Workbag suggestions
August 18, 2011 5:18 AM   Subscribe

(Handbag-filter). I'm looking for a very specific handbag for work and travelling. My perfect bag would be a standard Mulberry Bayswater with a messenger strap so I can sling the bag over and have my hands free (very useful when in airports).

I have seen the Mulberry Alexa, but I'm not too keen on it as it's made out of spongy leather. And I heard the quality of the Alexa is not as good as the Bayswater.

This bag from Barbour is nice too, but doesn't have the messenger strap.

Key features of my perfect bag:

1. Top grain or full grain leather.
2. To last for >5 years
3. Free repairs due to workmanship defects (i.e. good customer service)
4. Can just about fit a 14" laptop
5. Not too structured, not too slouchy. I will be carrying my laptop approximately 5% of the time, so I would like a bag that is not specifically a laptop-carrying, but can carry my laptop when necessary.
6. Very roomy in thickness. At least 5", if not more. I want to be able to stuff a waterbottle, a thick book, umbrella, etc. All traditional laptop bags I have seen are too thin.
7. Between classic and casual in style. Would like a dark brown bag, but will go for black, grey, red.
8. Has at least 2 pockets. The more pockets, the better!! (/rant why do so many bags have so few pockets! who are these people designing these bags?)

Yes, I have seen the other handbag threads and viewed the PurseBlog forum, but they are not specific (enough).

Can spend up to £2000 (preferably less).

Any recommendations for brands or specific handbags welcomed!
posted by moiraine to Shopping (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, lastly, I don't want to get a messenger bag because I would prefer a more professional looking tote - basically, I'm looking for a professional tote with a crossbody strap.
posted by moiraine at 6:25 AM on August 18, 2011

I have a Coach tote similar to this one with a crossbody strap. I got mine at an outlet store, and I didn't see that particular one on their site. But I chose it because it has room for tons of stuff (I regularly stuff my umbrella, water bottle, paperwork and assorted whatnots), has the crossbody strap, looks professional-ish. So far it's held up to my abuse (I'm pretty rough on bags), and the price point was not too terrible.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 6:48 AM on August 18, 2011

I don't know if Fossil bags are available in the UK, but there are a some (e.g. here and here) that seem close to your specs. (I sympathize, btw--I'm on a similar bag-quest, and so far haven't found the Grail...)
posted by Kat Allison at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2011

Do you have Danier in the UK? (I only ask because most of the Danier coats carry UK sizing information as well as Canadian.)

If so, maybe one of the Danier bags would meet your needs.
posted by sardonyx at 7:12 AM on August 18, 2011

Oh you sound like me but with a bigger budget. I've ended up with a James Lakeland tote that ticks the body strap criteria but is probably lower on the quality scale than youre looking for. I lucked across it in a TK Maxx. Before that I was busy scouring the web for the perfect bag and ended up with Fossil and Kipling bags bookmarked - they at least seemed to have a selection of cross bodies.

I'm sure some enterprising saddler / cobbler out there has a nice sideline in making custom bag straps to convert favourite bags into a cross body - but I'm yet to Google one up.
posted by Ness at 7:18 AM on August 18, 2011

I have this bag in black and I think it would meet most of your needs. I'm a big fan of Hobo International as a brand - I probably have nearly 10 bags or wallets and they hold up incredibly well. The only thing I'm not sure about with this particular bag is if it would fit your laptop? My best friend and I both bought it and she'd used it for her daily London commute for a few months now.
posted by marylynn at 12:44 PM on August 18, 2011

If that's your budget, I'd recommend looking at Louis Vuitton's Epi line. They don't stock the Bourget City bag any longer, but mine's seen four years of hard knocks, umpteen airports/taxis/trains, and looks good as new. The Brea GM looks like it will also fit the bill, and if you add on a shoulder strap, so would the Pont Neuf GM. You might also consider the Travelteq Trash Cougar, though you'd have to get a cobbler to put on the connection points for a shoulder strap. I've not handled their bags in person, but Penelope and Parker have bags of the size and style you're looking for.

As for the lack of pockets, I'd rather have a blank canvas to work with, so I'll have either a Nomadic or Samorga insert, along with a Cocoon Grid-It wrap for whatever tablet/laptop I'm also carrying at the time.
posted by evoque at 1:11 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I enjoy treasure-hunt style questions way too much. Thank you for letting me shop vicariously.

My first thought was this:|Level=2-3-4|pageid=5851, but it appears that it's too small. Boo.

Then there was this:|level=2-3-4|pageid=6631. Too structured, too fussy, color not quite right. Probably too big and too heavy as well. Hmmmm...

Then I found this:, which seems pretty close, but might be too soft and they don't show the long strap.

Ah well, probably no winners, but it was fun looking.
posted by at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2011

I know this is technically a messenger, but I absolutely love Jack Spade's bags. I've had a nylon canvas one for eight years and have used it routinely, and it still looks practically brand new. They're such good quality.
posted by jaksemas at 8:50 PM on August 18, 2011

Also, this brief might work for you too.
posted by jaksemas at 8:52 PM on August 18, 2011

The Chanel Cerf tote can be had with a strap although you will probably have to call Chanel to see what colors and variations are currently available.
posted by tinamonster at 12:38 AM on August 20, 2011

Mind that Chanel's Cerf/Executive totes are no longer made with deerskin, which was far sturdier than the pebbled calfskin that's now used. I do like the many pockets (two exterior slip pockets, two interior zip pockets, along with the removable center pouch), but am not terribly keen on the fact that there's no way to keep it completely closed. It does fit a 14" laptop and letter/legal/A4 folders, along with my bag inserts.

All current versions of the Cerf/Executive tote can be ordered in black, dark brown, and cream leather with silver hardware, though you may be able to find older stock with gold hardware. They also come with the long shoulder strap; it's not adjustable, so YMMV on wearing it cross-body. You'll want to put on a winter coat when you start trying on bags, as the drop on the shoulder straps might not allow for the extra bulk.
posted by evoque at 2:31 PM on August 20, 2011

Response by poster: I love you all. Will be carefully reviewing all brands and specific bags listed here in the next couple of weeks.
posted by moiraine at 2:14 PM on September 2, 2011

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