Coffee Break: Assouline/Cole Haan Bookbag

assouline cole haan book bag 2Reader D sent us in this new-to-us Assouline/Cole Haan collaboration: a gorgeous bookbag, covered with numbers.  (Assouline is a French book company, apparently.)  Love.  Love! Can we say: love? It’s definitely on the splurgy side, though: $450, available in brown (pictured), black, and red. Assouline/Cole Haan Bookbag


  1. Kat, I have been following your blog for close to one year, but have never felt the need to comment until now.

    That is a beautiful, beautiful piece! What a great pick!

    • I agree, this is the most beautiful item that has ever been featured on corporette

  2. Hi – I added this comment to the Beauty Weds thread a little while ago – sorry for reposting but am curious, and I think more of you will see it here.

    Last night, my hair guy gave me the number for the woman who does his botox and the botox for everyone else in his salon (who knew?). I have thought about it over the past couple of years – am mid-30s, my forehead is definitely starting to get faint lines – but am a little scared to actually get injections. Aside from a general fear of needles and deadly viruses, I also don’t want to end up looking frozen (though I never noticed anything like that with my hair guy) or like a bat (a la Nicole Kidman).

    Is this something that everyone is doing but me? Any experience to share?

    • I keep contemplating it but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Part of it is the cost, partly it’s a fear of needles.

      My $.02 – if you like and trust your hair guy, I would trust the recommendation he gave you. My experience is that hairstylists are both pretty invested in their own outward appearance, and also listen to people talk about their own appearance all the time, so they tend to have the best contacts for things like estheticians, plastic surgeons, etc. My stylist has never steered me wrong with any of her advice on who to go to. Good luck and report back on your experience, if you decide to go for it :)

    • I’ve heard of ONE person I know doing it (early 30s) but I’m pretty sure 99% of my friends have never done it. I’m a lawyer in my early 30s. Perhaps in 5 years or so. I’ve personally used Retin-A (prescribed by my doctor as tretinoin) and I have seen many of those lines fade significantly. I’m sure Botox does a better job, but I’m not going to consider it quite yet.

    • I had it done in my early 30’s to help stave off a deepening furrow line (haven’t had it done recently just because it’s crazy expensive where I live). Worked like a charm. The needles used were very thin so the injections were pretty painless – just a little prick.

      And don’t worry about looking frozen/like a bat. Start small and see how you feel about it (people like Nicole Kidman get their ENTIRE face done). The effects wear off over time so if you don’t like it in the long run or decide it’s not for you, no harm no foul.

      • I ‘ve done botox maybe 5 times over the past 5 yrs in my forehead. Now I have bangs and its been over a year since I’ve done it. Feels weird at first, but it really helps with those forehead wrinkles. I can guarantee you that, other than people who know that I did it b/c I told them, no one knows. I did go to a dermatologist…I don’t think I’d go to a non-doctor.

    • Thanks, this is really helpful. If I get it done, I will report back!

    • Was this unsolicited, or did you ask your hair guy for a recommendation?

      If unsolicited, I would find this suggestion really insulting. It also kind of makes me wonder if the salon has some kind of agreement with the botoxer (discounted services if they send clients her way, perhaps even a cash kickback). Check her out independently before you do anything.

      And to your question, where I live this is certainly not the norm. I don’t know of anyone who has had botox injections.

      • I’m in my forties and started right about when I turned 40. If I’d started earlier I’d have less of a permanent furrow than I already have.

        But botox is great. It is almost like magic. I just get the four little shots at my brow line to address the vertical furrows at the top of my nose. I only go two or three times a year. This is the only cosmetic procedure I have.

        It also took care of my afternoon headaches. No lie.

        There is nothing frozen looking about it at all. I’m just less frowny. I can still raise my eyebrows fine, I just can’t knit them together as well (which is the point.)

  3. With the numbers this bag would be perfect for a CPA or tax attorney! It would be a cutely ironic match. The bag is beautiful.

    • I’m a tax chick (accountant) and I am coveting this bag big-time for that exact reason!!

      Love ironic/cute items that aren’t cloyingly cute… Now if only it would go a little lower in price ;-)

  4. This is really lovely.
    What a fantastic shade of brown — it would go with everything (inc. black).

  5. Thread hijack:

    Phone interview tomorrow for dream job. Scared sh*tless. I have the phone line cleared, my resume, writing sample, and KSAs lined up. I’ve researched the agency. And yet…I can’t breathe. Advice?

    • You’ve got to also focus upon “what will it mean” – 10 hours, 10 days, 10 months, etc into the future. You may find yourself calming down…what is a “dream” now…well, later you’ll have other dreams. In addition, congratulations!

      Try some physical exercise or activity as a release. Practice ideas you might use for questions you can already anticipate. Do something nice for yourself tonight – a treat – a favorite meal – a favorite movie – paint your nails – something you love but rarely have time to do… but not meds or liquor that could cloud your mind for tomorrow.

      Best wishes for the “right” thing to happen!
      (I’m a psychologist in biz for over 25 years now…consider this tried and true advice.)

      • As someone else with a potential dream job… past the phone interview, the in person interview is three weeks away, thanks for the sanity check!

        • Don’t forget to try on what you are going to wear way before the interview. Stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself from all sides. Check for lose hems, buttons etc. If your shoes need attention, send them to the shoe repair. In other words, be totally prepared and comfortable with what your wearing and you will be more relaxed.

      • Totally agree with the workout advice. It is my go-to de-stressing tactic before any tense experience.

        Try to focus on what can go right, not what can go wrong. Visualize the witty, articulate, intelligent person you want to portray to these people and think what you want to say. A lot of people think affirmations are crap but I have found that saying simple things like “I know I will say the right thing in this meeting” or “I will not make a mistake in this presentation” to myself does help.

        Finally, this might be your dream job but that doesn’t mean it is the only perfect opportunity in the world. In an infinite universe there are infinite possibilities. If you don’t get the job, it is incredibly likely it will be because of factors outside your control. If you stumble during the interview, don’t get bogged down in what you did wrong – gloss over it and move on. Remember these are people too and they are most likely not expecting perfection – they want to get a sense of who you are as a person and a professional. I always love it when I interview someone who stumbles or makes a mistake and then can be graceful about it and move on – it shows me they will probably act the same way in a tough situation on the job. Remember to breathe and also remember at the end of the day, you still have much to be thankful for, whether or not you get the job. Very best of luck to you.

    • Yes! I second dr’s post! Particularly about exercise. Go for a long run / long walk / long swim (whatever you do) beforehand. It will relax you and get you out of the moment for a little while. It’s been my personal experience that I feel calm and confident for a good 4-5 hours after a long run. I’m absolutely at my best after a long workout. Anecdotally, I was able to do a good hour-long run in the morning before an interview in March, felt fabulous, nailed the interview, and got the job. Good luck!

    • Think honestly about your phone habits and make arrangements to mitigate any bad ones. I say this because I am personally terrible on the phone and way too easily distracted by something happening in my immediate environment. Do not, not, NOT sit near a computer screen or have any form of technology nearby that might indicate you have an e-mail, another call, tweet, or friend’s status update. Close the curtains so you can’t see the fender bender outside on the street. Close your door so no pet or child wanders in and wants attention. You get the idea.

      For me, a pad and pen is an absolute must, because otherwise I’ll stop listening in an attempt to remember the vital question that popped into my head.

      Dress as you would for an in-person interview (sounds silly, but it gets you into character). Smile–they can hear it in your voice.

      Good luck!

  6. that bag is GORGEOUSNESS!

  7. A bag with numbers on it?! Looks like it came off Sesame Street.
    It’s clearly been brought to the viewer by the letter F, the letter A, the number 1 and the letter L. I’d send it straight to Oscar’s trash can.

    • Haha this is great– and I completely agree.

    • You crack me up… but as a tax accountant I think its kind of fun (albeit way more money than I would spend on a bag… although if it was in the $100 range I would be tempted)

      • While I understand that everybody has different tastes and preferences, I personally feel like even $50 is too much to spend for a purse that looks like it would be the diaper-bag of a Field’s Medalist. Different tastes, I suppose.

        In other ironic news, across somewhat recent posts, readers have condemned the letter-bearing cousins of this bag (think the ones with LVs or Cs) as tacky, inappropriate, and flashy. And yet, somehow this bag is gorgeous, beautiful, AND work-appropriate no less. Perhaps because it’s serves as somewhat of a resume-on-display, letting people know you are both basically numerate and possibly able to type symbols in a gibberish string using the Shift key.

        • Well, there is a difference between characters and logos. That said, I’m an unrepentant typography snob and can’t stand the choice(s) of typeface on this bag.

          Also, it reminds me of LLBean’s recent Heritage Tote,, and they both look like uninspired leather versions of brown shopping bags, to me.

        • Well there’s a difference between having something on a bag, and having something on a bag that says “I have money and this bag costs a lot”, which is where the tacky part comes in. That said, I don’t find this bag work appropriate for a very formal or interview and its not my taste, but I see how number people especially would like it.

          • We posted a great canvas and wicker Tory Burch Bag on our blog today. I think it has a lot to offer for $195. Our suggestion was to fill it with books for Mother’s Day.

        • You know, the same readers don’t comment on every post. It’s very possible that 3 readers might hate LV, and also hate this bag, but those same 3 readers didn’t comment here.

        • Some of the commenters here try waaay to hard to be snarky and/ or funny about some of Kat’s choices and wind up failing miserably at both.

          • Delta Sierra :

            anon at 9:26 – agreed. If I want cheap snark there’s the entire rest of the internet. Wish people would filter themselves a bit more.

        • Well this bag doesn’t scream “I’m wearing Louis Vuitton/Gucci/Prada” like one of the ‘status prints’ does… it also is a lot less likely to be had by someone else on the street…

    • Anonymous :

      My first thought was the Count. 1 Cole Haan bag, whaa-haa-haa.

  8. That bag is gorgeous! Love it. Wish I had a use for it.

  9. Yes, awfully cute. Unfortunately, from the side you can see that it has no depth – it would hold a legal pad and a paperback. Too bad.

    • I haven’t coveted something this badly for a while! I loooove it. Especially in that gorgeous brown. Also, I am a tax attorney, so I’m certainly the target market. :) It’s a way to be dorky and stylish at the same time; these opportunities don’t come around often. I would even be willing to splurge, despite the fact that it is markedly above my usual purse-budget.

      But … alas, KH is right. It is so thin. It is also not wide enough to put a redwell or folder in right-side up. I wish I could see it in person to see if it is roomier than it looks.

    • It also looks to me like the straps are not long enough to wear this over your shoulder. And does it have a zipper or any useful pockets?

  10. Thread hijack–

    I am a 1L and I have moot court tryouts tomorrow based on an oral argument that I did for legal writing. Any tips as to what the moot court board will be looking for, especially anything that might be unexpected?


    • My advice is to read this article by Judge Kozinski— afterward you will cease to be nervous about making moot court board!

    • As a former moot courter, some points to consider —
      1. it’s a conversation — try to approach it as such. it’s both similar & different from a real life appellate oral argument so keep that in mind. don’t be nervous and listen to the questions you’re asked. lead where they go. if you can reference anything previously asked, it usually goes over well (e.g., “and to address the concern raised earlier by your honor/justice so and so, this is precisely why you need to affirm ….” blah blah)
      2. keep in mind that oral arguments in moot court (and in real life) comes in two forms: hot bench (lots of questions) and cold bench (very few to no questions). Hot bench is your friend — you will be so peppered with questions, it becomes easier (don’t be nervous about this. it’s a mental exercise & it really is easier). Cold bench is harder — 15 minutes is a long time to speak & you’ll start to feel like you’re repeating yourself & having strangers stare at you blankly can be off putting. A lot of times it will be a combination of the 2, as well. Try to be prepared for both. Have a roadmap of where you generally want to go & 2-3 main points you want to address. Stick to it and try to get back to it whenever possible.
      3. This is a good one — if someone asks you a question that you just cannot answer, esp. if it deals with a minor point, just smile and say “I’m sorry your honor, I dont have that information here now, but I will be happy to submit brief for you addressing this issue post argument.” Then get back to your roadmap. (this only works once, twice at most, so keep in mind — you cant do that for every question ;) ).
      4. Keep in mind that your fact pattern is not perfect. A lot of info will be missing. When asked a fact question that cannot be answered, just say, “the record is silent on that, your honor, but … ” and get back to what you want to argue.
      5. Also keep in mind that an appellate argument is a bit like a theoretical exercise — appellate courts make policy to a large extent. oral arguments often focus on slippery slope. what happens if we rule for you, and then x or y comes up …. don’t be afraid to concede a point, and then say ‘however, in this case…’ and get back to why they should rule for you. (i hope that makes sense, it’s late now)
      6. last but not least, stay away from canned conclusions. nothing sounds worse (i think). try to conclude naturally. anytime the 3 min card comes up, you can basically sit down on any strong point you make at that point. look for one. (e.g., “yes, [insert good answer. .]. . and that’s exactly why this court should affirm/reverse the decision of the lower court. thank you.). also as to rebuttals — only use to correct the other side on a misstatement of law or fact. do not use it to reargue your points. if youre the plaintiff/appellant, reserve rebuttal time & if you have nothing to say, just stand up and say “we’re going to waive rebuttal, your honors.” (or “one brief point on rebuttal. defendants stated that X, but in fact that is Y.”)
      7. oh, and, stand up straight, smile, be confident, speak slowly & clearly (you’ll be speaking much faster than you realize!), don’t fidget, watch your hands (grip the podium if you have one) & try to smile when appropriate (being likable is important :)).
      8. oh! also — try not read. taking notes w/you is okay, but try to maintain eye contact with the whole bench, even if you are only being asked questions by 1 judge… for nerves, I used to find it helpful to give myself an acting type pep talk. it sounds silly, but if e.g., i was the government side, i’d go: “ok you are the US of A! you’re defending this law! you believe in X, Y, Z…” etc….

      And have fun! It’s not a mark of who makes a good litigator — lots of people do great in moot court & spend their life never seeing a courtroom & lots of folks fail to make moot court & becomes top litigators.. just enjoy! and good luck!!!

      • All good advice. Some additional comments I frequently find myself making when I judge moot court:
        1. Do not ever, ever, ever interrupt a judge who is talking. In a similar vein, do not act annoyed or nonplussed by questions. In real life appellate advocacy, questions are your best friend. They tell you what the court is thinking and what you need to spend more time on. The point that it is a conversation is exactly right.
        2. Do not say things like “I think that….”, “I believe that…” Just state your point without those qualifiers.
        3. Do not hold a pen in your hand during oral argument. You will click it, play with it, generally be annoying with it.
        4. Rebuttal should be no more than three quick points – all in response to your opponent’s argument. And don’t feel you need to do that, although I do think you may get low marks from some judges for skipping rebuttal entirely.

    • Argue the facts. Speak in your natural voice. Remember you are advocating a position. Be light. Good posture.

      Listen to me. I’ve judged many of these.

      • Thank you all for your advice! I read the article (and book-marked it to read if I don’t make moot court) and wrote some of the other suggestions on post-its for my pre-try-out personal pep talk.

        • GOOD LUCK! I got to travel with our moot court board in March and will be going again in October. It’s by far my favorite activity at school.

          The tips everyone else gave you were great. Let us know how it goes!

  11. My issue with the bag is that it appears to say “Assouline” on the bottom. Maybe in France that sounds like a nice brand, but here it sounds like a lubricant for one’s nether regions.

    You KNOW one of your male co-workers is going to look at that bag, pronounce the brand name, and crack up. Then they will dart through the office, saying, “Hey, check out Louise’s new Ass Oh Leen briefcase!” Then you will take your $450 bag home, put in the closet, and never, ever carry it again.

    Too bad, because I like the typography and style.

    • Louise, I am around a lot of men (some very immature) & i encounter a lot of frat house, immature humor. . . I would never ever have thought of that, and as stupid as some of the comments as I hear from some of these male cohorts, I can almost guarantee they are not going to be saying that. Seriously.

      • Lucy, I am truly glad to know that your coworkers are more mature than that. And more mature than me, clearly!

    • Oh my! very good point!
      Being native French speaker I could have never ever thought of teh spelling you did! it’s just hilarious :) we should definitely cross check names for language interpretations

    • OK, that’s reason enough alone to buy it!!!

    • LexCaritas :

      hilarious! (and sadly, so likely to actually happen…)

  12. Okay, my comment is undergoing moderation, and because of one word, may never make it out of Kat’s filters.

    In case it doesn’t ever show up: Before spending big bucks on this bag, let’s hope that the brand name isn’t really printed across the bottom, as it appears in the photos. I hope that’s a photo watermark.

    Because, otherwise, you can be sure in the United States that folks will roll that word around in their mouth and laugh. They will sound it out, and perhaps even pronounce the French correctly. And, sorry, it isn’t a word that your office mates will let lie peacefully. You won’t be the woman with the cool leather book bag. You’ll be the woman with the Assouline bag.

    • Delta Sierra :

      In my crowd in would be ‘oooo did Assouline make that? It’s beautiful. I love their books.’

      Is it really so difficult to believe that very few adults will make juvenile potty-mouth remarks?

      • I like to think of Corporette as a reality-check website. We ask each other, “Would this blouse be too low-cut to wear to work?” “Are skirts this short/long/tight/frumpy appropriate?” “Will anyone take me seriously at my job interview if I wear my pink polka dot rainboots/don’t wear rainboots and my nice shoes are soaked in the rain?”

        Clearly, we are here to hear what other professional women think about clothes, styles, shoes, etc. Not to agree, necessarily, but to tap into each other’s experiences.

        The first thing that popped into my head about this bag was the name. I’m not a particularly crude person, but I’ve heard lots of dumb stuff said in professional offices by highly educated adults.

        If you love the bag, great. Buy it. Wear it. Enjoy it. It is gorgeous! The manufacturer’s name is not a reflection on you or your tastes. The way my mind hears the word is not another’s problem. It’s just another piece of data for one to consider when making a purchase.

  13. Gorgeous find. A statement piece for a confident woman. There is a coordinating notebook that I’ll be getting.

  14. s in Chicago :

    Cute but definitely NOT unisex. My husband practices in areas of financial law. I think I’d be laughed right out of the house if I gave this on Father’s Day. (Assouline or not.)

    • It might not be unisex in most of the country, but you walk around parts of manhattan or downtown brooklyn & you will a lot of men with totes like this or similar.
      I can see how it wouldn’t work everywhere, but there is a movement out there :)

  15. Love Assouline, and Cole Haan is such a great, dependable brand!!


  16. I really love this. The numbers don’t fit in my profession, but I would love to have a bag like this for times when I’m taking just a few things to a meeting or when I’m headed out to enjoy a magazine over lunch. It seems like a nice alternative to my briefcase.

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