I need the smart-but-not-too-smart bag to end all bags!
September 8, 2006 8:07 AM   Subscribe

I need the smart-but-not-too-smart bag to end all bags! Naturally, there's

So, having been accepted into a business degree, I got the impression from the interview that there's a certain dresscode standard expected from the business students. I'm pretty sure they don't expect suits, but from the wrinkled noses I could tell that showing up everyday in jeans, a hoodie and trainers was a no-no. The clothing aspect of this is fine, however I've discovered I really need an everyday book bag - the ultimate bag!

- Has to look "business/executive-y", but not so old that it'd look out of place or too try-hard on a student. To get my money's worth, I'd like to be able to use this bag for daytrips, office tours, work expereince and probably weekends in the library.
- It can't be a backpack, either messenger or shoulder only.
- Leather seems like too much hassel to take care of, maybe something in nylon? I have an Elecom bag that's the bee's knees, but it's too small.
- It's got to be able to hold a shoe bag containing my trainers & [squished] sweats [I'll be walking to and from college each day]
- It's got to hold a bento/lunchbox, or a thermos
- Uh, has to hold books & A4 pads too [not folders though]
- That little panel at the front with room for change, pens, phone, PDA, etc. would be handy.
- €100/$130 max price inc. shipping to Europe
- I'd quite like a navy bag, rather than black or brown. I'm open to dark greens/burgundy's too.

I was thinking of trying a small carry-on bag, some of those can be quite elegant and not uber-mature looking. A big concern of mine is bulkiness with all the junk I have to cram in. A doctor's bag is way too formal, a regular messenger bag isn't formal enough. No, I won't have access to lockers.

I know it seems like I'm uber picky, but I've really gotten the impression that appearances count. Even if you can recommend brands that I can research myself?
posted by Chorus to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend eBags.com for researching. They have a great selection and good service. I'm not sure, but they might ship to Europe.

I recently purchased the Loie from Overland Equipment. It sounds like it would probably be too small for your needs - they have lots of tote/messenger options though that can look polished in all black (or perhaps some of their other colors). My bag is avocado green with a cute graphic interior. It looks more purse-y than I thought it would, and I feel comfortable taking it to both the office and the grocery.

As someone who's had a lot of fun looking for the perfect bag, I wish you luck and good hunting! :)
posted by lucyleaf at 8:16 AM on September 8, 2006

They make some really COOL bags. I love mine. But the site is all in Japanese.
posted by nimsey lou at 8:20 AM on September 8, 2006

Also Check out the Timbuk2 bags...I got a bag very similiar to what you're describing, and they come in a wide variety of colors (and you can create your own!)
posted by unexpected at 8:23 AM on September 8, 2006

Best answer: Have you started school yet? What are the other students using? (or do they just seem to have a lot less stuff than you?) A lot of the students at the law school where I work seem to be using messenger bags or backpacks on wheels, like versions of those rolling flight attendant suitcases everyone loves so much. That may be just a law school thing, since they all have multiple thousand-page hardcover books to lug around, but if you wouldn't feel too out of place with it, that might be a solution that would hold all of your stuff and not hurt your back or shoulders.

I'm definitely sympathetic to your plight. I carry a lot of stuff around with me all the time, and I walk a lot. The problem I'm having now is that after carrying messenger bags and other large shoulder bags for years, I'm having recurring shoulder and hip problems. Basically, if you carry a lot of stuff all on one side of your body, even if you switch shoulders periodically, it puts too much strain on your back and throws everything out of alignment. That's the reason that doctors recommend backpacks. They also recommend that you not carry more than 15-20% of your bodyweight, but sometimes that can't be helped. If you can find a bag that evenly distributes weight across your back and shoulders, or one, like a rolling bag, that doesn't involve carrying, your back will thank you down the line.
posted by Amy Phillips at 8:36 AM on September 8, 2006

Best answer: If you want something business-y and don't mind spending a hair more than your range, I love these. If you want to go with something more messenger-y these guys have the worlds worst website but make some of the world's best bags and can customize like crazy.
posted by The Bellman at 8:41 AM on September 8, 2006

I've been carrying a Waterfield Cargo Bag for years, and it's by far the best bag I've ever owned. The color choices let you pick between more and less conservative looks, although the airline buckle is always distinctive.
posted by j-dawg at 8:55 AM on September 8, 2006

Second the nomadics. They're the swiss army knife of bags. Pockets for everything you can think of. And they aren't unprofessional looking. Flight001.com has a few models (along with many other nice, but pricey bags) but II don't know where they sell in Europe...
posted by lovejones at 9:17 AM on September 8, 2006

I found the link to Nomadic's European resellers...
posted by lovejones at 9:23 AM on September 8, 2006

I've had my eye on this one for a while. It sounds like it meets your criteria, too.
posted by chickletworks at 9:45 AM on September 8, 2006

If you want to support a couple kick-ass female artisans, I'm sure M. Avery Designs would be willing to help you out. They're squee-worthy and ship internationally (half-way down the page).

They can work with any fabric and make any bag according to your specifications. And you'll never run into another business student/prof/client with an identical bag.
posted by hercatalyst at 10:18 AM on September 8, 2006

Take a look at Crumpler range. Particularly the Seedy bag.
posted by tnai at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2006


May have something for you.
posted by quadog at 10:47 AM on September 8, 2006

Not sexy or hip, but check out the Lands' End canvas attache. I'm on my second one in 30 (yes!) years. Lands' End replaced the first one for free after the zipper pull broke about 20 years in.
posted by Joleta at 10:53 AM on September 8, 2006

Check out Tom Bihn bags. Pricey, but extremely well made and thoughtfully designed.

The "Empire Builder" might be one to consider--though they do have other shoulder bags. I've been using the "ID" bag daily for a few years now and I love it.
posted by shakobe at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2006

I have this Tumi messenger in black, and I really love it. The fabric is nylon with leather trim, it's very sleek looking, and also very functional. The down side is a fairly limited color choice and a big price tag, but you may find something that suits you at thier website.
posted by maryh at 11:58 AM on September 8, 2006

Best answer: have you thought about using a diaper bag?

i use the kate spade medium diaper bag (mine is the pink version, though it comes in black and green as well). i seem to carry my whole life around with me, and this bag can handle it all. there is also a "large" version.

here are the specs of the medium sized one:

• 100% satin-finished micro-fiber
• Water resistant
• Double shoulder strap 24.5"
• Two side bottle pockets
• Top zip closure
• Approx Size: 11"H x 15.6"W x 5.7"D

• Lining is washable and black color wipeable
• Oversized changing pad w/velcor closure and Kate Spade New York lable
• Four side open pockets one zipper pocket w/ kate Spade logo lable
• Come w/Kate Spade dust bag & care card

i bought mine new from eBay
, since it's cheaper (new from the store is about $180)

if you don't want to spend roughly $150, there are oodles of diaper bags on the market now that are cheaper, but just as fashionable (and "uber" functional).
posted by picture_yellow at 1:06 PM on September 8, 2006

by the way, i happen to work for a large investment firm, and that's the bag i carry to work.
i'm sure if it's acceptable in the real coporate world,
it should be good enough for business school.
it will also be used as my school bag when i start graduate school.
posted by picture_yellow at 1:09 PM on September 8, 2006

I have an earlier version of this leather tote bag from LLBean. It's held up really well, holds a lot of stuff and acts as a briefcase or laptop bag when needed.
posted by theora55 at 2:50 PM on September 8, 2006

Check out Waterfield Design's Cozmo bag. It sounds like it's exactly what you're looking for--classy enough for the corporate world and stylish enough for carrying around other places too. It comes in different colors. I have the stone, which I love because it's understated but beautiful.


If you'll be carrying a laptop, get the Cozmo Mambo Combo, which comes with a computer sleeve and a little pouch for your cables, keys, etc. It'll save you $$. This bag is a little more than your stated budget, but it will last you forever. I went through so many bags before finding this one. The quality is amazing. They are made in the USA. The customer service is really personal too. They helped me make sure I had the right sleeve size for my laptop.

posted by flyawaygal at 10:56 AM on February 15, 2007

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