A great handbag is important – no woman would deny that. But many handbags are so expensive that it makes your eyes bug out of your head when you see the price tag. Fortunately, there are three great handbag designers – Laundry by Shelli Segal, kate spade, and BCBG Max Azria – that will give you the high fashion look you want without taking a month’s income (or even half) to purchase.
What makes a great handbag? Quality, of course – you don’t want your handbag to fall apart on you. Versatility; you want the handbag to go with everything, and to be able to not only transition from outfit to outfit, but from day to night and weekday to weekend. Style; you want something classic, but with a little bit of funk so that it gives your outfit a little extra distinction.
That’s why these three handbag designers, Laundry by Shelli Segal, kate spade, and BCBG Max Azria, are so great. They combine those three necessities (quality, versatility, and style) with a price that’s affordable.
1) Laundry by Shelli Segal. This is my favorite line of bags of all time. Laundry by Shelli Segal bags are priced around $200 – $300, but I’ve found them for under $100 on sale at places like Macy’s, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx, and under $200 at Nordstrom.
Laundry by Shelli Segal uses only the highest quality materials, such as lambskin, and they make both leather and cloth bags. I’ve seen all kinds of styles from Laundry – slouchy hobos, tiered clutches, and lacy satchels. They are often in neutral colors like, peach, cream, and stone – which is great right now, because that’s the primary color palette for fall fashion in 2010.
One thing to consider: Laundry tends to go with more of a boho style – which is also back on trend for fall fashion 2010. But Laundry by Shelli Segal’s eccentric details and quality for the affordable price just can’t be matched.
2) kate spade. I think that pretty much everyone is at least familiar with the Charlotte-York-from-Sex-and-the-City style of kate spade’s handbags. Very clean silhouettes, lots of nylon and fabric, and stripes give her collection a very New York Hamptons feel. kate spade’s uncomplicated styles grace any outfit, and the clean lines lend both sophistication and simple elegance.
Now, not all kate spade bags are winners (which is true with every handbag collection), so go with the simplest choice. No silly patterns, no plastic. Most kate spade handbags are priced around $150- $300, but they can get much more expensive if you opt for leather instead of fabric.
The good thing: kate spade handbags won’t go out of style, because clean sophistication never does. So if you do choose to invest more cash in a bag, kate spade is an excellent choice – much better than one of those insignia-covered Coach disasters. Myself, I tend to stick with the classic black nylon bags. Much more chic and becoming than a briefcase, yet just as professional.
3) BCBG Max Azria. BCBG Max Azria isn’t known for their handbags, but they should be. BCBG handbags are terrific all the way around, whether they are leather, satin, snakeskin, nylon, or something else entirely. I’ve seen BCBG handbags priced from $100- $400, and for me, BCBG Max Azria has a style that lands somewhere in between the whimsy of Laundry by Shelli Segal and the clean, sophisticated functionality of kate spade.
A perfect example is a black satin clutch that I purchased from BCBG Max Azria. The interior is poppy red, and the frame is sleek like a kate spade clutch would be. However, the handle is a metal chain, and there is a simple ruffle that runs down the front – without diluting the lines – and those details add the funk that Laundry provides without any boho effect. I have an almost identical clutch (with a little more metal and no ruffle) in a coral satin from BCBG as well.
If you’re looking to meld professional and girly to create a little funk (and who isn’t?), BCBG Max Azria is your best option for handbags. And at Macy’s and Nordstrom, they’re almost always on sale – I purchased my BCBG coral clutch for under $60.
So, those are my top three great, affordable handbag designers: Laundry by Shelli Segal, kate spade, and BCBG Max Azria. You get your next handbag from one of these designers, and not only will you be happy, you’ll have enough money left to go out and show it off.