The Bag Lady Reconsiders…

Prada Saffiano Lux Large Top Handle BagWhich are the great, professional, useful totes? If you always carry around a ton of stuff, should you downsize to look more professional? Reader A is about to make her first “really expensive purse purchase” and needs advice…

I would love to get your advice on my first really expensive purse purchase. I currently use a big leather tote day-to-day that can fit my whole world, and as an attorney and a New Yorker, I carry around a lot of stuff. Binders, umbrellas, water, heels, hair and makeup, food, pens, nail file, gloss, fan, gloves — EVERYTHING fits into my trusty Mary Poppins bag. That said…I’m ready to upgrade to something more sophisticated. I hate walking into a meeting or conference and having my purse either brimming with crap or slumping over in a sad black puddle (it used to stand). I have my eye on a Prada Saffiano tote, which fits can fit a slim computer or a small number of papers but is definitely not a carry-all. Will I regret downgrading to a smaller bag for my day to day use? I’m so accustomed to being a bag lady that I am scared to make an expensive commitment to something so much smaller. But it is much prettier, much smarter, and far more put together.

First: congrats on making your first really expensive purse purchase — it looks like there are a number of Saffiano totes available, but just for fun, let’s say you’re talking about the Prada Saffiano Lux Large Top Handle Bag, available at Saks for $2150. My own first expensive purse purchase did not go so well, and I hate to say it but I see similarities between your pending purchase and my purchase. [Read more...]

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?

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The Best Bags for Walking to Work

the best bags for walking to workWhat is the best bag to carry if you walk to work? Reader A wonders…

I’ve had a bag dilemma for years and though this venue might provide a solution. I thought perhaps someone out there might have found the holy grail of bags to address the following issues, and I’m sure others are looking for the same. I would certainly love a post on this. I’m a lawyer and I walk almost two miles to work everyday. Here’s what I’m looking for:
- Big enough to carry folders, papers, occasional laptop and occasional change of clothes
-Color-neutral enough to be worn with anything for everyday use
-Professional looking
- Comfortable to carry long distances, such as a cross-body style with comfortable strap. Maybe a backpack style?

Does such a bag exist? I sure hope so.

I’ve always loved walking to work, and I’ve regularly schlepped about that distance. While there are so many benefits to walking to work (fresh air! clear head! some exercise!), I do feel like I’ve done some serious damage to my body from walking so much. [Read more...]

The Hunt: Black Shoulder Bags

professional black shoulder bagsSure, 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.

There are so many fun colors out this season, but sometimes you just want a simple black bag — either so you don’t clash with what you’re wearing, so you tone down what you’re wearing, or just because, well, who doesn’t want a good black bag? These are all in what I’ll call the “mid-expensive” category (in that they’re not light decisions, but you don’t need to skip a rent payment to buy the bag), which is my favorite category to buy from, both for work and otherwise. As always, I’m sure great deals can be had if you stalk an item online, or haunt sales IRL. Readers, what color bag do you think of as your “basic”?  Purchased any great bags lately?
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Open Thread: Best Travel Bags?

Victorinox - Werks Traveler 4.0 - WT Ultra Light Slim Wheeled Boarding Upright Carry-On (Emerald/Black) - Bags and LuggageWhich is the best rolling suitcase?  We were traveling this weekend (home to Ohio to see the fam and celebrate Easter), which meant that yet again I got to deal with my horrible carry-on rolling bag. I got it a few years ago during what I thought was an amazing sale at Macy’s– if memory serves I paid less than $100 for what was originally a $430-ish bag. The logo fell off the first time I traveled with it. Since then, all of the zippers have broken at least once (some irreparably), the fabric hasn’t held up well, and it’s generally become a pain to push around. In other words: time for a new bag.

But I’m feeling a bit gunshy from my last travel experience, so I thought I’d ask — readers, what are your favorite rolling bags? My brother has the Victorinox Werks (pictured above, available at Zappos on sale for $239) and while he likes it, I’m still curious about what you ladies have to say.

In “things that work” news, I still love my LeSportsac Large Weekender bags — you can shove them into that useless front pocket on rolling bags when empty, and then use them if you need to carry back a lot of new purchases, gifts, or souvenirs. They’re particularly nice because you can lock the zippered main compartment (so it won’t burst open while the bag is being handled), but keep the key on the zipper so the TSA can hopefully get into it.

Readers, what are your favorite bags for travel? Have any other great travel tips?

The Hunt: Black Tote Bags

kate spade new york Nylon Maryanne ToteiconSure, 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.

I feel like a good black tote bag is something every professional woman needs — particularly if you’re gearing up for interviews.  They’re large enough for a folder with your resume, as well as some reading or work (should you find yourself waiting or with some free time), and they’re also great for stashing all of the items you generally carry in your purse.  Readers, have you recently purchased any great black tote bags?  Do you have a classic that you’ve been using for years?

London Fog "Miranda" Tote & Clutch SetI’m not generally a fan of faux leather, but it’s hard to beat the price for this one (at least as far as online sales go): it was $135, now marked to $70. London Fog is a respected name, and I like that it comes with a clutch. It’s 16.25″ at the widest point, 11.5″ high and 5.75″ deep — plenty of space. It was $135, now marked to $69.99 at SmartBargains.com. London Fog “Miranda” Tote & Clutch Set
$220 seems like a lot for a nylon bag, but I actually prefer nylon for tote bags because I think it wears better and is lighter weight. This is just a basic black bag, but I like the internal pockets (including one for your ipad and cell phone), and there are removable and repositionable interior dividers. I like it in black for work, but there are a number of fun colors marked 30% off which might be better for a general purpose “tote bag.” The black is $220 at Mandarina Duck. Mandarina Duck Unexpected Shopper
Tumi is another brand I know and like, particularly for business bags for men and women. I like the leather and nylon combination of this one, as well as the little details like the feet on the bag and the interior pockets. It’s $345 at Amazon. Tumi Voyageur Derby Business Tote
kate spade new york Nylon Maryanne Tote
iconI’m actually most excited about this bag — it seems like ages since Kate Spade had a good nylon tote out. I like the hardware for a bit of interest, as well as the feet, interior pockets, and fun lining. It’s $395 at Bloomingdale’s. kate spade new york Nylon Maryanne Tote
Longchamp Roseau Patent East West ToteI like the durability of patent leather for something like a tote bag — it’s easy to clean and can generally take a lot of use. This East/West tote is simple and basic — I like the slim shoulder straps as well as the toggle closure. It’s $475 at Bloomingdale’s. Longchamp Roseau Patent East West Tote
Fendi black 'Roman' leather 'Selleria' medium tote Hello, lovah. This Fendi bag has me drooling — the pebbled leather! the contrast stitching! the three interior compartments! It’s even on sale at Bluefly: was $2250, now marked to $1620 (including an extra 10% off). Lovely. Fendi black ‘Roman’ leather ‘Selleria’ medium tote

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