‘I like those Balenciagas, the ones that look like socks’. So do I cardi B, so do I. But hun, there’s another couple of B words that hang like dirty grey clouds above my life; bills and budgets. I was the girl that saved up my school lunch money every week so I could buy Vogue, Company and Cosmopolitan magazine, salivate over the £5,000 Chanel jacket I could comfortably afford (in my wildest dreams, obvs) and convert that image in my head to the last chance rail in the back of my local Topshop. Things are (slightly) different these days and I no longer rely on a £20 note from my parents to go into town with my friends- oh and I’m no longer a fourteen-year-old. Shopping ‘Designer’ is slightly more attainable these days, however, as a recent student who still works part-time most of my money goes on rent and the odd Tesco’s shop. To keep within the realms of comfortable spending and not maxing out a couple of month’s wages and/ or credit cards, I have compiled a list of hacks I use in order to own some of the most coveted and personally, drooled over accessories for everyone’s own luxe wardrobe.
Yes, they really do exist! From Gucci to Saint Laurent you can buy without the full price tag. This leads down two separate paths, with the first being discount villages such as Bicester, that harbours over 160 different outlets of brand new items (some current, some made for the outlet and some seasonal or end-of-line stock) at up to 60% off. These places are great for a day out as they encompass restaurants and other things to do and are jam-packed with anything and everything.
Additionally, if like me you are more after particular items you can also shop pre-loved. Since I was 16 I have shopped on pretty much every pre-loved site you can think of and none of them compares to Designer Exchange. They not only carry over 30 different brands but everything is in great condition and posted next day delivery. They have five stores to visit if you prefer to inspect items and are currently expanding, and really do have prices for ALL BUDGETS! Although they only stock accessories for the moment (Bags, Sunnies, Belts etc) they are expanding into clothing and footwear in a cool shop on the Kings Road in Chelsea and I really believe it’ll be great, focusing on contemporary and fashion houses alike- imagine a Vestiare Collective you could walk into!
For me, I feel a Designer bag should be classic in order to gain the most use out of it. By all means, buy what you love and want to covet, however, if you want an everyday piece of luxe then something classic will always outweigh the ‘of the moment’ catwalk couture pieces. I am a self-admitted addict of rocking head-to-toe black outfits and the odd neutral so I decided to get my ‘everyday’ bags in classic complimentary neutrals so I’m never caught short with miss-matches. Currently, I own Black, Browns, Grey’s and a Navy and it works to a T. Likewise, investing in a classic style will not only mean easier access to finding an item, (many people covet and want classics and they are frequently found for sale for those reasons) but also will help with the longevity of having a ‘trendy’ item (or one that even resists or transcends trends themselves). Currently, I own a Givenchy Antigona- a classic since 2011, An ashamedly well used Celine Mini Luggage Tote that debuted in 2010, and a recently purchased LV Toilette 26 that was first popularised as a clutch by the icon that is Lady Diana in the mid-90s.
Another nod to owning classic styles is that someone will always want one. I regularly switch out bags that I no longer love as much or as a way to get the funds for my next leather-lust-have. As aforementioned, Designer Exchange also buy designer handbags from their customers, and I love selling to them as its completely fuss-free and you get instant cash for your items, or for slightly more you can get a voucher for their brand which is what I usually do as I know the item I want will come into stock there sooner or later (and they have wishlists to notify you).
There is no particular point of having a luxe bag, (if you don’t want one) and it will always be an item born out of sheer desire for me, but I have managed to gear my love and obsession in a way that is more affordable, with an extended lifecycle and I recycle them at the end. So if you are anything like me, I hope this gave you a little insight into the surprising (relative) affordability of your shopping habit and a way to make money back from your original spend.