Buyer's Guide

5 Best Affordable Luxury Handbags You Should to Buy

So you’ve decided to take the plunge into the world of luxury handbags – welcome!

Building a collection of beautiful, well-crafted bags that will last you for years is an exciting (and sometimes addictive) pursuit. But with the sky-high prices of many designer bags these days, it can feel daunting to get started, especially if you’re on a budget.

Never fear – we’ve put together this guide to the five best affordable luxury bags for beginners. These picks come from top luxury brands known for their quality and style, but won’t completely break the bank. They’re versatile, durable bags that will give you a taste of the luxury life without costing thousands.

Before we dive in, let’s talk about what makes a great starter luxury bag:

  1. Lasting quality – When making your first foray into designer bags, you want to choose something that will last. Look for durable materials like high-quality leather, canvas, or nylon. Avoid delicate fabrics or finishes that will show wear quickly. A well-made bag should be able to withstand regular use for years.
  2. Versatility – An ideal starter bag is one you can use for multiple occasions, from work to weekend errands to evenings out. Neutral colors and classic shapes offer the most flexibility. Avoid trendy pieces that will feel dated after a season or two.
  3. Reasonable price – We all have different budgets, but in general, look for bags under $1000 (and ideally under $500) for your first purchase. Designer bags hold their value well, so view it as an investment, but don’t go into debt for a handbag! The picks on this list all come in at $550 or less.
  4. Fits your lifestyle – Think about how you’ll realistically use the bag. Do you carry a lot with you on a daily basis? A larger tote might be best. Need a hands-free option for events or travel? Look for a crossbody style. Choose a bag that will function well for your needs.
  5. Makes your heart sing – At the end of the day, a luxury bag is a treat for yourself. Don’t just go for the most “practical” option – pick a bag that puts a smile on your face and makes you feel confident and polished when you carry it. You should love it!

With those factors in mind, here are our top 5 picks for affordable luxury bags for beginners:

1. Coach Tabby Shoulder Bag 26 ($395)

American leather goods brand Coach has been crafting covetable bags since 1941. In recent years, they’ve had a major resurgence thanks to a refresh of their designs and affordable price points compared to other luxury brands.

The Tabby Shoulder Bag 26 is part of their 2019 Tabby line, which features clean lines, quality leather, and an 80s-inspired covered C and toggle hardware detail. The Shoulder Bag 26 shape offers plenty of room for daily essentials, with an outside slip pocket and interior zip pocket to keep you organized. The pebbled leather comes in a variety of fashion-forward and neutral colorways to suit any style.

We love the pillowy softness of the leather and the multiple ways to carry this bag – use the two top handles or attach the adjustable webbing strap for shoulder or crossbody wear. Gold hardware adds a luxe touch. At under $400, this is an ideal entry point into the world of designer bags from a trusted brand. Don’t be surprised if the Tabby sparks a full-blown Coach collection!


  • Versatile shape
  • Soft, durable pebbled leather
  • Comes in many colors
  • Adjustable/removable crossbody strap
  • Great value for price


  • Leather may show scratches over time
  • May be heavy when fully loaded
  • Coach’s overt branding isn’t for everyone

2. Tory Burch Perry Bombe Mini Bag ($348)

For a sleek, minimalist look, you can’t go wrong with the Perry Bombe Mini Bag from Tory Burch. This chic little bag packs a style punch, with a unique domed silhouette, luxe pebbled leather, and an adjustable chain crossbody strap.

At 5.5″W x 6.3″H x 3.2″D, it’s certainly mini, but there’s enough space for your phone, wallet, keys, and a few small extras. A slip pocket on the back provides easy access for essentials. Simple gold hardware, including a double T logo charm, adds a touch of understated glamour.

Choose from sophisticated neutrals like black and gray hues or opt for a pop of color like Samba red. The leather and craftsmanship are top-notch, so this little bag feels much more expensive than its price tag. If you’re looking for an elegant bag to carry you from day to night, the Perry Bombe Mini fits the bill perfectly.


  • Chic, understated design
  • Adjustable chain strap can be worn multiple ways
  • Holds essentials without getting heavy
  • Comes in beautiful colors
  • High quality for price


  • Small size limits what you can carry
  • Zip and chain may cause minor scratches on leather over time
  • Structured shape doesn’t expand

3. Longchamp Le Pliage Original Shoulder Bag ($125)

Beloved by chic urbanites and busy moms alike, Longchamp’s iconic Le Pliage nylon tote is about as versatile and durable as a bag can be. Foldable, water-resistant, and lightweight, this bag can carry a surprisingly large load.

The Original Shoulder Bag size is a happy medium that’s not too big, not too small, with a 9″ handle drop and interior zip pocket. An embroidered Longchamp jockey logo adds a preppy touch. When not in use, the bag folds up into a compact rectangle secured with a snap – perfect for stashing in your luggage.

While Longchamp is known for nylon, this bag also comes in luxurious leather options that will stand the test of time. You really can’t go wrong with a Le Pliage as your everyday runaround tote – it combines functionality and a classic aesthetic at a very affordable price point. Use it for work, errands, travel, and everything in between.


  • Lightweight, durable nylon or leather
  • Foldable for easy storage/travel
  • Water resistant
  • Holds a lot
  • Classic, preppy style


  • Nylon may not feel very “luxurious”
  • Lighter colors may show dirt
  • Bags can be easily confused/go missing since they’re so common!

4. Marc Jacobs The Tote Bag ($175-$495)

90s fashion darling Marc Jacobs may not be a traditional luxury brand, but his eponymous line of handbags has earned a devoted following for quality construction and tongue-in-cheek designs. The Tote Bag is a mainstay of the brand’s offerings that riffs on the classic canvas shopper tote.

With four sizes ranging from mini to large and tons of colors and fabrications, you can really customize The Tote Bag to your tastes. Standout options include shearling, vegan leather, and branded canvas. We’re partial to the small and medium sizes for everyday use. An interior zip pocket and exterior slip pocket help wrangle essentials.

Two top handles and an adjustable, detachable webbing crossbody strap make it easy to carry. With an of-the-moment 90s vibe and a democratic price point, The Tote Bag is a great choice for bagging snobs and handbag newbies alike. It’s fresh, functional, and super cute.


  • Comes in many sizes, colors, and materials
  • Not ubiquitous
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Fits a laptop in large sizes


  • Some may find branding too bold
  • Open top means items could fall out
  • Lighter canvas options may get dirty

5. Loewe Basket Bag ($450-$490)

For a summery, artisanal take on the classic luxury bag, look no further than Loewe’s charming Basket Bag. Hand-crafted from palm leaf and calfskin leather trim, this bag has a rustic appeal that still feels elevated thanks to the precise construction and signature Anagram logo charm.

At 8.5″ in diameter, this petite basket holds more than you’d expect, but it’s definitely a bag for lighter loads and hands-free days. We love how the round shape looks carried cross-body or on the shoulder by the adjustable flat leather strap.

Choose from classic tan with white stitching or a natural sand hue. The woven texture and leather whipstitching lend an organic, bohemian feel that will only get better with age and use. This is the perfect bag for farmers markets, beach days, picnics, and warm weather adventures. While definitely a splurge for a seasonal bag, the quality of Loewe’s Basket Bag makes it a worthy choice.


  • Unique handwoven texture
  • Adjustable crossbody/shoulder strap
  • Iconic Loewe leather detailing and logo
  • Structured round shape
  • Natural materials


  • Pricier for a straw bag
  • Seasonal style
  • Light colors may get dirty
  • Holds less than other styles on this list

Conclusion: Choosing Your First Luxury Bag

When it comes to selecting your starter designer handbag, let your personal style and budget be your guide. All of the bags on this list offer great value and versatility for the price, with quality materials and construction that will last for years.

Think about cost per wear – a classic bag in a neutral color that you use regularly will be a better investment than a trendier piece that only gets occasional use. Don’t be afraid to choose a bag that makes a statement, though! A luxury bag should spark joy and confidence when you carry it.

Whether you select one of the iconic styles above or discover a different bag that speaks to you, we hope this guide provides a helpful starting point as you begin your luxury handbag collection. Here’s to many stylish adventures ahead!

FAQs About Buying a Luxury Bag

  1. Is it really worth investing in a designer bag?

It depends on your budget and priorities, but for many fashion lovers, a luxury handbag is a worthwhile investment. Designer bags are crafted from high-quality materials with expert construction, so they hold up beautifully over time with proper care. Many styles become more supple and take on a gorgeous patina with age.

A well-chosen luxury bag in a classic shape and neutral color can last for decades, getting passed down through generations. Investing in one great bag instead of replacing cheaper options every season can actually save you money in the long run, too. Plus, carrying a designer bag just feels good!

  1. How can I tell if a luxury bag is real or fake?

Always buy from authorized retailers – department stores, the brand’s own boutiques/website, or established consignment shops that authenticate resale items. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Fake bags are getting harder to spot these days, but telltale signs include cheap-feeling materials, sloppy stitching, smelly glues or leathers, flimsy hardware, and misspelled logos. When in doubt, get an authentication from a service like Real Authentication or Entrupy or ask for a second opinion on PurseForum.

  1. How should I care for my luxury handbag?

Most designer bags come with a dust bag for storage – use it! Stuff your bag lightly when not in use to maintain its shape and avoid extreme temperatures, moisture, and direct sunlight. If your bag gets wet, let it air dry naturally.

Clean the bag and hardware regularly according to the brand’s instructions, using products specific to the material. Condition leather bags a few times per year to keep them supple. Get structured bags professionally restored every few years to address any wear/sagging. With proper care and cleaning, your luxury bags will stay beautiful for years to come!

  1. How can I get the best deal on a designer bag?

If you have your heart set on a particular designer bag, keep an eye out for end of season sales on department store websites and the brand’s own site. Black Friday deals are another opportunity for discounts. If you can be patient, many brands reliably go on sale after Christmas and in July.

Shopping pre-owned and vintage is another amazing way to score deals on luxury bags. Established resellers like The RealReal, Fashionphile, and Vestiaire Collective authenticate their items so you can shop with confidence. You can find gently used bags for a fraction of retail prices, especially if you’re open to past season colors and styles.

Sample sales, outlets, and following brands on social media for promotions are other great ways to save on your dream luxury bag. Be savvy and you can definitely indulge your luxury tastes for less.

  1. What should I put inside my bag to keep it organized?

A few key accessories will keep your bag tidy and make it easy to switch between handbags:

  • Purse organizer insert – Keeps items separated and easy to find, protects lining of bag from spills or damage.
  • Card case/small wallet – Holds just the essentials so you can downsize to smaller bags
  • Cosmetics pouch – Contains small items and keeps your bag clean
  • Reusable nylon tote – Folds up small but expands to carry overflow items, doubles as a shopping bag or gym bag in a pinch

About Rey Givens

My name is Rey Givens and I'm the CEO and founder of a women's handbag company. I'm passionate about delivering high-quality, genuine leather bags to customers all around the world at prices that won't break the bank. With over a decade of experience in the fashion industry, I've poured my heart and soul into building a brand that empowers women to express their unique style and personality through their accessories. When I'm not designing the latest handbag collections or overseeing production, you can find me exploring new cities, practicing yoga, or spending quality time with my loved ones. My mission is to make every woman feel confident and beautiful, one handbag at a time.