We get a lot of reader email asking for advice and recommendations, but the one questions we’ve received most consistently over the years are queries about what a young woman should choose for her first designer bag. Those questions are very near and dear to our hearts – Megs and I can both recount the acquisition of our first bags in vivid detail – and today, we’re here to provide answers both general and specific.
On the whole, most successful first-bag purchases are some combination of classic and recognizable. Discretion may be the better part of valor, but for almost anyone, the rush of that first fancy purchase is knowing that everyone else knows you have something fancy, at least in part. Don’t worry about being inventive or finding the Next Big Thing; just get something you love and that you’ll be proud to carry until you find your next big bag crush. Below, some of our favorites.
Louis Vuitton Damier Neverfull MM Tote
$1,050 via Louis Vuitton
The Neverfull is a first-bag favorite, and we’d recommend the slightly more subtle Damier print over flashy monogramming.
Coach Bleecker Mini Preston Satchel
$258 via Coach
Coach bags have been American girls’ entry point to luxury leather goods for several generations, and both Megs and I can call a Coach bag our first.
Tory Burch Mini Robinson Tote
$475 via Bloomingdale’s
This Tory tote is both recognizable and functional, and its slightly shrunken size is perfect for younger women.
Kate Spade Carroll Park Penelope Satchel
$448 via Bloomingdale’s
Kate Spade was among the only acceptable first designer bag options when I was in high school, and its fun, feminine purses ensure that it’ll continue to be a solid choice for years to come.
MICHAEL Michael Kors Large Sutton Satchel
$368 via Bloomingdale’s
MICHAEL Michael Kors ticks all the important boxes – the bags are accessible, classic and easily recognizable to other fashion fans.
Longchamp Le Pliage Cuir Bag
$555 via Bloomingdale’s
A lot of handbag neophytes are tempted by Longchamp’s signature nylon bags, but this leather version of the style makes for a more long-lasting choice.
Alexander Wang Rockie Bag
$795 via ShopBop
Loeffler Randall Rider Bag
$495 via ShopBop
A lot of popular first-bag picks err on the preppy side, but if your personal style is a little less traditional, go with one of Wang’s classics.
3.1 Phillip Lim 31 Hour Bag
$750 via ShopBop
Like Wang, 3.1 Phillip Lim makes great first bags for young women with modern, urban taste.
Marc by Marc Jacobs Know When to Fold ‘Em Jina Satchel
$528 via Nordstrom
This bag, with its minimal branding and neutral color, makes a great choice if you need to take your very first bag conquest to work.
Rebecca Minkoff MAB Mini Satchel
$395 via Nordstrom
Rebecca Minkoff designs cool, recognizable bags at accessible price points; in short, the perfect entrance to the designer market.