Save Your Pretty Pennies

The ways of smart shopping and cutting where you can start with well being smart. The liberating truth is, you don’t have to drop your whole paycheck to look expensive. The trick to looking stylish and sophisticated is mixing in unexpected, affordable pieces to complement your luxury goods. And the easiest starting point is handbags.

The surplus of leather goods and their designers: manufacturers: craftsmen is what makes this so easy and fun. With a few simple tricks of mine, I’m sharing with you how I can make even a $19.99 bag-ette, the norm for you. My commandments of what to look for and signs of when to pass will lead you to some really great finds. You can take that to the bank and your savings account.

Opt For Solids

The way to slip under the radar in enigmatic fashion is sporting around solid separates. Why? Your side dish and/or frosting should act as a topping to your outfit. It should marry together the elements and components of your top, bottom, and jacket: blazer: vest. Solids don’t demand the center of attention but if you find one in traditional prints, i.e. leopard, polka dots, houndstooth—who am I to protest? Simple additions such as these will help to marry your outfit.

Structured Shapes Hold Their Shape Best

After a good hour and a half browsing the T.J. Maxx Back To School Event, trying on clothes I didn’t need, scouring the shelves for Repetto Paris shoes, I finally circled back to the handbag department. To my elated surprise, I came across the animalistic handbag display showcasing bags in all different shapes, sizes and applied designs. Not every one of these bags looked expensive and some appeared cheap but out of the bunch I fell in love with one leopard purse. In a classic structured retro shape, you could guess that I maybe bought it at a boutique, sample sale, or perhaps a luxury consignor. At first look, how much would you think this cost me actually?

Further into the shape, I can make an educated guess that it will last me more wears than I actually spent on it. Covered in Saffiano, it’s the strongest optic I know and look for (real or faux). Patented and originated by Mario Prada, its cross-hatch pattern is widely used in luxury and affordable leather goods.

Micro Instead Of Macro

Big bags are a headache in itself. Though they resurface every now and then in trending fashion media, they don’t stick around for long. Know why? It’s never fun or comfortable deep-diving for your belongings, especially in front of an audience. And sometimes the bigger the hobo, the cheaper it appears. Guilty of having a bootleg LV Speedy that fell off the truck in high school, it’s very obvious to a trained eye when a cheap-looking bag comes into vision. Instead of an oversized style in vegan or pleather fabrication, keep your eyes pealed for a lady-like mini dual handle satchel or crossbody with interchangeable straps.

Stop For Names You Don’t Recognize

Vintage or not, it’s impossible to know every brand, manufacturer, brand that specializes in affordable accessories. A new name is born everyday. And a no-name accessory can read as a rarity, bespoke, one-of-a-kind find that you perhaps found traveling or thrifting. If you like the design and it looks expensive timeless to you, why not add it to your cart? If it’s an impulse buy, know that you can always resell or return to to a better home.

Hard Pass On Visible Glue, Wonky Locks, And Signs Of Wear

What’s visible to your eye will also be to everyone else. Or as I think it does, since my eyes never lie. Sometimes there are obvious signs of a cheaply made bag that you don’t initially see at first look: grab: cart add. Blinded by the cute design or discounted designer price, it may not be as perfect as you think. Take a moment to have a second-take and trust what your eye finds. It could be something so simple as a generous application of glue, puckering at the corners, slight signs of defect… details of imperfection that are noticeable and deal breakers.

Whistle To Your Own Tune

Are bells and whistles your bag? You love a trendy thing with all the embellishments and sequins galore? That’s totally fine. But what makes all the difference is the ratio and combination of these extra elements. A statement clutch or fun bag should have one special characteristic and one only. It can read as gaudy if it’s an evening bag decked in glitter with let’s say a large graphic, a shiny lock and Swarovski chain strap. If you’re looking to make a statement, might I suggest this stunner from ZARA.


Browse These Retailers That Never Let Me Down

ASOS, Mango, Zara, T.J. Maxx, Urban Outfitters, Nastygal, Charles and Keith—and if all else fails, The RealReal or Etsy.

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