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A junior banker's guide to handbags for getting ahead in finance

It's not just wearing the right watch that will get you ahead in an investment bank. If you're a woman in finance, it's also about showing off the right bag. 

As Business Insider reported last month, young women in banking have a tendency to spend some of their bonuses on handbags. The day bonuses hit their bank accounts, female analysts flock to buy quilted Chanel bags, observed one (male) banker. The day after that, they show the bags off in the office. 

A quilted Chanel bag will cost you up to $8k, but they're not the only option. The Munich-based M&A associate who runs an Instagram account for women in investment banking has put the following bag-guide together for anyone thinking of investing their bonus in a receptacle. As with watches, she says you need to start modest: you don't want to flash family cash in the form of a Birkin bag when you're an intern.

The intern/analyst bag: The Longchamp Tote 

This is a good beginners bag, says the M&A Associate. Appropriately modest, it comes in various prices from $120 to $600, so you might want to work your way up. 





The associate bag: YSL Tote

Once you've done the analyst years, you can progress to the next level. This is the YSL leather Tote bag costing around $1k, and with a removable leather encased interlocking YSL 'signature charm.' 





The VP bag: The Prada Saffiano

With a few more banking years under your belt, you can switch it up again. The M&A associate says she herself has an old Prada tote bag (she went against her own advice and bought it as an analyst) and is continuing to use it even though it's become a bit battered. A new one costs around $4k.


The MD bag: The Birkin black bag

At the top of the banking bag hierarchy is the Birkin black bag, or the "queen of all bags," says the M&A associate. You should not venture towards this bag unless you're a managing director (MD), but then again you're unlikely to afford it: these cost upwards of $26k. The M&A associate says she won't change her Prada bag until she can achieve one of these.


Alternative bags for the unconventionals

If you don't want to stick with the black bags above, the M&A associate says there are a few others that she's seen around.

These are:

The Louis Vuitton Neverfull, costing $1.9k.







The Goyard Tote, costing $817.






The Bottega Veneta Tote, costing $2.3k.






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Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Zi
    Zino Haro
    11 March 2022

    From a fashion designer/community perspective:

    Longchamp and YSL are fine, but these two totes are basically private school bookbags.
    If you're client facing and your clients are wealthy or in fashion/entertainment/old businesses, it's coming off as if you just finished school and haven't bothered to build up your own taste or change your school bag.
    YSL over Longchamp any day, and if you're going to buy them, at least get them monogrammed or with some personal touch.
    At that price range, and if client facing, I'd suggest you go for Ferragamo or Celine (slightly higher), or anything with structure and good build.

    Prada and Birkin: No real comment here except that you definitely don't need a Birkin, and opting for fully custom made bags is realistic at this price point even from other luxury designers.
    Plus, you'll meet interesting people while doing a custom build consultation.

    The unconventionals: not a fan of logo patterns, but that's just a personal preference.

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