An ABC guide to the classic designer bags

When it comes to the best designer handbags, there are many lists out there. Ones showcasing the most popular, the best investments, the classic bags. But when you’ve decided that you want to treat yourself to a designer bag that will stand the test of time, where do you start? Try this list if you don’t want to sell your car to own a Hèrmes or are too full of anxiety about fakes when buying second hand.

This list is no ordinary collection of designer bags. What you have here is a list of 10 well known designers, whose bag styles have and will stand the test of time. It’s been curated to ensure a great cost per wear. These iconic bags will delight future outfits and yes, you’ll take them out of the dust bag more than once a year!

In alphabetical order…


The City bag is just one of those bag,s that whatever the trend, will always be seen. Carried as a handbag or shoulder bag because of its excellent proportions. Corporate day or weekend away, it just works. The City has been around for a while now and we hope it never disappears. Seen here in this season’s croc effect or colour (denim blue). Comes in different sizes. Expect to pay around £1300+.


A brand that doesn’t need any introduction. But which bag to choose from the collection? The 2.55 bag is the ultimate in shoulder bags; it’s been around since the 1950s. Whilst quilting is even bigger this season, it’s never out of fashion at Chanel. And, it would be shameless not to offer a tweed option. Expect to invest a minimum of £4000+.

Christian Dior

You just can’t keep a good thing down and thankfully a year ago Dior brought back its Saddle bag. There isn’t another bag that fits under your arm that stands out so much at the same time. And whilst we’ve all got a crossbody bag, the shoulder bag on a short strap just screams confidence. Prices are around £2500+.

And for 2020, The House of Dior has taken one of its iconic bags thanks to the arm of Princess Diana, the Lady Dior bag and updated it with a matte leather, Like a Chanel, this quilted bag needs little introduction and has the price tag to match.


Proof that revivals are well worth it, Fendi has brought back its baguette shoulder bag from its launch in the 1990s and we’ve welcomed it back with open hearts. And if you’re lucky enough to own one from 30 years ago, you won’t need to separate with £2500+ today. If you want a fresh twist on the original, on the right is the Roma Amor version.


Top handle handbags are back and we’ve enjoyed them for two seasons now. But seasonal changes haven’t stopped the popularity of two of Givenchy’s handbags. On the left, Antigona bag with its angular shape, is ideal for those who have a lot to carry. On the right, the Eden bag, here in croc effect and showing you don’t need to be in black to be classic. Expect prices to start from £1000+.


There is only one brand that owns green and red stripes and that’s Gucci. And proving you don’t need a classic shape to have a iconic handbag, say hello to Ophidia, in a neutral tone with the monogram design or in a mix of suede and patent leather in black. Circular bags with this iconic branding will always stand out. Prices are around £1100.

Louis Vuitton

When it comes to travelling and carrying one’s stuff, there’s one designer name and their print who comes to mind – Louis Vuitton and its classic monogram style. But the handbags aren’t to be ignored. The Speedy 35 bag is a great weekend bag and to compliment it, the Tambourin shoulder bag. Prices for the Speedy start at £800 and Tambourin £1200.


If you’re a fan of understatement, head straight to Prada. The Galleria bag will last a life time. Classic top handles for carrying by hand or with a shoulder strap. Buy in a colour avoid black – keep it neutral in tan or more interesting for the weekend, a classic blue. On the left is the mini with prices starting from £1500.

Saint Laurent

The tote bag has never gone out of fashion since its launch. And Saint Laurent’s Sac de jour bag has never lost its iconic status in the fashion house’s collections. Here’s the small and the croc effect with the signature padlock charm. Prices are around £2000, depending on size.


There are plenty of imitators, but when it comes to embellishment, it’s difficult to resist the studs from Valentino. Featured here is the Rockstud bag in smooth or grain calfskin leather. There are many styles from Valentino with the rockstud signature finish, but thinking future wears, I opted for the bag that works as a top handle and with a shoulder strap. Prices range from £1300 to £1900.

From Balenciaga to Valentino with iconic designers such as Fendi and Gucci in between. This top 10 list of iconic handbag designers shows that you don’t have to remortgage the house to invest in a designer handbag!  However, if you do have lots of cash to splash, the number one designer bag brand to invest in is the Hermès and the bags to hold their value are the Birkin or Kelly, both named after their famous clients.  This brand only produces a limited number each year to help keep demand outstripping supply.  To avoid the waiting list you might want to head to an auction or a reseller’s website.

Whether you’re buying new or preloved, once a designer brand creates a design and it gains in popularity, they bring it back and continue to reinvent it. To get the most out of your classic bag, you’ll no doubt want to wear it as much as possible so a bit of TLC will be required (stuffing and dust bags for the down days).  If I was you, if you haven’t already started dropping hints for Christmas, start now!

Here’s to timeless design.

Photo credit: Thanks to Godisable Jacob from Pexels for header image of the Gucci Dionysus handbag.

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