The 11 Best Designer Handbags That Will Last a Lifetime

You'll carry them forever.

Bottega Veneta designer handbag.
(Image credit: Future)

There’s something oh-so-sweet about indulging in the best designer handbags. Their sumptuous textures, pristine stitching, and breathtaking shapes are often difficult to resist.

That said, there’s an art to choosing the right designer handbag for you. Select your tote bag, shoulder bag, or saddle bag with care and intention, and it will be the best choice you ever make for your wardrobe. 

These aren't just accessories that coordinate with an outfit or carry your day-to-day essentials. “With any great designer bag, you’re buying a piece of brand history,” Rickie De Sole, women’s fashion director at Nordstrom, tells Marie Claire. Some of the most renowned bags are closely linked to cultural moments of the past: Jackie Kennedy Onassis popularized the Gucci Constance bag in the ‘60s, while Jane Birkin influenced the creation of the Hermès Birkin bag in the ‘80s. “Some of the best bags tapped into the zeitgeist," De Sole adds—like the Fendi Baguette Sarah Jessica Parker's Sex and the City character carried in the early 2000s (and on the recent revival series).

Read on for the top ten best designer handbags made with legacy in mind, from brands like Gucci, Fendi, and more. Spoil yourself now, and carry them forever.

Which Brands Make the Best Designer Handbags?

With a near-endless range of designers making luxury handbags, the title of "best" is somewhat subjective. Usually, heritage brands tend to take the cake. While historical value is a key component of many prestigious handbags, it’s not a prerequisite. In fact, relatively new labels can be contenders in the best designer handbags game—you’ll see an example from The Row in our roundup below. 

Whichever handbag you choose, consider a timeless design that will remain relevant for the long haul, especially if your ultimate goal is to see your investment pay off in the future. “An 'It' bag will hold its value over time, you can pull it out year after year without it losing its appeal,” De Sole agrees. 

To select a modern heirloom that will endure for decades, opt for neutral shades that are versatile enough to wear repeatedly, simple silhouettes that aren’t rooted in unstable trends, and durable fabrics that will withstand years of handling.

The Best Designer Handbags

Meet the Fashion Expert

Rickie De Sole
Rickie De Sole

Rickie De Sole joined Nordstrom in January of 2022 and currently holds the position of Women’s Fashion Director. In this role, Rickie works cross-functionally across different facets of the Women's division, bringing a heightened point of view to the merchandising offering to deliver against business goals and growth plans. Prior to joining Nordstrom, she was the Executive Fashion Director at supporting business initiatives and content across digital, print and social platforms as well as editorial collaborations and e-commerce. She also held the position of Fashion Director at W Magazine, Accessories Director at Vogue Magazine and worked in-house at Prada. In addition, Rickie has served on the boards of Rent the Runway and Thom Browne.

Lauren Tappan
Fashion Editor

Lauren K. Tappan is the Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes engaging stories ranging from shopping pieces to trend reports. Prior to Marie Claire, Lauren covered fashion and beauty for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE as a freelance editor, with a specific focus on e-commerce. She also held editorial roles at Town & CountryInto The Gloss, and Philadelphia Style Magazine. Lauren earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, with a minor in Journalism, from the University of Pennsylvania. Follow her along at @laurenktappan.