2 Step vintage purse restoration

Ah, vintage Coach purses. These all-leather bags are my weakness! I absolutely adore everything about the timeless styles and neutral colours and have been collecting them for a few years now. They’re pretty easy to come by (Etsy has hundreds listed in all styles and sizes!) in terms of finding them, but it’s finding the right one that can challenging.

Buying vintage purses can be tricky because of the fact that they’re, well, vintage. A vintage Coach bag can run over $100 depending on style and condition, but it’s pretty easy to find sub-$50 vintage pieces (like this one) in slightly less-than-mint condition that can be restored for under $10 and in 2 easy steps! I scored my most recent vintage Coach bag last month for $35. It desperately needed some TLC, so I thought I’d share how I brought this piece back to life!

vintage Coach purse restoration main

I’ll start off by saying that I’m very picky with the type of vintage purses I buy. This reason isn’t related to style or colour of the bag, but rather the condition. I never purchase bags that require hardware or straps replacement (those can get really pricey really quickly) or ones with holes in them. I will never pass up on a bag with minor scratches and slightly dried out leather, though! These are easy fixes that can be done in 2 steps in under 15 minutes.

My most recent vintage Coach purse looked like this when I found it:

vintage Coach crossbody purse - before restoration
dried patches of leather with a few minor dirt marks and minor scratches

Here’s what I needed revived my latest vintage purse find:
– paper towels
– small bowl of water
Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam Shoe Polish ($10 on Amazon!)

I’m a huge fan of the Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam for a few reasons. The biggest one is the fact that it’s all-natural (coconut oil, beeswax, and lanolin). The second reason is the fact that you can use the same polish no matter what colour of leather you’re using it on. It’s great to not have to worry about traditional leather polish (and dyes) getting onto surfaces that you’re working on because this wonder balsam is colourless. I originally purchased this to polish my leather booties with and have since started using it on all my leather accessories. A little bit goes a long way and I’ve had this container for well over 2 years and it’s still not even halfway done!

Step 1: Wipe the bag clean

With the paper towels and a little bit of lukewarm water, wipe down the exterior of the bag. This will help to remove any “crusted on” bits before restoring the leather. Allow the water to dry off completely before moving on to the next step.

restored vintage Coach purse

Step 2: Re-hydrate the leather with the wonder balsam

The Dr. Martens wonder balsam comes with a sponge applicator! A little bit of the balsam goes a very long way. I always err on the side of being light handed at first and doing another pass if more is needed. In small circular motions, apply the wonder balsam to the exterior of the purse until the entire purse has been covered.

restoring vintage leather purse
The leather may feel a little “sticky” immediately after you’re done with the last step, but once the wonder balsam has time to soak into the leather (usually overnight), the texture of the leather will be back to its glorious original condition!

vintage leather bag restore
Aaaaaand… you’re done! Such a super quick and relatively inexpensive way to restore a vintage leather purse!

If your leather bag needs more TLC on top of re-hydrating leather and polishing, Fran did a post using a leather retouch-up recolor kit back in 2013 on her vintage Coach Willis purse that I would highly recommend checking out for additional cosmetic restorations.

If you’re in the market for a vintage Coach purse and want to buy one online, I shared a post with 3 tips for buying vintage bags online last year that can help you maximize your budget.

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