Closet 101 Style

Reader Question: On Wallets

Today I’m doing my best to answer a reader question, from the lovely S. I’ve pasted an excerpt from her email, below:

I was wondering if you can do a post on wallets? High-end, mid-range, inexpensive, doesn’t matter! Do you have one wallet you use to death or do you have different wallets for different purposes, ie to go with different bags? Was wondering if you thought wallets were worth the splurge (resale value) or is it a better idea to save towards a bag?

I love wallets, but unlike with other categories of my wardrobe (sadly bags, jewelry and shoes), I generally only buy what I really need and then I’m done. Here are the three wallets that I basically switch between, starting from oldest to newest (with my summary comments in bold).

1. Hermes Bearn.

via Hermes

via Hermes

The Bearn is my favorite wallet that Hermes makes, although to be fair I haven’t done serious wallet shopping there for years (except for some brief glances at the Silk-In models…I’ll be back to take a longer look). My dad bought me the little turquoise Bearn above in 2006/2007, which means it’s almost eight years old! I used it basically 24/7 until maybe three or four years ago, when it needed a trip to the Hermes “spa” and I was presented with a bill for $300. After that I was more careful with it and alternated it with other wallets.

I love my turquoise Bearn because it reminds me of my dad, and it’s a fun bit of color to add to my usually neutral bags. However, I would advise that it is a tad delicate. It will show use over time, especially in lighter colors. I think the Bearn now is around $2,500.

If you love beautiful leather goods, are a fan of Hermes, and are okay with the wear, I’d highly recommend the Bearn. However, if you are looking for that “one” wallet that will last you years, and you aren’t the most careful with your leather items? I would recommend that you look at other options first. 

2.  Louis Vuitton “Brazza”.

 

I bought this wallet in 2009, and loved and extolled it so much that a good friend ended up asking me to pick one up for her her one a week later. The Brazza is actually a men’s wallet, and I really like that there’s no zip or tab to open – just flip it open. I remember buying mine for around $400 but now the prices seem to be around $800 (albeit for the leather Epi version, which is very nice). If I were to recommend a luxury wallet, I would probably go with Louis Vuitton over brands like Chanel/Hermes. My Vuitton wallets have lasted forever, taken a lot of beating, and still look basically new. 

3. Comme des Garcons “French Wallet”.

I wrote about this great little wallet back in February, and have been using it continuously this year. After a few months of very heavy usage and being jostled around in my grocery bag, dropped on the filthy floor of the Paris Metro (and then subjected to my furious sanitizing), and all kinds of miscellaneous abuse , my wallet still looks new. This size is also the one that I’ll use in my smaller bags like the Sac Roulis – just gives a little more room for everything else.

On top of everything, this wallet (and the Comme des Garcons wallet range in general) is very affordable compared to traditional luxury brands. Mine was $215, and there are huge range of colors and styles.

If you are looking for a nice, everyday wallet  that comes in a range of colors and sizes, and don’t need it to be from a “premier” brand name, I would highly recommend Comme des Garcons. 

_____

As to whether I think wallets are generally “worth” the splurge as far as resale values go, I would say no. While items like bags and jewelry can be easily resold depending on condition/brand/model, I find wallets are more like shoes – they show wear and tear quite quickly, and probably lose quite a bit of their “value” out the door. When shopping for a wallet, I believe you should always go with your heart, needs, and budget, and assume you won’t be able to sell it in the future. That way if you are, it’ll simply be a nice surprise. Actually, I believe this is how you should buy all wardrobe items, but that’s a post for another day!

All right, that was my rundown of my own personal wallet stash and buying philosophy. Now I’d love to hear – what’s yours?

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  • Ammu
    May 5, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I gave up spending too much on wallets, given how quickly they wear out (especially the corners). At the moment, I am using a black leather zip wallet from Muji – unlined, rustic yet sophisticated, and good value for money (it was under $100). That said, your Hermes Bearn is stunning!

    • Katherine
      May 5, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Ooh! I remember seeing some great wallets and pouches at Muji. I need to pay closer attention next time!

  • tata
    May 5, 2014 at 10:21 am

    my mom has enforced this weird feng shui belief that yellow wallets attract wealth. Since then, i’ve been on a hunt for a good yellow wallets and it’s really hard to find… especially since yellow is not my favorite collor. But i’ve used balenciaga and prada and lv epi.

    • D
      May 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      I didn’t know about the yellow wallet belief, but you may want to look into Celine’s wallets. I have one that’s black on the outside and yellow on the inside! It’s pretty sturdy so far, I’ve had it for about 2 years.

      • tata
        May 5, 2014 at 3:48 pm

        omgosh, thank you so much for the tip! i’ll definitely check it out!

    • Katherine
      May 5, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      I need to add more yellow! 🙂

  • Eva
    May 5, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I recently purchased this wallet from Clare Vivier — http://www.clarevivier.com/collections/all/products/zip-wallet#Creme-Columbia-Blue-Coral-Interior-Zip-Wallet

    I bought it in orange (not available anymore) with gold monogram!

    It’s made in the US, available in a variety of colors and very reasonable — plus you can monogram if you want! I love it and I think it’s simple and chic but also very high quality leather

    • Katherine
      May 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      That’s lovely and I adore the monogram! Thank you for sharing!

  • Jill
    May 5, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I am a one-wallet (at a time) girl. I keep one for years, and when it’s beyond repair, I start searching for the next one. They’re never very expensive, because I plan to use ’em to death. I am currently using this red one (actually just bought last month) and loving it:

    http://www.siamese-dream.com/peacock-wallets.html

    The reason I keep to just one wallet for all bags (except for clutches, when I just take out ID / CC / cash, is because I like knowing where everything is. And everything has its place in whatever my current wallet is. I don’t stuff it with receipts or change (separate holders for each in my purse) and I’m always able to find a card or DL at a moment’s notice.

    When I was in my twenties, I did have an expensive wallet (Gucci, old-style canvas and leather with the G’s) and used *that* for a long time. Eventually it was beyond repair….after spending so much on it, and thinking about how I realistically use wallets, I decided to go with much less expensive versions. 🙂

  • Tia @ Tina and Tia
    May 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I usually use my Louis Vuitton Insolite wallet, but I just bought a Marc by Marc Jacobs phone wallet to carry around with all of my small crossbody bags/clutches.

  • kp
    May 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    My husband has had the same LV wallet for years (10+ years?) that he wears daily in the back pocket of his jeans. I can’t believe how well it has held up and except for just a little stretching looks almost new. I’m amazed.

    I’ve had the same small Chanel wallet for a long time. It’s a little bigger than a men’s tri-fold with a little snap to keep it closed. One of the card slots (the most used one) recently tore a little along the side 🙁 and I don’t know that it can be fixed. Other than that it looks new. It’s a pretty small wallet, and the only Chanel one I’ve seen like that. I know I’ll go crazy when it’s time to replace it, because it was so hard to find the right one last time.

    I love your beautiful Bearn!

  • Poupak
    May 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Katherine,
    I am using my YSL-wallet (belle de jour black patent) on a daily basis since Feb. 2009 and it still look brand new so I highly recommend it. I also wonder if you have any experience from Goyard bags with regards to quality. Especially the famous st Louise.
    Many thanks!

    • Katherine
      May 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      I love Goyard and don’t have any personal experience. A friend loves them but has remarked about the “tearing” that comes when she puts heavier items in their totes however.

  • diane
    May 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    I carry a wallet until it looks worn. Right now I am using a small Bottega Veneta walled that I bought at least two years ago. I have used it every day since I purchased it and it looks brand new. I chose a bright violet so that it would be easier to spot in my bags. I think it was just under $500. but it has worn like iron and may have more miles left in it than I have in me!

    • Katherine
      May 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      That’s great to hear! Some of my BV items wear super well, some get frayed around the weaving, etc. I love their wallets.

  • Pjlatte
    May 5, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I highly recommend the long silk-in in Epsom. I have it in BE and have been using it daily for over 2 years. The wallet looks practically new and the silk inside holds up amazingly well. I in fact love that the credit cards slide in and out very easily. I love the story about your bearn wallet! Such a great dad you’ve got! 🙂

    • Katherine
      May 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      Hi, thank you for the feedback! My SA said that about the Silk In but I was still suspicious, LOL. Your comments make me feel more confident about them, I’ll take a closer look next time. The price isn’t bad t all either 🙂

  • Anna
    May 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I use the Coach Legacy wallet that my DBF bought me a couple of years ago. So far I can’t complain – the quality is excellent for the price and despite the heavy use I can’t say I see much wear ( although I did manage to stain it a bit on the edge. Poo.)

  • candace | yogabycandace
    May 6, 2014 at 4:30 am

    When we first started dating (almost 8 years ago), my now-husband gave me a LV zippy wallet and it has held up to this day with almost no signs of wear (and I haven’t exactly babied it!). Highly recommended. I also recently got a Proenza Schuler wallet that I absolutely love, but the thing about leather (PS) vs canvas (LV) is that obviously the canvas can withstand running into the store in the rain or being dropped by accident because it just wipes right off. Anyway, my two cents! 🙂

    • Katherine
      May 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks Candace! I love that your husband got you your wallet and that you still use it 8 years later 🙂

  • Holly
    May 6, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I wonder how much the Bearns cost? I love it!

    thehoustongirl.wordpress.com

    • Katherine
      May 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      I believe they are around $2500, maybe a bit more for Chevre. Hope that helps!

  • Lyn
    May 6, 2014 at 10:42 am

    I use an Hermes Epsom Azap wallet in darkish blue that I’ve had for several years now. It has done amazingly well. The zipper even broke and they fixed it for free. I used to have a Prada wallet in the same style but the leather did not so look s good after a year. I was very disappointed given the brand and price point. So then I bought the Hermes and the quality is so much better. I also realized later the Hermes size is much better since its a little bigger and holds more. I may be on the hunt for a purple Bearn since it is a beautiful wallet but no jack so far, so we shall see if it’s meant for me.

    • Katherine
      May 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      I’m glad to hear that they fixed your zipper! I’m sure you’ll find your purple Bearn, did you request it? Anemone is gorgeous.

      • Anonymous
        May 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm

        Yes, I think I did. I have been a long time customer of Hermes but sometimes I still don’t get it and how it works.I see it posted all the time on Canada H.com. If only I lived there! Lol! If I ever get a Bearn I hope I don’t beat it up too fast since I know that flap closure insert can be delicate. Oh well, I can dream.

        • Katherine
          May 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm

          Just don’t impatiently shove the little flap in like I do, and it’ll last a long time. Anemone is dark enough that it won’t show stains as easily too!

          • Lyn
            May 6, 2014 at 5:44 pm

            Thanks for the tip. That’s exactly what I’m afraid I might do. Maybe I should use it only when my kids get older and I don’t have toddlers nudging me for my attention ASAP. Lol! Love anemone! Crossing my fingers. Bought a blue jean dogon as my first wallet. Unfortunately the type of leather and color didn’t fare as well but the Azap in darker blue has been fantastic. Live and learn!

  • Michelle
    May 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Love your post Kat! I am wallet fiend and started with LV monogram back in the days. Definitely very sturdy and can take a to beating. My first H wallet was a turquoise bearn just like yours

    • Katherine
      May 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Ah cool to hear we have the same wallet! I was happy to see they brought back turquoise this year, I saw a Kelly in the color and it looks slightly different than the old turquoise!

  • Heather
    May 6, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog! Your Birkin/Kelly reviews are so helpful. One day an etoupe or gold 30 cm Birkin will be mine 🙂

    The only wallet I use is the LV Zippy Organizer. I LOVE it — I have it in 2 colors. I love wallets that have a checkbook holder. Do you have any suggestions based on this?

    Heather
    http://www.disposableincomegirl.com

    • Katherine
      May 6, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Oh I love the Zippy too. I’ll think about the checkbook holder – the Steeple that Ava just recommended below might be a good option, it is very roomy and chic!

  • Ava Lon
    May 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Dear Katherine,

    Another great post! 🙂 Not only bc it’s all about our favorite House of Pancakes (lol) but bc of the lovely story behind it – your mom must receive the most lovely HOP gifts from your dad.

    Many times (over 10 years) I almost got the Bearn, but I knew I would beat it up just from closing it back up and given the cost per use vs wear-and-tear, I knew it just would not be a good fit for me. Instead, I got the Steeple GM Wallet in orange. Initially I thought it a bit on the large side, but after using it for some time, I’m in love. It’s not instantly recognizable, which I like, (actually no one realizes it’s from H which makes me love it even more). It was also quite the hunt to track it down. I went to my usual H, saw it there and it was the only one, but that was when I thought it was “too big” and “too red-orange” then of course, after I left, I had “non-buyer’s remorse” and called up and of course it was sold. (They also had the canvas/grey version, but I knew that would get dirty fast). Fast forward three months and I went to another H while getting some of my time pieces fixed/cleaned and guess what was in stock? TWO! In the color I wanted, too, orange. Needless to say, I wanted to buy it immediately, but being VERY loyal to my SA, I asked them to hold it for me for 10 minutes while I made a quick phone call. I immediately called my SA to tell her I found the Steeple GM and if she would mind if I purchased them (yes, I am THAT loyal) and after being touched by my thoughtfulness (and also laughing while she told me she has never had a client call to ask permission to shop at another H first) and giving me her blessing I ran back into the store and got both.

    I am still using the first one (as I plan to gift the other to someone who is a horse sign on the Chinese Zodiac and this being the year of the horse ;-)) and I love it. It’s spacious enough to even double as a clutch (casual) as I can fit my phone, a pen, and small notes in there on top of everything else.

    I also have a Chanel wallet my Chanel SA sent me images of when it went on sale. It’s a calfskin, zip wallet with quilted stitching, and while I was hesitant about the calfskin, the price at nearly half off was too good to beat. That said, I love my Steeple that that Chanel wallet has been sitting in it’s beautiful Chanel box, wrapped in tissue still that I might just gift it to a good friend of mine. 😉 Sharing is caring!

    ;-( Sorry, I keep posting these long replies!

    Ava

    • Katherine
      May 6, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      I LOVE the Steeple! I’ve eyed it for a while. Actually I love all the Steeple editions like the GP lined with the pattern, and that bucket bag. Love that you bought two 🙂

  • a
    May 7, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I recommend the Bearn as well. Structured but not bulky, good number of slots, zip, compartments, etc. Many varieties of colors and skins. I’ve had a lizard one since 2007 and it’s held up well.

    I used to have a small Dior bifold in metallic purple bought in 1998, but I lost it in 2001. I loved that wallet. I looked for it again but Dior discontinued it. The size was perfect but had many slots.

    I also recommend the Chanel WOC, which also comes in a variety of colors and skins. I believe Katherine wrote about a black caviar one some time ago. I have one in lizard and gold hardware. I love it. I can’t imagine living without it! There was an alligator one in my local boutique but they were asking 22k plus tax. Even exotic Hermes Kelly Pochettes don’t cost that much.

    • Katherine
      May 8, 2014 at 8:11 am

      Whoa! Lizard sounds amazing!

  • Lucy
    May 8, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I love this post and your dad has great taste!

    I totally agree with LV wallets being long lasting. I have the LV Damier Azur Sarah wallet for about 8 years now as my everyday wallet and it still looks practically new. For a more mid-range wallet, I love the Tory Burch Robinson line. It’s well made and pretty good quality.

  • keodi
    May 16, 2014 at 5:21 am

    I have a compact LV mono zi wallwt I’ve been using over 10 years, it outlasted my chanel wallet which I bought in 2010. This is the reason why I like using LV wallets they’re indistructable

  • Amy
    May 4, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    LV Curieuse wallet in Empreinte leather. Beautiful color selection (thought they do phase out some of the colors over time) and extremely durable. I have two of these babies, and with tax, they come out slightly under 1k (my limit for wallets — bags, not so much, lol!). They both look brand new, despite the fact that one is 2 years old and the other 1 year old. Highly recommend!