11 high street bags that look much more expensive than they actually are

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Switch up your look by swapping out your trusty designer tote for one of these more affordable high street handbags.

Unlike jumpers, tops or sometimes even shoes, we rarely buy bags – they are an accessory that can last a lifetime, after all. But using the same one day in, day out (even if it is designer) can end up feeling incredibly dull. And, although it may make for a quick exit out the door each morning, it may actually be dampening down your outfit – does that XXL black leather tote truly work with that pastel pink dress? Most likely not.

While some of us may dream of fashion’s most famous finds: the Chanel boy bag, a Gucci Marmont or Bottega Veneta cassette to name but a few, blowing thousands on one piece just isn’t possible for many of us, no matter how beautiful the bag. 

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So we’ve turned to the good ol’ high street stalwarts to find 11 bags that look much more expensive than they really are. From LA-based brand JW Pei’s fashion-forward vegan leather options to Monki’s faux fur find, there’s no short supply to choose from, and the lower price point certainly doesn’t mean damping down the design.

The key to copping a luxury-looking bag at a lower cost is to avoid obvious designer dupes. Anyone can spot a real Chanel from a faux find a mile away, and flimsy fabric, heaps of scratched hardware and overdone designs aren’t going to work in your favour. Instead, look for simple, clean shapes that have been created incredibly well – like our Cambridge Satchel Co find – or standout designs not done before, like the Staud style below.

Convinced? Just take a look below at our favourite finds, and you may be surprised to see the price.

  • JW Pei Eva shoulder bag

    JW Pei Eva shoulder bag

    Famous for its vegan leather luxury-looking bags, JW Pei has become rather sought after among fashion fans. In a mock croc print and a gorgeous green colourway, this bag is one of our favourites and we’ll be sporting this all summer long.

    Shop JW Pei Eva shoulder bag at Fenwick, £59


  • & Other Stories braided leather bucket bag

    & Other Stories braided leather bucket bag

    Even if the weather is dreary and dull, this bag is sure to put a spring in your step. Built from braided leather, the bright, bold colours stand out from the crowd, instantly elevating even the most simple of outfits. To keep it looking poised and polished, use the shorter top handle over the shoulder strap and be sure not to overfill.

    Shop & Other Stories braided leather bucket bag, £135


  • H&M small string pouch bag

    H&M small string pouch bag

    Incredibly cute yet still large enough to pack all your essentials into, this H&M string bag is sure to be a standout style star in anyone’s wardrobe. Offering an interesting design twist, it’s a far cry from the bulging basic black bag options, yet can still work for almost any occasion.

    Shop H&M small string pouch bag, £24.99


  • AllSaints half moon leather cross-body bag

    Allsaints half moon leather cross-body bag

    There are a lot of half moon bags making their way into stores at the moment, but this AllSaints option is one of our favourites. With its terracotta pink shade, it’s light, bright and makes a subtle style statement, yet can complement almost any colour scheme.

    Shop AllSaints half moon leather cross-body bag at Selfridges, £139


  • Staud moon leather tote bag

    Staud moon leather tote bag

    Staud’s moon-shape bag has made the brand famous. While it sits at a higher price point than our other options, it’s deserving of its place purely because of its high quality and standout style. And, made from 100% leather, it’s sure to last a lifetime.

    Shop Staud moon leather tote bag at Farfetch, £235


  • Mango leather-effect shopper bag

    Mango leather-effect shopper bag

    A trusty tote bag will never not be needed, especially when loading up a laptop, water bottle, make-up bag and more of our everyday essentials. In a leather-look fabric, this is sure to become a go-to in your workwear wardrobe, just be sure not to overfill – nobody wants snapping straps.

    Shop Mango leather-effect shopper bag, £59.99


  • The Cambridge Satchel Co the large pushlock

    The Cambridge Satchel Co the large pushlock

    You may remember The Cambridge Satchel Co’s oversized school bags that were hugely popular in the early 2010s. But the brand has elevated its styles, bringing more subdued, sleek and sophisticated designs such as this dainty pushlock pick. High quality yet not high in price, it could be perfect for a little pick-me-up.

    Shop The Cambridge Satchel Co the large pushlock, £125


  • JW Pei Gabby bag

    JW Pei Gabby bag

    We couldn’t have just one option from JW Pei, as the brand is built around providing lower cost luxury-looking bags. So selecting two styles seemed fair, although we’d happily take them all. With its ruched handle, punchy colour and cute proportions, it’s one of our favourite finds that will effortlessly inject some life into any look.

    Shop JW Pei Gabby bag at Fenwick, £89


  • Monki leopard print faux fur handbag

    Monki leopard print faux fur handbag

    A faux fur leopard print bag certainly won’t be for everyone. But for those who love it, you’ll be glad to know it can be yours for just £25. Some of our favourite brands have played with the print this season and it’s showing no sign of going anywhere.

    Shop Monki leopard print faux fur handbag, £25


  • Charles & Keith black Gabine saddle bag

    Charles & Keith black Gabine saddle bag

    Charles & Keith is any fashion fan’s go-to for luxury-looking bags and shoes without a staggering price tag. And with its sleek and sophisticated shape, this bag is just another example of why the brand is beloved. Made from faux leather, it’s vegan-friendly and will work wonders whether carrying it into the office or out for brunch.

    Shop Charles & Keith black Gabine saddle bag, £85


  • Cos Desserto crossbody bag

    Cos desserto crossbody bag

    While black bags can be trusted to turn to for any occasion, choosing a bold colour will instantly upgrade any outfit. This luminous green colour from Cos is sure to boost any look in an instant and is a more planet-friendly pick made from recycled nylon.

    Shop Cos Desserto crossbody bag, £89


Images: courtesy of brands

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