Hello! It’s great to see you today. I want to share with you a special experience I had in Paris. If you’ve read my posts on Style at a Certain Age over the past several months you might come away with the idea that I am a bit pragmatic when it comes to accessories. And you’d be 100% correct. I love good design and while that most definitely includes luxury items, what usually wins the day for me is a reasonably priced, well made item that isn’t so precious I will be afraid to use it. (Hello, Madewell Bags)
It has always been a dream of mine to someday invest in a luxury designer handbag. My criteria was simple: a bag with classic style that fits my personal aesthetic, nothing trendy; a well-known, classic brand; a bag that is known to retain its value; and importantly, a practical bag that I would use.
Today, Kelly is sharing why she bought a luxury bag
In addition to sharing her bag, Kelly has rounded up affordable dupes
At the end of the post, Kelly has put together some useful tips when shopping for a handbag
I zeroed in on Saint Laurent Paris (YSL). I love this brand for its classic style and longevity in the fashion world. A trip to Paris was the perfect time to see what I could find. I made a promise to myself that I would only buy something I absolutely loved. No impulse buying or settling for something just because I was in Paris. No hard feelings if I came home with nothing.
On the afternoon of my birthday, Beth and I made our way to Saint Laurent on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, a short walk from our apartment. Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by a young man who spoke English very well. This was particularly helpful since I only know a few restaurant-related phrases in French.
Before the shopping began, the young man offered us beverages. Without being pushy, he encouraged me to choose the bags I was interested in, hand them to him and he took them, one by one, to a seating area where I could take a closer look at each bag. Our Champagne was waiting for us in the seating area after my initial selections were made.
Beth and I sipped our Champagne and discussed the merits of each bag. Quickly and easily, certain choices were eliminated. One for not having interior pockets; one for having a too-tight, inaccessible interior flat pocket; one for not having an easy-to-open top closure clasp; and one for not having a top closure. The practicality and user-experience (UX) design of something as fundamental as a handbag is important to me. This is not a frivolous purchase!
I narrowed my choice down to the small Loulou Bag; a gorgeous bag in supple black leather, quilted in a Y pattern (for Yves, of course), a chain strap that could extend to be crossbody, or double to be a shoulder bag; with two compartments separated in the center with a zipper pocket; not too big, not too small; this bag really had it all – versatility and usability.
There was only one minor issue. The hardware was gold-colored. This is not a total deal breaker for me, but ultimately, I am not a flashy person. I don’t even wear jewelry. While I might wear a bright color or bold pattern from time to time, my overall personal aesthetic is understated. (Some would correctly say “boyish.”)
Upon hearing me hem and haw to Beth about the gold hardware, our salesman said, “Wait! I have just the thing, it comes in black hardware!” He went to fetch the sample and when he returned with it, I knew this was the one for me. Love at first sight.
That’s the story of my first luxury designer bag purchase. In Paris! Which, by the way, was doubly good because by showing my passport and filling out a short form, I was able to buy the bag tax free.
Now, I know the high price tag of a luxury designer handbag is not for everyone. So the other thing I want to share with you today are some other options that have a similar look and feel to the classic YSL Loulou Bag.
In addition to the tips outlined below, I will say: be sure to inspect the bag you will be bringing home for any blemishes. This inspection should be encouraged by your salesperson at the store. If not, insist on it because you should be getting a brand-new-never-out-of-the-box bag. Another thing, don’t let anyone rush you into making a decision. xo Kelly
Yesterday, Jennifer shared 6 steps to improve your skincare routine. Click the title or image below to read the article.
is our 40s+ fashion & food contributor. She posts a Daily Look on Tuesdays, writes about Fashion on Thursdays, joins Beth for Fridays with Oscar and shares a new recipe Sunday evenings.
She’s 46, 5’0, and a petite 0/XS.
Kelly also has a food blog called Djalali Cooks, which you can find by clicking the world icon below.
WOWZA! great choice. So good that your hemming and hawing over the gold clasp and chain led the salesman to offer you your ultimate choice.
Hi Peggy, our sales associate was super friendly, attentive without being pushy or overbearing; he offered great suggestions, tips and the design inspirations/backgrounds of the bags. A really great experience! Thanks for stopping by! xo Kelly
Outstanding! Happy that you found your perfect bag! And so grateful for your less expensive choices. Gave me some great options since like you, I am very particular about exactly what I need and want in a handbag. That may sound trivial, but it is very important to not only look fashionable but be comfortable with what you are wearing and accessorizing.
Hi Rhoda, It’s not trivial at all to put comfort and practicality at the top of your list. I have definitely learned lessons from spending money on things that I ultimately never used because they either weren’t totally comfortable, or they weren’t functional. Thanks for stopping by! xo Kelly
Thank you for this great post! I’ve wondered how luxury brand stores treat customers they don’t know (especially Americans) and assumed they might be more unwilling to offer assistance. Did they know you were bloggers? Your posts are so honest and approachable, and helpful with how you chose the bag you purchased. This might make me take the plunge and spend on a high-end handbag.
Hello Laura, Well I certainly can’t speak for other brands or stores, but we led with “bonjour” and went from there! They did not know about the blog or Style at a Certain Age. I will go one further actually, and mention that in both of my high-end shopping experiences (YSL and Ralph Lauren), our sales associate was warm and friendly, not pushy, treated us like we were the only people in the room, and initiated conversation in English that was friendly and sincere. Both were the best shopping experiences I have ever had, even in the States.
I hope sharing my experience does take some of the guesswork and trepidation out of making the investment in a luxury designer bag, it really is a great investment. (especially, if like me, you don’t wear or collect jewelry). Thanks so much! xo Kelly
Great post on the purchase of your YSL handbag. And for finding some wonderful dupes. Glad you got just what you wanted and deserve! Can’t wait to see you style/model it for us. Sounds like a lovely experience.
It was a lot of fun, Deanna! Thanks so much for stopping by, xo Kelly
I am so thrilled that you had this experience. Those YSL handbags are beautiful. You deserve it! Now.. why didn’t Beth purchase one?Although, I see her with a Birkin bag.
Looking forward to see how you style the handbag.
WOW, over $3,000 for a handbag. I have no words. While it is lovely, that is a whole lot of money. Most can’t afford this. Appreciate the less costly subs.
Don’t you just love a Real vs. Steal post?! Yes, luxury handbags are an investment but did you know they retain their value? And can be handed down to the next generation and the next. That’s how well-made they are. My dad was an investment banker and taught me as a teen to pro-rate items. Luxury handbags stand up to the test.
The two comments that I’ve made so far are both in response to your Paris trip. I’m so enjoying both your preparation and your follow-up posts. I’m especially happy to tell you why this post is so exciting. For my 70th birthday I wanted to buy myself a luxury bag–finally! But nothing has really excited me enough to spend what is a significant amount for me. The Loulou with the black hardware is it! I love everything about it, especially the black hardware, which tones it down. I just ordered one for myself and can’t wait for my long-awaited birthday present to me. Thanks Kelly for sharing the details of your wonderful trip and your beautiful purchase!
Hello Vanessa, Congratulations on your purchase and what a wonderful way to treat yourself! Just like you, if the right bag didn’t come along I was content not to have one. I am happy that, through sharing my experience, you discovered your love-at-first-sight handbag! Enjoy the Loulou and do write back to let me know how you like you it! xo Kelly
Great choice and what a wonderful experience that you’ll remember about your Paris trip.
Thanks so much, Mary! And you’re right, in addition to investing in a great handbag, it has sentimental value too. xo Kelly
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