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Backpacks for Work

backpacks-for-workAre there any backpacks that are stylish and large enough to hold file folders, binders and more on your commute from work? Backpacks are super trendy right now, but all of the really stylish bags are far too small for file folders or work papers. I was just at an event where I saw a young lawyer carrying a large, stylish backpack and my first thought was, good for her — whether she’s biking to work, walking to work, or just watching out for back problems down the line, it’s a smart move.  Coincidentally, I also recently got a question from Reader B, who wants to start walking to work and carrying large files — so I thought we’d go on a mini-Hunt. Here’s B’s question:

I’m looking to start walking to work more as I recently bought a home which sits about a mile away from my office. However, I’m an attorney and am often carrying case files and other paperwork back and forth. Tote bags, no matter what the straps are like, begin to hurt my shoulders on this. I know a backpack would solve the problem but as a relatively young professional, I’m afraid to look like I can’t let go of my college backpack days. Is it ever acceptable to wear a backpack to the office

Interesting question, B — I’ve written before of my love of walking to work, but I’ll admit that for any real file carrying I took cabs and client-paid cars to and from the office.  A few notes on tote bags, just at the outset: first, note that a leather bag is going to be far, far heavier than a nylon tote for work — and that I always found a single shoulder strap to be more comfortable for a long schlep. (You may also want to check out our advice on how to lighten your load.) Still, if you’re already feeling pain, there are a ton of backpacks right now that distribute the weight better across your back — I’ve rounded up a few of my top picks below, ranging from $29-$550.  Readers, would you consider wearing a backpack to work? Have you bought any backpacks for work lately that you love — and what qualities make one more or less professional and stylish in your mind?

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A Weatherproof Tote for Work

Weatherproof Tote for WorkIs it possible to find a weatherproof work tote — a stylish, quality bag for work that won’t be ruined by bad weather? How can you protect your bag from the elements? Reader C wonders…

Kat, I’d like to upgrade my work tote bag to something special but I worry about caring for it when commuting in rain and snow. The best thing about my 20 year old vinyl tote is that it’s indestructible, but it’s also pretty shabby. I’d like something classy but worry about the weather ruining it. Thanks for your advice.

We’ve talked about upgrading to a Prada bag (and upgrading your bag in general), what your tote bag says about you, how to lighten your loadthe best bags for commuting (and the best bags for interviewing!) — but we haven’t really talked about a weatherproof work tote. I’m curious to hear what readers say.

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The Hunt: Interview Totes

stylish interview totes 1752016 Update: Check out our most recent roundup of professional tote bags for women!

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.

A stylish interview tote is something that every woman needs — yet it can often be a hassle to find the perfect thing (at a price you like).  For my money, a good interview tote:

  • is black (and can be worn with any color, including navy)
  • has structure to it and will stand up by itself if you set it down
  • is big enough to hold at least a folder with your resume, as well as a small bag of makeup and a bottle of water
  • has interior organization (pockets and the like) so you can find what you need, quickly and easily, without digging

In an ideal world, a good interview top would also zipper on top (so it’s secure and won’t accidentally spill out), and would be able to be carried by a shoulder strap so your hands can be free.  We’ve gone on the hunt for these before (see our 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010 roundups here); also, guest poster Jean from Extra Petite recently shared her favorite tote bags with us.  Some of the classics that we’ve included in previous roundups (and are still available) are Rebecca Minkoff MAB totes, the Kate Spade Maryanne line, most MZ Wallace bags, nylon Tory Burch totes, and Lo & Sons totesReaders, what qualities do you look for in an interview tote bag?  Are there any classics that we’re forgetting?  Have you made any recent purchases of a great tote bag?

 

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Are Messenger Bags Unprofessional?

Are Messenger Bags Unprofessional? | CorporetteMessenger bags: unprofessional, or just fine for the office? Reader H wonders:

Hello! I love Corporette, and had a question about messenger bags. I read through some of the blog’s archives re: work bags, and found plenty of negative comments about carrying messenger bags to work. I always wore them in school, and recently impulse-bought a men’s messenger bag on sale (this one to be specific), because it was so gorgeous in the store. Going through the comments made me wonder — would this be appropriate to bring to the office and wear to a meeting? The leather is just such great quality, and I love the simple, understated lines. For the record, very, very new at NYC BigLaw, and I only wear these sorts of bags on one shoulder, not across the body.

Interesting question, Reader H! (Pictured: Bleecker Commuter in Leather, $598 at Coach.) We’ve talked about backpacks for commuting (including walking to work), women’s briefcases, and interview totes, and for Coffee Breaks I’ve often suggested briefcases primarily marketed to men, but I’ve never thought about the messenger bag question — so I’m curious to hear what the readers say.

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How to Lighten Your Load

how to lighten your loadIf you’re carrying a million bags, how do you look professional?  How can you lighten your load and reduce the number of bags you’re carrying? Reader R wonders…

I work in a large corporate environment and recently had a daughter. I’m back at work, but I feel like a bag lady. I’m only 5’3″ and have to carry in my laptop, purse, pump, lunch, and coffee. (Not brave enough to add my gym bag to the mix, although I’d like to.) I feel like the bags overwhelm my frame and generally make me look smaller, younger, and unprofessional. How do others juggle all this STUFF?

Congratulations on your daughter, R!  Great question — I can see how this is a problem for new mothers, but also for other people carrying too much stuff.  We’ve talked about what your tote bag says about you, as well as how to save your back while commuting, but we haven’t really talked about a) how to lighten your load, and b) how to balance your load (particularly if you’re petite) so it looks more managed.

From my perspective, most of reader R needs to do is to reduce the amount of stuff she carries.  Some tips: [Read more…]

The Hunt: Interview Tote Bags

The Best Tote Bags for Interviewing

2016 Update: Check out our most recent roundup of professional tote bags for women!

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.

It’s been a while since we did a roundup on interview tote bags, so I thought we’d do one now (see our 2012, 2011, and 2010 roundups here). I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: in my mind the perfect interview tote has structure (that it keeps if you set it down), is a muted color like black, and doesn’t have a ton of logos or other bling on it. In terms of size, I think it should be big enough to fit a file folder as well as whatever else you would normally carry in your purse, but not so big that you could fit a beach blanket or groceries in there.  In the past I’ve always preferred nylon to leather (much lighter weight) but I think readers have finally convinced me that the weight doesn’t matter that much.  (What do you think, guys?)  We’ve included some of the classics in previous roundups (such as the Kate Spade Maryanne line, most MZ Wallace bags, nylon Tory Burch totes, and Lo & Sons totes) so I’ll only include the newer ones in today’s roundup. Readers, what are the top qualities you look for in an interview tote? Have you made any great purchases recently? [Read more…]