Splurge or Save? 6 Stylish Bags and Their Inexpensive Versions

Practical shopping is one of the items on my New Year’s resolution list. While there is a certain thrill to impulse buying, the rush easily turns to regret, especially when I hardly get any mileage on an item I just had to have.

And so, I’ve put together some of the bags I’ve been eyeing up against their inexpensive alternatives. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but seeing your options and knowing when you’re willing to invest in a piece is clearly a smarter way of shopping than just grabbing the first thing that catches your eye.

Check out my short list below to give you an idea on what to watch out for when doing some sensible shopping. Splurge bags are on top while the cheaper ones are right below. Happy New Year!


Studded White ClutchSplurge (top): Rachel Ruddick Studded Pouch, $250

Save (bottom): Riled Up Bag, $85

Rachel Ruddick’s sleek white pouch features black pyramidal studs and comes in cowhide. But, really, it’s nothing more than a thin clutch. I think the Riled Up Bag is a more practical choice. Although it is in faux leather and is riveted instead of studded, it still maintains the same slim white look, which makes it perfect for a wide range of outfits. Plus it comes with a detachable gunmetal shoulder strap, making it slightly more versatile than its $250 counterpart.


Clear Box ClutchesSplurge (top): Kotur Question Bubble Glitter Globe, $395

Save (bottom): Mata Hari “Ceci” Box Clutch, $78

While the Kotur’s glittery sequined box clutch gives us all kinds of wonderful feels, Mata Hari’s clear acrylic clutch lined with silvery netting is still the smarter option. Of course, if you really want to save, you can get a simple clear acrylic box clutch and DIY the design. Go crazy with anything from beads to dashes of your glittery nail polish or artsy graffiti.


Black Envelope ClutchesSplurge (top): Rachel Ruddick Como Clutch, $260

Save (bottom): Get a Grip Clutch, $58

This part is tricky. I consider envelope clutches, especially the classic black styles, as a practical item since you can use it with anything. Rachel Ruddick’s croc-embossed calfskin seems like a really good investment. While Get a Grip’s shocking pink strap makes it more exciting and new, you have to consider the mileage you can get from a simple yet classic design like the splurge item.


Black Quilted BagsSplurge (top): Rebecca Minkoff Quilted Mini Affair with Studs, $225

Save (bottom): Nasty Gal Bel Air Quilted Bag, $58

Quilted bags are the best. They can be dainty and edgy, and the luxurious look of the quilted style makes it a great accessory for anything from a dress to a pair of jeans. That being said, quilted bags look better in leather than faux, although if you find one with a classic design like both these bags, then that’s good enough. I’m calling a draw on this one.


Leopard Print ClutchSplurge (top): Clare Vivier Haircalf Fold-Over Clutch, $210

Save (bottom): Instinctual Faux Fur Clutch, $58

Leopard-print bags are as basic as the little black dress. Personally, getting a leopard-print item in leather or hair calf kind of defeats the purpose. The print easily looks cheap on vegetarian leather, so faux fur is probably the best way to go. Both bags are just roomy enough for clubbing essentials, so really the “save” choice wins this round.


Black Mini BackpacksSplurge (top): Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Mariska Backpack, $498

Save (bottom): Dionne Backpack, $58

The ’90s mini backpack! The Marc Jacobs option is of a luxurious, slouchy cowhide, but I think it’s severely overpriced. The Dionne is just as roomy although of vegan leather, but the price sits reasonably at $58. I would go for the Dionne, but like with all the others, it’s important to assess if you will use the bag often and for what occasions.


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