11 Timeless Designer Handbags Every Woman Should Own

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Criminally Chic
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Criminally Chic

Every stylish woman should invest in two things – well-made shoes and timeless designer handbags

While high street accessories are a great way to emulate catwalk looks at a snip, if you shop smart and spend a little bit more on a classic designer bag, it will never go out of fashion. 

Plus, you could make your money back (and turn a little profit too) because classic bags can increase in value by up to 8% year on year. Just be sure to look after it – that means cleaning regularly and storing in a protective dust bag

Ready to shop? These are the 11 designer handbags every woman should own… 

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1. Chanel 2.55

The most iconic of them all! 

Chanel’s signature 2.55 leather double flap bag was designed by Coco in the ‘20s as a chic alternative to a purse. 

Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld added the CC clasp in 1983 and since then every style maven worth her Charlotte Olympia flats has dreamed of owning one.

Black or navy styles in mint condition often sell for much more than their original price tag, but the real money is in limited edition designs. Special fabrics or finishing touches can add serious value.
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2. Mulberry Bayswater

An understated tote bag that still turns heads – fourteen years on from launch, the Mulberry Bayswater remains the British brand’s most coveted accessory. 

Crafted from thirty-nine pieces of the softest leather and featuring the signature postman’s lock, it’s easy to see why this bag has iconic status.

As Mulberry’s Creative Director Emma Hill says: “I have a Bayswater. My son’s grandmother has a Bayswater. Kate Moss has a Bayswater.”  Enough said.
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3. Balenciaga City Bag

Speaking of Miss Moss, this is one of the many bags that she made famous.

The brand's former Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquiére created the Balenciaga City Bag - an unstructured, slouchy tote with a rock & roll vibe in the ‘90s for Kate and her fellow supers to carry down the catwalk.

 She instantly fell in love with it, and the rest is fashion history.
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4. Hermes Birkin Or Kelly

Hermes’ most covetable bags were created in honour of the ultimate style icons – and any arm candy that’s good enough for Jane Birkin and Grace Kelly is a hit with us!

They may have swerved the six-year waiting list, but for the rest of us the craftsmanship is well worth the wait. Each one takes up to twenty-four hours to make by hand.

If you’re looking for a return on a designer bag, you can’t go wrong with Hermes. The market for a Hermes Birkin or Hermes Kelly has gone up 500% in the last 35 years. Might be something to do with that waiting list!
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5. Louis Vuitton Speedy

This is the bag that made Louis Vuitton a household name – and that monogramed logo as instantly recognisable as Gucci's signature double-G.

Designed as a small carry-on for short trips, the Louis Vuitton Speedy is the ideal size and shape for day to day.

Buy one and you’ll be in good company. Audrey Hepburn couldn’t put hers down.
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6. Celine Phantom Luggage Tote

If you’re looking for a bag that will turn heads every time, the Celine Phantom Tote is it.

Parisian label Celine is known for its clean, minimalist design. And the sleek yet understated Phantom typifies this, which is why it's an A-list favourite.

With a price tag of £1,500+, it really is the tote that fashion dreams are made of!
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7. Michael Kors Jet Set Tote

Don't overlook more affordable labels like American favourite Michael Kors, or the instantly recognisible Radley – especially if you're looking for a work bag.

This roomy Michael Kors' Jet Set tote has become synonymous with luxe on a budget thanks to its boxy aesthetic and gold hardware.  It looks far more expensive than the £200 price tag.
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8. Fendi Baguette

Sex and The City's Carrie Bradshaw is responsible for our love affair with the Fendi Baguette.

She carried the clutch under the arm like a French loaf (hence the name 'Baguette') and suddenly we all wanted one.

Twenty years on – and 1,000 different designs later – and its popularity hasn't waned.
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9. Longchamp Nylon Le Pilage

Simple and functional, Longchamp's Le Pilage has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

Designed using the fundamentals of origami, the beauty of this bag is that it can be folded up and tucked away at the back of the wardrobe without ruining the shape or fabric.

Oh, and coming in at under £70, it's purse-friendly too!
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10. Prada Saffiano Lux Tote

The Prada Saffiano Lux is at the top of most women's wishlists – and for good reason.

When you combine refined design with the softest Saffiano leather, you get arguably the most lustworthy handbag on this list.
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11. Alexander McQueen Skull Clutch

There are designer handbags and then there's  Alexander McQueen Skull Clutch.

The late, great designer was renowned for bringing attitude, drama and head-turning detail to the runway. And this beauty has it all. 
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Need More Handbag Buying Inspiration?

Shop the eight handbags every woman should own, then keep yours looking shiny and new with our handbag cleaning hacks.
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