That First Designer Handbag

Balenciaga red city bag

I remember what it was like to buy a designer bag for the very first time…

Balenciaga black city bag

It was a Balenciaga black city bag (the one seen above). I had a replica at first (don’t judge) when I couldn’t deal with jumping straight to the real deal. It was lipstick red and much smaller. It got tons of compliments and I loved it to pieces even though it was a copy. If you don’t mind having a luxury looking replica, you might like to read A review of Luxurytastic Replicas by Maria Dipalo and see if you could fall in love with a replica too. My friend was telling me about how they love their Louis Vuitton Replica as well so check that out if you already love their bags.

About two years later, I took the plunge and upgraded to my first designer hand bag in buying the real Balenciaga. I remember that initial feeling of hyperventilating at spending that much money on a bag. It’s important to remember why they cost what they do, there is a reason behind the price tag; see here for the Women’s designer handbags guide by which might help you decide on your next purchase. I used it almost daily for my 9 to 5 job, for nights out, for everything. It was my ‘ break’ into the bag designer world. Once that happened it was like that invisible barrier came down and buying another high end bag down the road became ‘easier.’ Further purchases were sandwiched between selling off other items to fund it (or waiting for a good pay day). Even though a couple were bought from shops, I clued myself up on finding them for less. A how-to post on buying designer bags that way is (here).

As the years passed, my bag collection became a mish mash of thrift and vintage with designer which reflected my magpie style. To this day, shopping at Salvation Army or Saks stills gives me equal palpitations. The price tags are worlds apart but the emotional attachment are identical and as a result, Chanels sit next to vintage Coach. You can read more about how to buy a Chanel for less than retail in this older post.

Shoes, jewelry or an item of clothing might be your ‘firsts’ that tested your credit card limit for the first time, but for me it was bags. About six years later I still use that black Balenciaga. The leather is so soft that it puddles on tables when placed down and the brand doesn’t make them with that same leather anymore. Two tassles have snapped and it’s frayed around the edges but I still love it, even though it was the first to break the barrier.

. . .

What was your first big buy?


  1. Charlotte Lewis says:

    Love Balenciaga, my mini city was my 1st designer bag purchase this year! xx

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Congratulations. I still love those!

  2. Lorena Lorena says:

    Loved to read ! For me it was gold jewelery and a huge leather Tous bag. I was more calm about the gold and aquamarine set as I had put it on lay away but I was terrified when I took out my credit card to pay for the Tous bag. I wore it briefly and then stashed it away.. 🙁

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Glad you liked this. Oh no! I know that there are people who keep bags as a trophy or are too scared to wear it but I say wear the damn thing! You bought it. Enjoy it!

  3. fshnonmymind says:

    Aww, I love reading this story especially since I’m a bag-ho lol. Mine started with a tomato red, canvas Marc by Marc Jacobs barrel bag that I bought in college. I really wanted a leather version but my poor college self couldn’t afford that so I got this canvas version but I loved that bag so much and wore it all the time. I even stuffed it with my notebooks and papers and it just held up so well. I don’t have that bag anymore but definitely think of it fondly as it was the gateway bag to the designer circle. I cringe at the prices of some bags these days, especially the Celines and Chanels that are on my wishlist these days, but I’m an accessory girl and there’s nothing better than a good bag.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Gateway bag is such a true term for this blog post. Funny how we attach emotions to the first of a thing. Yes the prices now are ridiculous hence looking around before buying is becoming a must

  4. Diana says:

    <3 my first bag was a louis! my damier azur speedy (that i still have too!) sigh. lvoe. hehe.

      • Diana says:

        funnily enough, it doesn’t look like it’s been used much (besides the patina on the handles). my neverfull tho, that’s a different story. that thing is my workhorse! ha!

        speaking of bals though, i still have my 06 black and i am forever grateful to you and A for helping me pick and choose which bag to go for. <3

        • Karen Blanchard says:

          I still like speedy’s I think I had one for like one month and sold it. I still think they’re great bags and I LOVE the really broken in ones the most. I’d still get one if I saw one for a steal.

          Yea your 06 black city was always amazing. I feel like you just can’t sell a black Balenciaga

  5. Lera says:

    I have nor crossed that ‘barrier’ yet, but was getting close 🙂

  6. Melissa says:

    My first designer bag was a Kate Spade satchel. I still have it, can’t get myself to part with it even though I don’t use it as much.

  7. keepinitretro says:

    My first “big girl” bag was a vintage LV cartouchiere. I had (have) many vintage purses that I started collecting in high school that I found while thrifting that I later found out to be excellent investments but at the time I was just buying them because they looked cool. I still have that first vintage LV along with a couple more. Right now I’m on the hunt for a nice vintage Ferragamo or Celine.

  8. Jennifer N says:

    I couldn’t help but smile while reading this post. All the first time feelings you were experiencing seemed as if you were in my head!
    My first designer bag was the Givenchy Antigona, in patent blue, purchased from the MARSHALLS IN CHEALSEA (I felt wrong buying it, like someone stole it from Barneys and returned it there lol)! It’s still my favorite bag today. It took me a while to finally settle on keeping it (when the return date passed, so it was too late anyway lol), but after that the designer floodgates opened. Now, I’m such a bag snob, it’s not even really about the brand. It’s the feel and the smell of it, the quality. It has to be well made.

    Love this post!

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