The Quest for the Perfect Bag

I live in a city, so I don’t need a car, and I won’t be buying a home anytime soon (or maybe ever), so the way I see it, the biggest spending decision that faces me for the foreseeable future is one that involves a purse.

I’ve dreamed of the platonic ideal of a purse for a while now. Maybe you want to stop me right here and point out that there is no one perfect purse, that no one bag can go from day to night and season to season so seamlessly. But I refuse to abandon my principles (yet). I am not a purse switcher. I want a purse that I can wear to work and to the nice(ish) bars where I’m spending my hypothetical Saturday nights, in winter and in summer, on the subway and in—I don’t know, if I get dropped off in one of those wooded areas where Carrie and Brody always ended up on Homeland, I want my purse to work there, too.

My whole system for staying organized in life hinges on this purse (the one purse to rule them all): I never lose my keys (knock on wood) because their spot is in my purse, and if I have more than one purse, then you can see how the system would break down. This system, unlike so many things in life, seems to work for me, so I am not about to turn the purse project into an opportunity to reconsider my whole system. The purse must fit into the existing system.

If we buy into the dichotomy that there are two types of women in the world, big purse women and small purse women, I’m the big purse type. I recognize that it’s infinitely more attractive to be a small purse type, to be, literally, someone without a lot of baggage, but according to the system, I need to carry a purse big enough to fit an umbrella in it at all times, so that’s that. Still, I resist my impulse to just put everything in a giant tote bag. A Longchamp bag? Never. I want a real proper lady’s purse. (And, to be completely honest, most days I will supplement my purse with an ugly utilitarian second bag anyway.) I know everyone likes to think they’re classy, but the bags I coveted really were classy, classic even.

I just read Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, and in the fashion chapter she discusses “investment bags.” Moran ultimately decides that investment bags aren’t worth it, that £45 bags from Topshop are the way to go. A younger me would have agreed with her, but here’s the thing about £45 bags from Topshop, or $30 bags from H&M, or even $60 bags from Banana Republic: they break. It’s not that I want to spend a lot of money on a purse. It’s just that I’ve been burned before. I’ve had a lot of purses in my life that I’ve become deeply attached to that have ultimately let me down. Maybe you’ll have a good year together, and the $30 or whatever will ultimately be money well spent, but if you’re like me, that year won’t be enough. You’ll want the next bag to be one that lasts. Once you’ve brought your $50 fake leather bag to a leather repair shop and been laughed off the premises, you’ll start to think that maybe spending more will help you avoid future heartbreaks.

I want to spend more than I have before, but I don’t want to go crazy. I mean, yes, I spent enough time browsing Kate Spade and Tory Burch bags online that they’re still following me around the Internet in banner ads, and I am still thinking about this one time I touched a Chloe bag in a store.

I asked a very savvy friend for bag advice, and she said, “I would feel fine spending $200 once a year on a bigger bag (that I would carry to work) and maybe a little less often for a smaller bag (that I would wear most other times), but I know people who spend over a grand, and it’s like, WUT R U DOING.”

Everyone has their own personal threshold. A few months ago, I complimented a friend’s bag and she said that it was nothing special, just a Cole Haan. With all apologies to this friend, who is lovely, my eyes bugged because, excuse me, Cole Haan bags cost hundreds of dollars! I’ve had to spend several months, maybe years at this point, working up the courage to spend that much on a bag. Certainly, there were times during this stupid quest that I thought, jeez, if I’d just bought a purse when I first started thinking about it, I would have had one for X months now, and think how much money I would have saved. Thankfully, buying a purse doesn’t work like that. Stalling on buying a monthly subway pass and paying for a bunch of individual rides while I weigh whether or not I’ll use the monthly, yes, but buying a purse, no. This process could actually go on forever.

It didn’t go on forever. A few days after Christmas, I walked into a store that was having a sale and got a bag that had originally cost $300 for about $160. The only thing is the black and tan bags weren’t on sale, so the bag is: purple. This wasn’t part of the original plan, and it actually makes me so nervous that my new purse, my platonic ideal of a purse, is still sitting in its shopping bag like Kevin McCallister’s never-opened roller blades. Purple is actually my favorite color, and on some level, it will please me to pull my purple phone, my purple umbrella, my purple iPod, and so on, out of my purple purse, but in other ways I have failed, because there’s no way a purple purse will match everything.

Maybe we’ll be happy together anyway.

 

Heather Schwedel is currently in the market for a wallet.

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78 Comments / Post A Comment

I’m totally with you on being anti longchamp BUT have you seen the new leather bags they make now? like a duffel with a strap? totally sturdy and not flashy! but they run $500-$600 so that’s sort of an issue… eBay maybe.

smack (#307)

@Kimberly Couzens@twitter Poor Longchamp! Not everything is Le Pliage! I like their leather bags!!!

chic noir (#713)

@Kimberly Couzens@twitter – IIRC, Bloomingdales accepts coupons on Longchamp bags. So don’t fret. Save 25 dollars every two weeks and any birthday money you receive and you shall have your long champ leather bag within a year.

kellyography (#250)

I identify with this on so many levels, save for the actual purchase of an investment bag. I’m gun shy because every purse I’ve ever had (even real leather ones) gets scuffed up and torn to all hell. I get mad when that happens to a $40 bag, so I can only imagine the upset when it happens to a $200 bag.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

@kellyography This will happen, this is what happens when you have purses, you can’t get mad about it, it is life. Just try not to put it on the ground when you go out, keep the fancy bag it comes in for storage, and take the best care of it you can. Then take it to a leather restoration place when it gets too beat up. Other tip: patent leather (not sure if that is your style but I love me some patent leather), it doesn’t show wear as much as a matte-leather purse does. Purses will not last forever, but with good care and a bit of caution they can last a long, long time.

smack (#307)

@TheDilettantista Also there are bags that you can get that I think look better with what I term “patina” in place of “beat to shit.”

I lug around a Rebecca Minkoff Admirer that started off grey and has since suntanned to brown, but it is my perfect, perfect crossbody, and is soft and floopy and beat to hell and looks great. Casual, but great. And has lasted, perfectly.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

So is it an ultra-violet Coach purse purple, because if so I got an ultra-violet Coach purse in a great, giant, cross-body style for the holidays, and I LOVE IT, and the purple is just the perfect purple, and while I know this bag will not last me FOREVER (because I plan on using it lots!) I will totally get my (mother’s) money’s worth out of it because it will last me several years at least. Also she had a sale coupon from Coach, so 25% off (huzzah!)

I’m a total purse person, I just love purses, and, like you, I carry my life in my purse. My parents’ big birthday/Chanukah present of choice the past few years has been a nice Coach so that has kept me from any $50-$60 pursey impulse buys. I like these bags because they aren’t too cray cray expensive but they are very stylish and very very functional and also high quality. I have three (I know), all large, one black patent leather with gold accents, one silvery metallic, and this new purple one, and honestly other than small clutches for weddings and other fancy events (which I have lots of like, $20 from Express/Target ones that I’ve just accumulated throughout life and which sit in a box in my closet) I’m really set on purses for the next 5-10 years. Those three Coach bags get me through nearly every occasion (minus dressy dressy weddings) and match everything I own and when one day I become a big girl and buy my own damn purses, I will likely stick with those sorts of bags.

Also purple is the best. I wear a lot of black and so purses that pop, preferably in red or purple, that’s the way to go. Very excited for you and your all-purpose purse, now take it out of the bag and let it see the world (but hang onto the bag and also the stuffing so that when the purse gets put away it is put away properly and can last longer!)

singstrix (#1,974)

@TheDilettantista “I wear a lot of black and so purses that pop, preferably in red or purple, that’s the way to go.”

YES. Also, I find that a solid color purse is likelier to go well with any/all neutrals than a traditional black or brown leather (unless you go with cordovan, which: <3).

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@TheDilettantista Is your giant cross-body Coach bag the Legacy Duffle? My parents gave it to me in black for my last birthday and it is the BEST bag I have ever owned. It fits everything I want to carry and it’s beautiful and it has sufficient extra pockets to keep my organized. Cross body is 100% necessary to my life. I have black because my favorite coats and jackets are bright colors- instead of a purple purse, I got a purple coat!

kellyography (#250)

@singstrix I find myself drawn to yellow purses. I have a bright green coat, too, but I don’t even care. Yellow bags forever!

faustbanana (#2,376)

@TheDilettantista Yes yes yes. I love red bags. I have a great red leather bucket bag from Coach that I got on ebay last year for $80… it’s vintage, so has the really nice thick luggage-grade leather and a nice patina. It’s huge – I can carry my laptop in it! And the strap is long enough that I can carry it crossbody when I want to. If any purse-needers out there haven’t scoured ebay already, get ye to the auction site. Vintage Coach galore, in all shapes, sizes and colors.

For my everyday bag, I carry a grody-but-indestructible black LeSportsac tote (the “Erika”.) I’ve always had a soft spot for these grandma bags. I don’t take good care of my purses, so LeSportsacs are good because they’re inoffensive to the eye and I can beat them up to my heart’s desire.

AlliNYC (#1,725)

@kellyography I got a turquoise leather hobo bag 4 years ago as a big-girl gift to myself, and I used it until it basically fell apart late last year. The quirky color was actually my favorite thing about it!

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

@RachelG8489 YESSSS and sorry it took me so long to respond to you Rachel, the day got BUSY. Legacy bag for life, it is such a great bag.

singstrix (#1,974)

Oh! Maybe it’s just that I’m not an overly matching-concerned lady (I don’t mind when people mix gold/silver, I can’t stand the thought of having either a brown or a black purse, I have partially-pink hair and consider it a neutral), but I think a purple bag should go with most things. Have no fear! Treat it as a neutral, unless it’s a print that will clash with other prints.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

@singstrix PURPLE GOES WITH EVERYTHING. Gold and silver looks great together. I wore a pink wig once and thought I looked great. COLORS ARE MEANT TO BE MIXED.

littlebitofK (#2,422)

I JUST bought the Kate Spade New York Cobble Hill Little Minka (I hope I never get too old for Christmas money, woo!!!) and I absolutely love it. I’ve had one beautiful bag for the past 4 years, but I’ve wanted another one for a while because I wanted to prevent my original bag from getting too worn out (it was starting to age noticeably, and it’s a piece I’d like to keep for my entire life).

I highly recommend the Cobble Hill Little Minka! It’s sturdy, versatile (day/night, office/casual/nice restaurant, formal/boho, depending on the strap you use), with a lot of pockets + zippers hidden on the inside! Fits my makeup case, wallet, sunglasses, mini-umbrella and a bunch of other knick-knacks. Oh! And it comes with a longer strap, which I love. There’s also the same bag in a bigger version, if you need more space.

littlebitofK (#2,422)

@littlebitofK I should also point out that it helps that the “Christmas money” I got was actually in the form of gift certificates… so that partly explains my enthusiasm for the bag (only partly, because it’s mostly about the bag being awesome sauce). Guilt-free spending!

Fig. 1 (#632)

@littlebitofK And it comes in a GLORIOUS shade of pink. I love it. Thanks for sharing.

Megano! (#124)

In Megano!land, purple is totally a neutral.

I also agree that sometimes, spending real money money a bag is worth it. I recently bought a Cambridge satchel (15″, real leather, beeyoootiful), and it was about $200 CDN (More like 180 0r 190 actually) with duties and shipping and everything, and it still looks brand new. I am hoping it lives forevveerrrrr.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@Megano! I use reverse logic when it comes to neutrals. If it matches nothing, then get it, because it’s not like it will only suit some outfits and not others – everything is equal!
#ifailedcolourtheory

ellabella (#1,480)

I lusted after the JCrew Brompton Hobo (in black) for over a year, and finally broke down and got it in October after a) my boyfriend gave me an $80 gift certificate toward it for my birthday and b) I used my 10% off student discount (sorry Mike Dang, I’m not a student anymore, for now, but still used my old id). I hoped it might go on sale at some point during the year but I guess it’s too much of a classic for that. Still, instead of $300 it was more like $190 of my cash. It’s amazing. Super-soft leather, not obviously branded, and can fit a TON of stuff while not looking too huge (at least when it doesn’t have too much in it…). It has a removable shoulder strap so you can wear it crossbody, but take that off if you wanna be a classy broad.

Also, I keep my little Baggu bag in there for grocery shopping, and sometimes pack my sweaty yoga clothes in a small Baggu zip bag. No gym bag necessary!

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

I also wanted one purse, forever and always, and have found it in a Timbuk2 Lula mini-messenger bag. You can customize every panel with a bunch of fabric choices, they last for years and years, and cost around $50. I am admittedly pretty far on the tomboy side of the apparent femininity spectrum, though.

Fig. 1 (#632)

@Derbel McDillet I have the Timbuk2 Scrunchie tote and use it as an everyday go-bag; it’s my first Timbuk2 and I’m pleasantly surprised at how durable it is and how much it holds. (Still not as comfy as a backpack though.) I’d get a Lula if/when this one wears out.

cryptolect (#1,135)

I identify with every single point in this article. I bought a nice-sized (fits keys, wallet, cell phone, a couple of granola bars and a small paperback) leather purse in Buenos Aires seven years ago. The exchange rate was *extremely* favorable. It is perfect for me and even has a little “cell phone” pocket that my camera fits into perfectly, and a zippered pouch that protects my business cards and such. Unfortunately, it is beginning to fall apart. I dread the thought of needing to replace it…

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

When I started the job where I’m at now, I got a work bag from Target for $25. The damn thing disintegrated within three months. So I got an expensive fancy designer bag for around $200 and it’s held up like a trooper. Investment bags are worth it, esp. if you use it a lot, and can actually save you $.

Also (1) color in a bag is good! More interesting than black or brown, IMO. and (2) what kind of damage do leather repair shops repair?

@CubeRootOfPi I got an L-shaped tear in my (forest green) leather bag once and took it to my cobbler/leather man and he stitched it up with matching thread and it’s barely noticeable.

ArizonaTime (#2,694)

My roommate just spent $1100 on a LV. I told her she was crazy.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@ArizonaTime I know this is cray but I desperately want an LV. somedayyyy when I am rich?

honey cowl (#1,510)

@ArizonaTime Meanwhile rockin’ the 29.99 Nordstrom Rack no-name…

chic noir (#713)

@Lauren what LV bag do you have your eye on? I like the Sophia Coppla line of bags for LV. No major logo and just so chic.

I have a deep purple leather purse that is my “winter purse” and as far as I’m concerned, it matches with everything. DO IT, GIRL!

Titania (#489)

I have one of the old Marc by Marc Jacobs Totally Turnlock bags that I begged for as a Christmas present the year I graduated college. Six years later, it’s been to four continents, dozens of countries, and occasions big and small, formal and casual, with me, every single day. I have a nice leather Longchamp that I got for job interviews and nice daytime things (because even I have to admit to myself that my beloved bag is not actually appropriate for every single thing anymore, beat up as it is) and a bunch of evening bags that I use as needed, but that was the best $300 ever spent on an accessory as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know what I’ll do when it really finally bites the dust; the base prices for the line are so much higher now, around $450, and they don’t make the same one anymore! It stresses me out just thinking about it.

Molly F@twitter (#2,401)

Show us the purse!!

Renleigh (#2,110)

@Molly F@twitter For real! I’m in the market for the perfect bag and purple is my favorite color! I have a purple umbrella and a purple phone! You are the future me, Heather! Show me what bag I end up with!

I am a car-less city dweller who carries too much stuff. The Filson zip-top tote bag is perfect (it’s about $120 or so these days, I think). It’s actually a little large, but I’ve had mine for 5 years or so, and it just keeps looking better the more beat up it gets. It fits my laptop, yoga clothes, lunch, any number of other things. It’s mother fucking indestructible. I get compliments (mostly from men) all the time. I think it goes fine from day to night, but I’m not a “purse” girl, although I am usually what would be termed well-dressed.

I also have a black canvas Baggu bag (purchased for $15). It’s fantastic, and I use it when the Filson is too big. Also indestructible. Fits laptop, lunch, yoga clothes, etc. Has a useful inside pocket, a shoulder strap. I have also received many compliments on it as well.

@angry little raincloud I have a canvas baggu bag in blue and white stripes that I adore. It is my bag for all my weekend activities, knitting, yoga, errands etc. as well as out of town trips.

Lily Rowan (#70)

I’m currently rocking a red purse, and love it! Except when I’m wearing the wrong color red and it clashes. But it looks great with my coat.

I only buy purses at DSW anymore, for splitting the difference between crappy-cheap and full price.

I fully intend to spend $200+ at some point in the next year on a leather bag/briefcase that I plan to use for decades. Then again, I am a dude and when our bags get scuffed and worn it’s considered an improvement.

EM (#1,012)

@stuffisthings I love these bags for dudes. My friend has one that is totally beat up because he’s had it for like ten years and it looks even better than the new ones.

@Michelle Yup, that’s exactly what I plan to buy.

chic noir (#713)

@stuffisthings Cole Haan has nice bags for men. They always go on sale. I even brought one for myself.

Fig. 1 (#632)

@everyone My husband is taking recommendations on a small leatherish bag if you come across any, about iPad size or so, not full-laptop size. Not too casual, not so fancy that it won’t look silly with jeans and boots. (I know, a tall order).

@Fig. 1 Awl-network site thewirecutter.com had a great men’s bag roundup recently with all shapes, sizes, purposes, and styles covered. You/he might check that out.

Fig. 1 (#632)

@stuffisthings I did! There are some super bags on there. Perhaps I’ll give him a reminder.

I’m a big fan of running a quick CPW (Cost-Per-Wear) Analysis. Spending $300 on a tiny tie-dye sequined cross-body is VERY different than spending $300 on a classic black leather satchel.

Case in point – I splurged and bought a Cole Haan bag (specifically the Taylor Drawstring Heritage Weave in brown leather) a few years ago. I use that thing almost every day, so the CPW has been less than a dollar.

Also, more upscale companies tend to stand behind their products. The handle of said Cole Haan splurgebag (yuk) broke after I had it for almost three years. I was gutted. But I called anyway, and a very nice man was like, “No problem, send it back and we’ll fix it for free.”

ThatJenn (#916)

I have given up on “purses” and stick to netbook bags, preferably of the quality found in REI (yes, they have netbook bags). They are sturdy and spacious but not too huge. I mean, I don’t care if they look good out in a bar, which helps, but it has to look “professional” for work and also be comfortable enough to take on short day hikes, so I get the compromising bit!

Off-topic squee: a neighboring city is getting an REI, the first in my state, so now I will only have to drive 90 minutes to get to one, instead of 5+ hours!

Fig. 1 (#632)

@ThatJenn it’s embarrassing how much of my bags/wardrobe come from the Canadian equivalent of REI, MEC, so I share your joy :)

I have a purse from jototes.com and it’s the most multi-functional bag I own. It’s fake leather but it’s really sturdy, it has a laptop compartment and a bunch of removable velcro padding to put my camera/lenses in, but I can also pull all that stuff out and put whatever I want in it. The shoulder strap is also wide enough that it doesn’t hurt my back if I have a bunch of heavy stuff in there. It’s rigid and keeps its shape well enough that small stuff doesn’t sink to the bottom never to be found again. Also, maybe most importantly, it’s not ugly or utilitarian-looking. It might be pointless if you never carry a camera around and it still remains to be seen how well it lasts over time, but so far it’s been my favorite bag I’ve ever owned.

greenhumble (#3,010)

Has anyone ever had any luck or experience buying bags off Etsy? I like the idea of a handmade, quality bag. Doesn’t have to be name brand to make me happy!

EM (#1,012)

@greenhumble Yes! I bought one from this shop and it is a fantastic bag. I got this one, specifically. It’s not cheap, but it’s awesome and durable and very pretty, and the girl who makes them was lovely to deal with.

greenhumble (#3,010)

@Michelle YES! That’s exactly the type of quality/style/workmanship I’m looking for. Etsy’s great but sometimes it’s a time-suck. 2 hours later and you realize you’ve browsed over 100 pages.

I am the same about my bag, except for being a small-bag person. But it’s got to be the same bag and everything I carry needs to stay IN the bag or else I will never ever have it. I am normally super picky and self-conscious about fashion-related things, but fortunately for my sanity, my purse is not one of them. I buy a bag that works and I like to look at, and if people are judging me for it being “out of season” or not matching what I wear, I do NOT care, y’all can deal with it and my unconventional accessorizing.

My results on cheap vs. “investment” is mixed, I got years and years out of a $25 purse and maybe 18 months out of this Orla Kiely bag I bought on clearance sale and loved and mourned. But generally I’ve been convinced of the value of real leather, so now I have a nice leather shoulder bag that was $90 at a Benetton outlet that is very nearly ideal in terms of size and pocket arrangement. I’ve had it less than a year, but it’s held up very well so far.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

A couple years ago I bought this blue leather bag from Nordstrom Rack that was perfect for me, for $150ish, which is about three times as much as I had ever spent previously. And I used it and loved it and it wore out in a year, so I’m not sure if the lesson is “buy cheap bags” or “buy expensive bags and only expect them to last a year” or “buy brands from a recognizable brand that will do repairs.” The brand of the perfect purse was Sorial which I had not heard of before or since and whose web site appears to be “compromised” according to Google.

hellonheels (#1,407)

I’ve carried the same bag every day of my life for about six years now. It’s a very large, gunmetal metallic Hayden Harnett with antiqued gold hardware, specifically chosen so it would match whatever jewelry or embellishment I happened to be wearing. Not only did I buy the wallet and passport case to match, but when they discontinued the color, I bought a second, slightly smaller version (the original wasn’t available) so when it died I would have a replacement. I probably paid about $600 for all the pieces combined…the first bag, wallet, and passport cover were on sale on their website for maybe 50% off when I bought them, and the second bag I bought on eBay for about a third its original price. But even if I were to stop carrying them tomorrow, the cost per year would have amounted to about $60, which is a bargain in my book.

chic noir (#713)

Ok, I loved this post as I am very much a bag person. If you want something on the luxury end under 1,000 grand, please look at bags by Marc Jacobs collection and Michael Kors collection. Both have such glamorous well made small logo bags that are super functional.

Google:
Michael Kors Tonne hobo and Michael Kors Scorpio bags

One requirement for me with any purse is that my bag has a pocket in front. I am not a fan of digging inside of my purse for my metro card at night. It’s dangerous and can give a mugger an opening.

My dream bags are medium suede rose gold Balenciaga city bag, a Hermes Constance, a Valentino rose bag or Celine box bag.

@chic noir 1,000 grand! What kind of bags are you buying?

chic noir (#713)

@stuffisthings I only have three major label bags and all of them were brought on sale, with money I sit aside for when said bag goes on sale and birthday and Xmas money saved. If I want a Balenciaga, I will most likely pay full price. FTR, I don’t drink in bars much and most days of the week I bring my own lunch to work. After a year of doing both… Boom there goes your Balenciaga.

chic noir (#713)

@Kimberly Couzens@twitter – IIRC, Bloomingdales allowes coupons to be used on Longchamp bags. So don’t fret. Save 25 dollars every two weeks and any birthday money you receive and you shall have your long champ leather bag within a year.

chic noir (#713)

Off topic

@Logan- I’m still waiting on that post about Sephora.

I am definitely a purse switcher, but I am getting to where I just have different bags for different kinds of days/situations. My mother-in-law bought me this purse when I got my masters degree and I have carried it to work every day since, over a year. But I have a second bag I bring to work when I am going to the gym after work/sometimes carries my lunch. I have another bag I use for weekend activities/errands. And then I have other smaller bags that I use for going to parties or bars, and tons of totes that I use for storing things at home. I don’t believe in one bag to rule them all, but I do think that for some things its worth buying a nice bag, and for somethings a free tote you got someplace is fine.

Fig. 1 (#632)

@Punk-assBookJockey I agree. I do this and manage to stay reasonably organized. The key for me is to always put my cards back in my wallet and have multiples of things (pens, wipes, floss etc.) so there’s one in each bag.

laurafayesmith (#3,012)

Love this article – I can so relate. Up until recently, I had a bookshelf full of purses, with the thought I could change them out by the season/occasion, etc. I never did, so I got rid of most of them, and repurposed the bookshelf for books. I still have a small stash of bags – a couple evening clutches, two or three big leather satchels, and some smaller “ladylike” bags. My goal, if I can ever afford it, is to buy a designer, high quality, black, goes-with-everything satchel, and then just keep one or two evening bags, and maybe one of the smaller ladylike bags in case I didn’t want to carry a huge purse. But I know the search for that perfect investment bag will an epic, painstaking process that will drive everyone around me nuts.

chic noir (#713)

@laurafayesmith Do you have a particular brand in mind.

Carrie@twitter (#3,013)

EBAY – Just don’t – there are so many fakes being sold it isn’t funny. Even supposedly verified sellers are selling fake merchandise. I’ve returned 3 bags in recent months that were fake. And the sellers had no return policies, but guess what, they took their bad crap back and gave me a full refund including shipping.

sparrow303 (#1,641)

SO relevant to my interests. If you’re a non-car-owning city dweller, your purse is basically your car. I dread replacing mine– are the pockets in the right place? Is the strap the right length? Can I retrieve my El pass with one hand, in the event that the other hand contains a latte?

I’ve had my current one– a black fake-leather crossbody with gold hardware and tassels from the top flap, about $25 from H&M– for maybe a year? The snap is broken. I will not replace it until it literally falls apart.

No backpack people? I hate that feeling of being all lopsided when I carry a large purse (also how, if they’re long enough, they make one side of your skirt ride up) but I also hate carrying things around, like grocery bags from stores, my sweater if I take it off, etc so a small purse is out of the question too. Therefore: backpacks. I love them. They deflate when empty, hold tonnes when I need them to, and they’re on my back and so out of the way that I rarely even notice I have one on. I work at a university so to avoid looking too much like a student, canvas bags are completely out of the question. But I’ve been able to find a couple that look somewhat ‘adult’ like this one from UO: http://feastingonfashion.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/stud_bottom_uo.png and this Modcloth one: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_M86Z0CNcQNY/TS6R0AOR-JI/AAAAAAAAAak/RnrV3gNmOVs/s1600/zZN60857tanb.jpg

Meaux (#943)

@Deb of last year@twitter. Yes, I too am a backpack person. I like the examples you provided: nicely grownup.

mochi (#585)

What are the options for the veggie people? Has anyone had luck with non-leather Stella McCartney bags? I’d like a bag that lasts forever too! And gets cooler/vintage looking over time. Instead of these ones from H&M that slowly crumble into nothingness over the course of the year. Maybe used leather from Ebay is the solution until there is some amazing Voute Couture kind of thing developed for purses.

birdlime (#1,567)

@willow I haven’t ever had one, but these are non-leather and look to be good quality and I keep on thinking about buying one: http://www.mattandnat.com/info/ourstory/

@willow Namaste is a brand that makes nice non-leather bags. They are pretty reasonable and really durable. I have one that I don’t use a whole lot, but I have had it for years and it still looks new. They were originally made with knitters in mind, I think, but it seems they have branched out a lot in the past few years.

birdlime (#1,567)

I am surprised there were 68 comments and not one mention of Fossil- I spent a year thinking about buying a leather purse, and once I bit the bullet I do think it’s the perfect purse and has held up over the last 2 or 3 years.

ellabella (#1,480)
Jinxie (#2,987)

@ellabella I tried to buy that earlier today! And every time I got to the “click here to check out and actually enter your credit card into” page I got booted back to the front page. I tried like 3 times before figuring it was a sign and giving up.

km1312 (#213)

Ok, so I have been on similar quest for years, and I may as well crowdsource it here. I can die happy when I own:
A big bag
With lots of pockets
That is leather (or something else classy-ish/office-appropriate?)
That also (and herein lies the rub) CONVERTS FROM A CROSS-BODY BAG TO A BACKPACK
Yeah, I said it.
Any recommendations?
Bueller?

Meaux (#943)

@km1312. Oooh, the conversion is the tricky part. But here are some lovely leather pockety options, most of which I covet: http://www.ebags.com/category/backpacks/m/leather/g/womens?origin=left_nav

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