The One
September 28, 2014 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Help me find my perfect everyday bag!

I've never been able to find my Holy Grail bag, the bag above all bags. I've been carrying around this one recently, and really liked it. Unfortunately the quality is not great and I tend to overstuff my purses, and the strap is already tearing away. I don't care too much about purses/brand names so I've just been going through cheap ones, but I think it's time to spend a little more. So, AskMe, what's your favorite everyday bag?

I'm looking for something that matches well with most everything (neutral), that's a little roomy (I'd like to be able to carry keys/phone/makeup bag/pencil bag/5x8 sketchbook), preferably with a zipper top or flap with clasp (like in the link above), a longer/adjustable strap, and preferably in the $200-300 range. Cheaper is fine, too. I was thinking of another satchel, but will take all suggestions. I really want to avoid bags that look too functional, like nylon messenger bags. Some level of stylishness would be great.

Also, I treat my bags pretty roughly, so DURABILITY is important. I know that no bag will last poor treatment for long, but I've seen some designs where the straps are sewn around the entire bag, which definitely helps. Doesn't have to be real leather. Doesn't have to be super business-y, I work in a creative industry.

Thanks! And sorry for the excessive use of the word "bag". Here's a pic of my cat as an apology.
posted by sprezzy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I LOVED my Tano bag. It was really durable until it got stolen. Here's a nice bag (and another, and another) that should fit all of your specs.

The more classic Coach bags are pretty great; I am currently using a larger hobo for my work bag. Try this one or this one or this one. The bigger leather bags are usually a little more like $300-$400, but they're super durable. I bought mine at a Coach store in the mall and they gave me a $50 gift card.
posted by Madamina at 8:05 PM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Take a look at the satchels at Saddleback Leather. There's a medium there in Dave's deals right now that is just a bit above your limit. I bought a bag there (or rather asked my partner to get it for my bday) over a year ago. Except for a few surface scratches it looks brand new. I use it just about everyday and I don't baby it, quite the opposite. It's ridiculously sturdy. The medium is big enough to fit phone, iPad, wallet and a decent sized book & scarf.
posted by Cuke at 8:16 PM on September 28, 2014

I have this Brahmin Asher tote bag. I use this as my everyday bag and just love it. It is several years old and looks great. People will stop me on the street to ask about it. I bought mine on Ebay for $110.
posted by JujuB at 8:20 PM on September 28, 2014

Look on eBay for vintage Coach. You might like the Willis. The Paris bag is great, if you can find one. The Court bag will be too small, as will the Station bag. The City Bag might be big enough, but it does not have that handy top handle along with the shoulder strap.
posted by jgirl at 8:23 PM on September 28, 2014

I quested for my Aunts and Uncles post bag for two decades (can't find an exact match on the site, it was about $200 and a messenger bag). Mine was on super-sale from a local retailer and can fit a 13" macbook pro - they seem to vary wildly. It is everything a satchel should be, a bag I'll have the rest of my life and the leather only looks better the more I take it out in the Seattle rain. I recommend.
posted by sweltering at 12:54 AM on September 29, 2014

You can also look on Etsy for vintage Coach bags.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:30 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Waxed canvas is a nice alternative to leather that is quite durable but not sporty-looking like nylon. I have a Moop Carrier that has endured a lot, and it can hold quite a bit of stuff. You can find lots of other waxed canvas bags on Etsy.
posted by neushoorn at 2:33 AM on September 29, 2014

For the past year or so I've mostly been carrying my Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mab bag which I bought on sale from Amazon for about $190. The exact one I have is not available anymore but there are some similar ones here in neutral colours.

What I like about the Mini Mab:
* It's the perfect size - not too big, not too small.
* It has both a shoulder strap and top handles.
* It's well-made with good quality leather.
* It works with both casual outfits and dressier looks.
* With a fair amount of use it still looks pretty much new.

I have two Rebecca Minkoff bags and so far I've been really impressed with the quality for the price. I was in Kate Spade the other day and most of those bags look pretty cheap compared to my RMs, even though they are at a similar price point.
posted by RubyScarlet at 3:12 AM on September 29, 2014

Another Rebecca Minkoff style you might like is the Cupid. It comes in lots of different colours.
posted by RubyScarlet at 3:21 AM on September 29, 2014

I'm a bit of a brand devotee for Fossil bags, of all brands. I have a few of their things - a bucket purse, big wallet, coin purse, watch, belt, crossbody bag - and they're all excellently durable, slightly interesting but in a neutral way (for my eclectic style, that is,) and solidly priced for the quality. I'm quite rough with my things, we're talking natural clumsiness combined with laziness, a propensity for caustic chemicals and animals chewing on things, stuffing bags into other bags, not knowing my own strength, widely varying temperatures, and just generally not prioritizing leather care in the scheme of things, and I've never had any of my Fossil stuff break on me. They have stores in a lot of malls, but you can also find their stuff at most Macy's, where last season's things are often deeply discounted. They do every bag style in a bunch of colors, so you might find the right style in person (for volume, pocket/zipper configuration, strap length) but order a different color online. Much of their inventory is gender neutral so be sure to check out the men's section as well.
posted by Mizu at 3:29 AM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]

I loooove my Derek Alexander bag, I carry it every day and stuff it to the gills. You might like this one or this one (magnetic flap, but the magnets on the DA bag I have do a really good job of keeping it closed, even upside down, stuffed into things, etc.).

Also approve of cat pic. Should be mandatory for all posts.
posted by anaelith at 6:06 AM on September 29, 2014

I have the moop letter bag in waxed gray canvas. Love it. But, I would possibly go with one of the bigger messenger bags for your purposes as it has a flap, and the letter bag is basically a medium sized tote.
posted by typecloud at 6:36 AM on September 29, 2014

I have a Haiku bag that I absolutely love -- mine is the bucket bag in the Indigo, and it's just about perfect. The fabric is great -- I use mine daily, and am not especially careful with it, and it still looks brand-new. Nice long strap, lots of pockets, and it comes in a bunch of colors (and I should not have looked at them because now I want a bunch more in other colors...)

I can fit my giant wallet, my Kindle, a small knitting project, my phone, and whatever other random purse-stuff I'm carrying around in it comfortably. My only gripe is that the strap is slippery, and sometimes rubs against the side of my neck, but that's pretty minor.
posted by sarcasticah at 8:15 AM on September 29, 2014

Look for a used coach bag. The leather will last forever.

I've got the Coach Legacy Leather Duffel and it regularly holds a sketch book, glasses case, make up bag. It'll even take a (rolled up) change of clothing. But it doesn't look big.

Plus it converts from crossbody to shoulder. I've used it as my everyday bag for about 3 years. It looks brand new.
posted by fontophilic at 8:17 AM on September 29, 2014

Also look for used "all-weather leather" Dooney and Burke bags. They can be pretty heavy, though.
posted by jgirl at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

LOVE MZ Wallace bags. Yes, most are nylon, but they're certainly stylish. Very lightweight. Very good quality. I've worn one every single day for a year -- I overload it with a heavy laptop, toddler crap, books, etc. -- and it looks just about like the day I got it. Lotsa different styles, different sizes, neutral colors, and plenty have shoulder straps. They're at the top end of your price range, or just above it, but a worthwhile investment. Your local Bloomingdale's or other fancy department store may stock them, if you want to check them out in person before placing an order.
posted by equipoise at 5:02 PM on September 29, 2014

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