Everyone has to start somewhere. That's doubly true when it comes to the addictive world of designer accessories; for every shopper, there's at least one gateway drug that brought them here. Not everyone's found that all-important first bag, though. Naturally, we have some suggestions.
A first bag means different things to different people. A successful, career-minded woman in her 40s might want to upgrade her wardrobe with something seriously luxurious to let everyone know she's arrived, while a woman in her 20s might be looking for something that makes her feel grown and professional without breaking a meager, early career bank account. And that's before you even get to personal style considerations!
Below, we've selected ten bags that we think you should consider, if you're looking to take your first plunge into the designer (and we're using that term loosely here; in this context, it covers both premier and contemporary bags) handbag pool. Come on in, the water's fine.
Alexander Wang Small Emile Satchel
$945 via Shopbop
The Emile is the perfect combination between a discreet, wear-to-work bag and Wang's signature cool-girl style, this is the perfect option.
Balenciaga Giant Mini City Bag
$1,395 via Barneys
Balenciaga's moto bags are a full-fledged classic at this point, and the miniaturized City Bag is the perfect way to get the look in a fresh (and slightly less expensive) way.
Chanel Classic Flap Bag
$4,900 via Chanel
Most people start their collections with a contemporary bag or something from the lower end of a premier designer's price range, but if you want to dive directly into the deep end, far be it from us to advise you against it. (In fact, we'll advise you toward a Chanel flap bag--they're true classics and hold their value well, in case you decide bags aren't actually your thing at some point.)
Coach Jumbo Central Satchel
$495 via Coach
American women have been finding their way into handbags through Coach for decades; the brand provided an introduction for both Megs and me when we were still in high school. Today's Coach is better than ever, with plenty of bags like the one below, which feel young without looking too trendy or inexpensive.
Givenchy Mini Pandora Bag
$1,150 via Barneys
If you want to skip contemporary options and go with something from one of the biggest premier handbag brands on the planet, this little bag is a wonderful option. It's attractive and super functional; why else would it be beloved by stars and actresses who can afford whatever bags they want?
Gucci Soho Disco Bag
$980 via Gucci
For a premier designer under $1,000, you won't do any better than this little bag--it holds way more than you'd think, and it's one of Megs' favorite go-tos in her large, diverse collection.
Kate Spade Cedar Street Small Hayden Satchel
$298 via Shopbop
For younger shoppers or those with a more girlish sense of personal style, almost any of Kate Spade's bright, cleanly tailored leather options would be a great collection-starter.
Loeffler Randall Medium Rider Bag
$475 via Shopbop
If you're looking for a nice bag that won't immediately read as "designer" in a judgmental workplace (or if that's simply not your look), we can't say enough in favor of one of Loeffler Randall's marquee bags in a neutral leather.
Louis Vuitton Alma BB Bag
$1,590 via Louis Vuitton
A lot of women look to Vuitton for their first bag--after all, it is the world's biggest handbag brand. While LV monogram might be the most oft-made choice, we'd like to steer you toward a classic in Epi leather; it's not all that much more expensive and far more subtle.
Rebecca Minkoff Monroe Tote
$245 via Rebecca Minkoff
If your budget is tight and you need a bag that'll work both inside a conservative office and on the weekends, this new tote from RM is the way to go.