I recently became the proud owner of a Phillip Lim Pashli. I bought it spontaneously and felt so guilty about it I vowed to sell it immediately. However, having realised quite how handy it is (not to mention how many looks of approval I get when I'm wearing it - vain I know) I've decided to keep it. I keep a pretty firm tab on the number of bags I have, mainly because I think it's the one item you just cannot scrimp on. A handbag says a lot about a person, and a faux-leather one just won't do. Sorry.
I had a good look around (admittedly a bit for myself, just in case) the shops and found some excellent deals on handbags that will out do the test of time. The important thing is to find one that isn't too trendy, and works for you. By "works" I mean "fits everything you need in it, for whatever you need it for." I have about 6 overall, and I don't allow myself to buy one unless I sell one (yup, I parted with a lovely Anya Hindmarch to make way for Phillip, sob).
Paola Cademartori handbags 30% off at my-wardrobe (photos via Pinterest)
So, here is my list of styles I've found which are hugely popular and somewhat timeless. Starting with the Pashlis, which are 40% off at my-wardrobe and 30% at Net A Porter. They're cross body (free arms, yay!) big enough for your laptop, but not too big to be a pain - any bags like that will work really well. In the same vein, this Anya Hindmarch Ebury tote is 30% off at Matches. Very classic and work appropriate if you are in a more corporate field.
A more recent bag staple is the satchel. What used to be a dated "dad bag" (maybe thats just me) is now a respected, required addition to your wardrobe. There are a few around, the main players being people like Sophie Hulme and Proenza Schouler. The former has styles that are heavily reduced on the market for around £200, such as this one at Matches for 30% off. If you have more of a budget then the Proenza Schouler PS11 ones ones are just so beautiful, and will not go out of date - Net A Porter have a petrol blue one for 30% off, 40% off at Browns and (OMFG) Harrods have got 50% off theirs. Check out this Mulberry one for 50% off at Net A Porter too...
If you're able to be a little bolder with your choices (read: free enough to wear something "fashion" on a regular basis) then Alexander Wang Rocco is a style that has been around for years, and doesn't seem to be rushing out of trend anytime soon. Matches have them for 30% off, and amazingly The Outnet has the traditional black colour for 45% off.
Proenza Schouler PS11 Minis 50% off at Harrods / 30% off Net A Porter 40% off at Browns (photos via Pinterest at The Fashion Guitar)
I guess overall what I'm saying is, now may actually be a good time to buy something you've wanted for a while. What I do is, throughout the season, add items to my wish list/basket. When the sale starts I have a list of things ready to go... Enjoy!