Suzy’s Seven Tips for How (and Where) to Score a Designer Bag for Less

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell

two designer handbags sitting on the ground

I’m sorry it took me so long to write this post! I’ve gotten several comments and questions about my designer handbags over the past few months, and I think I was putting it off because I was kind of embarrassed. I never really got into designer bags until the past year or two. Probably like many of you, I always admired them, but I thought it was just too much to spend on a purse. I was all form over function when it came to handbags! Hahaha!

But one day, something changed. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it had something to do with the kids leaving the nest and finally feeling like I could give myself a gift. As moms with kids in the nest, we were used to putting ourselves last. Rightly or wrongly, it’s almost synonymous with motherhood, isn’t it? It took some time, for sure, but a couple of years after my kids left the nest, I finally gave myself permission to pamper myself, take time to do the things I enjoyed, and even get myself a gift every once in a while.

I have friends who live in small houses because they would rather travel than spend money on a house payment. I have friends who will dress in clothes from Target, but only wear shoes from Balenciaga, Chanel, or Jimmy Choo. I have friends who won’t spend money going out to eat so they can drive a Mercedes. I have friends who only by cheap cosmetics, but will only shop at Whole Foods and buy organic. We all have our things, don’t we? At this age, I guess it’s time to stop judging each other and just OWN our things. I’ll go

Hi, my name is Suzy, and I like fancy purses. 🙂

But I never pay full price. 

woman standing in archway wearing tan sweater and black pants

Cashmere Sweater with Lace Sleeve Detail (Similar Here.) | Black NYDJ Jeans (Less expensive black jeans here.) | Booties (Similar) | Earrings (Similar) | LOUIS VUITTON Monogram One Handle Flap Bag (Sold out. Similar here.)


Suzy’s Recommended Sites for Purchasing (Pre-owned) Designer Items

The RealReal

What I love the most about The RealReal is their commitment to authenticity. They have trained authenticity experts who follow a multi-point, brand-specific authentication process work to ensure the items they sell are authentic. I’ve found the descriptions of the pieces they sell to be accurate, and they document everything in photographs so you can check your item out thoroughly before you buy. They allow a 20-minute hold on an item before you purchase, and items are returnable for 14 days.


Another site I’ve used and can recommend is Fashionphile. They allow returns within 30 days of purchase. Before they post any item to their website, it’s thoroughly checked by authenticators who are specifically trained to detect fake merchandise. They stand behind the authenticity of each item they sell and offer a lifetime return policy should any item they sell prove to be non-authentic. Click here to see their certification checklist.

Luxury Garage Sale

I haven’t used this site, but I have friends who have. Their selection may not be as large as The RealReal or Fashionphile, but they reliably authenticate items before listing them. Click here to see what they focus on in the authentication process. They also have an excellent sale section. Here are a few wonderful finds:

womans wearing designer belt with hands in jean pockets

White Long Sleeve Tee (Similar here for only $7!) | NYDJ Jeans (Similar for less here.) | Cardigan (Sold out, sorta similar here.) | Louis Vuitton Multi-Color Belt 


Suzy’s Seven Tips for Scoring a (Pre-owned) Designer Bag

Call them gently-used, pre-loved, or what have you. I only buy pre-owned bags. Oh, they’re still expensive (especially if you want assurance of authenticity), but somehow, I feel better knowing that they’re pre-owned, and I saved even a little bit off retail.

1. Authenticity is Everything

If you’re looking for the real thing, know that this is not an item you can purchase on the streets of New York or from the trunk of someone’s car! You want to buy from a reputable retailer like one of the ones I recommend. Look for a site that will verify authenticity and stand behind its guarantee.

2. Bags in seasonal colors will be more widely available and less expensive than classic colors, especially black.

It’s simple supply and demand.

3. All ranges and types of designer goods are available.

It’s not all just super-high-end Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, or Prada. You can also find pre-owned items from more moderate designers like Kate Spade, Coach, Michael Kors, and Tory Burch available at incredible prices! Click the links below to see the list of designers at each of my recommended sites.

Luxury Garage Sale


The RealReal

Also, in addition to designer bags, you’ll find things like wallets, watches, clothing, luggage, jewelry, hats, scarves, home goods, and more.

4. Get on the email lists for the sites you trust.

Signing up for email lists will often get you a first-time customer discount, which will allow you to save even more off bags or other designer goods they sell. Also, many sites offer periodic sitewide sales (although specific items may not be eligible for discounts based on their current market value and demand).

The RealReal, which is one of the sites I use and recommend, is having a 20% off sale right now!

5. Check out the sale sections of the sites you like.

Since sites that sell consignment merchandise need to keep inventory moving, you can find some real bargains in the sale sections of their websites. Fashionphile lets you filter by the amount of discount (10%, 20%, 30%, “Last Call,” etc.). The RealReal also allows you to sort by amount of discount (up to 60%).

A few current deals I found:

6. Familiarize yourself with the return policy before you buy.

If your item is returnable, it will be for a limited time frame, and when it arrives, it will probably have a tag on it that clearly says that the item cannot be returned if you remove the tag. Inspect your purchase carefully before removing the tag! Some sites do offer a buy-back program, where you can sell the bag back to them (although for less than you paid) within a particular time frame.

7. Put it on hold and think about it before you click “Buy.”

Some sites offer a 20-minute hold period during which you can think about it, look around at other sites for a good deal, ask your husband (!), or do whatever else you need to do to feel certain.

two designer handbags sitting on the ground

Louis Vuitton Damier Azur Neverfull MM | Louis Vuitton Vernis Alma MM


Don’t Forget About Consignment!

If you’re downsizing and purging, know that you can make some serious dough consigning your designer merchandise through these sites. I usually recommend and for non-designer items, but if you want to consign a designer item, you’ll get a better payout, and your item will sell faster, through one of my recommended sites.

Consigning with Fashionphile

You keep up to 70% of the selling price. They have a transparent consignment process, which allows you to track the progress of your consigned items from arrival through the preparation process, all the way to the item’s sale and payment. Click here for more information about their consignment program.

Consigning with Luxury Garage Sale

The price of your consigned items determines your payout, which can range from 65% to 80%. Click here for their consignment FAQs.

You can consign with them three ways:

  1. Ship your items directly to them via a prepaid label.
  2. Drop off in either their Chicago or Dallas stores.
  3. Schedule an at-home pick up in the Chicago, Dallas or New York City areas.

Consigning with The RealReal

You keep up to 85% of the sale price for your items and can opt to be paid by site credit for an extra 5%. Click here to see their commission rate structure.

You can consign with them three ways:

  1. Ship your items directly to them via a prepaid label.
  2. Schedule a free in-home pickup if you live in one of over 20 metro areas where they offer that service.
  3. Visit one of their Consignment Offices for a free valuation and drop-off.

Have you ever purchased a designer item on consignment? I’d love to hear about your experience, so leave me a comment and tell me about it, okay?

And whether your thing in the empty nest is travel, cars, shoes, or designer handbags, I hope you own it!


Photos by Megan Weaver.

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Suzy Mighell

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  1. you always make me laugh. My name is Suzy. . .
    Just my luck–i pulled up Luxury Garage Sale and clicked on Shoulder bags and the first one that popped up was only $1,975!!! Goodness!

  2. Hi, my name is Charlotte, and I love designer bags! I have bought Kate Spade, Henri Bendel, Burberry, but to really celebrate my 65th birthday, I purchased Chanel quilted tote from eBay, private owner. The bag had the authenticity established and included all paperwork from Chanel as well as the original dust bag. The owner purchased it at Chanel store in London and had the original receipt. She went one step further as she lives in NYC, she had it professionally cleaned at a infamous leather cleaner. I searched sites as mentioned above, but knew this was the one from eBay! It was my first and only experience with pre-owned. Now, I’d like a Gucci or Hermès belt ????. I have to be careful though, I am retired. I may need a part time job to pay for my new indulgence! Know of any?

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