Be my purse-fashion stylist?
June 6, 2012 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Point me to some fashionable, lightweight purses that could attractively accommodate this camera insert and a smallish budget?

I have an awesome camera that I don't use mainly because the camera bag is too heavy and awkward to carry. This summer, I've decided that's a crappy excuse not to use an awesome camera.

I've been carrying around tiny bags for years. I have very little sense of style when it comes to larger purses. Most of them look dated and frumpy to me. With few exceptions, they remind me of the very cheap, very large bags my mom used to carry. (The examples I gave are ridiculously expensive; sorting by price was the quickest way to find a couple of larger purses that looked nice to me.)

Info that might help: I love surprising and unique details. My everyday dress tends toward a dressier side of casual. I generally wear solid colors and go for a nice cut or drape. My wardrobe palette is mainly cool, muted colors. I'd probably squee if I saw a purse I loved in bright yellow, sky blue, or muted purple. I have a secret love for romantic boho that I wouldn't mind indulging.

I'd like to find a bag large enough, and with the right shape, to accommodate a 7.5"H x 8.5"W x 5"D insert and still allow me to carry it comfortably. Lighter is better. I'm hoping to spend somewhere around $50-75, but could do without some other things for a while for the right purse or satchel.

Thanks for your help. I know style is subjective, but I'm feeling a little lost scrolling past pages and pages of purses and not knowing what I'm looking for in terms of fashion.
posted by moira to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Surprising and unique and for a very small budget would be the Craftsman 12" tool bag. This one does not have a shoulder strap. But it is on sale this week for $3.99, order it online for store pickup at Sears. I use gobs of these tool bags of various sizes for my cameras and accessories and laptops and things. They are just as tough as "camera bags" at 1/10 the price, made from the same materials in probably the same factories. There's little to no padding in tool bags, but I use bubble wrap, you have your insert.

They have many sizes and many colors of tool bags. Here's another which is pinkish and does have a shoulder strap.
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:03 PM on June 6, 2012

I've also run into tons of problems trying to find the right bag for my ridiculous amount of camera gear. Just curious, but why do you need the insert? Have you considered something a bit more functional, such as a backpack, such as something from Kata? Functional camera bags can be astoundingly ugly, and expensive, but they can really alleviate the weight problem. I'm not sure what kind of camera equipment you're trying to carry around, but if you absolutely must have an insert of that size, you're carting around a DSLR with an enormous lens, which really limits your options in terms of fashion.

Unless, of course, you want to do it up mom-style.

If money were no object, and I was female, I'd cart around my camera gear in last year's Celine doctor bag. (The McQueen is too gaudy because of the chain, and the MK works, but why pay a grand for Michael Kors?)

I really have been dragged to too many purse shopping excursions. UGH.
posted by peeet at 11:20 PM on June 6, 2012

The plan is to carry my DSLR and two lenses around with me on a regular basis (I find myself wanting the telephoto pretty frequently when I do break the camera out).

I'd far prefer a single purse or satchel to carry all of my items -- glasses, wallet, keys, pen, phone, and sometimes camera -- just for simplicity and to reduce as much weight as possible. I bought the insert so my camera bits would be protected and packaged together, and could be quickly added to/removed from the bag.

The utility/sporty look doesn't appeal to me at all as an everyday bag, but I don't want to "do it up mom-style" either.
posted by moira at 12:15 AM on June 7, 2012

Epiphanie bags cost less than $200 and look fairly stylish. I don't have experience with the bags myself, but enthusiastically recommends them.
posted by rhythm and booze at 12:32 AM on June 7, 2012

Whoops, I should have emphasized that they are purses designed for carrying cameras. They have padded insides and dividers for lenses and camera bodies.
posted by rhythm and booze at 12:34 AM on June 7, 2012

Are you near a TJMaxx?
It is where I get my purses including the one I carry now (hot pink and I get envious comments everywhere I take it) - it could just about hold my camera stuff and it was THIRTY DOLLARS!

So I'd try hitting the TJMaxx or other discount (Ross or Nordstrom Rack or wherever) stores near you. It might take a few visits but I find they have a good selection of bigger sized purses in fabulous colors.
posted by pointystick at 5:46 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you want a normal, but large purse that you can shove a bunch of stuff in?
There are so many options. You could have a hobo, satchel, or tote style (those tend to be the largest without looking frumpy).
The two you've linked to are leather, and you won't get leather for $50-75. You can get some good synthetics that look like leather, though.

Here's one I like with a green pattern
Here's a large white one with a chain
Here's a fun yellow one closer to $100 (also comes in white and looks like the MK)
Here's a nice coral one for $90 (also comes in white)

And here is the Zappos search for large and xl bags under $100
posted by rmless at 6:11 AM on June 7, 2012

If you're looking for something lightweight, you probably want laminated cotton or canvas, not leather. You might be able to find something from Fossil in their Key-Per line, or a sling by Orla Kiely. Sadly, $50-$75 is hard to come by.

I would also suggest a crossbody bag so you can leave your hands free to take pictures and not lose your bag. I don't recommend a shoulder strap because the weight will simply slide it off your shoulder and down your arm at the worst possible moments (mid-shutter click).
posted by hmo at 9:51 AM on June 7, 2012

No matter what bag you do end up with, make sure that the points where the bag connects to the straps are sturdy enough to handle the additional weight of your kit. I love my Amelia convertible tote/pack for going to the track with, but I switched the crossbody strap out for a sturdier one. (Said bag holds my Ona Roma and medium Crumpler Haven inserts snugly, so YMMV with your insert.) That said, here are some options that fit with your size and price requirements.

* Jane Marvel Bucket bag
* Baggalini Touring tote or Shanghai satchel
* Ellington Annie carryall
* Matt & Nat Britt tote
* Baggu Duck bag
* Melie Bianco Brandy satchel or April shoulder bag
posted by evoque at 11:39 AM on June 7, 2012

Came here to suggest epiphanie bags or kelly moore bags.

I have an epiphanie bag and it is very well made, but I don't use it as much as my think tank retrospective because it's so much more comfortable to carry with me all day.

Think tank may be out of your price range, but the quality is fantastic. I've been shooting weddings with this bag for two years and it still looks brand new and doesn't scream "camera bag!"
posted by inertia at 1:34 PM on June 7, 2012

Also came in to suggest a Kelly Moore bag. They look like stylish, well-made purses, but are lined with brightly colored velcro dividers and are made to combine cameras and purse into one bag. They go for around $200, but that's for a combination purse and padded camera case, which is pretty rockin'.

The Tote and Shoot camera bag from shootsac seems a little more camera-oriented, but it's still a well-designed, attractive bag. They're out of stock now, but seem worth the wait if you're traveling a lot and need something big and sturdy.
posted by therewolf at 1:57 PM on June 7, 2012

Thanks for the fantastic suggestions. I feel like I have a much better idea of what will work and what aesthetics I like.
posted by moira at 7:58 AM on June 8, 2012

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