A wallet is a timeless piece of accessory. Whether we are looking to switch our old wallet for a new one, or shopping for a gift for a friend, buying a wallet is something everyone gets to experience once every few years.
But how do you ever know which choice is the right one?
After all, there are thousands of options available everywhere we look. Every fashion store has a small section dedicated to great, classy wallets, every brand sells at least a dozen of them, and literally, every web store is overflowing with new wallets every month. And, annoyingly, every one of them somehow looks great and with a unique set of features that make it appealing.
So, how do you actually choose the perfect one? And where do you even start?
In this article, we will try to answer all of the questions one might have when troubled with the task of purchasing a new wallet. We will talk about the steps prior to buying one, the things you should be looking for, and other valuable tips and information regarding the current wallet market.
How To Choose A Wallet?
A wallet with a classic, simple look is usually the best choice, especially if you’re not sure what you want. Your wallet should fit your clothing style, satisfy your daily needs, and have enough capacity for your credit cards, ID, cash, and other essential contents you use daily. When buying a wallet, you should always prioritize quality over cheap products, and look at it as an investment for the foreseeable future.
Crucial steps when buying a wallet
When buying a new wallet, there are three crucial steps that you should follow:
- remove the unnecessary contents
- pick a style that suits you best, and
- look at it as an investment
Remove the unnecessary contents
Trimming your contents down is an important first step. It includes removing all unnecessary business cards, receipts, paper slips, and excess cards you rarely or never use.
Remember that library card of the account you opened five months ago? You don’t really need to bring it along every time you leave the house. You can just leave it at home and only take it with you when you actually plan on borrowing a book. Or that small business card with the number of the recently opened car wash nearby? Yeah, you can just save the number on your phone and get rid of that needless piece of paper.
In fact, if you currently own one of those folding wallets that looks like a bulky old Motorola phone, chances are you don’t need half of the contents in there. I know it can be hard, but leaving behind most of the clutter in your wallet behind and only putting a few cards and cash in there can be life-changing.
Pick your style
You’ll be carrying a new wallet for the next five years or so, so it would be nice for it to fit you well. After all, it’s not just a very useful item, but also an accessory that adds a strong accent to your outfit. This step is fairly simple and straightforward, but it can take some time to think of an aesthetic that can match every outfit you expect to see in the mirror for the next few years.
My advice here is to go for simplicity and minimalism. Minimalist wallets have gotten especially popular in the past decade. Following the first step mentioned above, you can get yourself a sleek-looking wallet with a monochromatic design similar to your favorite shoes, and be done with it. Or you can experiment a little with some color schemes that can bring life to a modern look, but only as far as your clothing style allows you to.
Look at wallets as an investment
I like to look at wallets as an investment in your future self, rather than an expenditure. After all, your new wallet is an item you’ll be using every day for years to come. Paying a little extra can be seen as the smarter choice in the long run if it means getting a high-quality wallet instead of an average one.
With wallets, there’s the general rule of thumb that “the more expensive it is, the better its quality”. The cheapest wallets priced below $30 are almost always made of low-tier faux leather that would start falling apart after a few months. The premium-priced wallets, on the other hand, are typically made of full grain or cowhide leather that will stay fresh and glossy even after a decade of usage.
Naturally, not everyone can afford to spend a small fortune on a wallet, and I am not suggesting going above and beyond what you can realistically afford. But bear in mind that paying extra for a wallet you’ll use for five to ten years is much better than buying a new cheap shabby wallet every year.
What to look for when buying a wallet?
Whether you are buying the wallet for yourself, a friend, a family member, or your significant other, there are four tips that can greatly help you in the searching process:
- go for something simple
- quality materials always justify their price
- pick the right size
- appropriate features are an important part of the wallet
Classic simple looks triumph almost every time
Everyone has this little part of themselves that always likes to experiment with style. Many people have at least once had this phase of quirky clothes and questionable choices with their hairstyle or their outfits. And while they sometimes do work out, most of these choices forever stay in that phase and never come back.
Similarly, a wallet is not something you want to be too flashy and eye-catching. It should always be a discrete, simple-looking accessory that can match all your outfits. Going for a wallet with a classic, toned-down look will always be the superior choice.
Slim minimalist wallets are the best option on the market right now. They are chic, elegant, never too big, and mostly come with a clean tanned surface. Darkish colors, like brown, dark green, or matte black are some of the best ones. If you opt for a folding wallet, I suggest getting a bifold one instead of a trifold, as they are much slimmer while providing the same features and capabilities.
Prioritize quality materials
We mentioned before that a great wallet is practically an investment in your future self. And if you do end up spending a little extra money on a better wallet, you better make sure you get one made of high-quality materials.
If you are buying a leather wallet, try to avoid products labeled as “faux”, “bonded” or “genuine” leather, as those are the worst ones. Full-grain, cowhide, and vegetable-tanned leather are what you should be looking for.
As for hard-case wallets, I would try to avoid plastic by all means possible. Aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber are the best materials for these types of wallets, or you can even go for the titanium ones if you are willing to splash some money on them.
Pick the right size
This tip goes without saying, but I see so many people wearing a wallet that is very disproportionate to their clothes. Lots of people opt for an unnecessarily huge wallet in fear of lacking storage and end up with gigantic, awful-looking bulges on their pants.
The simple rules that apply here are:
- a wallet should properly fit into both your front and back pocket
- you should be able to seamlessly hold the wallet with one hand
- a wallet should provide just enough storage for your cards, a few banknotes if you still use any, and only one or two small extra slots just in case
Get a wallet with appropriate features
Today’s modern wallets come with tons of different features. You can find anything on a wallet, from pull-tabs, quick-access buttons, and magnetic trapdoors, up to tactical features like rulers, cutters, attachment points, and whatnot. But it’s important to know which of these features you really need, and only buy the wallet with the appropriate ones.
If you use cards for shopping or entering places like a metro or an office, then you should strongly consider wallets with quick-access features. But if you are more of an adventurist type that hikes pretty often, then you could be better off with some of the tactical wallets that would even maybe integrate small multitools into their designs.
There are tons of options you can choose from, and we can’t list them all. But you can always visit our detailed guide for the different types of wallets that are out there and use that list to choose the perfect one for you.
How to know what wallet is the right one for you?
With so many options, there are no right or wrong choices. Many types of wallets can be the right ones for you if they serve your needs well.
The best way to know if a wallet suits you or not is to carefully examine all of the steps we mentioned above, and be completely honest with yourself about what you need. If a wallet fits all of the contents you have, fulfills your needs, complements your outfits, and is within your budget, then that one is the perfect one.
What should you keep in your wallet?
People love to carry all kinds of garbage in their wallets. Excess slips, receipts, polaroids, membership cards used only twice a year, and all kinds of clutter. Even though your attachment and nostalgia for these things don’t allow you to throw them away, the fact is that a wallet is only there for your most used cards and your cash bills. Everything else belongs at home or in the trash.
If you need to keep most of the things that are in your wallet right now, but still rarely see yourself using them, you can just store them in a drawer at your home. That way, you will always know where they are while removing tons of litter away. I’ve recently posted a short guide on how to slim down your wallet, so go and have a look at some of the tips brought up there.
How long should a wallet last?
A wallet’s durability depends on a lot of things, mainly the grade of its materials and the quality of the craftsmanship. Cheap wallets made of low-tier cloths or plastic usually only last for a year, maybe two if you are lucky. Afterward, they start to deteriorate and, if they are made of cloth, fall apart by leaving small pieces of leather in your pocket.
The premium wallets made of high-grade materials such as full-grain leather, aluminum, titanium, or carbon fibers, can last from ten years up to a lifetime. Many brands that exclusively sell premium wallets, like Dango, even grant a lifetime warranty on their products. Check out my guide on the durability of different wallets to get a more detailed look into this matter.
Where to start?
Now that you know what a wallet should look like, and what characteristics should it have, it’s best to start with your wardrobe. Carefully examine what types of clothes you usually wear, what types of clothes you plan on wearing in the near future, and what colors are most often present in your outfits.
Then, continue by examining the contents of your current wallet, and decide which of them would go in the new one, and which would be left behind. And, of course, while you are there go over your budget again and decide how much can you really spend on a new wallet.
Once this is all done, I suggest going on a searching spree and scrolling over the best-selling wallets on the popular web stores. If it seems like the options go on forever, you can always go back and read some of my guides for the best options in each set of wallet types.