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.
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?