Before you drop half your paycheck on a fancy-schmancy designer handbag, don’t you want to be 100 percent certain it will stand the test of time? (Looking at you, neon Gucci waist bag.)
Enter Tracy Bradford, Neiman Marcus’s Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager, Handbags and Fashion Accessories. As you can imagine, she has handbag advice for days, with plenty of insight into how to choose investment pieces.
Take color, for example. “I would recommend black, cognac, gray and navy. These colors can easily be worn year-round,” she says. When it comes to features? “One of [the] biggest factors to consider is functionality,” she notes. “Does the bag have an inside zipper? Interior compartments or pockets? An exterior pocket for a cell phone?” Bradford also suggests considering some of the less obvious dualities, such as: Can your desired style work for day and night?
Yeah, that’s a lot to mull over. Luckily, Bradford was also happy to share three bag styles that are always a timeless classic. These purses come with history but are still modern must-haves.
Chanel Classic Flap Bag
“This classic flap bag with CC locks was introduced in the 1980s and has since become a Chanel icon,” says Bradford. Purists will want the grained calfskin with gold-toned hardware, including the iconic chain strap. But if you’ve got the nerve to pull off a color like pale yellow or teal, or a fabric like denim, tweed or suede, we say go for it! The quilted pattern is a nod to the jackets worn by the stable hands that Coco Chanel often visited while riding her beloved horses.
Saint Laurent Cassandra Logo Flap Bag
“This flap style was conceived by Yves Saint Laurent in 1961 and has remained one of the most recognized logo bags in the industry. It has a crossbody strap that can be doubled to make a shoulder strap, giving it versatility,” our expert explains. The classic bag features the original YSL logo, as designed by esteemed graphic designer Cassandre. Yes, this happens to be named after the creative, who also whipped up iconic graphics for Christian Dior in the ’60s.
It takes a lot for a roomy tote to feel special. But Bradford makes the case for one singular design: “The Peekaboo is an iconic Fendi handbag that hit the runway in 2009 and is available in a wide range of colors, sizes and fabrications.” Named for the bag’s tendency to offer a peek of the interior when the clasp is not fastened, this style has an easily recognizable trapezoid-shaped silhouette. Nearly every celeb has carried this bag, from Meghan Markle’s XL version and Queen Rania’s snakeskin iteration to Rihanna’s teeny, tiny tote and Celine Dion’s purple suede number. So yeah, it’s safe to say you’d be in good company.