The Hunt: The Perfect Interview Bag

Mosey - Working Girl (Jet Black)Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

This is how I see the perfect interview bag: it’s big enough to fit your folder, a notepad, and everything you would normally carry in your purse, as well as maybe a bottle of water. It’s large, but not so large that the interviewer fears you’re hoping to crash on the couch in the lounge. I always like a black bag (sure, even with a navy suit), and for me, nylon is perfect because it doesn’t get as heavy as a leather bag, and nylon is very easy to clean. (Another bonus: if you accidentally swing around too fast in the elevator, the bag won’t turn lethal.) Oh, and it has to hold its shape by itself (so to me, not a Pliage bag, although those are great for other things). If this sounds familiar, forgive me — I think I go on the hunt every August for the perfect tote bag, and it always amazes me how hard it is to find these suckers online. I think I’ve rounded up some good ones for today’s Hunt, though — check ‘em out below. Readers, what is your ideal bag for interviewing? Have you found any good ones lately?

Knomo - Bayswater - Marina E/W Zip-Around Expandable (Black Nylon)I’m not familiar with Knomo, but I like the quilted nylon with this expandable bag (shown collapsed, here), the deep red lining, and the laptop sleeve (although I would argue one shouldn’t bring a laptop on interviews, but that’s me). This one is $129 at Zappos, but note that eBags has it in red and purple for $79.99. Knomo – Bayswater – Marina E/W Zip-Around Expandable (Black Nylon)
Dooney & Bourke - Victoria (Black/Black)I’m not a huge fan of the white stitching on D&B bags or the brown leather accents, but these bags are very well reviewed on Zappos (there’s also a black/brown combo and a navy/black combo.) I do like the hot pink lining, the expandable gusset, and the really intelligent pockets. This bag is $148 at Zappos. Dooney & Bourke – Victoria (Black/Black)
Mosey - Working Girl (Jet Black)I actually have a different Mosey bag for my Mom days, and I’ve been really pleased with the quality. The bags are made from “low impact leather and recycled PET fabrics,” and 35 plastic bottles were repurposed in the making of the handbag. It only has 3 stars on Zappos, but most of the negative ones seem to be about the incorrectly listed dimensions. It’s available in black, purple, red, brown, fern green, dark gray and sand beige for $158 at Zappos. Mosey – Working Girl (Jet Black)
Tory Burch Nylon ToteI’m not a huge fan of logos on bags, but that can be remedied easily enough: just turn the bag so the logo doesn’t face “out.” I like the high shine patent accents and the technology pockets inside (although I do wish it had a colorful lining). It’s $195 at Nordstrom. Tory Burch Nylon Tote
M Z Wallace 'Bea' SatchelI’ve admired MZ Wallace bags for years, but never owned one — but these are classics. I’m a fan of this bag, which has minimal hardware and pockets compared to the other MZ Wallace bags — but I love those interesting folds and the red details on the leather trim. It’s $385 at Nordstrom. M Z Wallace ‘Bea’ Satchel
Kate Spade New York 'Helena' ToteOK, OK, I know I said I didn’t like leather tote bags… but c’mon, look at this one. Love the generous strap drop (9″ will fit over even winter coats), and the patent ribbon and bow is just enough to make the bag interesting without being fussy. It’s $448 at Nordstrom. Kate Spade New York ‘Helena’ Tote

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Comments

  1. I think for non-vegans (i.e. if you don’t generally object to leather), it would be better to wear a leather bag to an interview rather than a nylon one.

    • S in Chicago :

      That was my first thought as well. I’m a vegetarian, but I’d be much more likely to go with something faux leather than nylon for a formal business situation such as an interview. And if I were going for cloth or nylon, I’d be much more inclined to go the route of a slim briefcase by Tumi or the like, where it immediately reads business vs. “I’m getting more use out of my weekend purse” like the MZ Wallace seems (and I am a huge fan of that brand and think the purse pictured is adorable for other situations).

    • I disagree. As an interviewer, so long as the bag is in good condition, I don’t really care whether it’s leather or nylon. Pink snakeskin might be de trop but it’s still better than a beaten up briefcase from 20 years ago (yes, I’ve seen those in interviews).

      • I think that, let’s face it, as interviewers we don’t care about a lot of things on this site. Not trying to be snarky, but just offering a reality check. I’m not judging anyone by their bag, unless it is especially outrageous. Otherwise, it’s just a bag. If it’s big, small, nylon, leather, who cares? If someone has a bag that doesn’t fit their resume, and they’re carrying it separately in a folder — that’s fine!

        • karenpadi :

          Thanks! I remember looking for jobs myself and how nervous I was about every little detail. On the other side of the interview table, I feel compassion for nervous interviewees and don’t “dock points” for anything less than blatant appearance-related issues that show a lack of preparation (says the girl who has spilled on herself in interviews, had hems rip in between interviews, and wore non-waterproof mascara on a rainy interview day). Blatant issues are obviously wrinkled suits, not shaving (men), clothing in poor condition, not professional hair and make-up (but no make-up or un-blow-dried hair isn’t dealer-breaker bad–for science and engineering types), and shoes that have seen better days or that you can’t walk 3 blocks in.

          Women on this site are so far ahead of the curve for even thinking about this appearance stuff. Focus more on preparing answers to obvious questions, researching the firm, and coming up with a long list of questions that will help you decide whether you want the job. If it’s a niche-job, bone up on recent developments in the area.

        • I wouldn’t hire a candidate unless she’s so outstanding that her beg doesn’t matter; however, an inappropriate bag does make me wonder what other faux pas she’ll unknowingly make. What if she takes that bag into court, and it distracts a juror or lowers the judges’ first impression of her- whether or not it’s “right” that a handbag have that effect.

          The people who bring in inappropriate bags usually don’t get hired for other reasons, but maybe the thought processed behind picking those bags are the same ones behind not seeming polished or thoughtful in other areas.

          A big part of being fashionable is wearing appropriate clothes. A “fashionable” bag is no longer fashionable when it reflects poor judgment.

          *So here’s a question*
          What are your feelings about “status symbol” bags? They’re usually dark, leather, and simple except for those logos…

          I’m have in mind something like a classic LV or Fendi tote with the logo patterns. Would your mind change if it was something like the checked LV (the pattern with either white and dark squares or tan and brown squares- I don’t remember the name at the moment)- iconic and obvious but not an actual repeated logo pattern?

          • I didn’t proofread- sorry for the typos! Good thing this isn’t an interview. I looked pretty careless in my writing.

          • karenpadi :

            I probably wouldn’t notice that it was a “status symbol” bag. If I did, it depends.

            Status symbol bags imply that the person has a lot of money. Having a lot of money implies that working is optional. Has the person, in answering and asking questions implied (knowingly or unknowingly) that she isn’t committed to being a full-time presence or isn’t interested in doing much beyond the minimum? Is she not interested in doing non-billable activities for the firm like training or recruiting? Does she want to be part-time with no real targets? Do her “office culture”-type questions imply that she wants a strict 9-to-3 and take 2 months off each year?

            Granted, these things would hurt any applicant regardless of her bag. But her bag tips me off that maybe I should dig a little deeper into these issues than I otherwise would. It also biases me when considering her answers.

          • But what is an inappropriate bag, unless it is hot pink with feathers? And who says lawyers have to be fashionable? I’m not coming at this from the point of view of someone not into fashion; believe me, I probably spend too much time and money on fashion, because I enjoy it. That said, I think we get too carried away here. I work at a highly-regarded law firm that gets excellent work. We have our pick during recruiting. I promise you we don’t care about what bag a female law student brings to her callback interview. We also don’t care about whether female associates on partner track are fashionable. They wear what they wear. Frankly, it’s a good state of affairs, because I don’t see men often judged on their accessories or general fashion sense.

          • I wouldn’t dock points for it, but would probably be more impressed if interviewee had an LV epi bag rather than the logo one.

            Signed,
            LV epi lover

          • @Why not- actually I think in this case, men are judges by their fashion choices. I don’t expect women who come into interviews to be “fashionable” per se. I just expect them to come with something that demonstrates good judgment the same way wearing a fairly conservative suit demonstrates good judgment. I’d be perplexed if a candidate came in wearing something other than the usual conservative attire such as a shorts suit or something else out of place. Same with a bag. Or a briefcase (male or female). Or whatever else.

            I think women just have more opportunity to choose something out-of-place since our clothing and accessorizing options are more varied, and we can call an inappropriate choice “fashion” or “expressing ourselves.”

  2. Skincare related threadjack :

    Hey guys,

    I’ve just confirmed that I’m allergic to vitamin E in cosmetics (also known as tocepherol or tocepherol acetate). It causes my skin to break out (contact dermatitis). I’d love some suggestions for foundation or moisturizer which don’t contain them.

    Also, I’ve heard that the vitamin E in certain expensive moisturizers may be stabilized differently and thus not trigger the dermatitis. Any experience with that? Finally, do people find primer to work to shield make up from skin sensitivities?

    Thanks in advance! I’m just not willing to stop wearing makeup!

    • You are far braver than I. I just gave up moisturizer and makeup in general due to skin allergy/contact dermatitis from preservatives/stabilizers. Primers didn’t help shield me. People can put up with my original skin. I only roll out the allergies for special events.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      I think I saw this question on Paula’s Choice once, and she recommended several products, including some made by other companies than hers. If she hasn’t addressed this question before, this is the perfect sort of question to submit to her.

  3. On a related note: what should women do with their interview bag during the lunch portion of the interview? I’ve always noticed that this is a pretty awkward decision for the interviewee that men just don’t have to face.

    On the pro-take-your-bag-with-you-to-lunch:
    1. It’s a strange office, it might not be secure.
    2. You might not be returning to the same room after lunch (especially if it’s an office where interviews are conducted in each person’s office).

    On the pro-leave-your-bag-in-the-interview-room:
    1. It leaves out the awkwardness of hauling a large, unfamiliar bag with you.
    2. Men don’t have large bags, why should women haul all that stuff?

    FWIW, unless you aren’t returning to the same room after lunch, I’d leave the large bag in the interview room and maybe put it under the table or out of sight. If I was worried about security, I’d bring a wristlet as a wallet and just take that with me for lunch.

    • Former MidLevel :

      I always keep my interview bag with me. For that reason, I tend to pick ones that are smaller–i.e., more like a large purse than a true tote.

    • AnonInfinity :

      I usually try to have a wristlet in a big bag for those situations. Since women’s clothes never seem to have pockets, I just like having something to stash some chapstick and my visitor’s badge. If there’s no need for a badge to reenter the building, then I’d probably leave it under the table in the interview room or ask the receptionist to put it behind her desk.

      I hate carrying a huge bag around and then having the dilemma of what to do with it at the restaurant. On the back of the chair? Under the chair? In front of my feet? Fishing around under the table looks awkward to me, but having it on the back of the chair can get in the way. Ugh!

    • I think you always bring the bag because you shouldn’t assume you’re coming back somewhere, never mind the security risk. But for this reason, I would never take a big bag. I think all you really need is a padfolio (which would fit both resume, WS, etc., and a note pad), a wallet and maybe a small few extras.

    • I take a medium-size tote to work every day and it doesn’t feel weird at all to take it to lunch or wherever I’m going. Maybe people are secretly judging me for my large bag, but I feel like I see plenty of women (in D.C.) carrying similarly-sized bags on day-to-day business, so taking it is a no-brainer to me.

    • Kontraktor :

      I would never leave my bag/purse anywhere honestly unless it was locked up. Not with ALL my CCs, iPhone, IDs, and important things sitting in it. A wristlet wouldn’t fit all my valuables anyway, so even if my CCs/IDs were on my person, my phone and other valuables wouldn’t be, so I might as well just take my purse. I always carry a normal purse on the bigger side to an interview. I place it somewhere discrete when it isn’t needed (usually on the floor or on a chair next to me). I don’t think it looks out of place because it’s large enough to fit everything I need in it comfortably, but small enough that it appears to be a regular purse/tote I’d just be carrying with me anyway.

    • It has never even occurred to me that this would be an issue of any importance at all. I’ve always taken my bag with me and just put it under the table, pretty much between my feet. Where’s the awkwardness? None that I can see.

    • PLEASE take your bag with you. If you’re interviewing with me, the last thing I want to worry about is keeping your stuff safe. Don’t make me babysit it. Take your bag and everything that’s yours with you.

    • I ask. As an academic, I expect interviews to take all day and to include lunch, a teaching session, and a research lecture, as well as bits of alone time for me to prepare, and meetings with various configurations of potential students, colleagues, and bosses. On my last job interview, I left it in teh dept chair’s office while he took me to lunch. I take it with me while traipsing to various interviews, in case I want to pull out papers or maybe even the laptop.

    • I’d take the bag with me, and like Nonny, just put it under the table at lunch.

      But…don’t men have briefcases and such when they interview? Maybe they’re secretly wondering what to do with it too.

    • I would absolutely not bring to an interview a bag so large as to have this issue come up. Come on, it’s an interview, you’re not moving in yet.. A couple extra copies of the resume, no matter how well-padded, cannot justify a suitcase.

  4. My all around bag is a vintage Coach leather bag that I got from eBay. I get tons of compliments on it and it’s a great size for carrying my laptop and documents. Here is the exact one. It’s a tremendous value. http://www.ebay.com/itm/AUTHNTC-EXTRA-LRG-VINTAGE-COACH-BLACK-LEATHER-TOTE-SHOULDER-BAG-HAS-SEVRL-FLAWS-/200805669472?pt=US_CSA_WH_Handbags&hash=item2ec0f35a60#ht_1849wt_952

  5. emcsquared :

    I really like the Levenger bags – I have a black Fortunata tote and it’s great for conferences, meetings, etc because it is tall enough for a binder or portfolio but also has a zip pocket in the middle so I can hide my commuting shoes, lunch, what have you.

    I don’t use it on a day-to-day basis because it’s a bit too structured for easy carrying on my commute. The leather is really nice, the handles are a decent length (could be a titch longer and not adjustable), and it has enough pockets that little stuff doesn’t get lost.

    • emcsquared :

      Here is a link:
      http://www.levenger.com/Bags-11/Totes—Bags-75/Carisma-trade–Fortunata-Tote-Core-8593.aspx

      Also, I’m having a hard time picturing a large, nylon, structured bag that doesn’t look like a diaper bag. If I was anti-leather, I think I would carry a big-ish fabric or faux-leather purse (I got one at Kohl’s, love it) and then carry my portfolio separately.

      • BigLaw Refugee :

        I have that Levenger bag, too. I get lots of compliments on it. It is perfect for interviews. For everyday, it’s a little heavy and as you said, too structured – it’s a bit large and clunky. But it stands up on its own, which is great when fishing around for the resume or trying to stash it under the table at lunch.

  6. Diana Barry :

    I like leather bags better than nylon for interviews, but when I was a student I used a nylon bag. Also, I interviewed in the winter during 1L year, and always left the ‘big’ bag and my coat and boots with the receptionist, then came back to get them afterwards.

    Threadjack re anxiety – does anyone get that anxious feeling like a weight is pressing on your chest and you can’t get a deep breath? When I am stressed out lately (even subconsciously!) I am getting that feeling and it is really hard for me to shake for the rest of the day. Watching TV seems to get rid of it but obvs I can’t do that at work.

    • Constance Justice :

      Stop what you are doing, close or minimize all windows on your computer, close your eyes and office door if you can, and focus on your breath. Try to take a deeper breath each time. Even better, get out of the office and go for a walk, focusing and standing up straight, and controlling your breath. Make yourself do this for 10 minutes or so.

      I have anxiety, and this is what helps me. Even better, I’ll set a five or ten minute timer and make myself focus on nothing else but controlling my muscles and breathing properly. Good luck!

      • The point is not controling your breath, but observing it. Preferably observing it with both sides of your brain, which is why yoga teaches you to both visualize the movement of your breath, and to count how long it takes to go in and out. If you’re doing that, no runaway part of your brain is able to fully engage in the anxiety-producing thoughts. Voila. Simple applied neurology :-).
        Definitely adding a walk is always a good idea to any anxiety-reducing technique, unless you’re working alongside a freeway.

    • Just to warn you, sometimes deep breathing can trigger anxiety too – it can make you hyperventilate and set off a cascade of anxiety symptoms (lightheadedness, etc). Come back if you need to and maybe we can come up with other ideas for you.

    • That’s actually the classic sign of an anxiety attack — the inability to get a deep breath.

      For some people, acknowledging and naming the feeling can be very helpful. I agree with stepping back away from work for a minute, but consciously thinking “oh, I feel like I can’t get a deep breath. That’s the feeling I get when I’m starting to get pretty anxious.” can be enough to short circuit the episode.

    • This happens to me occasionally, and regular strenuous exercise really seems to help.

    • I was feeling that way until I stopped drinking so much coffee. Apparently 6 cups a day didn’t wake me up but made me feel so anxious all the time!

    • I get this sometimes. I call it a panic attack, let my husband know if I am home when it happens and just try to breathe , but it isn’t always easy. Take care. I know we are both with small babies right now and it isn’t easy.

  7. immediate TJ:

    Contemplating purchasing a house and struggling mightily with the decision.

    DH and I saw house and both fell in love. It’s in the school district where we’d be happy to send our hypothetical children, on a [very small] ski lake (I have always wanted to be on the water) and a good commuting distance for both of us. We live in a small-ish Midwestern City (second biggest in the state), and a lot of the homes that we’ve looked at within the area are in “vinyl villages” with zero trees, .25 acre lots, houses on all sides, 3 variations of floor plans, lots of vinyl siding/McMansion characteristics, and a million restrictive covenants. Neither of us wants to live in vinyl village. This house is not particularly grand or showy, but has great characteristics, lake frontage, etc., which we are just fired up about. We’d been frustrated at the available homes on the market for awhile, and this was a breath of fresh air. We agree that this is a “forever” house–we don’t want to do another “move up.” Homes in this neighborhood don’t go up for sale often.

    Right now, we live in a small house that my husband bought before we were married. It’s perfectly adequate for my needs, although definitely not a dream home or a place where we’d be able to raise a family of more than 3, but a longer commute for me. DH bought it as a fixer upper and has fixed it up, so our mortgage payment is currently DIRT CHEAP. (>$500). We also love our neighbors.

    We’ve been aggressively saving since earlier this year and have zero consumer debt and have most of DH’s loans paid off. Also have about $115K in student loan debt left between us (~1020 per month in payments). The house came up sooner than we had anticipated in the game (we’d thought about moving next spring). We have enough for the 5% down payment and to “buy out” our PMI, but this would take quite a bit of our savings. Monthly payments on the new house would be 1350. (low COL area). We also wouldn’t have furniture in most of the house for awhile :). I have rental income from another property that will cover the cost of our current home while it is on the market.

    DH is a teacher, I’m in law. DH LOVES his job. Mine is a MIXED bag, depending on my projects/mo0d. Sometimes, it’s nice to know that we could get by if I decided I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. We can definitely afford the monthly payments on our combined incomes (probably not on just his income though), but don’t get to do all of the “extra” fun stuff that comes along with having a very low mortgage. I’m just terrified of feeling trapped in my job/career choices by a house.

    I thought that I’d made my decision yesterday to jump on this house, but then everything on my desk today is so exhausting/annoying that I’m rethinking my desire to commit. I have tons of anxiety about ALL of my decisions, so I’ve spent my day worrying about (1) buying the house and feeling trapped; and (2) regretting not buying the house.

    We’ve been negotiating for awhile, and I think we’ve got the current owners to the lowest price. Our answer is due at midnight. I am a basket case. Thoughts?

    • Jacqueline :

      It doesn’t sound like your heart is in it. Why not wait? There will be other houses, and in a few years you may feel more financially and emotionally secure. Buying a house is such a huge decision that I don’t think you want to move forward with it until you feel more sure.

      Is your DH really into buying? It sounds from your post like you’re the more ambivalent of the two of you, but I could be reading it wrong.

      • Sorry–DH is really into it. He’s kind of been driving the whole process, working with the realtor, finding houses to show me, etc. We’re equally torn on the issues.

    • Tough decision. One sentence stood out to me: the fear of not getting to do all the extra “fun stuff” that comes along with a low mortgage.

      This is key, I think. On paper, it seems you can afford this house. I think you need to ask yourself, and be very honest with yourselves, about whether you’re “house people.” If you’re a homebody or many of your hobbies involve homey-ness in some way (entertaining, cooking, etc.), then I think it’s worth the risk, knowing that your home and ‘play’ are intertwined. If you prefer spending your precious free time traveling or being out and about a lot — I’d think twice. Because in that scenario, your house payment very well could cut into your fun.

      You also say you’re planning to have kids eventually. Would it be safely doable to have the expense of daycare, large student loan payments and a high-ish mortgage?

      • Senior Attorney :

        This. And I will add that when I was fresh out of law school my then-husband and I bought a house that was a real stretch, and we ended up house-poor and daycare-poor to the point that we couldn’t do ANYTHING fun. And when we split a few years later we had to sell it at a loss because neither of us could afford it on our own.

        These days I am still living in the modest house I bought for myself post-divorce, with my second husband (my son having grown and flown the coop), and although sometimes we envy our friends with the fancy houses, we love the small mortgage payment and the flexibility it gives us to do things like go to Asia for three weeks this coming December.

        YMMV, of course, but if I were in your shoes I’d wait. There really is always another house.

    • I would go for it. I’m getting from your email that you are young (pre-kids.) As such, your prime earning years are ahead of you. Your salary will increase and the payments will be less painful. Don’t forget to take into account the tax advantages of a larger mortgage payments.

      We all have our escape fantasies but few of us actually escape. Even if you leave the job you have now, you’ll still be working in some job.

      • Diana Barry :

        I would too. Sounds like this house is ideal and the supply of ideal houses is not infinite.

      • I think the extent to which the “fun stuff” is escapist fantasies and how likely it is that you won’t get to do it anyway is key. Really, if “fun” means going to St. Tropez for a relaxing couple of weeks, there are other obstacles that make that unlikely. If “fun” means dinner at Brio, then you’d want to be careful of cutting that close to the bone.

        Closely related to that is how much you’re into the life that this house would be ideal for. Do you really want kids, or is that an assumption you’re making because it’s the norm and you’d feel totally pressured to follow that script once you were living on-set?

        I’m speaking as someone whose former husband fit the last scenario I described. He returned to his former reality.

      • BigLaw Refugee :

        Being in law, it’s not as safe an assumption as it might be that your salary will go up over time (especially if you are currently an associate at a big firm). And leaving the law likely means a pay cut.

        Also, loving your neighbors where you are is no small thing. Particularly when you have kids, having a community around you could be worth a lot.

    • I don’t have a lot of advice on the merits of your decision, but it sounds to me like this is something you want, you’re just anxious today. I know that on bad days (when I’m tired or stressed or anxious) I’m not myself. Because of some medical issues, those days are more frequent than normal, but that’s really let me see what happens to my thinking when they pop up. The ability to make decisions is a finite cognitive resource (google “decision fatigue” for more info), and when we get weary, the status quo looks a lot more appealing. When I have the kind of day that it sounds like you’re having, I start second-guessing everything I’m doing. I want to give up on projects I’ve committed to, from little things like craft projects to big things like my intended career path.

      I don’t know that buying this house is right for you. But I strongly suggest that you try to put it out of your mind for today. Work on the things in front of you to the best of your ability, and try to spend some time tonight to relaxing and resting (if possible). Tomorrow, or whenever you feel well-rested, look at this again. If you still feel like it’s not for you, then talk to your husband honestly about your fears (actually, this is a good idea anyway, but I’d put it off until you are more yourself). But if you’ve been excited and into this up until today, then my guess is you really are comfortable with the decision, you’re just having a bad day. Good luck!

    • One word of caution– how old is this dream house? Others have addressed the cost issues already.

      Is this house unique and charming because it’s an older house built before the McDevelopments popped up? If so, while some of the older houses were built very well rather than the slapdash mass-produced McMansions of later decades, they will still have all the problems of older houses. Stuff wears out, expensive large things like furnaces and the roof will wear out.

      When DH and I had been househunting, we saw many charming houses built in the 1940s and 1950s and many of them had things like: the roof that was on the house was on its last legs. But because of the location and charming look of the house, as well as the good school district we were in, owners weren’t as accomodating in terms of price negotiation and we balked.

      We also balked when we thought about all the non-big items that typically wear out in old houses and realized we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our already busy lives if we added a constant stream of projects requiring lots of DIY energy or paying up for contractors.

      It sounds your your DH has experience and ability to fix-up a house. Is he willing to do more of the same when stuff breaks in this house (if it’s old)?

    • What’s a ski lake?

  8. I really like the Dooney & Bourke tote pictured — it’s a good combo of nylon and leather.

    The bag I have is this one: http://www.jonhartdesign.com/main/home.php?mod=product&id_prd=116

    It’s a good size, has leather trim and bottom, but a coated canvas body. The one I have is in the tan color, and the straps have developed a nice patina on them. It’s structured and doesn’t look casual in the right color (tan or black would be my top choices).

  9. Corporettes – what is your favorite drugstore nail polish brand and color for toes? I am looking to buy some new polish for my toenails. Thanks!

    • Naijamodel :

      Revlon! Sally Hansen is good too with a good base coat (Orly Bonder), and top coat (seche vite). I only wear reds and corals and hot pinks on my toes, no specific suggestions.

    • Revlon Colorstay polishes are probably my favorite. I work in a creative environment, so I wear most any color (even neons) on my hands/feet and won’t be much help on color selection! And believe it or not, Wet ‘n Wild has really awesome nail polish (the formula is long wearing and a good consistency). I buy the Megalast line from them. Also: OPI is probably my favorite of the less expensive nail polish brands. It’s about $8 a bottle, and though you can’t get it at the drug store, you can easily get it at Ulta and other salon-y places. Very good formula, long lasting, good colors.

      I would stay away from the Sally Hansen Xtreme line (very thick, awful formula after the first use). I also don’t love Essie polishes, which you can buy at drugstores now. They are generally very thin, very streaky, and require 3 coats for the desired opacity.

      If you’re going to splurge, I’ve absolutely LOVED every Chanel polish I’ve tried. The consistency is like butter. A dream to work with.

  10. TO lawyer :

    I have the black Pippa bag and highly recommend it! It has pockets(!), lots of space but doesn’t look like you’re toting around the entire world. Plus you can get it in a ton of colours, neutrals and fun colours!

    I put mine away for the spring/summer but actually am looking forward to pulling it out again in a few weeks because it keeps me so organized.

  11. Toronto Meet-Up :

    A TO meet-up has been suggested a few times, but I think we need to get the ball rolling! How many people would be in? I can set up an email account to do it.

  12. In the ABA Journal today, the topic of the week asked if student loan debt has every kept you from being in a relationship with someone. How depressing! As one of those lost souls from the class of 2011, saddled with a ridiculous amount of debt, I thank god my significant other doesn’t think I’m terrible with money or a bad investment for the future (although he hasn’t proposed yet, so who knows!)

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I was actually really nervous to tell my boyfriend about the amount of student loan debt that I have, but once we started getting serious and talking about moving in together it was something I felt he needed to know. He was a little shocked at the number, but took it in stride. When we get to the point of seriously talking about marriage, we will have to do some thinking about combining our finances and such. But it hasn’t kept me from being in a relationship. Thank goodness!

    • I found out after the fact that it was an issue of concern with my boyfriend – he had no debt, and was worried about the level of loan debt I had from my graduate school and implication it had for my general debt comfort-level. However, I was working full-time, was very upfront about my level of debt and how it stressed *me* out, and what my payment plan was (priority #1 in my budget).

      I would hesitate to be involved with anyone with a significant amount of debt who didn’t also have a reasonable plan to pay it off and a reasonable (to me) reason for the debt. $10K credit card debt because of job loss, moving, crisis in family, etc., w/ plan to pay it off = okay, let’s deal with this. $10K because of shopping, missed payments, general frivolity w/ unrealistic or no plan to pay it off = deal breaker.

      • Thinking about it, the same thing would apply for student loans. If you had a realistic plan for all your education and it just didn’t pan out because of the national/global recession, that (to me) is very different than taking out max loans, fooling around in class, changing majors multiple times, and generally making poor decisions at the undergrad/graduate level. And I say this having a beloved cousin graduate with the same amount of undergraduate debt as me, from a college about 4x less expensive – but I didn’t use extra loan money to subsidize a high-consumption lifestyle.

    • It seems perfectly reasonable to me. Why would I want to get in a relationship with someone who owes over a hundred thousand dollars from a crap law school and will have an extremely difficult time paying it off? Same for any other expensive degree from a school with poor employment rates. It’s just smart to think ahead. The GF of one of my lawyer-couple friends refused to get engaged until he paid off his $200k undergrad+law tuition/living expenses debt. It took him 4.5 years, but he just finished his last payment, is totally thrilled to be debt free, and is now excited to be ring shopping. I paid back my ~$80k, but my DH still owes about $80k, which is preventing us from buying a house. His debt is now our debt, and it sucks.

  13. academicsocialite :

    Baby-related TJ – please ignore if it’s not your thing.

    So it’s my last week of mat leave before heading back to work – my babe is 12 weeks. What would you do with the last few days?

    Would love words of wisdom from moms and others who might have suggestions.

    • Is childcare available? We started our son in daycare the week before I went back. Gave me some time to do trial runs of our routine and got him used to it with some shorter days. I spent the week doing life maintenance that was too hard to do baby in tow like hair appts, dentist, dogs to the vet, getting my work clothes in order, etc. Also, maybe do big grocery shop and meal prep for those first few weeks?

      • academicsocialite :

        We’re doing half days with our nanny-share next week, and I’m ramping up to a full-time schedule over several weeks, which is why I think I’m not completely freaking out about leaving this tiny creature with someone else during the day. Thanks for the ideas!

    • I took a lot of naps while cuddling with my son during my last week. :) (I also got mastitis, so that sucked).

      I also tried on all my work clothes. Which was very depressing at the time, but it gave me a solid idea of what I had that fit and I segregated my closet into “Fits Now” and “Will Fit Again (Hopefully).” Are you going to pump at work? I didn’t realize until I started back that pumping at work would severely limit my wardrobe choices. Basically, I would do whatever you wanted to during the day for this last week. Do whatever makes you happiest and you wouldn’t normally be able to do while at work.

      Good luck next week, too!

      • Second what JJ said. Be sure you have some clothes that fit you, even if it means buying a new pair of pants that’s bigger than your old pants but not maternity (this is what I had to do). Also, I wasn’t going to be able to wear any of my sheath dresses that don’t work well for pumping. Also, if you are planning to pump at work, buy another set (or two) of those flanges so that you don’t have to clean them at work. I basically used a set and threw them into a different plastic bag, and had another set for the afternoon. Otherwise, you need to clean and dry them out somewhere in your office. The first week back is really hard – don’t be surprised if you get a little emotional – I was on the verge of tears every time anyone mentioned my baby.

        • Yes. Unfortunately you may have to suck it up and buy clothes a size larger than what you would normally wear. But, having clothes that actually fit (and may be useful if/when you get pregnant again or else can be tailored down) feels a LOT better than staring at clothes that are too tight and make you feel horrible and self-conscious.

          …not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything.

    • Perform “maintenance” on yourself — haircut, make-up, manicure, new purse. You will not have time to do this when you start back.
      Plan the first week’s worth of outfits — having to actually leave the house on time is a challenge.
      Once those are done — cuddle up with your baby!

    • Diana Barry :

      Go grocery shopping and plan meals for your first week back. Make sure baby has enough clothes that are big enough and enough diapers, etc., and pack daycare bag (if needed) with extra clothes, etc. Get extra pump parts (if you are pumping), bags for milk, etc., and pack those for work. Make sure you have enough work clothes that fit for the first week back, and put those on *right before you leave the house* when you go to work.

      Go for walks with baby and take a nap, if you can!!! :) Good luck!

    • Someone else recommended maintenance, but I would go further and do a splurge. The first day my oldest was in daycare (the week before I went back to work), I got a massage. It took long enough that I felt like it was a good test run and because it was scheduled, it forced me to leave him there. Plus there was the actual massage part…a treat for my body after all it went through.

    • A little of “all of the above”–get to know your pump, figure out what you and baby will wear next week, and what you’ll eat (unless baby daddy does the cooking). Get your house to a level of mess/cleanliness you can handle, refresh yourself on any work topics you need to think about. But once you’ve got your ducks in a row, indulge yourself with sheer baby-ness. At that age, my son was really trying to lift his head up on his tummy, was reaching for pictures of faces, doing all sorts of things that seemed so much more like a little person than the bundle I brought home from the hospital! If you’re as fascinated by these changes and stages as I was, you don’t want to go back to work regretting that you’re missing out. Take pictures! Write in your journal! Do all those things that people fantasize about before they find out how incredibly hard the day-to-day with a baby is; you’ve had a couple months to adjust and can probably do it better than when you started.

      Or, if you’re like my little sister, call up grownups to talk to and look forward to getting out.

    • Anonymous :

      I pledged myself to crawl back into bed with baby each morning till 9:00– not sleeping (as if!) but not getting dressed, not thinking, just holding and being. Then I pledged also to go outside with babe each of my precious last days– again, not running errands but being. I picked out outfits for whole first week, readied my work purse, put special work-lunch treats on the grocery list. Told myself I had done well and enjoyed, and that I would do well in new challenge of working/family life. Looking back, both totally true. Good luck! Be gentle on yourself.

  14. What timely posting! I’m looking for an interview bag – and have been looking for a very classic (i.e., plain) leather one. I feel like leather will wear better over time, and be an additional detail making up a well-conceived formal outfit. The nylon bags seem too casual to me – I’d rather see a leather-look (understanding issues of price or ethics) than a fabric, even if a pricey one. It would be like seeing fabric shoes as part of an interview outfit.

    I think I found a good one from Talbots: a black pebbled leather tote, on sale – they had other colors that were full price. It arrives tomorrow, and I hope that it successfully fills my wardrobe void.

    • It came today – it’s the Essie bag. Very nice leather, roomy, stands up nicely without flopping over. I wish there was an inch more length in the arm straps, but it still will go over the shoulder of a suit, just not a suit and coat. All in all, I’m happy with it.

  15. I haven’t tried these, but I do love the look of them and from what I hear they stand up pretty well to the beatings of daily wear and tear.

    http://www.laurenflury.com/

  16. Saks Labels :

    I was at a Saks Off 5th outlet yesterday, and I saw three labels I’d never seen before: Saks Black Label, Saks Blue Label and Saks Red Label. Also Saks brand shoes.

    Anyone know anything about these labels? I have not seen them in real Saks stores.

  17. So I totally understand if Le Pliage is not *your* interview bag but would you object if someone came in for an interview with it? The criteria Kat listed are my criteria for a bag generally so I honestly don’t have too many purses but I love Le Pliage.

    • vanilla but... :

      Honestly, it looks like more of a weekend-er tote because it lacks structure. I’d rather see you go with a smaller, more structured, professional purse that doesn’t fit a folder and carry the folder separately.

      I wouldn’t object if you are a law student. But if you are a lateral, I look at you funny because I expect you to have invested in more brief-case-like purses. If you want to stick to non-leather, I’d go with Lo & Sons OG, OMG, or Brookline. (I have the OG and if I was to interview, I’d probably use that–even if it is a little big).

      • I’m not committed to non-leather but I just feel more comfortable with it. I love the Lo and Sons bags. I’m not a legal type – do you think that it’d still be smarter to have a more briefcase-like interview bag?

  18. I bought a nylon Knomo last year during my annual search for a new work bag after looking at dozens of leather options. I needed something that could handle laptop, files, and everyday purse things since I travel a lot and do a lot of overnight trips. I couldn’t be happier with the bag- it’s withheld its shape better than most leather bags that I’ve owned, and I don’t have to sweat stuffing it under an airline seat on a crowded flight. I’ve found that I’m just too rough on leather bags for the price, and this one still looks brand new after a year and many, many trips and meetings.

  19. I’ve had this bag for a few years and love it: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/cotton-weave-tote-to-go. It wouldn’t hold up for more conservative offices; I work at a museum, so it’s pretty easy-going. But it’s been a go-to for me. The black and white stripes go with mostly anything (except other black and white stripes… found myself walking down the street and realizing my bag mimicked my shirt) and it’s big enough for both my lunch bag, my purse and a padfolio. It’s interesting enough without being a distraction, in my opinion. But again, couldn’t work for a conservative office for interviewing, probably.

  20. These are all beautiful bags to have. I will consider at least one of these when I have the money to buy.

  21. StaffingStarr :

    Interview Bag??? Is this industry-specific? I’ve interviewed hundreds of professionals and I’ve never seen an interview bag or briefcase… I think a portfolio/pad is enough for an interview. When I’ve interviewed in the past, I’ve always left my purse in the car, and took just my car key with me. I have an all-purpose professional bag similar to the ones above that I carry each day. I’ve learned something new today… :o)

    • anon for the moment :

      Well, depending on where you live/are interviewing, a lot of people take public transportation to their interviews, so can’t leave the purse in the car. I think traveling for interviews is especially common in law.

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