There are some brands that are just synonymous with luxury - and Hermès is definitely one of them. However, although luxury - and Hermès - are often understood to mean expensive, in reality they doesn’t necessarily have to be. Certainly Hermès items are expensive, but as I touched on in my recent holiday gift guide, Hermès does produce a huge variety of products at a wide range of price points. I was recently asked to write an article on “dipping your toe into Hermès” at a relatively reasonable cost, so here is a deeper dive with five great ways to experience the world of Hermès when you are on a budget. The best part: many of the items that are quintessentially Hermès aren’t the most expensive.
Interested in Silk? Try a Twilly or a Pochette.
Just as much as Birkins and Kellys, Hermès is known for its silk scarves and cashmere shawls. When I started buying Hermès’ 90cm silk scarves (um...over 22 years ago....) they cost about $275. At one point, Hermès even dropped the price to $250. Unfortunately, 90cm silk prices have soared past $400 and now can cost as much as $450 or even higher, depending upon where you live. Of course, in 1997, Hermès didn’t make twillys*. These 33” x 2” (approximately) colorful strips of silk are fun for tying onto your bag, your hair, your wrist - anywhere - and feature adaptations of the iconic seasonal Hermès scarf designs. Some twillys themselves become very in-demand due to the particular design or colorway, and in some cases Hermès has produced special heart-shaped boxes for some of their love-themed twillys.
Hermès also makes a smaller version of the 90cm silk square, called a pochette. At 45cm, there are less tying options, but you still get a full scarf design and the size is definitely functional as a scarf.
Somewhat less functional, but even smaller and more adorable, is the newly-introduced Nano. You can’t beat the price, but at 20cm it is quite small, and as a new item this season it is only available in two designs and a few colorways of each. SAs are showing these tied simply on a bag or around the wrist, either with or without a scarf ring.
Hermès Twilly: $175
For ideas on how to tie a twilly on your bag, check out my previous PurseBlog article.
Hermès Pochette (also called Scarf 45): $195
Hermès Nano Scarf: $100
Wallet alternatives that won’t bust your wallet
Hermes wallets in general are very expensive, but they do produce other, very popular options to the traditional wallet that are well worth considering - and I say this as someone who owns and uses the following recommendations on a daily basis. In my opinion, Hermès designs its small leather goods exceptionally well, with both appearance and purpose in mind, and therefore most, if not all, of their wares in this department truly hold their own.
The Calvi and Bastia are each a separate, worthwhile small leather item which, when utilized together, can basically carry as much as a small wallet. The Calvi presents like any other double-sided card holder, simply and well-made, which one could also use to carry bills (which I do, as well as band-aids). The Bastia is a coin holder which is small enough to fit into any pocket, but expansive enough to hold just about any other of your usual small odds and ends. Taken together, you have enough space for most of whatever you would carry in your regular wallet.
Calvi, $335 (Epsom) - $380 (Chevre)
Bastia, $230 (Epsom) - $235 (Chevre)
-Small Silk’In Wallet
If you do prefer an actual wallet - or, like me, you just have to carry everything - I cannot recommend this item highly enough. In fact, if I had to pick one Hermès item which I would recommend the most for its usefulness, this is the item. Honestly, I love the elegant and beautiful Kelly and Constance wallets very much and I own both - and I almost never use them. My Silk’In, Calvi and Bastia go with me every day.
The design on this item is both beautiful - lovely, durable Epsom leather lined with what is almost always a joyful, contrasting silk scarf design - and incredibly efficient - six pockets for cards (3 per side), which, quite frankly, in my case will carry 12 doubled up. Zippered coin pocket in the middle, which I use for receipts (not coins - more of my weirdness, I know, but to me the one thing that will age or dirty a wallet more quickly than anything else is carrying coins in the coin section). Between the card slots on the sides and the zippered pocket in the middle is empty space which can hold a fair number of cards and bills (and yes, even coins if need be). I have stuffed and overstuffed my poor Silk’In and it’s still holding up well. My zipper never jams and the lining has worn incredibly well, despite the very-heavy-duty use I have given it over the years.
When I purchased my Silk’In I dithered over it - while comparatively inexpensive for an Hermès wallet, it is by no means cheap - and another customer, who had been standing next to me while I considered it, told me straight up: “Buy this. You will not regret it!” So many times when I look at my Silk’In, I think of her and how right she was.
Small Silk'In Wallet: $770
3. Wrap Yourself Up with a Constance Belt Kit
The Constance Belt Kit - the one with the “H” buckle - is definitely an iconic Hermès item. I would not have considered this for any “budget” list, were it not for my 13-year-old son, who is somewhat into fashion labels, specifically Gucci (which is surprising for a kid who mostly wears sports shorts and t-shirts year round, including the winter). We were in a mall and he wanted to look at belts by Gucci and Burberry. I figured that they couldn’t be too expensive - and wow, was I wrong. Belts are often considered to be an entry-level item for fashion houses, because the cost is comparatively low and it’s a piece that can get a lot of wear and is long lasting, but in this case entry was to the tune of $450, $500 - and higher. For certain, Hermes belts are even more expensive, but unlike most other fashion belts, besides the very simple iconography of the Constance “H” design, which is not limiting style-wise and will go from jeans to dresses, you also get a two-fer in that each belt strap is double sided, usually with a contrasting color in a different leather. The buckle itself is removable, meaning if you choose to invest in more than one belt kit you can use the straps interchangeably with other Hermes buckles in different hardware and designs. I am admittedly not a belt person, but over the years I have acquired three buckles and four straps and these are pretty much the only belts I wear (in fact, I’m wearing one right now as I type this).
Constance Belt kit, prices vary due to buckle, strap and width.
Typical 32mm width in regular leather with buckle: $645-$900
If you’re into shoes, try the Oran or Oasis Sandals
Hermès has really upped its shoe game over the last few years. In 2016 it acquired a minority stake in Pierre Hardy (they also bought the shoe company John Lobb in the 1970s), and the past few years in particular have seen a well-thought-out variety of shoes to suit every style and occasion while still producing the classics they are known for. A great, simple, everyday sandal, the Oran (if you like your sandals flat) and the Oasis (with a short stacked block heel) are another good way to literally dip your toes into the world of Hermès shoes (sorry, I had to do that 🤷🏻♀️). Well-made and always available in a good variety of colors, they are really just a basic slide-style sandal, but their simplicity is elegant and the price point is within the range of shoes by other high-end designers. I have a pair of these and I tend to wear them all spring.**
Oran Sandals: $630
Oasis Sandals: $730
Addictive like chips: Fashion Bracelets
There are so many good options in the fashion jewelry department. If you’d like a classic Hermès look, the enamel bracelets are fun and VERY addictive. The Clic H (a/k/a Clic Clac, which used to refer to a now-discontinued item***) is an enamel bracelet on a metal base (palladium, gold or rose gold hardware) with an H clasp, comes in a range of colors (new for this season are a few prints) and can be worn on its own or stacked. It is slightly oval-shaped. (By the way, if you purchase a Clic H, it’s important to know how to open and close it properly. Ask your Sales Associate to show you - basically you have to hold the sides together for both opening and closing it - it’s not difficult, just be aware, because opening or closing the clasp improperly will damage it.) The regular enamel bangle bracelets are also on a metal base but are usually printed with an adaptation of a scarf design. These are round and cannot be stacked evenly with the Clic H bracelets. Both styles of bracelet come in several widths. Please note that most bracelets are also available in multiple sizes for different-sized wrists.
Enamel H Bracelets: $620 (narrow/"Clic H") $ 690 (medium/"Clic Clac"). There is also sometimes a wider version available.
Enamel Bangle Bracelets: $440 (narrow) $550 (medium) $690 (wide)
If you’d like an edgier Hermès look, there are a good variety of leather bracelets that you can start with. The Behapi Double Tour, a simple strap-style, wraps around the wrist twice and is available in a double-sided option. Other double-wrap options include the Kelly and Rivale Double Tour bracelets, but one of the newer designs I really like is the Mors. If you’re a fan of the classic Collier de Chien bracelet, Hermès offers a taste of that dog-collar style with the Mini Dog Clous Ronds.
Behapi Double Tour, $330
Kelly Double Tour, $510
Rivale Double Tour, $540
Mini Dog Clous Ronds, $520
So while these items may not be as exciting or jaw dropping as the big ticket purchases, they are definitely good items and “smart choices” for those who would like to get a taste of Hermès without the huge financial commitment that is sometimes involved. These are all well-made items that Hermès is known for and each is a worthwhile consideration for those who want to give this fashion house a try.
Hey, I've got some footnotes this time:
* I really want to spell the plural "twillies", but Hermès says it's twillys.
** I didn’t want to interrupt my light article here, but you all should probably know that the very first time I wore my new Oasis sandals I absolutely fell down the stairs. It could have been the sandals, but it was probably me. Anyway, just be careful when wearing any new shoes.
*** I’m going to go out on a limb here and discuss the confusing names of the enamel bracelets. Despite what the website says about current bracelet names, the Clic Clac was originally an enamel bracelet with an interlocking clasp which is no longer produced, and the Clic Hs were the bracelets with the H clasp. Now it seems like the name is different based on width. To me this is a little confusing, but I don't make the rules. While I'm at it, while doing a little checking for this article my SA informed me that the hinged clasp ("Charniere") bracelets are going to be discontinued - replaced by the Clic H bracelets made with designs on them - which is why I have not included them here in this article.