophe tote, part of ShopBop’s exclusive ONE line, carries on those bags’ aesthetic ideas. For less than $350, you get an all-leather tote that’s handmade in the US, and the unfinished edges, unlined suede interior and half-hidden, half-exposed (hence the bag’s name) stitching provide all the design details you could need. Every inch of the bag is purposeful and considered, which seems like the ultimate luxury.

Buy through ShopBop for $330 in grey, black and brown.

ONE by Ampersand as Apostrophe Half Tote Black ONE by Ampersand as Apostrophe Half Tote Brown

Marc Jacobs himself has acknowledged that his little-sister Marc by Marc Jacobs line has fallen off a bit over the past few years. To remedy the situation, he appointed some well-known new design brass to the label – Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier – back in May, and although we won’t see any results from the new leadership until the brand’s Spring 2014 collection debuts next week, the Marc by Marc Jacobs Get A Grip Large Satchel is a pretty good indicator of where Jacobs would like to see the brand headed.

When I first saw this bag in the New Arrivals lineup at NeimanMarcus.com alongside bags from Rochas and The Row, it didn’t look at all out of place. Black leather, simple shape, inventive use of sleek, subtle hardware – it’s all here, and for a price that isn’t nearly so astronomical as the look will run you at any number of other brands. It’s a strong basic, a bag that you can take to the office without fear of looking unprofessional but that you might also like enough to carry off-duty. (If models can be “off-duty,” I suspect that we’re all allowed to use that distinction for our down time.)

At $598, the bag is on the more expensive end of the spectrum for a Marc by Marc bag, but it also lacks many of the slightly juvenile details that made earlier bags from the brand a prime choice for coeds and interns. Jacobs’ little sister appears to be ready to grow up a little bit, and not a moment too soon. Buy through Neiman Marcus for $598.

It’s hard for contemporary designers to step outside of a contemporary price point without arousing ire from its customers. It stands to reason that a huge portion of the fans of a brand like Tory Burch appreciate the designer’s work because they feel like it provides a good value for their dollar or inhabits a price range with which they’re reasonably comfortable. When those brands attempt to push upward, not only do those fans sometimes not follow, but they often become vocally angry – how dare a brand get too big for its price-britches!

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, the Tory Burch Attersee Chevron Satchel, above, costs $995. The bag is rendered in suede and wool, replete with numerous tiny beads and a few larger stones to cap off the bag’s closure. It’s detailed, lush and on trend in a lot of ways for fall. It’s jewelry, a sweater and a handbag all rolled into one, and considered all the disparate elements, it pulls off the look fairly well. (I’m not so sure about the stones at the top, but other than that, it’s a beautifully intricate bag.) Fine materials don’t necessarily impress fans of contemporary brands, though, if the price is similarly fine. That’s not what they signed up for, after all, and snakeskin and fur ventures by brands like Coach prove that pretty well, at least in consumer reaction. One needs only peek inside our PurseForum to pick up on that vibe.

Despite the fact that I know this bag isn’t any more overpriced for what it is than any other bag on the market from a similar brand, I still couldn’t put my money down for it, even if I loved it. In my head, the perceived value of a Tory Burch bag tops out at about $600, and it would probably take a slow, steady climb for the brand to exceed that figure for me. What about you? Can you envision a Tory Burch bag that would make you part with a grand? Is this one it?

If so, pick up this bag for $995 via Saks.

We first introduced you to the just-launched Mansur Gavriel Handbags in July, but the bad news back then was that there was barely an available purse to be found – the company’s first run had been snapped up already, more or less in its entirety. We had a light at the end of the tunnel, though, because we knew the brand had been picked up by Net-a-Porter for fall. Now, those bags have started to arrive!

It’s not difficult to see why the first run of Mansur Gavriel bags disappeared so quickly. The designs are sleek, modern and functional, and they all retail for less than $500. The exterior neutrals disguise interiors splashed in contrasting brights or pastels, and without a heavy lining, the bags are light, practical choices for women who want a design that straddles the divide between trendy minimalism and a classic look that won’t look dated any time soon.

Net-a-Porter doesn’t indicate where these bags were made, but since Mansur Gavriel was planning to move its production from China to Italy for fall, it’s likely these bags are from that new run of bags made in Europe. For some of you, I’m sure that’ll be welcome news. You can shop a limited selection of Mansur Gavriel bags via Net-a-Porter now.


Mansur Gavriel Small Tote
$425 via Net-a-Porter

Mansur Gavriel Small Tote

Mansur Gavriel Large Tote
$485 via Net-a-Porter

Mansur Gavriel Large Tote

Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bag
$495 via Net-a-Porter

Mansur Gavriel Leather Bucket Bag

Please believe me when I tell you that I am head-over-heels for this bright pink calf hair version of the Loeffler Randall Rider Bag. I’ve been a fan of this shape since Loeffler’s handbag line debuted a few seasons ago and even added a mini version to my collection this spring, and now it’s this big, slightly furry, very bright iteration that’s the object of my affections. It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

Heavily textured bags are once again a full-on trend for fall, and if you’re uncomfortable with fur (either for ethical or financial reasons), calf hair is a great way to go. You get a bag that’s similarly lush and tactile, and although the material almost always costs more than a regular leather version of the same bag, it’s always less than traditional fur. It’s also shorter and neater, in case you’re concerned about carrying a bag that looks like a disemboweled muppet. (Are muppets fundamentally disemboweled? Discuss.)

The regular leather version of the Rider comes in at a very reasonable $495, and while this calf hair version is more expensive, it comes in at a not-exactly-whopping $650 for a bag that is almost entirely calf hair-covered. That’s a much better value for the materials than you’ll find with most brands, and this bag is big enough to be an option for everyday carry. Would you wear something this bright on the daily, though? I know I would. Without a second thought. I am in love. Buy for $650 via Nordstrom or Loeffler Randall.

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