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Our Editors Tested Kate Middleton’s Beloved Polène Handbag—Here’s Their Honest Review

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Dasha Burobina

Quality: 19/20
Value: 20/20
Aesthetic: 19/20
Functionality: 17/20
Wear & Tear: 18/20
TOTAL: 93/100

It goes without saying that we’re Royally Obsessed. So, you can only imagine our delight when, last year, we spotted Kate Middleton, the newly appointed Princess of Wales, carrying a Polène handbag, not once, but twice—and in the same week! It was already bubbling up as the Instagram “It” bag, carried by a slew of internet influencers—Kate’s endorsement sealed its star status. (Also, fun fact: Kate carried it again this week.)

Kate Middleton Polene Bag
WPA Pool/Getty Images

Flash forward to a recent trip to Paris and I was taken aback by the lines out the door and down Rue de Richelieu just to get inside the Polène boutique. My friend and I ended up timing our shopping trip to right before closing, when the lines had dwindled significantly. Once inside, we were blown away by the fervor—there were a select number of styles to choose from and fashionable French women (and a slew of chic-looking tourists) were snapping them up.

Back to Kate: Yes, Polène—specifically, the Numéro Sept Mini in blue, which is what Kate wore—is royally approved, but there’s clearly much more to the French brand’s cult following than that. Our interest was piqued, so my Royally Obsessed podcast co-host, Roberta Fiorito, and I decided to test the very bag Kate carried (in two different sizes) to see how it holds up. Here, our honest review.

First, a Bit More About Polène

The French (and family-owned) brand was founded way back in 2016 as a way to provide an alternative to two very different handbag extremes: High-fashion choices and their more accessible counterparts. Polène answered that call by delivering high-quality, minimalist bags at reasonable prices that are also playful and fun.

emily in paris polene
Netflix

For example, their version of the bucket bag, called the Numéro Huit, is one of a kind with a vintage feel and modern shape. (It also happened to be carried by the Emily of Emily in Paris in season 2.) In addition, there’s ample love for Polène on TikTok. (Just search the brand name as a hashtag and voilà.)

While the French boutique was the first and only location to shop in person for a bag for quite some time, the brand recently opened a New York City flagship, too—a big deal. They’re also not stopping there: The brand confirmed that shoes and jewelry are on the horizon for 2023. Oh la la.

roberta fiorito polene numero sept mini
Roberta Fiorito

1. Roberta’s Review: The Numéro Sept Mini

On a recent girls’ weekend, my friend revealed she was obsessed with this chic French purse she kept seeing influencers carrying on her IG. So even before Kate Middleton stepped out with the Numero Sept Mini twice in one week, it was already on my radar. But when the then-Duchess of Cambridge was spotted with the bag, I frantically texted our group chat: “OMG! KATIE! It’s *the* bag!”

The royal’s seal of approval was the icing on the cake, and the shove to get my own. I chose black for versatility, and when it arrived, I loved how striking the bright gold details stood out against the dark, buttery soft leather. The bag itself is billed as “dainty,” and it is very small. I can fit a cardholder, my phone, a lipstick, maybe a mini hair brush if I’m strategic like a game of Tetris—but that’s it.

That said, I love that I feel almost untethered when I carry it. The mini bag doesn’t weigh me down. There’s a gold-link shoulder strap included, though I almost exclusively carry it by the removable top handle. It’s also small enough to pack in my carry-on for the aforementioned girls’ weekends, or to stow away in a larger work tote, and then whip it out for happy hour drinks.

rachel bowie polene numero sept review
Rachel Bowie

2. Rachel’s Review: The Numéro Sept

As much I wanted to go for an exact replica of Kate Middleton’s Polène choice, I’m a mom, which means I have to carry more in my purse than my keys, phone and cash. The larger size, called the Numéro Sept, actually fits quite a lot: I’ve loaded my wallet, phone, keys, a small journal, hand sanitizer, lipstick and a carefully packaged snack (dear god, what if it spilled?) for my son and still had space left over.

Still, in either size, there’s so much to love about this bag: I chose the textured finish (in midnight blue), though it comes in a smoother leather, too—and multiple colors—just like Roberta’s smaller size. (For the record, it’s remained scratch-free after weeks of use.) The color is stunning and I get non-stop compliments on it.

I mostly carry the bag for work events or nights out with friends, but—back to my mom role—it is as functional as it is fashionable. The shoulder strap is thick and sturdy. I love that it gives me the ability to wear it as a cross-body, too. I also love the uniqueness of the circular clasp. The detail adds an elegant touch, but ensures that I take the time to close the bag properly. (It’s not that it would spill, but I’m the kind of person who likes to know that my personal items are securely sealed inside vs. on the cusp of spilling out.)

The Bottom Line

Regardless of size, Roberta and I are in agreement—Polène makes you feel effortlessly elegant and is full of substance and style. No wonder Kate approves.


Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...

RF1

Director, Branded Content + Cohost, Royally Obsessed Podcast

As Director of Branded Content at Gallery Media Group, Roberta helps oversee the ideation and execution of sponsored content and experiential campaigns across PureWow and ONE37pm...