I’m turning 35 soon and I’ve just had a pay rise so hoping to up my style game a bit. I don’t have any designer accessories yet so I just want one or two things (depending on price!) that are worth the money. I don’t know where to start, please help!Hannah, Norwich
Your first designer purchase deserves lots of consideration. I’ve previously written about my designer purchase regrets, and given the amount of money at stake, I want to make sure no one else feels the same about their buys, so I’m here to impart my shopping wisdom.
First, you need to work out which accessory makes the most sense for your wardrobe. If you’re someone who always wears a black crossbody, it might be a wise investment to splash on a high-quality designer one. Similarly, if you work in a corporate office and wear smart shoes everyday, investing in a leather pair you love that’ll only get more comfortable with time, is a clever purchase.
Secondly, decide if you’re into overtly branded items. The logo look is a big mood for the new season, but equally, a subtle stealth-wealth vibe – à la Shiv Roy in Succession – might take your fancy, too.
The premium quality means that a designer accessory should elevate as many looks as possible by giving it an overall expensive-looking vibe.
If you’re thinking of reselling at some point to promote a circular fashion industry (and in turn, fund your next purchase), there are a handful of brands and particular styles that are more likely to hold their value. Equally, checking out resale sites with authenticity guarantees, like Vestiaire Collective, should be on your shopping hit list. If you want to road-test a bag before you buy – ideal if you want to see how many looks your new bag will suit, or how much you can fit into it – why not try renting?
Once you’ve decided what you’re after, it’s time to get shopping. These are the designer accessories that IMHO, are worthy of an investment.
The best entry designer items to buy in 2023
The under £500 bags that are worth the hype
I personally can’t get down with a bag made of raffia costing hundreds of pounds, but if you’re keen, there are none more luxe than Loewe’s basket option. If it’s leather you’re after, I have lots of options to recommend but expect the price to climb quickly and the best styles to sell out fast.
Coach is having a resurgence thanks to its Tabby shoulder bags, which are beloved on TikTok, but away from it having A Moment, if you opt for a neutral colour, it’s a classic style with a cute twist.
A.P.C. is one of my favourite handbag brands. The sleek, minimal branding and interesting shapes means it’s a bag you can humblebrag about since it’s not instantly recognisable. I have the Grace bag in burgundy and it gets lots of compliments.
This little crossbody Acne Studios’ is one that you’ll wear every weekend: it’s roomier than it looks and offers an entry into the brand by way of a lower price point.
Read more on designer buys:
- I’ve saved £7,000 shopping at Bicester Village, here’s how I shop for the good stuff
- 4 designer items I regret buying – and the ones I should have bought instead
- 23 chic mid-range designer bags under £500 – including brands you may not have heard of
- How to look expensive: 7 secret tips to looking luxe every day
The under £1000 bags worth investing in
If you’ve got a bit more to spend, a ton of new styles and more luxury brands come into play: think Gucci, Saint Laurent and Prada. At these price points, expect leather trims and canvas or nylon styles, rather than full leather bags. But don’t think you’re missing out. The casual fabrics mean these bags add an edge to smart looks, and chime perfectly with an off-duty aesthetic.
Those three brands hold their value well in the resale market, so they’re a safe investment if you plan to part ways at some point. Care-wise, I can’t stress enough how important it is to stuff your bags and store them in their dustbags (and boxes, ideally) to keep their shape.
If you’re not in a hurry, I’d recommend waiting for the summer sales to start – Net-a-Porter, Matches and Browns Fashion offer excellent discounts on these brands and more.
The designer shoes to elevate your outfits
Given the ratio of hot-to-cold weather we experience in the UK, the cost-per-wear of a pair of pricey sandals may not seem like a wise buy. Boots and loafers, on the other hand, will get lots more wear.
There’s a case for spending lots on special occasion shoes, but you know I’m all about cost-per-wear and I’d rather get my money’s worth from a designer buy.
If you’re looking for boots, Toteme’s minimal pair are a cult buy for a reason, while Paris Texas is the newer brand on the block for luxe pairs that’ll take you through to evening.
A pair of loafers should serve you well by day, but a word of warning that you’ll need to have them resoled often to keep them in tip-top condition so it’s worth factoring that cost into your decision.
The best small leather goods
SLG’s like purses and card holders are the most affordable entry point into the super-luxe fashion houses where bags cost upwards of £1500 – think Celine, Loewe and Dior. These are where you can really have fun, since you won’t be concerned about them needing to match lots of outfits. Go for a bright shade or punchy print and you’ll be able to find them in a dark bag with ease.
The timeless belts you’ll wear forever
Luxury belts also offer an entry point into super-pricey brands. They can be worn everyday and don’t require lots of care or special storage. If your go-to look comprises of jeans and a blazer, there’s no doubt the luxe belt will be a handy addition.
With a discreet but instantly recognisable logo, they nicely toe the line between overt branding and stealth-wealth. Celine’s Triomphe style is on my investment wish list.