Here at Who What Wear UK, we're all about delivering the latest and greatest shopping edits, as approved by our team. That's why we've created a new shopping column, The Joy of Shopping, which will see me, Joy Montgomery, heading to all your favourite stores to test out new-in pieces IRL. From summer dresses to the brands you might've forgotten about, prepare for changing-room selfies aplenty. Is there something you'd like me to cover? Make sure to tweet or Instagram me your requests!
While trends, by nature, come and go, designer handbags have long been a coveted investment for those in the know. Certain decades in particular have worshipped at the feet of the It bag—just think of the conveyor belt of Paddingtons, saddlebags and logo baguettes that ruled the noughties—yet it has a rich and illustrious history that dates back to the early 20th century with the likes of Hermès and Louis Vuitton.
The last few years might've been marred by a slight indifference to the power of the purse, but the tides are a-changing, and the last 12 months have seen a major It bag revival, with an array of designer bags earning the elusive It status. Just look to Jacquemus's Le Chiquito mini bag which, according to Lyst, generated over 12,500 monthly searches during the last quarter. And who can forget Bottega's fashion week monopoly with the brand's oversize leather pouch adorning the arms of the industry's biggest power players?
Me? I bought my first designer bag last year (a Wandler Hortensia if you're wondering), and it was a big deal. After all, most of us won't buy many of these in our lifetime. That's why I wanted to create an edit of designer bags that you'll actually want to invest your hard-earned cash in. Of course, there really is no ceiling when it comes to the designer bag price tags, but everyone will have their own budget and specifications. I've tried to be as informative as possible, reporting on both practicality and aesthetic while including a range of price points.
So whether you're looking to treat someone for a big birthday or celebrate a promotion, scroll down to get inspired by the ultimate buy-now-wear-forever bags from the likes of Celine, Gucci and Mulberry.
Scroll down to shop my designer bag edit.
Bragging rights: Originally designed by Spanish artist Vicente Vela in 1970, then updated to mark Jonathan Anderson’s arrival in 2013, the Loewe Hammock bag has become a signature in the brand's bag oeuvre.
Style notes: The style comes in multiple colourways, but the tan iteration is ideal for both work and weekend wear. It looks fab with my simple jean-and-jacket pairing IMO. PS: My jacket is from H&M, jeans from M&S, and boots are from Essen.
Practicality points: Featuring two top handles, an adjustable shoulder strap and slouched zipped sides, this is a seriously versatile piece. Its interior is also easily accessible for those key-rummaging moments.
Bragging rights: If you're looking for something with a little more cult-Insta appeal, you can't go wrong with Wandler. Its pieces might be on the lower end of the price spectrum, but they certainly don't lack premium appeal.
Style notes: The brand's Georgia shoulder bag is a very cool spin on the trending baguette bag with its mock-croc finish. It will look best when paired with a nice top–and-jeans getup for Friday night cocktails.
Practicality points: The dimensions, while compact, are still ideal for the essentials. Think phone, purse, keys and lip balm. It also features a shoulder strap for when you're on the go, which is always a plus in my book.
Bragging rights: Chloé's C bag is one of the latest additions to the brand's famed lineup, and it's safe to say it's won the hearts of the fashion crowd with its statement C embellishment.
Style notes: Classic, elegant yet subtle, this is a chic option for those wanting something more polished for work. You can wear the shoulder strap on the Tube, and then just go with the top handle for evening events.
Practicality points: Many have fallen for the Mini C iterations, but I like the practical proportions of the shoulder bag. The top handle and longer strap are satisfyingly thick and sturdy, and the interior is generous.
Bragging rights: Fun fact: The 16 was designed by Hedi Slimane on the first day of his arrival at Celine, and it features references to the brand's '60s designs, such as the cropped flap and top handle. A classic in the making.
Style notes: While I'm wearing it as a crossbody in the photo, I think this bag was born to be held by its top handle and worn with polished separates. It's one of those pieces that will be loved by 30-somethings just as much as it will by 70-somethings.
Practicality points: The interior features two internal compartments and a middle zip pouch, which is ideal for those who find cavernous single-compartment bags a little unwieldy.
Bragging rights: A new addition to the Mulberry bag family, the Leighton balances the brand's heritage trademarks with contemporary details, such as the slouchy silhouette and chain strap.
Style notes: The brand describes the Leighton as a "day to evening bag," and I think this is pretty on the money. It might not be something you grab on a Saturday night, but if you're heading out straight from work, it'll be a dream.
Practicality points: The small size comes in four colourways, so you can decide how neutral or statement you want to go. I love the richness of the oxblood hue, which will go with so many outfits. It comes with a top handle, two removable shoulder straps and a soft, roomy interior.
Bragging rights: The double-F logo that Karl Lagerfeld created in 1981 is littered throughout Fendi's latest collection, including on the Kan shoulder bag. An ode to the king of contemporary fashion.
Style Notes: This is just what I want to grab on my way out to a smart dinner or a party. Wear it with the shortened strap with a slip dress and heels, or opt for a more low-key look with the crossbody option.
Practicality points: With its soft leather body, this is actually less rigid than it looks. You obviously can't overfill it (thanks to the clasp), but it'll happily fit everything you need for a night out.
Bragging rights: Under the creative eye of Alessandro Michele, Gucci has become one of the hottest brands in the business, with his quirky eclecticism and penchant for retro finishes. Michele's accessory designs have marked a new era for the brand and proved to be a hit among fashion editors and the public alike.
Style notes: With its '70s-inspired colourways and design, this crossbody is right up my street. I would bring out its retro undertones with flare jeans, a roll-neck and a teddy coat on the weekend.
Practicality points: While it's slightly more constricted than some of the other styles in this roundup, this crossbody packs plenty of throw-on-and-go points. It also comes with two internal compartments and one zip-fastening section.
Bragging rights: This bag is hot off the press and expected to be a big seller for Mulberry this season. Featuring the Bayswater Postman's Lock, this is a modern reimagining of the brand's iconic bag.
Style notes: It's currently only available in red and amber online, but I instantly fell for the versatile black iteration. I prefer using the bag as a clutch, so I'll be adding it to a party suit ensemble this festive season.
Practicality points: This little bag might look unassuming, but it's actually pretty clever. You can wear it as a crossbody by day, then at night remove the strap and fit your hand under the front strap to create a clutch. Genius.
Bragging rights: Celine has returned to its roots with this shopper, made from a classic Triomphe canvas from the archive. Sure to become a Hedi Slimane staple.
Style notes: While I refer to it as a shopper, I would certainly not use it for the weekly Sainsbury's trip. It would look so chic with neutral knitted separates on long-haul flights. It'll fit everything from your paperback to your beauty kit.
Practicality points: One of the bigger styles on the list, this is pretty much as practical as you can get in the designer bag stakes thanks to its oversize proportions. I also like that the strap is long enough to be worn on the shoulder.
Bragging rights: Another day, another Wandler. The Corsa has a seriously distinctive silhouette that will stand out from the crowd, especially when rendered in woven raffia and leather. A fashion-insider fave.
Style notes: One of my colleagues has this bag in pale blue and uses it for both work and play. I think it looks best sans shoulder strap to show off the bag's unusual silhouette and worn with smart-casual pairings, such as a midi skirt and roll-neck.
Practicality points: One thing to note is that this bag doesn't come with a zip-up fastening, which might put some people off. However, it does have a magnetic clasp that's more secure than you'd think.
Bragging rights: Named after the famed London-based outdoor swimming pond, it certainly stands out from the many rectangular-shaped offerings. It's fair to say I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the Hampstead on Instagram.
Style notes: This is just what you need when you want to add personality to an everyday outfit. Case in point: My fave jeans-and–cream jacket pairing is instantly elevated when you add the Hampstead in pale blue.
Practicality points: As is often the case, this style does slightly sacrifice practicality with its unusual shape. However, I can fit in the essentials (i.e., phone, purse and keys) since the drawstring fastener allows for expansion.
Bragging rights: Bottega's recent rise to fame is nothing short of miraculous, and the brand's accessories were on practically every arm at fashion week. It's near impossible to nab one of the brand's sought-after accessories, but this minimalist number is still available—for now.
Style notes: As with all of the brand's accessories, this linen tote comes in a minimalist design that is sure to complement an array of different outfits. While it would definitely complement a neutral suit, I think it would look most at home with a white linen dress in a hot climate.
Practicality points: At 36.8 centimeters, this is much longer than most of the designs in this edit. However, it is quite narrow inside and therefore won't be so good for bulkier items.
Bragging rights: The Puzzle is the first completely new bag Jonathan Anderson has designed for the house and has become a much-coveted accessory. This iteration is a colourful alternative to the Puzzle's original neutral offerings.
Style notes: Described by the brand as having a "contemporary silhouette with extreme tactility and maximum utility," the Puzzle has everything you could want from a designer investment piece. It would be fab for travelling with the zip opening and back pocket, but I also love the idea of carrying it as an oversize clutch.
Practicality points: This style comes up with top marks in the practical camp due to its thick shoulder strap, generous interior and additional slip pockets. It also looks great with the shoulder strap.
Bragging rights: This is one of my favourite pieces from Mulberry's latest collection, with its punk-inspired tartan fabric and chain detailing. I expect this to be on the arms of many an It girl this season.
Style notes: Despite its anarchic aesthetic, the bag packs all the features you'd expect from the classic Keeley bag. Maximalists will love clashing this with other prints, while minimalists can use it to add a pop of colour to a white shirt and straight-leg jeans.
Practicality points: Unlike many of the other crossbodies, this transitions from short to long strap seamlessly. It also comes with two roomy internal compartments.
Bragging rights: The Ophidia bag is made from Gucci’s signature monogram-print canvas, a coated material heralded for its low environmental impact.
Style notes: The preppy monogrammed look is definitely making a comeback this season and will lend a heritage twist to any outfit. I can't get enough of the chain strap, which feels suitably retro when paired with the classic print.
Practicality points: This style is finished with a secure magnetic fastener and has two compartments inside. The structured leather construction means it won't expand so well but will work perfectly well as an evening or day-out-in-London bag.
Bragging rights: The Triomphe is a new bag bearing the original Céline logo created by founder Céline Vipiana in 1971 and is a style that has been spotted on countless celebs, including Angelina Jolie and Lucy Boynton.
Style notes: This little bag is a classic in the making and has already shot to the top of the brand's best-seller list. It comes in a rainbow of colourways, but this vivid green number stood out to me thanks to its throwback vibes. A dream for a cocktail-attire dress code.
Practicality points: Size-wise, it's pretty much as you'd expect from a traditional rectangular crossbody. Measuring 18.5 by 14 by 6 centimeter, it's relatively rigid but will fit in more than your average box clutch.
Bragging rights: Reflecting the designer's commitment to sustainability and animal welfare, this Stella McCartney logo tote is crafted from the brand's signature faux leather and lined with yellow faux suede.
Style notes: This is the sort of bag I want to take everywhere with me, from work and weekend to holiday and shopping. It would also be useful for a flight as it easily fits those additional travel essentials, such as a book or water bottle.
Practicality points: Able to be worn over the shoulder or across the body and coming with an attached internal wallet, this bag has everything you need. It's sure to be a real workhorse in your wardrobe.
Bragging rights: Inspired by artist William de Morgan (a British ceramicist renowned for his tile designs), Loewe's latest collection has been an instant hit. Featuring intricate embroidery and whimsical animal and nature motifs, every item from the line is sure to become a collector's piece.
Style notes: I usually opt for more stripped-back styles when it comes to accessories, but this distinctive Puzzle bag is the exception to the rule. It's an unusual marriage of a modern silhouette and heritage embroidery, but it totally works.
Practicality points: Like the above larger Puzzle bag, this iteration offers all the same practical appeal but on a smaller scale, perhaps making it less ideal for travel but better for a shopping trip or general everyday use.
Bragging rights: Riccardo Tisci has been a much-talked-about name over the last year with his reinvigoration of the iconic British brand. While he has certainly shaken things up with more youthful motifs, he has also offered up plenty of odes to Burberry's classic designs, as seen in this Cube tote.
Style notes: This little bag might come in classic black, but it packs a punch with its stout proportions and unadorned finish. Ideal for all seasons, it's sure to look just as good in five years' time as it does right now.
Practicality points: The zip opening is a tad stiff, but once you're in, you'll fit so much in it because of the cube design. This is another fashion chameleon, as it'll adapt to various contexts, whether it's with a smart shirtdress and boots or a weekend jeans-and-jumper pairing.