Ask The Cheaping Girls

This week's question comes from our long time friend Kim, who said,
"Have you girls done a post about purses yet? I need a new purse and this is the place for all the best advice!"
Pam Says:
Well it just so happens that this is perfect timing as I just returned from a weekend trip to Las Vegas where I was on the hunt for a purse to replace a defective purse I got for Mother's Day. First, I went to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and picked up a beautiful Dooney and Bourke bag that was marked down to $198 from $298. If you're in the market for a bag in this price range, the anniversary sale is a great place to start. I try to limit my handbag price to about $200 as I have some spectacularly expensive bags that have been given to me as gifts, but I am so afraid to use them and prefer to worship them in my closet and think about passing them on to my posterity.
Immediately after my Nordstrom purchase, I made a run to the Ross on the Strip. It's a big Ross, and a very messy one. It's been remodeled and the houseware department is gone. Housewares has been replaced with more clothes, shoes, and bags. And oh baby they had handbags! Even better, they had designer bags at fabulous prices. I have never seen bags like this at any other Ross, but who knows - they may be turning a new leaf. I grabbed these two Kenneth Cole bags because 5 minutes before the exact bags were at Nordstrom for full price! So, definitely check out your local Ross for your own personal treasure!

Kenneth Cold New York Large Spell Binding Hobo Bag - Regular Price - $398.00 - Ross price - $98.99
Kenneth Cole New York - Patent Leather On a Slant Large Tote - Regular Price $298.00 - Ross price - $69.99

T.J. Maxx is also another great option to find name brand bags and a lower price.

Janaan Says:

If you're looking for a trendy bag to only last you through the season, Sam Moon is the best. If you can make it to Texas and go to the actual store, do it now! If not, their website offers a much smaller range.

These purses range in price from $18.95 to $29.95!

If you saw The Sex and the City Movie, then I'm sure you're familiar with Bag, Borrow, Steal. This site essentially lets you borrow designer and luxury handbags for a fee and you return them when you're done. It's a great way to enjoy a really expensive bag without the guilt.

Sometimes I will buy really cheap bags from the street, fake bag parties, or even Walmart (I'm in a shame spiral about this one, but sometimes the prices are too good to pass up).

This patent leather laptop tote is only $25.00

Natalie Says:

Oohh! Handbags!! (Picture me, clasping my hands together and bending over a bit, what with my enthusiasm and excitement about this topic). When it comes to clothing and accessories, handbags are my true love.

I used to buy lots and lots of bags in the $9.99 - $199.99 range. I used to be known for it at the office. That crazy girl that had a different bag every day, a bag to match every outfit, a bag for every season, etc. But secretly, I flipped through the big fat Spring and Summer issues of Vogue and gazed longingly at the designer bags. Tearing out my favorite ones and carrying the pages around with me, shuffled amongst my work papers. Dreaming of the day that I could buy one.

A couple of years ago I decided to stop buying bags altogether (hell, I had enough to last for a while) and just start saving up for a bag that I REALLY REALLY wanted. And last year for my birthday, I got my first real designer bag - a Balenciaga Motorcycle bag. And I chose one in green, with gold hardware, like Katie Holmes St. Patrick's Day bag from that year:

I distinctly remember the day after I got my bag, I was in line at Michael's, buying some ribbon. And I just had one roll of ribbon, and there was only one cashier, the lady ahead of me had something in the order of five billion silk flowers, and each of them had to be rung up separately (oh yeah, you know you've been behind one of these ladies at Michael's). And I was starting to get frustrated and I looked down and I saw my bag. And this big flood of joy just washed over me. I was just so effing happy to be carrying this bag. And suddenly the world didn't seem like such a hopeless place, because that beautiful bag was in it and I was lucky enough to be carrying it around.

And that's pretty much how I still feel today, 18 months later. Every time I look at that bag, it makes me happy. And the world doesn't seem like such a hopeless place, because this beautiful bag is in it and I am lucky enough to be carrying it around.

I thought maybe that would wear off, that I would become jaded and ungrateful. But thankfully, I get the same thrill from my 2nd designer bag, a Fendi Spy:

Now, if you're Katie Holmes, you can buy a $1400 bag just for St. Patricks Day. If you're me, you will rotate between these two bags every single day for, oh, going on 18 months now. I love these bags so much and use these bags so much, I don't feel guilty at all for the amount of money that was spent on them. And I am not afraid to use them every single day. USE THEM! LIFE IS TOO SHORT! THERE IS ONLY NOW! CARPE DIEM LADIES! These bags come to the grocery store, the gas station, the movie theater. They get shoved underneath the seat in front of me or in the overhead bin.

If you decide to move ahead with a designer bag, but you know that you'll need to carry it around for a while, here are my tips:

- Buy a classic shape in a darker color. I chose the Fendi Spy and the Balenciaga Motorcycle as my first two bags specifically because they are classics and are bags that I can use for years and years and they will never go out of style. You can still have fun with the bag, even if you choose a classic shape. These bags usually come in a variety of colors and fabrics.

-DO NOT BUY A DESIGNER BAG ONLINE. EVER. First of all, there are just too many fakes out there (and sadly, the fakes are getting better and better). Second of all, if you've saved up your money for this gorgeous gorgeous thing, part of the fun is walking into Barneys, or Neimans, or Saks and holding the bag, seeing yourself in the mirror clutching it, choosing just the right one, seeing it put in its big felt pouch and boxed up into a GIGANTIC shopping bag. Aaaahhhh. ENJOY the experience. That's half the fun!

- Get a purse hook. They really work. I recommend a small one for your average restaurant table and a larger one for when you are out at a bar (a lot of newer bars have hooks under the bar, which is cool). If there is an extra chair available, don't be afraid to put your purse on it. My friend Estelle bought a Fendi Spy on a business trip and she was nervous when she took it to Japan and didn't want to put it on the floor of the restaurant. She quickly noticed that the Japanese ladies all had a chair for themselves and a chair for their bags. This is a custom we need to bring to the U.S., no? You may also need to learn how to use the bathroom with only one hand, should a hook not be available (I know, I know TMI, but really, should ANY purse ever hit a public restroom floor??).

My ultimate dream is to own an Hermes Kelly or Hermes Birkin bag. I was on vacation in Paris last year and stopped to gaze in the windows of Hermes. And I saw it. The ultimate bag, a large Kelly, in Hermes Orange with silver hardware. It was like seeing a unicorn. I didn't even dare to walk into Hermes. I was totally unprepared financially to own this beautiful beautiful perfect perfect bag. Plus, I don't speak French so it would be hard to explain that I just wanted to touch it but that I'm really not psychotic. So I just stared at it through the window for a while. But I am happy to know that this bag exists. And the dream is still alive. And like I believe in living for today and enjoying your bag, no matter how expensive, I believe in dreaming BIG.

We All Say:

No matter how big or small, at some point all of our purses become "Mary Poppins Bags" because of the sheer amount of stuff we try to throw in. If we looked hard enough we could probably find a coat tree and a large plant just like Mary Poppins did. This link is to a great segment on Studio 5 (thanks Janet!) about handbag organization.

Happy Shopping!!

The Cheaping Girls


Miss T said...

I really love your girls' posts on handbags! I remember one of my first few days at my new job & was thinking that the tech business was sadly devoid of any fashion or style...until I saw Nat and her green balenciaga motorcycle bag. I've been admiring this bag for a few years now & am addicted to buying these pieces of beauty (hey, shoes & handbags are my only vices in life).
Ladies, these designers (Gucci, YSL, Fendi, Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo, etc) do have sales & its takes a bit of diligence to track down the bag you covet, but I scored an YSL Med. Downtown patent, berry colored bag for 50% off at their store in Beverly Hills. I fell in love with it two years ago and waited until the time was right.
Thank you ladies for saving me lots of cash without sacrificing style!

Kim said...

Thank you girls! I knew I came to the right place. My sistas are coming here next week and a Chicago shopping trip is in the works, I will let you know what bag I end up with.

Lindsay said...

Isn't it so rewarding saving up your money for that one item that gives you so much joy?

Most recently I bought a kitchen, with a bathroom soon to follow--maybe not very fashionable but joyful nonetheless.

Great Advice!! I've also found some great bags at Ross.