Is That Pricey Handbag Worth It? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Handbags are a surprisingly difficult accessory to shop for. We’re all for choosing a classic but budget-friendly style, but sometimes you find yourself considering a much higher-end bag — the kind you can picture yourself lusting after for months or even years as you try to decide whether the extravagantly high price tag is worth it. You probably already know what your friends (or your mother) would say. But ultimately, you’re the one in charge of your budget.

So how do you decide whether or not an expensive handbag is worth it? Typically, a big purchase is going to take a lot of research and consideration to get right. Start by asking yourself the following questions. They’ll help you determine if you’re at the right point in the wardrobe-building and style-defining process to consider a pricy handbag and will also help determine if the style you’re considering is really the right one for you.

1. Have you adopted a long-term view of your wardrobe?

A Hermes bag is pictured in the Hermes workshop on the eve of the inauguration day

You should have a good idea of what your style will look like in the future. | Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

If your wardrobe is stocked with well-planned purchases and carefully considered investments, you’re probably ready to think about an expensive handbag purchase. If you think carefully about what your look is and what pieces are going to be long-lasting purchases, you’re on the right track. But if your closet is still stocked with disposable fast fashion or even designer clothes that you regret purchasing on sale, you might want to hold off on buying an expensive bag. You need to make sure that you’re clear on what your style is and which pieces are going to be useful season after season. That goes double for a handbag which, if chosen carefully and taken care of properly, will be the perfect accompaniment to a wide range of outfits for years to come.

2. Do you feel “you get what you pay for” when it comes to handbags?

Designer Marco Ferra wears Goyard bag, Hermes coat and cape on day two at Rome Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014

Nice handbags are an investment, but they’re worth it. | Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images

If you’ve ever held one in hand — and even if you haven’t — you’re probably aware of ways in which the old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to handbags. High-quality materials, top-of-the-line craftsmanship, and gorgeous details are simply something that you’re more likely to see on an expensive handbag than on a mass-produced one with a more attainable price tag. But do you find yourself lusting after the pricey handbag for its quality and details or simply because of the name? Be honest with yourself about why you like the idea of an expensive handbag to determine whether or not there’s a less expensive way to get what you want.

3. Are you absolutely in love with the design, color, and size?

A Louis Vuitton Collection Sofia Coppola Bag 2009

You should absolutely love the handbag before purchasing. | Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

It’s easy to get swept up by the hype surrounding an iconic bag, whether it’s a long-standing classic or a new favorite from a brand with a cult following. If you’re thinking about spending a considerable amount of money — whatever that means to you — on a handbag, you need to make sure you’re actually in love with the style. Consider whether the bag would look good with the majority of your outfits and if you’ll want to carry it during multiple seasons of the year. Think carefully about if this is a style you’re going to love for years to come, or if you could see yourself falling out of love with it in the not-so-distant future.

4. Is this bag going to go out of style?

Diletta Bonaiuti poses wearing a Sandro coat, vintage pants and Hermes clutch on January 17, 2015 in Milan, Italy

Choose a classic bag. | Vanni Bassetti/Getty Images

Related to the last point, you want to consider if this particular bag is going to go out of style anytime soon. Most people use the term “investment purchase” to signify an item they’re going to spend a lot of money on, then use extensively for years to come. But some people take the term “investment” literally, and are looking for a bag that’s going to appreciate in value over the years. There are only a select few bags that are actually worth investing in if you want your bag to increase in value, including a few styles by Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. But whether or not you’re considering one of those styles, you may want to ask yourself if the bag you’re considering is a true classic. That way you’ll be sure to buy one that both you and others will appreciate in the future.

5. Are you going to really use this bag, or will it end up sitting on the shelf?

A woman carrying a Chanel shopping bag walks past the Chanel shop on Rue de Montaigne in Paris

Make sure you’re going to use your bag of choice. | Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images

Even when they’ve chosen a truly classic bag they love for its design and craftsmanship, some women end up with a handbag they’re afraid to use. We’ve all experienced this problem with a new pair of shoes: They’re both beautiful and comfortable, but we procrastinate wearing them outside the house because we’re afraid to scuff the soles or scratch the beautiful leather upper. You can’t fall prey to the same logic with a pricey handbag. Ensure that you’d actually want to carry the style you’re considering by looking for a bag that improves with age and use. Think of the Hermès Birkin as an example. These bags look gorgeous in the store, but even better after years and decades of use — the kind of love you should aspire to give any expensive handbag that you spend your hard-earned dollars on.