Buying a designer bag is a big decision. In most cases, it comes with a pretty hefty price tag, and so, more than anything, you want to make sure it’s a purchase you don’t regret. That’s why it’s always worth doing as much research as possible beforehand. There are so many styles out there now, and it can be hard, especially with the nature of It bags coming and going, to know which ones are truly worth your money. Well, that’s where I come in. Just think of me as your fairy bag-mother, here to advise you on the most classic, timeless designer bags that will go with everything and continue to elevate all your outfits for years to come.
I’ve been a stylist for almost a decade, so I’ve seen a lot of bags come and go. The 25 styles I’ve listed below, though, have stayed the course, proving their worth many times over. Most of them have reached icon status, instantly recognisable and respected the world over as luxury at its finest. (We’re looking at you, Hermès Kelly and Prada Galleria.) Some are slightly newer to the scene, offering a more understated, “in-the-know” approach to luxury, like The Row’s Everyday Tote or Loewe’s Cushion perhaps.
Depending on what you’re looking for, then, there are a few key tips I would suggest considering on your journey to find The One. First, have a think about what kind of bag you use most. Are you constantly out and about needing a hands-free crossbody you can count on? Or perhaps you want a work-friendly tote that can carry a laptop and double up as a roomy travel companion? This will mean you get the most out of your style and make the cost per wear totally worth it.
It pays to have an eye for detail as well. Most of these premium styles are made with beautiful buttery leathers as standard, but my suggestion would be to look out for designer’s house codes that are still elevating their styles decades later. Think YSL’s historic logo, Bottega’s woven Intrecciato leather technique first used in the ’70s, or Gucci’s horsebit hardware from the ’50s. They’ve already shown how timeless they are, after all.
My most important tip, however, is to not overthink trends, and choose the style your heart beats fastest for. It may sound obvious, but if you’re truly excited about a bag because you love it, not because someone on Instagram does, then you’re guaranteed to get joy from it for many years.
Keep scrolling to find out which styles made it onto my list of the best designer bags you'll never regret—from more contemporary styles under £1000 to classic, lifetime investments.
First released in 2001, Balenciaga's Classic bag lives up to its name. The ubiquitous noughties style was recently modernised for its 20th anniversary, and the Neo version is much more polished and ready to stand the test of time. The Neo also topped Lyst's index of the most wanted products of the last quarter of 2021, so its desirability is unquestionable.
Only released last year, Chloé's Woody Tote, which comes in three different sizes, has quickly become a modern classic. The ideal roomy mum tote, work or beach bag, it gives a lot of bang for your buck.
Jonathan Anderson has more than proved his talent for creating covetable handbags over his years at the helm of Spanish label Loewe. The Puzzle—which can be worn as a top-handle or crossbody—was his first (and possibly still his best) bag design for the label, which has gone past It bag and into the realm of icons.
Ask any fashion person for a list of the most iconic designer bags, and Saint Laurent's Loulou will likely be on there. There are a few different colour and fabric variations, but in my opinion, it doesn't get more classic than this smooth black leather and gold hardware combination.
This is one of Loewe's newer and lesser-known designs but no less beautiful. If you're looking for an understated, practical bag that comes in under £1K and isn't seemingly owned by everyone on Instagram, this is your one.
While the classic Loewe basket bag became an instant hit and spawned a huge trend (and a thousand lookalikes), this alternative shell version has flown under the radar, meaning you get all the chicness but with a unique spin. I personally have this style and wear it even in the city and in the winter because the tough raffia keeps it feeling polished.
Saint Laurent's new Le 5 à 7 is the perfect shoulder bag I've seen to date. It nods to the trend but remains grown-up and classic. Although not wildly practical space-wise, if you're looking to invest in a small day bag you can carry into the evening, you won't find better than this. A good tip: I find croc-print leather ages really well compared to smooth, as you see fewer scratches.
A.P.C. is a brand we Who What Wear editors all turn to for accessories. Its bags represent the epitome of stylish French minimalism, especially the new Grace satchel. If you're after an entry-level designer bag that still feels completely luxurious, don't overlook this one, which comes in lots of different classic shades.
I've had this bag in my collection for a good few years now, and it's still the style I turn to most often. It's roomy, sturdy and comfortable to carry, which makes it the perfect companion for travelling in between working from home and the office. It's so pared-back and elegant I don't think it will ever go out of style.
Anything with Gucci's emblematic horsebit hardware falls under the timeless category, in my opinion. I do also love this bag in the GG supreme canvas, which reflects the brand's trademark eclecticism slightly more, but if you want a truly classic piece, you can't beat black or tan leather. You'll love this forever.
The first version of this hobo-style shoulder bag was launched in the '50s and was a favourite of Jackie Kennedy. Hence it went on to be renamed after her. Alessandro Michele reinvented the style in 2020, and it remains as covetable as ever.
The It bag of a generation, Mulberry's Alexa has become a bona fide classic—especially since the brand relaunched it in 2020 with a more refined feel. It now comes in so many colours and sizes, so you can find the version that works perfectly for you.
Sometimes going classic means turning to an icon, and sometimes it means picking a lesser-known style you fall in love with and wearing it forever. This anagram logo print version of Loewe's Cubi is just that. Chic and timeless but not overexposed, so it's less likely to date.
Jil Sander has long been the brand to turn to for elevated minimalism, and this spacious canvas shoulder bag is no exception to that rule. It's the kind of accessory that will make people think you've got your life together.
If you're looking for a versatile day-to-night bag, Loewe's Flamenco could be the one. It can be a crossbody by day and clutch by night. I personally love the expensive feel of the knot details and how the folds accentuate the buttery-soft leather.
Most Saint Laurent bags have the YSL logo pride of place. If you love the brand but want something a little more understated, the Manhattan is the answer to your prayers. It's the ultimate grown-up bag. Just look at it—heavenly.
Valentino's Rockstud trademark is another example of a fashion obsession that has transcended trend status and become enduring. This handy wear-everywhere tote offers a nod to it without being in your face.
One of Bottega Veneta's most historic house codes is its woven Intrecciato leather. The Casette showcases a modern, oversized interpretation, which anchors it to the designer's timeless reputation. You may have seen the padded version of this bag everywhere in the last few years, but in my opinion, the classic has a lot more staying power.
I have a mini version of Wandler's Hortensia myself, and I always get so many compliments on it. This medium iteration is slightly more practical for day-to-day while still being an easy-to-carry crossbody. The brand is well-respected in fashion circles, and the quality is top-notch, but because it's still relatively young, the price tags are a little more reasonable, and the designs won't date like some of the bigger It bags do.
Some bags have a moment in the spotlight only to fade into the background swiftly after. Bottega's Jodie isn't one of them. This celebrity favourite isn't showing any signs of its popularity waning and has absolutely become a modern classic. If you're a bold-colour lover, this is one style that looks just as good in zesty green or rich turquoise blue, but personally, I don't think you can beat this caramel.
Fendi's Baguette is the ultimate good-time bag, and in a dream world, every wardrobe would have one. A pre-owned vintage version is just as exciting as a new one, so be sure to keep an eye on Vestiaire and Farfetch for one-of-a-kind options.
Yes, you read that price tag correctly. But I couldn't do a list of the designer handbags worth buying without including a classic Hermès. This is more than a timeless bag; it's a lifetime investment that should grow in value over the years and then be passed down like the heirloom that it is.