Closet 101 Style

Handbag Open House – Volume One

I’ve realized that the vast majority of questions I receive are about handbags – buying advice, questions, and so on. I thought I’d do a little post today answering the most common questions in a more conversational format, and we could make this a fun thing where you could add any additional questions/insights in the comments. If there are enough follow up questions through comments/email, I’ll do additional posts!

I want a Birkin/Kelly/Constance bag! How do I get one?

Head straight to your local Hermes stores and ask for one. The luxury business is struggling, and now is a fabulous time if you’re in the market – supply is high, demand is softer. Don’t be obnoxious, but make your interest clear, and while there, check out some of the other beautiful goodies too. You don’t need to buy anything you don’t want to, and I’d stay away from salespeople who hint that you do, and are too forceful about it. Hopefully you’ll find some other gorgeous Hermes items you want anyway (shouldn’t be hard), and you’ll start a great relationship.

PS: I’ve personally heard of at least one Constance bag being found at a duty free shop lately – so it never checks to ask when flying!

I want a special order bag! How do I do it?

Ask your salesperson, but you should have established some kind of relationship with them. Special orders are like most truly excellent things in life – you have to wait a bit to get one (unless you’re a Russian oil billionaire, then place a few furniture orders, and proceed directly to GO).

Should I go to Paris?

Yes. My goodness, yes. The prices are so good there right now. And it’s Paris. There’s a queue system in place at FSH. If you need more advice, I highly recommend reading this thread, on The Purse Forum.

I want to buy an Evelyne/Roulis/Double Sens (or any bag not a Birkin, Hermes, or Constance) and will be in Paris. Do I need to line up at FSH?

Why not go check out the gorgeous Sevres store, or the shop on George V (though that one in my experience doesn’t have as much inventory, or a cafe). No waiting, and usually stock.

Can I wear my expensive bags, jewelry pieces, in Paris?

I do (for the most part), but your comfort is #1. If you are worried about your designer items and safety in Paris, I wouldn’t bring them, not because the city is unsafe, but because it would cause you stress on your trip. Nobody will judge you differently for not having your most favorite, expensive goodies on hand there (and it won’t hurt you in line at Hermes either, I promise!).

Okay, I’ve done my voodoo magic and have been invited to place a special order. What should I do?

Whatever sings to you in your heart. Don’t do a special order thinking of things like resale value, or what others like. This is a chance to design a bag that is specifically for you. It should make you smile whenever you open it.

Just in my experience:

Togo leather, super hardy, easy to wear, a classic choice. In larger sizes especially, will slouch over time.

Chevre, a very special leather, only available through special order, takes color beautifully. However, less hardy than Togo. Slouches less than Togo.

Swift, takes color beautifully as well, a soft leather with wonderful hand feel. Sags, and since it isn’t pebbled, can scratch more easily (But superficial ones can be buffed with the hand). Underrated leather in my opinion.

What do you think of Chanel bags these days?

I love Chanel bags. The Classic flap and Reissue fill two functional places in a bag wardrobe that nobody does better, in my opinion. I do wish their quality was better at times, I don’t want to have to inspect bags before buying them. I was playing (lightly) with a wallet the other day in the store, and the logo fell off!

For that reason, I always advice to have a great salesperson when you buy Chanel, just in case there’s an issue.

And the ready to wear, oh my. Nothing makes me want to win the lottery more than seeing the prices on the ready to wear.

Speaking of prices, I find that Chanel prices are more equalized around the world than other brands (like Hermes). Still cheaper in Europe, but not by as much.

How do I get rid of some of my bags?

You can check out this post I wrote, a few years ago. Lately, I’ve gotten the best prices via Fashionphile, and send most items there that I don’t end up donating or gifting on.

Favorite designer diaper/mommy bags?

I wrote a post here about them. My favorites are still the Evelyne, Faure le Page, and the Goyard Anjou. I do have the say that the Anjou is something special – everyone comes to compliment me on it, and to pet the leather interior!

I know you rave about the Goyard Anjou, but I’ve heard iffy things about Goyard. Thoughts?

Goyard is like the bad boyfriend you can’t stop yourself from going back to. The service can be lacking, the quality at times uneven, and I still find the fact they charge more for colors versus black outrageous. But I keep going back, they have just so many great products, and the Anjou is a wonderful bag (and solves many of the potential issues of the Saint Louis). Just my take.

Please feel free to email/comment any additional questions or feedback, and I hope this was helpful to some of you!


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  • riquita
    October 31, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Thank you for this post, Katherine! I recently got my first Hermes bag from the Sevres store in Paris. It’s an Evelyne in Etain with copper strap. I waited in a short line, and the SA who helped me was so nice! I love my bag, but I would also like to order a strap in Etain. I asked an SA at my local store, but said that it was not possible. Any recommendations? I really don’t want to get a Fendi strap even though it’s pretty. I’d rather allocate my money to what I really want.

    • Katherine
      November 1, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I would try at an Hermes flagship (SF for example, can make the strap for you on site, depending on the color). Otherwise, I’d try to place it next time you are in Paris..might take long, but worth it!

      • riquita
        November 1, 2016 at 8:51 am

        Thank you Katherine! You are a wealth of information. I have to add that I bought some FLP stuff while I was in Paris. I wouldn’t have known about the brand if it weren’t for your post with the gun pouchette.
        Have a great day!

  • Hu
    October 31, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Thank you, Katherine, for the post. Service experience at Hermed varies a lot from shop to shop. But I have to say that it has improved a lot since some years. About 10 years ago, Hermes decided to take back all the dealership and only have shops which are owned by them. It is certainly a great biz strategy, but I have to say the dealers are the best for customer services. The first ever H product I bought was in the Hermes Shop in Bern, Switzerland. The shop owner was extremely nice. He let me to choose the color and leather of birkin that I wanted and to place an order during his next trip to Paris. Helas I was too poor to buy one.

    • Katherine
      November 1, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Thanks Hu, what a nice experience in Bern!

  • Ariel
    October 31, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Thank you for this post! I have been dreaming of a birkin/kelly for so long and the process at FSH seems daunting to say the least. If you could choose only one, which would it be and why?
    I also agree about what you said about Chanel, not to mention their prices keep going up. What do you think of the Chanel Deauvill Tote bag?

  • Ariel
    October 31, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Thank you for this post! I have been dreaming of a birkin/kelly for so long and the process at FSH seems daunting to say the least. If you could choose only one, which would it be and why?
    I also agree about what you said about Chanel, not to mention their prices keep going up. What do you think of the Chanel Deauville Tote bag?

    • Katherine
      November 1, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Kelly 🙂 I love the Deauville! Something about it is very chic, plus it’s so light, and fits a ton.

      • Anonymous
        November 4, 2016 at 7:07 pm

        would you go for it in leather? the canvas materials seem like dirt magnets!

  • Anonymous
    October 31, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Hello, Katherine!
    Compliments in your wonderful blog! I read it regularly and enjoy it.

    My understanding is that you do not buy Chanel bags any more. May I ask please: have you sold your Chanels? If yes, what do you have left?


    • Katherine
      November 1, 2016 at 8:40 am

      Hi, thank you! I do buy Chanel, but get frustrated as I’m not on top with the latest “releases” and waitlists and often times when I find a bag I like, there aren’t any more available! Or there is, but its been abused. So it’s been difficult, but I’ll always be a Chanel fan!

  • Amy C
    October 31, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Great review, Katherine! I absolutely love Hermes silk and bracelets, but am not a huge fan of their bags (with the exception of the Evelyne and Lindy). I have never seriously considered the Evelyne due to the huge logo on the side. If I can get past that, there may be one in my future. 🙂 As far as Chanel, I had such an amazing pre-loved experience with Fashionphile (on a Reissue 227) that I may go that route in the future for a Classic! Experienced ladies in the PurseForum have all but convinced me that the quality of Chanel bags has decreased, not increased. So bags crafted a few years have a chance of being better quality.

  • Jaime S
    October 31, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Over the past year, I have become a huge Goyard fan. Why? Beautiful bags and under the radar elegance. You certainly don’t see them coming and going and I live in a metropolitan city – Washington, DC. I have the Artois (black), the Jeanne GM (red), and the most recent one, a green Bellechasse (now discontinued). If anyone is interested, my SA is James Rossini at the Goyard boutique at the Neiman Marcus Chicago. He is great!

  • Anonymous
    November 1, 2016 at 9:52 am

    This is such a helpful and interesting post! Can you tell me what your fave leathers for B and K are? What do you think of Epsom? I think I’ve heard that Togo is the most popular, but I’m afraid of slouching! So I was thinking of trying for an Epsom B over a Togo one.

    Thanks so much!

    • Katherine
      November 2, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Chevre, Togo, and Fjord (when available) and of course BOX. I like Epsom, but since the soft feeling of the leather is important to me (except for Box) I tend to not go with Epsom. Don’t be put off by others not liking the leather – it is enormously popular and if you like it, that’s all that matters.

      • Anonymous
        November 3, 2016 at 9:31 am

        OMG thanks so much again for sharing your knowledge! I really, really appreciate it, since I don’t really know where to start/what I would ideally want!

  • Jessica Ng
    November 1, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I just bought my first Lindy while on vacation in Hawaii. I love it so much that I would like to purchase more in the same leather (evercolour) and some of the older colors/hard to get colors like (blue lin and glycine). Do you know if I will still need to establish a good relationship with a SP for a special order for Lindys? Because I do not forsee going back to Hawaii more than once a year 🙁

    • Katherine
      November 2, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      I’m not sure if they are doing special orders for Lindys – they started for Constances but I don’t think Lindy yet (I’ll check on this). You can request the colors with your store, and ask them to hold for you – you never know! And sometimes H does bring back older colors.

      • Jessica Ng
        November 2, 2016 at 10:21 pm

        Oh, I’ve seen some bicolor Lindys and just assumed they were special order. Thank you for checking. I always love reading your posts. So interesting and informative!

        • Katherine
          November 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

          No problem! H has released some bi-color ones (like Indigo and Orange Poppy), tell your SA to keep an eye out for one if you are interested!

  • Anonymous
    November 1, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Do you think it’s “wise” to dress up when you shop at a luxury store like Chanel? I’m not rich and only own few nice pieces here and there, but I hate having to try so hard (and put those items on) to shop there. OTOH, I may get better service/less looked down upon? Thanks!

    • Katherine
      November 2, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Please don’t feel like you will get looked down on for not “trying” as hard! The right salesperson is the one that treats you well no matter how you may be dressed that day. If you feel like the service is poor, walk out! The prices are too high not to be satisfied.

      • Anonymous
        November 3, 2016 at 6:15 am

        Thanks for the kind words and advice, Kat!! I will keep this in mind the next time I want to shop!

  • Anonymous
    November 1, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Do you like the chanel coco handle?

    • Katherine
      November 2, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Yes! I’ve been eyeing the mini!

  • Anonymous
    November 2, 2016 at 7:45 am

    What are the H bags that you like and don’t like?

    • Katherine
      November 2, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      I like almost all Hermes bags…even when there are styles I think I don’t like…later on, I’ll find that I like them!

  • Anonymous
    November 2, 2016 at 10:44 am

    If you had over $10K to spend, would you get a nice purse or a nice piece of jewelry?

  • Erica
    November 2, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Have you considered selling your personal bags on your website instead of sending them to places like Fashionpile? I know you mentioned previously that you do not like selling on EBay. I would love to purchase a used luxury bag however, don’t trust these type of sights. Seems like the counterfeit bags are getting easier to pass off. I recently read some horror stories about some of these sites on the purse forum.

    • Sarah
      November 6, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Yes, I have actually sold a couple of mine, (aa old Chanel and a Hermes Kelly) and it all went rather well. No fees to pay, the buyer got a good deal and we donate a percentage to charity. Win win situation!

  • Rei
    November 9, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Love all of your posts on shopping and handbags Katherine! Sigh..I know that the luxury business is suffering and I recently read that Hermes had a very small profit increase this year. But in Sydney Hermes is still high in demand. Though the waitlist is open, but not for the neutral colours and Birkin 30 🙁

    • Katherine
      November 11, 2016 at 5:44 am

      HI Rei, thank you! I think a trip to Paris is in store for you then 🙂

  • Anonymous
    November 12, 2016 at 3:05 am

    Thank you so much for your insight! Love this article! x CEO