The Perfect Accessory To Upgrade If You Want Your Wardrobe To Look More Expensive

Crafting an expensive-looking wardrobe is no easy task, nor is it a cheap one. While surely we would all love to shop exclusively on designer racks, it isn't always in the budget. Luckily, there are ways to elevate your style to reflect your expensive taste without breaking the bank. It can be as simple as throwing a bag over your shoulder. In a conversation with Byrdie, wardrobe stylist Noah Diaz shared that when you're looking to upgrade your look, "You can't go wrong with a good purse." 

Purses have evolved throughout history, beginning merely as a drawstring bag attached at the waist worn by both men and women. As fashion standards evolved, so did purses — According to LoveYourLeather, the recognizable designer handbag we know today was first thought up by Samuel Parkinson in 1841, who was looking for a durable bag that would hold all of his wife's things while traveling. Nearly 100 years later, big brands like Chanel started mass producing the designer bags we see fashionistas carry down the street.

Purses have become a stylish way to keep our essentials close and secure while we are on the go. These days, purses are just as much for fashion as they are for function — in the case of some bag trends, they might be simply for fashion purposes (we're looking right at you, impossibly tiny handbag). When you're looking to upgrade your handbag collection to reflect your expensive taste, take note of these tips and tricks before your next shopping spree.

Switching out your canvas tote for a Birkin bag? Make sure you do your research first

Shopping for a designer bag can come with some sticker shock: most of the recognizable, high-end purses such as Chanel, Hermes, and Saint Laurent retail for a few thousand dollars at a minimum. Even slightly more attainable brands such as Coach, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors will set you back hundreds. But according to shopping experts, there are a few bags that really are worth their hefty price tag.

"Value retention" is a metric used to identify which products are seen as valuable after purchasing. Per CNBC, "Telfar bags have an average value retention of 195%," making them a great investment — and as a bonus, they are super cute and can hold practically anything! Hermes (103%), Louis Vuitton (92%) and Chanel (87%) all make great purses that justify their cost with name recognition, timeless style, and high resale value.

It's important to keep your own personal style in mind when you're looking to invest in a designer handbag: try not to choose a bag just because you think it will impress your Instagram followers or the girls at your office. If buying a designer bag is a big splurge for you, consider a bag with a versatile style and neutral color such as a black suede Gucci bag or a brown leather Loewe purse. They may not be as flashy, but they will elevate practically everything in your wardrobe.

How to score a designer bag for a fraction of the price

When you're looking to save money on a legitimate designer bag, buying secondhand is a great option. If you love a good hunt for your accessories, thrift stores usually offer a great selection of bags. If you're lucky (and check often) you may stumble across what looks to be an expensive material or even a designer label.

If you aren't up for the many hours of sifting through other people's stuff with only the possibility of finding a bag that catches your eye, many people have gravitated towards buying and selling designer handbags online. Sellers from all over the world can hop onto eBay or Etsy to sell their once-used bags. But beware of scammers: Designer bag experts recommend doing thorough research before making any online second-hand purchase. Make sure the seller provides you with plenty of photos of their merchandise, with multiple different angles and close-ups of the detailing. You don't want to invest in what you think is a slightly worn Prada bag, only to find out that there are more than a few imperfections. If a seller seems less than legit, it's probably because they are hiding something about the legitimacy of their "designer" bag.

Online stores like The RealReal and Rebag are popular designer resellers that provide ample information about their secondhand purse selection, although you're more likely to spend slightly more there than if you went searching at your local Goodwill.

Dupe culture is seriously saving our wallets

If you want your wardrobe to look more expensive, but you just can't justify dropping a few thousand dollars on even a second-hand handbag, there are plenty of ways to elevate your purse game on a budget. For those who don't care if the label is real as long as it looks cute, off-brand bags are a great way to build your purse collection. Thanks to influencers and fashion experts across the internet, "dupe culture" is on the rise — if a product receives the title of a "dupe," it's usually a more affordable option to a high-end, luxury good, while looking the same, feeling the same, and seemingly providing the same experience as it's expensive counterpart. From the viral Lululemon belt bag dupe at Target that cost a fraction of the price, to just about any Amazon crossbody bag, these slightly-off-brand purses are making it easy for the common consumer to look high-end without having to drop a downpayment on a handbag.

When you're looking for a designer handbag dupe, let fashion TikTok guide your way. Creators take to the social media site to share their favorite designer finds and look-alike bags for a fraction of the price. TikToker @taymaccc_ shared the Louis Vuitton purse dupe that she scored off of a lesser-known website called Babalabag. Although it isn't a legit designer bag made by Louis Vuitton themselves, the average person couldn't tell the difference because of how high quality it looks.