Coffee Break – Lo & Sons Travel Tote

Lo & Sons T.T.The other week I was lucky enough to receive two bags from Lo & Sons for review — both the travel tote (“T.T.”) and their overnight/gym bag (the “O.G.”).  I must say, I was really impressed with the design of these bags.  Love the lightweight nylon that they’re made of, as well as the leather straps — but the number of pockets and the intelligence with which they’re laid out is something else.   The T.T. bag, for example, has a laptop pocket, pockets for your technology, outside pockets that are subdivided, a nice long keyfob, and even a sleeve designed to let you attach the tote to your rolling bag — and I loved that it had a bright purple lining, which I think makes it so much easier when I’m digging in my bag. The overnight bag has a similar zippered sleeve (which can be used to attach to a rolling bag or just be used as an outside pocket), as well as a really big outside pocket that is the perfect size for a pair of shoes.  Both are simple and black, too — something my husband will probably appreciate when I inevitably make him carry my bag.  The T.T. is $260, and the O.G. is $295, both available at the Lo & Sons website.

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Please note that all product reviews are subject to the Corporette Review Policy.

The Best Briefcase for Women

Tumi Villa Nivelle Business CaseA few weeks ago, an interesting subject popped up in comments — the briefcase. One commenter advised the readers that in her big city, “not a single woman lawyer I know under the age of 50 carries a purse.”  This led to a small debate between briefcase-carrying women and non-briefcase carrying women.

To my eyes, though, here in NYC it’s rare to see a briefcase. Most women I know carry a large purse (a hobo or some other shoulder bag), and then supplement that with a tote bag when it’s really necessary (sometimes filled with a laptop in a sleeve — never a computer bag).  Those frequently carrying files may switch to a tote/purse combo — but even then it seems like something I saw a lot more of a few years ago, before flash drives, remote log-ins, and other convenient telecommuting tools were invented.  I’ve even written about what your tote bag says about you. [Read more...]

The Hunt: The Lightweight, Professional Tote

Rafe New York - Zue Large Nylon Tote (Black) - Bags and LuggageI have a beloved nylon tote that was my go-to for interviews for a long time. It’s super lightweight, nondescript, and has a simple pocket inside that’s perfect for carrying a few pens and pencils. It is, alas, so “loved” that it’s no longer really a professional thing to take around — the “leather” handles are peeling, there are threads poking out everywhere, and there’s even some sort of big snag on the side.

In case other ladies are looking for a similar tote (either to replace a much-loved version or to buy one for interview season), I thought I’d share my hunt for a new, perfect nylon tote. My old tote dimensions, which I thought were perfect: 15″ wide, by 11.5″ high, by 3″ deep, with an 11″ shoulder drop.

Merona® Croco Work Tote - BlackThis one from Merona has a faux leather look to it, which isn’t usually my thing — but for $29.99 it’s hard to go wrong with it. I like that it includes a lot of interior organization — padded laptop pocket, cell phone pocket, and key ring holder — and I also like that it zips closed. The dimensions are pretty close to my old beloved favorite — 16″ wide, 12″ high, 4.75″ deep. It’s $29.99 at Target. Merona Croco Work Tote – Black
Banana Republic Nylon Buckle ToteThis bag looks a bit bigger than what I normally think of as an interview tote, but it still looks professional, and I like the fact that there’s nothing “faux” about it. The reasonable price — $49.50 — doesn’t hurt either. It’s available in black, khaki and teal at Banana Republic.com. Banana Republic Nylon Buckle Tote
Storksak Gigi Large Diaper BagIs it bad that I don’t care that this one says it’s a diaper bag? It still looks like a great bag to me (and, though I have no experience with them, seems somewhat small for a diaper bag at 11″x14″x6″). Again, not a huge fan of the white-on-black stitching, but so it goes. It’s $198 at Endless Amazon. Storksak Gigi Large Diaper Bag
Latico Candice Slim PorterNow the bags start to get expensive. I like the look of this one a lot, and particularly like the fun interior print. At 12.5″x17″x4″, it’s a bit bigger than my old one, but that can be okay. It’s available at Endless Amazon in black, forest, metallic brown, metallic copper, metallic olive, and “steel” for $219. Latico Candice Slim Porter
Rafe New York - Zue Large Nylon Tote (Black) - Bags and LuggageLOVE this bag. I like the patent trim, the zip pockets on the front, and the “multifunctional” slip pockets on the inside. It’s $219 at Zappos (available in black and red with black trim). (It’s also pictured at the top of the post). Rafe New York – Zue Large Nylon Tote (Black) – Bags and Luggage

Readers, what do you look for in a lightweight but professional tote? Any great finds of late?

The Intern with the $9,000 Handbag

hermes to workWe got an interesting e-mail from reader N:

I am an intern at the equivalent of a BigLaw firm in Singapore. I have a Birkin bag (a small one, 30cm) and am wondering if it is appropriate for me to take it to the office. I’ve heard two conflicting opinions: (1) you should dress what you would like to be, ie, if you want to be a partner one day, dress as such; and (2) dress appropriate to your level in the firm.

We have MANY different opinions on this issue, actually, so we’re going to try to put them in cohesive format.

First: No matter what reader N decides to do, we beg of you — please do not walk around the hall with your handbag unless you are entering or exiting the building.  We have seen women do this carrying multi-thousand dollar bags, and we have seen women do this carrying $50 bags, and it is never a good look. If security is a concern in your office, lock it in your office drawer while you move about the halls.

In general, we don’t have a problem with dressing for the job you want to have — or even with carrying an expensive purse.  But here, where the Birkin bag is known for being an exclusive, highly sought after bag (complete with an only recently debunked “waiting list” myth) that costs more than some cars — and where it has been popularized more by socialites than businesswomen — we’re just a bit hesitant. The fact that you have one of the smaller ones, which will not fit work papers inside it, doesn’t help matters. (We’ve heard the $9,000 figure quoted, but in all honesty we don’t personally know how much they cost, and the Hermes website does not report the fact.) [Read more...]

What Your Tote Bag Says About You

Last week, we suggested Hayden-Harnett’s Ibiza “convertible flight tote” to readers — intending to recommend it as a tote bag for when you need to take home approximately fifteen pounds of paperwork — so we were a bit surprised when commenters railed against it as looking cheap as a purse (to us:  duh, of course, your purse is separate from that!) and bad as a carry-on (again, to us:  duh, of course, because the best soft carry-on is LeSportsac — how can that even be debated?).  After we got over our internal monologue, we’ve been thinking about all the different tote bags we’ve seen through the years.

To be clear:  These are not the kind of tote bags you carry with you to interviews — nor are they the kind of bags you use to carry a magazine and some papers.  These are the bags that you keep somewhere in your office and pull out on Friday afternoon when you suddenly realize you have to read or review thousands of pages over the weekend, and don’t feel like trying to box it up (or come into the weekend).  There are a few different varieties of them, and we’ve always thought they convey bits of your personality to people.

Readers, what’s your favorite for this kind of tote bag?  Do you think we’re accurate in our “personality” types?

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The “fancy” but practical bag.  Think Longchamp, the Ibiza bag, or any bag consisting of nylon and leather in a combination.  The nylon keeps the bag lightweight (aside from those fifteen pounds of papers, of course) yet very, very durable, and the leather adds a bit of glam as well as sturdiness.  We have packed our Longchamp to the brim and it always retains its shape.  (Alas, the largest sizes of the Longchamp bags are not available online — but for reference, pictured at left is Longchamp ‘Le Pliage’ Two Tone Shoulder Tote, available at Nordstrom’s for $125.)  This is our preferred look — it shows you care how it looks while you’re breaking your back doing work.
The “luxury” bag — such as Vuitton or Goyard.  For our money, the luxury bag is frequently a bit impractical — they never seem big enough, we’d worry about ripping the leather, and — considering the purpose — it seems a bit like a waste of money.  But, if you’re trying to convey that you’re a woman who cares about luxury at any cost, this is your bag.  For practical purposes (weight and durability), we would advise you to go with a treated canvas bag instead of a leather one, such as the Louis Vuitton’s “NeverFull GM,” available at LouisVuitton.com for $750. damier
The wheeled bag.  This one tells people that you’re a) smart and concerned about your health, b) serious about getting paperwork to and from the office, and c) possibly aren’t driving/being driven to and from work.  All said, these aren’t bad things to convey in today’s economy.  The downsides:  it’s not very fashionable, and if you end up with less papers (leaving some at home, recycling them, whatever) you’re still encumbered by the rolling bag. Pictured: Travelpro Tote TPro Xtreme Lite 15 Rolling Tote Granite, available at eBags.com for $89.95.
The backpack.  This is our least favorite option, if only because it tells people you haven’t really upgraded your bag (and possibly your style) since you were in school.  Pictured:  Deluxe Book Pack, available at L.L. Bean for $39.95.
The boat bag.  The funny thing here is that, by and large, the female partners we know use these to shuttle their papers to and from work.  It conveys that you’re definitely driving/being driven (that open top is just a disaster waiting to happen on public transportation), and it can be a subtle way of telling people things about you:  I gave enough money to Charity X to get a tote bag!  I went to Conference Y and received this tote bag!  All in all, not a bad option to keep at the office.  Pictured:  Boat and Tote Bag, Open-Top, available at L.L. Bean for $30.95.

Shop more totes, below…

The Hunt: Appropriate Bags for Summer Associates

The Best Bags for Summer Associates | CorporetteWe got this request in from a reader, and thought we might resurrect an old feature — The Hunt — in which we look for a great basic, available now, in a variety of price points. Here’s the request:

As an incoming summer associate at a large NY firm, I’ve been wondering – what kind of bag would be appropriate? I’ve been told that Longchamp is too casual, and would be interested to hear your thoughts on it. I don’t want to break the bank before I’ve even made my first paycheck, but would like something nice and versatile that will last a long time. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

We would actually disagree with that — we think Longchamp is fine for a big tote bag. It’s functional (fits a ton of papers), is made well (is strong enough to carry a ton of papers) and — especially if you get the black on black versions available in Canada or at the physical stores in New York City, quite appropriate for work. [Read more...]