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Do You Dig the Designer Wallet?

Luxury SLGs – fad, fashion or function?

The wallet, once the leather-bound totem of suburban American hellscape and the accessory du jour for working dads and helicopter moms, with a tight grip on their finances (and a tighter grip on the whereabouts of their offspring), has now seemingly devolved into a singular classification: as default holiday presents.

I should know. For someone who’s by now practically perfected the art of gifting pleather Amazon-adjacent billfolds and cardholders to various vague acquaintances (sure to conveniently fall apart by the same time next year, permitting the cycle to repeat), the wallet has consistently remained a festive favorite.

And for good reason, too. After all, SLGs fall within that specific sub-category of accessories that are useful enough to be perceived as thoughtful, work almost universally regardless of the recipient, and can still be discretely tucked away inside your purse. Especially if you hate how your wallet looks (and if you’re one of the people I send them as presents to, you probably do).

But for all it does (or at least did, back when ApplePay/PayPal/Venmo wasn’t as culturally pervasive), the wallet doesn’t get the love it deserves. Even less if luxury buyers like ourselves are not as strong in our SLG game. 

So, as a friend proudly pulled out his hefty affair the other day, bulging with loyalty cards to places he’s likely never going back to, I couldn’t help but wonder: is a designer wallet all that worth it?

Do We Even Need a Wallet?

Firstly, in a progressively paperless world, the physical wallet may feel like a relic at times, absorbed into our phones, similar to the cameras, Walkmans (Walkmen?), agendas, and personal computers of the past.

And why not? Why must one go through the physically taxing ritual of having to fish out their billfold from the depths of their handbag (or, for those with pockets, go about feeling their behinds in public) when a simple tap on the phone we’re already always tapping away at does the job just as well?

Maybe even better?

Chanel Mermaid WOC 7
In the age of digital payment, do wallets still have a place?

 “After all, it’s super-efficient to wave an iPhone at an ApplePay reader and – ping! – call it a day. But, in my experience, that same efficiency makes spending money freakishly easy, a little too frictionless, as if I’m paying with seemingly virtual cash,” observes Ms. Liana Satenstein on Vogue, in light of our spending habits these days.

The streamlining doesn’t stop there. We’ve become accustomed to downsizing our accouterments to the bare minimum in the mini-bag age. Subsequently, the bulky wallets are often the first to go.

An Accessory of Authority

Of course, the reasoning could be extended to handbags in general, what with the ever-shrinking amount of miscellany we’re required to haul around these days. Perhaps the same logic tends to cloud our perception of the wallet.

But rest assured, the wallet is alive and well. 

Be it the recurring summer trend towards see-through purses that proudly put our SLGs and wet wipes on display or merely the fact that we’re faced with a continuous barrage of loyalty cards and gift coupons from retailers we frequent and infrequent, cardholders continue to thrive, their organizational benefits reigning supreme.

Chanel WOC What Fits 5 1
What fits in a WOC often determines its functionality.

More importantly, the conventional billfold has now evolved to accommodate dual (or more) capacities, frequently serving as a complete alternative to the traditional purse or, at the very least, a clutch. On the other hand, wallet-on-chains yield an even wider array of functional features that make them suitable for many occasions, whether casual, formal, or even when traveling!

At the end of the day, whipping out a wallet screams business. It places you in physical control of your finances, divorced from the rather mindless form of consumption that online shopping, or even swiping a debit card, can ever offer.

It’s a power move, above all else.

On Price-Ceilings and Brand Bargains

And therefore, it makes perfect sense should you choose to flaunt said power with the added cachet of a designer label. The only snafu? Justifying the steep price point.

On one hand, it’s something you’ll be carrying constantly, be it as a standalone accessory or inside some other means of schlepping. Durability, therefore, is a must. 

Plus, in theory, you’re likely to encounter it every time you open your bag (in reality, it’ll rarely materialize when you need it). So, it should essentially spark joy, too. Maybe one in a slightly daring, dopamine-inducing colorway that might not have otherwise been such a great choice for a larger purse.

Prada FW 2021 9.jpg
Prada fans can enjoy gloves that work double-duty

On the other hand, SLGs are also at the lowest rung of the luxury ladder – precisely why they constitute a bigger slice of brands’ revenue than most. And for something that, at its core, is supposed to be affordable en masse, the quandary becomes whether they warrant that price tag at all!

At the end of the day, if you do decide to take the designer route, the options are seemingly endless.

Should you opt for the Hermès-favorite Silk’in, the quilted caviar Chanel WOC, the Lyst Index-approved YSL Cassandre Monogram Flap Wallet, the more outré Prada FW21 coin purse-glove, or the formidable resale-frontrunner, the Louis Vuitton Monogram Zippy, never versions fitted with the latest RFID-blocking technology?

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Louis Vuitton Wallet
LOUIS VUITTON Monogram Cerises Zippy Wallet
$730 via Fashionphile

And the best part? We can continue to justify their exorbitant prices just as we justify the exorbitant cost of our luxury purses – guaranteed cost-per-wear

They are, after all, a reflection of our tastes. As fellow PurseBlogger Kristen Pyszczyk writes, “My purse is what I want it to be, but my wallet is what I truly am.”


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Ed B
Ed B
5 months ago

I’ve never needed a BIG wallet, but I absolutely like having some sort of small wallet or wallet-like thing (I have a small Dior nylon keyfob holder that I use as a wallet) when I live in the US. Gotta carry my DL and insurance card physically. In Europe, I would just take my phone and that was about it. Either way I do just enjoy SLGs, I think I’d find a use for them one way or another! As you say, it’s all luxury/frivolous anyway.

5 months ago
Reply to  Ed B

Digital is great until your phone dies or is missing. I carry a small wallet: DL, Insurance (car and medical) and my debit for possible cash moment. Team small wallets.

5 months ago
Reply to  Jaime

Likewise. When I downsized from Mom-sized carryall totes to smaller crossbodies it forced me to get rid of a clutch style wallet with checkbook, receipts, loyalty cards, etc., which you generally never need. Life is so much easier when you’re no longer a pack mule for the kids and husband.

5 months ago

I love a wallet and have a few!

5 months ago

I love a small, bright wallet. Where else does the cash go?! My current one is a vivid red chevre Hermès Béarn compact wallet which houses $ and usually three cards (debit plus the two credit cards I use the most). It’s slim and not very large so it fits even in my smallest mini.

Ali R
Ali R
5 months ago

I have a black Prada wallet that doubles as a clutch but it’s too big to fit into my every day bag so I use a bright orange Coach tri fold wallet I love.

5 months ago

I always use a purse/wallet (uk). I usually swop over purses from summer to winter. Currently using a LV Zippy and if I use a WOC, I’ll just remove and take my debit card and driving licence.
I like the feel of a purse if I’m just popping into town.
In the past I bought a purse if I couldn’t afford the bag.