I'm looking for a fancypants Bag of Holding
May 9, 2013 5:45 PM   Subscribe

I recently received an unexpected amount of money, and after doing grown-up things with it, I want to treat myself with a new purse.

I paid off a credit card, set aside money to redo the flooring in my living room, and socked a good amount in savings. Because I acted like a big girl with this windfall, I'm allowing myself about $400 to buy a new bag. But I'm overwhelmed with choices. I'm looking for a large (at least 12 x 12) bag with good storage options. I'd prefer leather, but other materials are okay as long as they aren't stamped with designer logos. Nothing hand-held, I need to wear it on my shoulder, or cross-body if it's really awesome. I've shopped at the Coach outlet for so long that I don't know where to look. As this is a splurge, I'd like a designer bag, but I don't know what's in my price range. Please help me find an awesome vessel for my stuff!
posted by Ruki to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (34 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
$400 is a little on the low side for "designer" (particularly for a bag as large as you want); I don't know if you were looking to stay away from Coach but it looks like they have a lot of decent options around that price, like the Madison Collection.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:54 PM on May 9, 2013

Response by poster: I'm sorry, I should clarify. By designer, I mean less than Prada, more than Coach. And while $400 is what I would like to spend, I can go up to $700.
posted by Ruki at 6:02 PM on May 9, 2013

Clare Vivier does beautiful bags.
posted by kitkatcathy at 6:04 PM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Without knowing what your style is like, this is kind of hard to guess at. To be honest, and I'm not trying to not-answer your question, I think your best bet is to go to an upscale department store like Nordstrom or Bloomingdale's and tell one of the salespeople the parameters you've given here. They can guide you to options in the store that would work for you. I've had excellent experiences with Nordstrom in particular.
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:06 PM on May 9, 2013

Yes, treat yo self!

What about anything from the Coach Classics line? I rather like the leather duffles and stewardess bags.

Many bags in the Marc by Marc Jacobs line fall within your budget, but they do come with a metal designer plate or stamp. Not particularly loud or garish, though that really depends on your preferences.

I also really like Clare Vivier. Very understated, and her flagship messenger bag, which has short handles and a long strap, falls within your budget.

If your style runs a bit more street than preppy, maybe Rebecca Minkoff. Her Morning After Bag (MAB) is quite popular.
posted by peripathetic at 6:06 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Last update, and then I'll sit back and not thread-sit. peripathetic's answer is just what I'm looking for. Most of my bags are Coach, and I don't really know what else is out there. I don't know what else is in my range. Metal plates are fine, I just don't like the repeating logo thing.
posted by Ruki at 6:15 PM on May 9, 2013

Look at Frye bags. My husband got me one for our anniversary last year and I love it.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 6:29 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

J. Crew and L.K. Bennett make lovely leather bags in that price range. You could also look at Kate Spade, Linea Pelle, and Michael Kors.

I swear by MZ Wallace for the right balance of style and practicality, but their bags are mainly nylon, not leather.
posted by payoto at 6:30 PM on May 9, 2013

Really, just go to nordstrom. Another department store would be okay, but I think Nordstrom is best at this kind of thing. Shop alone or ask a salesperson, whatever you're comfortable with - they have a great selection and helpful people.

And if you want to be prepared to go there? Nordstrom.com. There are many, many designers, some more "namey" than others, who make beautiful bags. No list of designers here is going to compare to you being able to look at the widest range of bags possible and figure out what really appeals to you.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:35 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's a list of handbags within your price range from handbag site Roztayger. Agree with others that Clare Vivier is a good bet; those are heavily featured on that site.

Some of the larger bags may be out of your price range, but I'm a big fan of Longchamp bags.

Although to be frank if I were you I'd just buy this beauty. I've had my eye on it for a few months and keep trying to rationalize another spendy handbag to myself.
posted by stellaluna at 6:38 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Kate Spade? Oh, okay -- yes, and I also second J. Crew (though current selection is pretty limited)

Roots makes a nice bag without being all, "Lookit the brand name here! SEE" about it.

Furla's put out some nice stuff recently.
posted by kmennie at 6:40 PM on May 9, 2013

I am not really one for showy bags with lots of gratuitous hardware or branding, but I have just fallen in loooove with the Coach "Candace" carryall from their retro line. Clean lines, well made, so elegant, goes with everything, and I know it will last for ages. It holds everything I need and has comfy straps for carrying either on my arm or shoulder. The best part? I found mine new on eBay for a very discounted price. This is seriously the bag of my dreams.
posted by anonnymoose at 6:42 PM on May 9, 2013

Cole Haan makes lovely bags. They sell them at Nordstrom. I purchased mine at a Nordstrom's Rack and got quite a deal, so you may want to look there first.
posted by k8lin at 6:44 PM on May 9, 2013

Michael Kors has some pretty bags. The purses I have in that price range are very good quality leather and have stood up to daily use for several years.
posted by jaguar at 6:51 PM on May 9, 2013

If you're not looking for something too girly:

posted by humboldt32 at 6:54 PM on May 9, 2013

Foley + Corinna would be my pick. It's in your price range, but they would be my pick even if I had a bigger price range. Extremely functional and fashionable and the leather is the nicest I have seen while bag shopping. I've been pining after their Mid City Tote for a year. Other bags by them are just as nice, just not as much my style. The Mid City is big enough for your requirements - also, with a bit of googling, you can find it for half price online if you decide you like it in the store. No logs on the outside.
posted by sweltering at 6:55 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm going to nth Roots. Plus, bonus: All the bags are made in Canada.
posted by topoisomerase at 6:56 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have you ever tried Tumi? They are best known for their luggage, but their handbags go over the shoulder and have plenty of pockets. I have a leather tote I bought over a year ago and have carried it ever since, and it's a really wonderful bag. It has worn well and has a classic style. I think I paid $300 for a very roomy tote with loads of pockets.
posted by Lycaste at 7:06 PM on May 9, 2013

Sorry, I missed the more than Coach part. Disregard!
posted by anonnymoose at 7:14 PM on May 9, 2013

Ok, a crazy idea: splurge another $700: buy a ticket to Florence, Italy. Stay at a nice B&B in Tuscany for a couple of nights. Go shopping in a place like San Gimangiano, buy a bag for <200 euros. Enjoy a beautiful leather bag, and a story to go with it. They have some "oh my goodness, that's sooo soft" bags there :)
posted by Yavsy at 7:22 PM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Someone else on MeFi linked to Saddleback Leather and I've been lusting after this tote ever since.
posted by foxfirefey at 7:31 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have two handbags from Marc by Marc Jacobs (both different models from the Hillier line) that were each in the low/mid $400s. I LOVE them. The leather is soft and buttery, they are well constructed, have plenty of space, and come with a long detachable cross-body strap. Also, even though they do have metal hardware and the plate, it's all very subtle. I hate branding and excessive bling, and I do not feel these bags have either of those.
posted by joan_holloway at 7:36 PM on May 9, 2013

I read your question and was like go to Nordstroms, but Rachel beat me to it. Seriously just go to Nordstroms. You're right in their price point sweet spot. Go to one in a particularly fancy mall for a good selection and just take your time. You'll find something you like.
posted by whoaali at 7:55 PM on May 9, 2013

If you're interested in going handmade (of very high quality) I bought a really nice bag from valhallabrooklyn which I was very happy with. The one I bought has a removable cross-body straps and handles, I use both. I was also considering Opelle which has some nice-looking bags of comparable quality in a different style. The things I appreciate most in a bag are style, good quality leather, sturdy and good-looking hardware, and roooooom.
posted by stinker at 8:00 PM on May 9, 2013

Seconding peripatetic's recommendation for Rebecca Minkoff's MAB, though I like her Knocked Up bag better.

Botkier's Valentina tote is a lovely dupe of Givenchy's Antigona satchel.

Longchamp have their Le Pliage Cuir line, and while I prefer the satchels, the tote is equally lovely.

Not sure what you mean by storage options, but I use inserts/organizers from Nomadic and samorga, and I actually use Rebecca Minkoff's Luca baby pouch as my laptop case.
posted by evoque at 8:09 PM on May 9, 2013

I rather like Tod's - some of their coated canvas G-line bags are in your price range. A friend of mine used a Tod's G-Line Easy Sacca Grande as her everyday bag, hauling laptops and folders and it held everything without looking any worse for the wear.

Similar to Coach in terms of price, but often overlooked, is Dooney & Bourke. I am partial to their Alto line, for the clean lines of the designs and lack of prominent logos.

On preview, I was also going to suggest taking a look at Botkier, but evoque beat me to it.
posted by needled at 8:12 PM on May 9, 2013

Went through the same search recently, looking for an upgrade from Fossil and Coach (both of which i still love!)

Take a look at Tory Burch and Kate Spade, both a bit more pricey in your range and very "now" where I'm living. Nthing Nordstroms or Saks if you have access... Nothing really beats feeling a bag in person and trying to cram all your belongings into the floor model for the 15th time while your sales assistant waits patiently.
posted by ista at 8:14 PM on May 9, 2013

My go-to here is always Rebecca Minkoff. Quality leather, never a big, ugly logo, classic styles, occasional color, and having sample sales right now in NY and ... LA? After the sample sale has passed, there will be a ton of stuff marked way down on her website. I have more than one Cupid (it has a cross-body strap) and a couple Morning After Bags. I bought a Jealous and a Moonstruck Hobo (mine is deep green with no studs) at the sample sale yesterday. Oh! I also have two Main Squeeze cross body bags, and a Love Letter in smooth black leather.
posted by ersatzkat at 8:46 PM on May 9, 2013

I love my J. W. Hulme bag.
posted by dottiechang at 9:16 PM on May 9, 2013

Great-looking bags, with no obvious logos (just an easily removable, looped tag) and tons of storage:

posted by pocketfullofrye at 9:36 PM on May 9, 2013

1. Florence has a cheap and wonderful leather market right near the Duomo (it's all of these white stalls - zoom out to see how central it is, literally 3 minutes from the Catherdral - bags are around 40-100 euro. Bargaining is encouraged.) I have purchased a bag there (twice, one each time I went) and they're brilliant and lovely and a great memory. So, that's always a great option.


2. KATE SPADE. Specifically this one: Cobble Hill Leslie. The Cobble Hill has FANTASTIC leather, soft and supple and lush. IMHO better looking than equivalently costing Marc Jacobs (although those are good too!). But, IMHO - I had that bag for 3 years, it was my first Big Bag, and it looks classy, timeless, stylish and modern. It wears well. It's not trendy but it's not traditional. It's 12.5 inches x 15 inches. And it's in your price range. Anyway, I can't help but gush - it's a fancypants bag that will make you feel comfortable using it.

I later on got this bag from Kate Spade and love it to bits as well, and it's way more practical (think - can carry heavier books and a pair of flats in a pinch) - but a bit more traditional. Also wears beautifully: Kate Spade Maryanne. I got it on sale in a dark purple - color works well for it.

3. Micheal Kors has some bags that look wonderful, are leather made and in your price range. E.g. Selma.

4. You can look on various sale websites like Beyond the Rack, and 6pm for promotions. Frequently they will have wonderful and brand name and high end bags on massive discount. But, that requires a lot more effort and ostensibly for unknown amount of payoff.

Other designers mentioned above are all great. Just wanted to vouch for both awesomeness of Florence and Kate Spade.

Enjoy! Picking out exactly what you want and enjoying the purchase is as much a nice feeling as using the nicely crafted object after getting it.
posted by olya at 12:46 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

For that price range I would consider:
- Marc by Marc Jacobs
- Rebecca Minkoff
- Tory Burch
- See by Chloe
- Michael Kors

If you memail me I can point you to an easy way to search for what you are looking for without having to visit all these sites. I don't want to drop a link because I work there. Mods, if this is not cool, feel free to edit this line.
posted by like_neon at 2:27 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had the smaller Kate Spade Maryanne, and not only did I absolutely love it, some thief did too! So, uh, be careful out there! But really, it's a great bag, I wore it every day, it went with everything and the leather never got worn out looking, nor did I have problems with the lining tearing or coming apart at the seams like I have had with some other bags. I imagine the larger one olya is recommending is just as nice.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 9:07 PM on May 10, 2013

Response by poster: So, uh, I took that money and bought the Lego Death Star instead. Buying it was on my bucket list, and today's my birthday, so there you go. But now I have lots of ideas for the next time I have unexpected money to burn. Thanks for your help!
posted by Ruki at 6:01 PM on May 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

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