The next two events that we’re going to describe might have happened to you at separate points in your life or if you’re unfortunate, simultaneously: 1) You spot the season’s designer bag in a store window and feel the itch before you realise that you are a responsible adult with bills to pay, or 2) The trusty free canvas tote you’ve been toting since your first day at work is falling apart and it’s time you get serious. But if you’re not willing to drop what might seem like a two-to-three months paycheck on a designer bag, pat yourself on the back for being prudent and then click on for 10 bags that look like they’re worth four-digits but will probably set you back in the low-threes.
1. Plastic top handle clutch bag, $89.90, Topshop
With its tortoiseshell acrylic body, ‘50s clasp opening and metal handle, we won’t blame anybody who might think that you’ve unearthed this gem from a vintage store in Europe. It’s vintage-without-having-vintage-impracticality, thanks to its longer body which thankfully, fits most of what we carry out today.
2. Leather bucket bag, $139, Zara
The easiest way to fake a “designer look” is to simply make sure the bags you buy are free of logos but instead, have “designer looking” design elements to them like this one: A mix of suede and leather, knotted handles and a slouchy bucket shape. Fold it in half and carry it like a clutch for an even higher end look.
3. Straw bag, $74.95, H&M
We don’t know who first discovered the iconic circular or box wicker bags from Bali and unleashed them onto the world but if you have developed a fatigue for them, consider this one that looks like you’ve picked it up from an artisanal store in Paris instead. It’s the classic french market basket shape that has supple leather handles — giving it a designer touch.
4. Net crossbody bag, $89.90, Mango
It’s ridiculously cute (which is to say it’s tiny and…probably only fits a lipstick and card case), it looks like it was hand weaved by a bunch of Italian folks, and you can wear it as a bum bag or cross bodied: this little bag is definitely bang for your buck. PS: The interior pouch can also be removed.
5. Faux fur shopping bag, $99.90, Dorothy Perkins
There are different nicknames you can give to the furry bag: the Sesame Street bag, the furries, or the makeshift-pillow just to name a few. Beyond that, if you look beyond its utilitarian purpose (no one’s going to diss how useful a tote is) and look instead at how designers styled it, you’re going to want it fold it in half and carry it like a clutch instead to instantly make it look more expensive.
6. Buckle top handle bag, $69.90, Charles & Keith
When everybody at a fancy dinner or gala is carrying a minaudiere that’s blinged out and incapable of carrying what you truly need to last the night (makeup! cards! mints!), be that chick instead who’s one part practical (go ahead and throw a deodorant inside this bag) and one part I-don’t-really-care-but-I-still-look-good (the front buckle + chain handle elevates its look).
7. Mock croc crossbody bag, $45.90, Pull & Bear
There’s a reason why anything that’s mock croc instantly looks more expensive: It’s basically because high end designers use mock croc too. But the two rules of thumb to follow when buying anything of that material are: 1) The simpler the silhouette, the better and 2) Too much gold or silver accents and it’ll instantly look cheap. This bag hits all the right notes.
8. Leather fringed tote, $279, Zara
Nobody really needs another leather tote but when it comes with fringe details (think about all the potential boomerangs), a braided shoulder strap (very bohemian!) and a slouchy leather body that says hey-I’m-fun-loving-and-I-don’t-care, this one is a winner.
9. Faux leather hobo bag, $76.90, Topshop
If you associate the hobo bag (its slouchy, sometimes crescent shape that is expandable to put anything and everything inside) with the Olsens and Sienna Miller circa early noughties, yeah well, that’s not a bad thing because the bag silhouette is slowly creeping back. Our favourite of the week comes in a textured faux snake skin with modern metallic hardware.
10. Chain strap shoulder bag, $89.90, Charles & Keith
The angular lines, the stiffness, the metallic gold hardware and the chain strap: We could be describing any expensive designer bag (if you know, you know) but surprise, it’s this one instead that’s priced at what you’d spend on a fun night out (and you are going to want to bring this one out on aforementioned fun nights).