So you’ve saved up and are ready to take the plunge and invest in your first
designer fashion purchase—that’s no small feat! Understandably, you probably want to choose something that you’ll use for years to come, is versatile, retains its value, and just feels special. After all, you’ll remember your first designer purchase forever. But as you likely already know, there are a lot of options out there that meet these criteria. That’s what I’m here for.
As a longtime Who What Wear editor (who writes our annual
Luxury Report), I’ve learned a thing or two over the years about smart designer shopping. I’m also well aware of how important that first big purchase can be, and I’ve come armed with recommendations. In my personal opinion, the best first designer purchases are handbags and shoes. You’re likely to wear them more often than you would an article of clothing, and they’re great investments. Below, shop my top 13 picks for each category, all of which are smart buys whether you already own designer items or not.
Earlier this year, the Prada Cleo bag went viral. Many months later, it’s retained its popularity, likely because it’s a great everyday bag and prominently features that iconic Prada logo.
If you want a great designer logo bag that isn’t as wildly expensive as some, my suggestion is Loewe’s Cubi bag. Loewe bags tend to remain popular long after release, and the shape and colors of this one are timeless.
You can’t go wrong with the elegant Lady Dior bag. Given that it was a favorite of Princess Diana’s in the ’90s, all signs point to it not going anywhere.
One of Saint Laurent’s newer It bags, the Le 5 à 7 is destined to be a classic. You’ll wear it everywhere, day and night.
You’re probably used to seeing the Jodie bag all over your Instagram feed, and with good reason. It’s classic Bottega but seems fresh no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
Fendi’s Croissant bag made a comeback this year, and it’s even better than the original. It’s simple yet special.
You had to have known you’d see this logo. If you want your first designer purchase to be a Gucci bag, I recommend the Horsebit 1955. Classic Gucci.
A Chanel bag is really going to set you back, but you’ll have it for life.
Paco Rabanne’s chain-mail bags are a vibe, but they’re a vibe that never gets old. I have a gold one, but I’m partial to the classic silver iteration.
Loewe’s new take on its iconic Puzzle bag is designer-bag perfection, especially if you’re looking for a non-boring black bag.
Burberry’s quilted shoulder bag is great for dressing up or down thanks to the chunky-chain strap.
Celine’s Ava bag is destined to be a classic, and it’s signature logo is so good (without being too in-your-face).
Wandler’s Penelope bag is so chic and polished, and it’s a little easier on the wallet than some of the other options.
One of my first designer shoe purchases was Gucci’s Jordaan loafers, and I still wear them years later.
If you can find these Manolo Blahnik mules in your size, grab them. They’re one of the best pairs of designer heels you can buy—you’ll wear them again and again.
Amina Muaddi heels are constantly selling out. I’m partial to these simple yet distinctive pumps.
Flats are always a good idea because you’ll get tons of wear out of them. I’m a fan of these subtle logo loafers, which are wildly comfortable.
All I can say is that Carrie Bradshaw knew a good thing when she saw it.
These Bottega Veneta mules make your feet and every outfit they’re worn with look amazing.
You really can’t go wrong with The Row boots. Even if they’re trendy like these, they stay trendy for a very long time.
If you just want a pair of gorgeous, simple pumps, I highly recommend Gianvito Rossi. Longtime fan Meghan Markle agrees.
This is one of Saint Laurent’s staple styles. They never look dated, but they never look too trendy either, no matter the year.
If you don’t like compliments, don’t buy these loafers. Everyone is instantly drawn to them and they make every outfit look cooler.
If you want a pair of trendy designer sneakers that have a cult following, your search ends at Golden Goose. The faux-worn quality only makes them more special.
If you want your first designer purchase to be as French as possible, Dior’s logo ballet flats should be a strong contender. They’re lovely and Parisian in every way.
Isabel Marant’s gorgeous Western knee boots set the bar high for what Western boots should look like—they’re perfect.
Next up, The Famous Hermès Bag Every Influencer Is Wearing