Style

The Hermes Kelly Bag – Sizes and General Tips

I receive a lot of questions about the Kelly bag and Hermes bags in general, so today I’m making my best efforts to address a few of the most frequently asked in this post! I’d like to caveat that I am definitely not an expert. I only have a few items and have been buying Hermes on and off for about a decade or so. I have tried my best to share my perspectives here, derived from my own experiences. I hope this is useful for some of you!

Sizes side by side

28cm (left) and 32cm (right)

What size do you recommend? 

Hermes makes quite a few different sizes of Kelly bags – 15cm, 20cm, 25cm, 28cm, 32cm, 35cm, 40cm being the most commonly referenced. The sizes I’ve bolded are probably the most popular, for the reason that they fit a reasonable amount without feeling “big”. I have the 28cm (in black) and the 32cm (in green/gray) and you can see how they compare in sizes above – they are quite close and fit a fairly similar amount.

I’m very happy to have both the 28cm and 32cm size and they both fit into my life. If I were just to choose one size though, it would be the 28cm. It is light and easy to carry, fits a decent amount but still is a small enough size to transition easily to evening.

Size comparison

Retourne Kelly bags

Sellier or retourne?

For a quick and dirty explanation, sellier refers to the Kelly bags you see with very sharp edges/corners, while retourne refers to those bags with “softer” corners. All Birkins you see are retourne for example – there is no sellier option there, which there is for Kelly bags. Both my Kellys are retourne, which I personally prefer as I have a more casual lifestyle and retourne tends to fit more than sellier style Kellys. That being said, to me a sellier Kelly is the classic Kelly and can look very architectural and chic. They also tend to hold their shape better – Kelly bags in a size 35 or even 32 that are retourne and made in a softer leather can “slouch” after some time.

What leather?

My favorite leathers for a Kelly would be togo/clemence, chevre, and box. My gray Kelly is made in togo leather and it’s a lovely, hardy and soft leather that feels like a leather pillow! It also does great in the rain and is very hardy (unlike more delicate leathers, like box). My recommendation for box is strictly theoretical and in my head since I don’t have a bag in the leather. I have however, fondled many a box Kelly and it is in my mind the quintessential  combination. I’d love to have a bag in box one day.

My favorite leather however like many others is chevre – it’s water resistant, light as a feather, has a beautiful texture and takes color beautifully. I’d love to have more bags in chevre!

Sizing what fits

What fits in each?

Above is a photo of what I usually carry in each bag – the 32cm size on the right fits everything in front of the 28cm on the left, plus those items in front of the 32cm. The 28cm naturally, fits all the items in front of it.

In the 28, I usually have my sunglasses, wallet, notebook, phone, makeup bag, and keys (not pictured). In the 32, I can comfortable add my favorite treasured Kindle, some mints, and a snack bar (always a good idea, otherwise I end up ordering a breakfast burrito in the morning). I will add that I don’t like to overstuff my bags – I can never find anything when that occurs and I end up spilling everything out trying to answer my cell phone. You could probably fit more in each bag if you wanted but I would suggest not weighing them down too much!

Is the Kelly “easy” to carry?

Shopping, errands, day to day: I do bring a Kelly along with me on errands and it’s an easy bag for the purpose – there’s a shoulder strap, ample room, and a secure top so things don’t fall over in the car. However, I do have to say that if I’m carrying lots of items and taking things in and out frequently, I find a tote easier to wear – you don’t have to “unclasp” anything to get items out and there’s lots of room. On those days, I usually carry a Garden Party.

Travel: On most of my holidays, I like to walk around a lot but also worry about belongings being secure. I personally wouldn’t take my 32 Kelly on a city vacation – it can feel heavy after quite a few hours and the size is probably a “wee” bit too large for my preference, though I have a friend who used her 35 all throughout travels in Beijing/Hong Kong. The 28 size for me is perfect for city exploration.

Work: I carry my Kelly frequently to work! The design is still quite discreet and not so recognized as the Birkin. It carries everything I need on most days. On the days that I carry documents, I bring an open top tote instead.

Wearing a 28, "all buttoned up" with clasps and turnlock affixed

Wearing a 28, “all buttoned up” with clasps and turnlock affixed

Wearing a 32 how I normally do - clasp fixed, straps hanging

Wearing a 32 how I normally do – clasp fixed, straps hanging

 How difficult is it to keep “unclasping and reclasping” it all the time? 

On the topic of the clasp – I rarely carry my Kelly “all buttoned up” but instead usually leave the straps hanging and simply the turnlock clasped. Closed in this fashion, it’s basically one step to open the Kelly – just turn the lock and flip open the top! To close, do the reverse.

I can open and close the 28cm size with one hand while the bag is hanging from my shoulder. However, for the 32, it’s more difficult as the bag is a bit larger and more difficult to close with one hand for me – sometimes I have to use my other hand and swing the bag up so I can close it. Of course, this can get cumbersome! Perhaps it’s because I am short and have T-Rex arms – would love to hear if other ladies have this problem!

Any other tips?

My advice when buying anything but especially something like a handbag that you’ll use all the time is: do your research. Take time and figure out what you like! If you can, visit a local store and try out different sizes, see the leather and color samples, and see if other bag styles might work better for you. Hermes bags are for me at least, luxuries that I don’t buy every day- works of craftsmanship that should be appreciated, and you have to make sure that you personally love the style, color, size, those details.

These are expensive items, that are made to be used and enjoyed. Don’t get pressured or feel you have to buy a particular bag, just because it is popular, everywhere right now, or being offered to you. The right one will come along!

Not every bag is for everybody! There are many styles out there that I appreciate on others, but just simply don’t work for me. So again, take time, explore, and I am sure you will find the perfect one for you.

_____

I hope this can help some of you, and if you have more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments (I receive a lot of questions by email and it’s difficult for me to get to them all individually).

 

PS: Here are some of my favorite bags with shapes and utility very similar to the Kelly –

From Fendi (under $2500), Ferragamo (classic and under $1500) and Michael Kors (under $400!)

I also have to point out this fabulous Nancy Gonzalez crocodile red satchel, for under $4000 (that’s half of a calf leather Kelly!)

 

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  • Adele
    August 5, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Thanks for the detailed explanation, I adore the green-grey colour of your 32cm. I think with any bag it’s the same…the bigger the bag, the more you put in it!
    Would love you to check out my latest post 🙂
    Have a fab week Hun xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  • Tabitha
    August 5, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Great post, I too have T Rex arms, I always needs to have jackets and coats shortened.
    Oh you … No need for an umbrella? So envious.

    • Katherine
      August 5, 2013 at 9:53 am

      It rains here but probably not like it does for you Tabitha – I’m also one of those lazy Americans that’s usually in their car driving versus walking in nature sadly! I hope you get your Kelly soon!

    • Marlene @ chocolatecookiesandcandies
      August 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

      I asked an artisan last year which leather she thought was the most durable. She said togo. I couldn’t agree more because I’ve had mine in rain, snow etc and it’s still fine.

      • Katherine
        August 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm

        Good to hear that! I love Togo!

  • Elaine
    August 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

    This is extremely helpful 🙂 I’m sending your article to my mom and all my friends who’re interested in Kelly. Kelly is on my #1 dream bag list. Definitely going for 28″ if I have a choice 🙂 Thanks!

    http://www.thefamilyoflove.com

  • foodfashionandflow
    August 5, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Great tips! This has always been one of my dream bags

    http://foodfashionandflow.blogspot.com

  • rahma
    August 6, 2013 at 6:21 am

    thank you so much for this post!i always wondering bout kelly.i never consider one before coz i always wanted to get a birkin.maybe if im fortunate enough,i’ll get the kelly after that.lol.can you post one bout birkin too dear.pls put down the link if i missed it…and tq so much katherine for still writing for us.half of my fav bloggers/writers have ignored their page since instagram.lol.

  • phiphi @phiphi's blog
    August 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    thank you for this thorough this review – i love the 32 and even the 35 but you’ve definitely made a compelling case for the 28!

    • Katherine
      August 7, 2013 at 9:29 am

      I think you’d love the size! Great for petite gals 🙂

  • Laura - what about her
    August 7, 2013 at 3:32 am

    What a lovely and detailed blog. I really like your blog and am following you from now on!

  • Audrinajulia
    August 12, 2013 at 6:05 am

    I love how i learn so many things coming from your post Katherine. Though there are times a bit intimidating on my part to comment and just read yourost without commenting. But i really love the concept of your blog from the very start. Keep it up. 🙂

    <3,
    Angie
    Audrinajulia.blogspot.com

    • Katherine
      August 12, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Audrina thank you for all of your thoughtful comments over the years and please don’t ever feel intimidated to comment, I love to read all of yours!

  • Sarah
    August 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Thank you for this post. I’m glad your image popped out in Google Images while I was searching :).

  • Lina
    September 8, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Can you pls tell the price for the Kelly 32. I am thinking to purchase one on ebay, not sure if I’m paying too much. Thx

    • Katherine
      September 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      Hi there…I’m not too sure, it should be around 8-9K I believe? Good luck!

  • Joyyy
    September 19, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Beauties!! I love both! It is so difficult to get brand new ones (limited choice of colours and sizes too). In my country (Singapore), they are selling S$13,000 – S$18,000 for a pre-owned Kelly, the mark up’s quite alot. I might just succumb to the temptation. Help!!!! 🙂

  • Yue
    September 21, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Hi,
    I love your blog. Can you tell me what is the color name of your grey bag? I love the color. Thanks a lot.

    • Katherine
      September 21, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Thanks Yue! It’s Vert de Gris, a greenish gray 🙂

  • sasha
    October 4, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Hi dear the kelly 28 is so pretty! May i know whats the leather combi? I spied the hss ;DD

    • Katherine
      October 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Hi sasha, which bag are you referring to?

      • sasha
        October 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

        The k28 hss. The noir one . What color combi and leather is that? So lovely :))

        • Katherine
          October 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm

          Hi sasha, it’s black and rouge casaque, chevre. Hope that helps!

          • jing
            August 16, 2014 at 11:51 pm

            hi! i was thinking what to get between kelly 32 potiron clemency stamp i palladium hardware or dark green (almost black) stamp d togo gold hardware. maybe u can help me which one to choose. many thanks!

  • Sandy
    October 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Katherine…. How would you compare the Kelly to the Birkin in terms of practicality for daily use? I have two Kelly 32 and think the retourne is particularly easy to use. I’m now toying between another Kelly 32 vs. a birkin 30. Any thoughts on this since you have both bags? Would love to hear you share your views. I’m from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    • Katherine
      October 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      I would get a Birkin 30 for variety since you already have 2 Kelly’s! The Birkin 30 is quite easy to use as it’s an open tote, for daily use both the 30 and the Kelly are good – the Kelly is easier to use as a shoulder bag but the Birkin 30 has its items more accessible.

      • connie
        March 18, 2016 at 8:48 pm

        Hi katherine, very much appreciated your blog and i got very detailed info i need. Justvwant to ask, Can kelly be worn cross body? I found cross body bags so sessential as i travel. Thx a lot.

        • Katherine
          March 20, 2016 at 10:29 am

          Its hard to wear the Kelly crossbody with the leather strap it comes with – it’ll come too high. You need to get a canvas strap or another longer strap to wear it crossbody comfortably.

  • Sasha
    October 23, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Hi.. Can u tell me around how much the price for kelly 28 and 32… Thank u very much.. Ur blog is really good.. Thabks again for sharing with us.. 🙂

    • Katherine
      October 23, 2013 at 8:04 am

      Oh dear I’m not too sure … somewhere around $8000 – $10000 depending on where you are purchasing I believe? I would check The Purse Forum for more information.

  • Yee Lin
    December 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Is the Kelly bag in Togo leather heavy? Thanks!!

  • Moura
    December 23, 2013 at 4:09 am

    Thanks for your sharing, the kelly sellier is better for me!

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  • Anonymous
    June 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    quys is those mini bags or big bags because im searching for the mini and which size can i find the mini in?? thanks

  • dyha
    June 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    guys is those big or mini kelly bags? because im seraching for mini kelly bags and which size is the mini bags in thankss??

  • dyha
    June 12, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    guys is those big or mini kelly bags? because im searching for the mini and which size is the mini kelly bags thankss

  • jing
    August 16, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Hi! i was thinking what to get between kelly 32 potiron clemency stamp i palladium hardware or dark green (almost black) stamp d togo gold hardware. maybe u can help me which one to choose. many thanks!

    • Katherine
      August 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Ooh! I love dark green but potiron is also a classic. I’d pick green but you can’t go wrong with either one!

  • aja
    August 19, 2014 at 9:40 am

    i was wondering if you will get or have had the hermes mini kelly 15cm.
    and i can never find the price for the mini kelly! if you can could you e-mail or comment back to me?;p thanks!

  • joey
    November 1, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Hi! Thanks for this post!:)I have a kelly 35cm and now thinking of getting another bag, im deciding if i should go for a lindy , a birkin or another kelly in a smaller size 🙂 what do u think ?

    • Katherine
      November 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Ooh. If it were me I’d get a mini Kelly, but it is really such an individual choice…

  • Yee Lin
    November 25, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Thanks very much for the info. I live in Seoul, Korea. It’s impossible to get a Kelly here. I called the store & was told that even the waiting list has been closed!

    Where can I get a brand new Kelly sellier?

    Thanks

  • Style Scrapblog
    January 19, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Thank you for the detailed review! By far the best I’ve seen, and both sizes look stunning on you. I have been told that the Kelly can be cumbersome to use, but it seems that when bought in a smaller size the bag becomes slightly more practical.

  • Suphanna
    February 19, 2015 at 6:51 am

    This helps me a lot! But could you help suggest if I can just go the shop in San Francisco for Kelly or I can buy online somewhere reliable or I have to wait. I just moved to USA not too long but bow would like to buy one! Thanks!

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  • Young
    October 16, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I just bought Kelly capucine 35cm From Hermes shop, but it is actually 34cm when I measured, is it right?
    I have Birkin 35cm, it is 35cm when I measure.
    I don’t know why only 34cm for jelly.

  • Alisa
    October 2, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Just discovered your blog as I was looking for info on this exact topic. Great advice!

    http://www.olderfatterhappier.com