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Style

Level Up Your Bag Game Without Breaking the Bank

Can’t shell out $4,900 for Chanel? Look like you can for $78. These 7 designer handbag dupes offer runway style at real-world prices.

Whether they’re tiny clutches, utilitarian backpacks or structured satchels, our bags are extensions of ourselves. They’re expressions of personal style that not only hold all our necessities but also complement our outfits and make us feel fly as heck, whether we’re waltzing into work or sashaying through the supermarket. And designer bags such as Louis Vuitton, Celine and Chanel, with price tags that start at a thousand dollars, are also status symbols, signifying that mama’s got a brand-new bag — and big bucks to pay for it!

But with car notes to pay and retirement to fund, most of us can’t justify spending a month’s mortgage on a carryall, no matter how cool. Still, the fact that you can’t afford a million-dollar handbag collection doesn’t mean your own collection can’t look like a million bucks. Just check out these designer handbag dupes I’ve found and enjoy high-end style at low prices.

For maximum versatility: YSL’s envelope-style Monogram Bag ($1,190) boasts subtle chevron-shaped quilting on butter-soft leather and a detachable shoulder strap. At $228, Rebecca Minkoff’s Edie quilted crossbody differs only slightly in look, but significantly in price.

For everyday elegance: I’ve always appreciated the value of a well-made and spacious tote, but most are more practical than they are pretty. The perforated Stella McCartney Logo Tote ($525) and it’s lower-priced twin, Guess’ Kamryn Logo Tote ($98), however, are both.

For classic cred: Chanel’s Boy Bag ($4,900) — an edgy and modern take on its classic flap bag — was first released in 2012. And it’s been carried by almost every celebrity, including Beyoncé, Li’l Kim and Rihanna, since. At $78, the Talia Quilted Crossbody by Guess serves up equal amounts of class and sass, but for a mere fraction of the price.

For standout style: Despite the blackface sweater scandal of earlier this year, Gucci continues to be one of the world’s most coveted brands. The company’s subsequent apology and appointment of a diversity and inclusion officer may make you feel better about purchasing the ladylike Queen Margaret Small GG Supreme Top Handle Bag ($2,980), which features its signature leather-trimmed monogrammed canvas and a whimsical jeweled bee clasp. But if it doesn’t, check out Olyly’s replica, available in nine colorways, for just $30.

For trendy travel: Louis Vuitton’s Keepall Bandouliere 50 is one of my favorite bags to hit the runway this year. The brand’s new menswear artistic director Virgil Abloh is clearly a brother on mission to make all my childhood fantasies come true with this playful iridescent PVC duffle, which follows this summer’s holographic trend. The Weirdo Weekender by Club Exx ($55) has a similar vibe, but with a black faux leather strap and trim, it reads a little more edgy than the lighthearted LV.

For ballin’ on a budget: First released in 1984, Hermes’ Birkin bag is iconic. Despite its hefty cost (prices start at about $8,500, and one sold at auction for a whopping $203,150!) the tote is always in demand. You won’t find it in Hermes boutiques, however, since the company no longer operates a wait list. So you’ll have to turn to resellers to get your fix of fancy. But if you want the look of a Birkin on a budget, turn to Michael Kors. At $358, his similar sac, the Nouveau Hamilton pebbled leather satchel, is an option we can all save for.

For edgy efficiency: From couture to ready-to-wear, apparel to accessories, Valentino is known for meticulously crafted and feminine designs. His Rockstud collection, which includes this large calfskin tote, is no exception. The bag’s simple shape is embellished with studs that lend a rock ’n’ roll vibe. And this studded tote by INC ($70) is a great option for those of us who want a similar look, minus the $2,695 price tag.

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