Dear Budget Fashionista,

I’m searching for a black handbag for daily use that will last for years. I am a stay at home mom, who does not have many handbags. I want to invest in a good black purse and make sure it is one that I will use and love for years. My question is this: What do I look for? Is there some sort list of questions I should ask myself before purchasing so that I do not have a remorse purchase?

Here’s seven quick things you should do when looking for a quality handbag:

1. Smell It. Leather has a certain, slightly gamey smell to it. If it has no smell or smells like plastic, then most likely it’s fake.

2. Do the oil test. Rub your finger on your skin or hair and then rub it on the leather of the purse. If it leaves a stain or a streak then it’s not quality leather and/or it hasn’t been treated properly. Good Leather repeals oil.

3. Check the stitching. Gently pull the bag the seams- does the stitching pull? If so, the imagine what will happen when you put all your stuff in there.

4. Do the scratch test. Gently scratch the surface of the bag. If the color of the scratch is different than the rest of the bag, than means the leather was painted on, rather than dyed through, and at some point the paint will chip. Also scratch the surface of the hardware to see if it’s true metal or painted metallic . Again, if it’s painted on, at some point it will chip.

5. Put it on your shoulder. It is comfortable or does it feel like it’s slipping off your shoulder. It doesn’t matter how cute the bag is, if it’s not comfortable

6. Do the fit test. Take everything out of your current bag and place it inside the bag under consideration. Does it fit? If not, you easier have to get rid of some of the stuff in your bag (which is probably a good idea) or move on to the next candidate.

7. Check to see if it’s lined. Lining, both in handbags and in clothing, is a sign of a higher quality garment because it costs the manufacturer extra to add it it. In the case of handbags, lining protects the leather of the bag from the wear and tear of the contents of your bag.

8. Keep the embellishments to a minimum. The one thing that can really date a bag is the use of embellishments like feathers or dated fabrics (think stonewashed denim). Make sure the bag has basic black stitching and hardware that errs on the simple side.