Love for your Speedy or Birkin

So you've dropped a load of cash to buy your first designer bag, or maybe you have a bunch of them in your closet.

The question remains: How do you keep them looking dapper?

The first trick, experts say, is to start caring for your purses as soon as you buy them. Keep their original packaging, watch out for stains and if they're not already weatherproofed, spray them with Scotchgard (after testing it in an inconspicuous spot).

Here are more tips:

Use the dust bag. If your purse came with a storage bag or dust cover (most high-end bags do), use it.

Don't toss the tissue. If you're putting a bag away for the season, fill the inside of it with the tissue paper that came with it. Or use crushed newspaper. It will draw moisture out and help the bag keep its form.

Be wary of dark jeans and pens. Not much can ruin a purse, but these are two of the worst culprits, experts say. Leather bag care. Some brands, including Kate Spade and Coach, sell their own leather conditioners and cleaners. Others will send your bag to a corporate repair center. Or you can always take your leather bag to a shoe-repair shop, where it can be cleaned and shined, glazed or restitched.

Canvas or nylon bag care. To clean, hand-wash with water and a small amount of Woolite, clear hand soap or mild detergent. If there's just a small spot, try a baby wipe, says Jessica Stoner, general manager at the SouthPark Kate Spade store. For stubborn stains, try a Shout wipe or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Never overstuff. No matter what your bag's made of, never put too much inside it.

SOURCES: Accessories specialists at Kate Spade, Coach, Burberry and Hermes stores.