Hello! My name is Kerri and I am 20 years old. For the longest time (almost a year and a half now!) I have been wanting to purchase my very own luxury handbag, but have been continuously stuck on how to start my collection.

Since I am a college student and am unable to work a lot throughout the school year, it takes quite a while for me to save up any money. Now that my spring semester is coming to an end and I’ll be working throughout the summer, I think I might be able to purchase my very first luxury handbag!

I am torn between which bag to get, as I am very much in the Louis Vuitton Speedy 25/30, Balenciaga Classic First, Prada Saffiano Lux tote, and the Chanel Mini Flap Bag. Do you have any advice as to which I should start off with? I haven’t held any of them before, so I plan on going sometime this summer. I am closer to being able to get the LV Speedy (and possibly Balenciaga) than the Chanel Mini Flap.

I would really, really love your help. I have had a passion for purses ever since I was about 6, and your website and forum have made me fall in love with them even more. God only knows how many reviews I’ve watched on Youtube about each bag!

I hope to hear back from you, and thank you again for always making my day better!

Kerri,

Thanks so much for the incredibly kind words about our site. I’ve felt incredibly lucky to have such a great group of readers following along and it has become a big handbag-loving family over all the years. I’m so happy to have you along for the ride!

When I was 20 I was really solidifying my love for luxury handbags as well, and right around that time I started PurseBlog and PurseForum with Vlad. I spent so much time, much like you, trying to decide on my first luxury bag purchase and saved up for a while. Mine was the Fendi Spy bag. I got the bag for Christmas from my parents and it was in the height of it-bag times, which lead me to only fall further. I was so happy with that bag and still love it, but it was more trendy than a classic, and for your first designer bag you definitely want a classic.

So let me give you pros and cons for each of the bags you list above as options and tell you which bag my vote goes to. You should definitely take some time to go check the bags out in person to see which fits your personality best and feels best on you.

Louis Vuitton Speedy 25/30
$950+ via Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton Speedy 30

Some may be surprised, but I don’t think you should get this bag. Yes, it’s a classic and will forever hold a spot as one of the most well-known designer bags of all time. Many girls start their collections this exact Louis Vuitton bag, and it’s not a bad choice, but this bag is hard to use as an everyday bag. I have a few Speedys, including the 30 cm version.

The bag looses its shape when you start to fill it up and while you can buy a bag shaper, I just don’t see the need. Also, it’s a dark interior makes the inside feel like a bottomless pit. I can rarely find what I need in this bag and because of the shape it seems to be worse than other bags. There are Speedys that come with a shoulder strap, and if you end up getting a Speedy, I highly recommend a shoulder strap. The handles are short and you can wedge this bag into the crux of your arm, but it’s going to get super heavy quickly and you will eventually end up annoyed.

With all that being said, there are still plenty of reasons you should own a Louis Vuitton Speedy at some point in your life!

Balenciaga Classic First
$1,685 via Balenciaga

Balenciaga Classic First

Can I convince you to get a Balenciaga City bag? This is where my vote goes for you! You are young and Balenciaga works so well for the younger crowd and easily transitions as you get older. I can’t speak highly enough about my Balenciaga bags and the price is still really ok for a designer bag. I know the City costs more than the First, but the First is smaller and ends up working best for casual use or weekend wear. If you are shorter, it could work out ok for everyday use, but I think the City is perfect.

This is your first designer bag, you want to be able to use it often and for a long time. The Balenciaga City bag is lovely, and while I think the shoulder strap is too short, other seem to think it is perfect in it’s size. I am 5’11 so it makes bags fitting on me look much different from someone who is substantially shorter, but Amanda is 5’6 and prefers the City as well.

Balenciaga offers so many colors and the leather ages well with time. I think if you went with a Balenciaga bag you will be so happy. So Balenciaga gets my vote.

Prada Saffiano Lux Tote
$1,990 via Bergdorf Goodman

Prada Saffiano Lux Tote Light Blue

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Prada Lux Tote, but I think it has more of a work bag or ladylike vibe than a 20 year old in college vibe. If you are super preppy and this is what lures you in, by all means go for it, but if you are similar to how I was in college you may end up feeling like this bag is too fancy.

The Prada Lux Tote photographs extremely well and I’m sure you’ve seen beautiful photos of it all over instagram, and I don’t deny the bag’s beauty, but I think for your first bag you will want something a little more laid-back. However, if you love the structure and lines, there are so many color options and sizes in this bag. I want about 10 of them to be honest.

Chanel Small Classic Flap Bag
$4,700 via Chanel

Chanel Small Classic Flap

The Chanel Flap Bag is about as timeless as they come. I love this bag, and if I got that as my first designer bag, I would have been so happy. I didn’t realize how much I would end up liking Chanel bags, I didn’t end up feeling drawn to them until later in my handbag obsessing days. The Small Classic Flap, which is 5.7″ x 9.3″ x 2.6″, costs $4,700. It’s an expensive bag.

In defense of the price, if you got this Chanel bag as your first you would treasure it for the rest of your life. Maybe someday you’d have a daughter you could pass it down to. But I don’t know that you would use it that much, and if you’re anything like me, you might be a little afraid to carry it often.

Overall, you have great bags picked out that you like and you can’t go wrong. But I think your first bag should not only be a bag you adore but also a bag you plan to use and love. Because of that, I still think a Balenciaga bag is your best bet. Best of luck to you and please let us know what you end up deciding on!

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T Tara Bagnista
T Tara Bagnista
7 years ago

I have to deviate from the items on your list. When I was 20, I was attracted to the Prada nylon messenger bag; however, I couldn’t afford it at the time. I have two now–one in black and one in blue. It’s especially great on rainy days, it has multiple pockets, zips (in case you take public transportation) and the cross body is adjustable. I often use it for travel. At about $960, the price is more manageable. I love my Prada Saffianos (tan and purple); however, I think they’re more formal. I use for work. I just got a Chanel GST; however, I don’t see it as an everyday bag. Love it, though. I was never attracted to Balenciaga. If you’re leaning toward LV, perhaps a Neverfull is a more versatile option.

Sandy
Sandy
7 years ago

I agree the Prada is out of contention..,beautiful but too stuffy for a 20 year old. The Speedy is the cheapest option, so if money comes into play no shame in having it be your first designer bag. The Balenciaga City, well, it’s just a cool bag that I think will be around for a very long time. If you can get this bag…middle of the road in pricing with great color choices!! You are just starting and Chanel will be down the road for you…that small of a bag compared with your other choices would probably drive you crazy!

Grace
Grace
7 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

You are definitely more understanding than the rest of us re: the Speedy. You are of course right. If money is a problem there really is no shame in getting a Louis Vuitton Speedy as long as you actually love it.

Mya Wilkes
Mya Wilkes
7 years ago

Megs, excellent and well thought out response. I agree, Kerri consider a City instead of the classic first for the Balenciaga; the classic firsts shape isn’t as cool and as versatile looking. Frankly the shape looks dated to me.

I don’t like the Prada simply because of the Saffiano leather, it does not feel luxurious at all, I recently consigned mine. I’ll vote the prada but when you make it to the stores, have a look at some other classic supple leather options.

Off the cuff I would have said go big or go home and get the Chanel classic flap but i am fully aware the price is prohibitive esp for a college student. I only got mine (jumbo) last year at 29. Once you start working full time, hopefully you can save up and buy it then.

As for the speedy, nothing about this bag has ever attracted me. Then when you consider Megs points above on the bag, I think def no!

In summary, I’ll say prada (in soft leather), otherwise the Balenciaga CITY

Really excited for you, happy choosing!

Guest123
Guest123
7 years ago
Reply to  Mya Wilkes

I agree with you 100% about the Prada soft leathers (Vitello Daino or Cervo). I have 2 Vitello Daino bags and one Cervo. I love them. They look great at work or elsewhere, have held up beautifully, and I get tons of compliments for them.

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
7 years ago

I agree with everything you said with the exception of the Chanel. I would put this in the same category as the Prada. I think that it’s too mature for a 20 year-old college student.
The reasons that you listed for the Speedy is why I don’t own one. However, there are other options from LV that would fit the bill. The small Pallas comes to mind.
Out of all of them, I would definitely get the Balenciaga if I were a 20 year-old college student. She has plenty of time to get the likes of Chanel.

Stina Sias
Stina Sias
7 years ago

I agree, can you imagine trying to save 5k working part time as a student?

Stina Sias
Stina Sias
7 years ago

The LV Speedy in Damier was my first bag and I still love it! It’s 10 years old but it looks brand new, the coated canvas is amazing! Also keep in mind in my early 20’s I treated it like crap sometimes and left it wedged in my closet without it ever losing shape. Of course, 10 years ago they didn’t cost near what they do now- I’m not sure I would pay today’s prices for canvas. I think a Chanel flap would be a great first option, there are lots of them on ebay from reputable sellers that are barely used. You could get one for half of what they cost off the shelf!

PJGambler
PJGambler
7 years ago

Somewhat agree; I think Speedy B (with a strap) is pretty indestructible for a first luxury handbag, and both Prada and Chanel are too staid for a 20 year old, and the Chanel hardware isn’t particularly reliable. The Balenciaga is youthful, all leather, and can hold all her things, and probably fit best with most of her clothing.

FH
FH
7 years ago

I would go with the Balenciaga. It’s fun and perfect for a 20yr. Plus the price is somewhat reasonable for a European designer brand (compared to the other options). I also may have a bias as the city bag was too my first designer purchase. Same purple color but with rose gold hw.

MM
MM
7 years ago

I feel like for a 20 year old, Chanel is a bit too…out there.

Unlike a lot of people, I think Prada is a good choice imo. Because it is structured, you can easily keep using it once you start working after graduation. Obviously this depends on the industry, and I work in a more corporate industry, so prada would have been my choice anyway.

Balenciaga is nice, and it is a casual bag. But it depends on your style.

Sofia
Sofia
7 years ago

Kerri, if you’re gonna go for Chanel, buy vintage. The quality of their current bags is just not that great, especially for the price. The Saffiano is a lovely bag, but probably too mature for you. The LV is just too common. So I say either vintage Chanel or a Bal

Kathyjazz
Kathyjazz
7 years ago

Kerri,
Of the options discussed here, I also think the Balenciaga would delight you! In your question, you actually mentioned the Chanel MINI flap bag–I would wait on that one for later in your collection. And I agree wholeheartedly with Sofia about considering vintage/preowned. There are many reputable sites now that remove the worry of authenticity and you can get a fabulous bag for a more affordable price, and maybe have money left over (for your NEXT one…)

GG Pastel