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To It or Not To It: Investing in a Fancy Handbag

New, 8 comments

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Love, Frank has returned as a weekly style advice column tackling your hard-hitting fashion issues and addressing a different fashion glitch each week. Submit a query here.

Oh, Chanel, via Pinterest.

Hey Frank,

I've reached an age, and an income level, at which I feel comfortable splurging on an investment bag. I'm having trouble picking one, however. 'It' bags feel so gauche; I'd feel like a D-bag walking around with a visual representation of how much I spent dangling from my arm. They also seem to have such a short life span—this season's Proenza Schouler or Celine will be obviously old next season. Any recommendations for an undercover fancy bag?

Helpless Over Handbags

Dear Helpless,

I understand completely. Logomania is a thing of the past. Luxury clothing and accessories should be tactile—for you, not the people standing across the intersection. It should also be tasteful; not overly trendy or of any specific moment. You can get that crap at Zara.

So congratulations! You can afford your first investment handbag! And, also, you know better than to buy a fur one covered in gold Fendi logos.

I think that there are a few options for anyone in your situation. If you want classic, if you want something everyone will still recognize, if you want something that will never go out if style, you have Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and maybe Gucci.

Yes, a quilted leather Chanel handbag in black or camel is branded. But it's been branded since your great grandmother had one. It was branded when Dorothy carried one on the Golden Girls; it was still branded 20 years later when reality TV happened and Paris Hilton was trying to trap crayfish in the bayou. It's never going anywhere. It's beautiful. And like a Honda, it really retains its value if you ever try and resell it.

The same can be said for Louis and Gucci—we all know. We all get it. It's Louis! It's Gucci! But we don't mind.

Famous people like Bottega, via Pinterest.

That said, If you want something truly stealth with almost no obvious branding you should probably lean towards Bottega Veneta (if you have an edge); or Hermès (if you, you know, have a horse).

Bottega's big woven leather satchels have been looking tastefully expensive and just a little mysterious for years. They're barely branded, they're collectible, and I understand they last forever. Meanwhile, Hermès needs no real introduction. Beautiful, desirable, but tastefully under-logoed. You either recognize these bags on the arms of elegant woman or you simple recognize that they're exquisite and rather obviously expensive.

(Note: if you're after that look but don't have $30 grand laying around—check out Mulberry.)

Celine might be forever, via

I will say, however, that Celine's already-classic Luggage bag might be a good choice. Yes, it was an It Bag. Yes, it stole the street style show several seasons in a row. But it hasn't gone anywhere yet. It's proportions are perfect. It's distinctive but subtly branded. It's a little whimsical—meaning, it's not just a gorgeous leather sack. A tonal leather option--nothing overly colorblocked or hairy or fuzzy—probably won't end up being a bad or embarrassing investment.

Whichever way you head, enjoy that bag! Clutch it with pride. You earned it.

Got a style question for Frank? Leave it in the comments or email one in here. Then buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, because it's going to be ? Something.
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