If you are diehard fan of the “Forever Classics” when it comes to luxury handbags, but you want to find something that’s a bit more discreet, then here are some classic black designer handbags that are very understated but that still is speak volumes.
Yves Saint Laurent – Sac de Jour
The Sac de Jour has a rigid rectangular shape and comes in four different sizes, the nano, baby, small and large. It was designed for YSL by Hedi Slimane during his 4 year tenure as Creative Director of the French fashion house. The “Sac de jour” which means “Bag of the Day” in English, comes in various colors and finishes and is made on 100% calfskin. It was first released in 2013 and has remained part of the permanent collection ever since. Featuring top handles and a shoulder strap, this bag is as versatile as it is timeless and is often compared to the Hermès Birkin in terms of its silhouette.
Gucci – 1955 Horsebit Bag
The Gucci Horsebit 1955 shoulder bag has the same silhouette as the design that was first introduced over six decades ago but looks really polished in black leather. The bag was revived by Creative Director Alessandro Michele. Even though the horsebit has been used for decades as part of Gucci’s brand identity it’s not as instantly recognisable as the “GG” logo and allows the bag to retain a bit more discretion. The symbol is also much more intricately linked with the brand’s unique history thanks to the founder Guccio Gucci who worked at the Savoy Hotel in London where he learned about the importance of equestrian sports to members of the English aristocracy. The bag does not have any top handles but does have an adjustable shoulder strap so it can be carried on one shoulder or cross body as well.
Fendi – 2 Jours
The Fendi 2 Jours was first introduced in 2021 and was an instant hit. It is now discontinued but can be a great addition to your wardrobe even in pre-loved condition thanks to its very practical and timeless design. The 2 Jours was designed by a third generation member of the Fendi family, Silvia Venturini. It has a simplistic and softly structured silhouette, topped off with a sleek and enamel bar detail that discreetly displays the Fendi logo. The only other thing that could give this bag away is its superb craftsmanship and high-grade smooth calfskin leather. It has top handles and a shoulder strap to wear crossbody and it comes in two sizes; the petite and the medium size which is actually quite large.
Balenciaga – Maillon
The Balenciaga Maillon bag comes in three different styles. The most famous is the mini Trapeze bag with the shoulder strap, but the top handle bag is also known for its vintage modern aesthetic and the tote bag is equally beautiful. These bags are jaw droppingly gorgeous, thanks to the ultra smooth, polished calfskin leather and can be found with silver or gold hardware in the form of a chain closure which is what gives the bag its name. The line was first introduced in 2013 for Balenciaga by designer Alexander Wang and offers a unique balance of modern lines with a more French vintage silhouette and feel to the design. Black bags usually look very sophisticated and professional looking with very structured lines and precise angles. However the Maillon offers a look that’s undeniably chic but also unashamedly feminine and elegant at the same time. This is the kind of bag I would be super protective about not getting even the smallest of scratches because the suppleness of the leather is everything!
Louis Vuitton – Monceau
The Louis Vuitton Monceau bag is no longer in production, but maybe you can find it pre-loved because it is one of the most understated bags that you’re going to find from LV. They usually love to use their logo and monogram prints throughout their line which makes this bag particularly unique and special if you can find it! This crossbody shoulder bag is very studious looking and might not be what you’re looking for if you want something that can take you through to the evening. However, it was first introduced in 1986 and is very reminiscent of the vintage style of the original Louis Vuitton luggage goods which gives it a very authentic historic look without all the logomania. A miniaturised version was introduced in 2013 called the Monceau BB and offered a few more vibrant color options. However the original design is more practical and the matt black calfskin leather makes it more timeless in my opinion. It’s such a good option if you love the heritage of Louis Vuitton but don’t necessarily want to feel like a walking billboard.
Céline – Box Bag
The Céline box bag comes in three sizes; teen, small and medium, and is made with calfskin leather, lambskin lining and has an impeccable finish. Its features are kept to the absolute minimum with an adjustable shoulder strap, a rectangular clasp closure and no visible logo (which instead appears inside the flap). The original Box Bag was designed by British designer Phoebe Philo during her 10 years as Creative Director at fashion house. The design was preserved by her successor, Hedi Silmani who introduced a wider array of colors but stayed faithful to the original design. Even though the design itself is identical to Phoebe’s version, it might interest you to know the logo under the flap was updated to a slightly different font and no longer bore the signature accented “é”. For sure, this is a classic bag that will remain in style forever. It has a very Parisian aesthetic and balances femininity with contemporary design.
I hope you have found this helpful. I would love to see how you style these bags if you already have them in your wardrobe or if this article inspires you to own your very own understated forever classic. Tag me on Instagram, Tiktok or Pinterest or you can or send me a message because I would love to see!
About the author
Mish has a Masters in Fine Art and she has an interest in classical design, history and culture. She loves to analyze fashion and style through this lens to help people develop authentic personal style.