Monday, June 27, 2011

The Ulitmate Tote Bag! My search for the perfect one or two.....

"The Bag is central to every Parisian's style." It can make life easier (with special pockets for your phone of lipstick, a spring clip for your keys, an integrated flashlight) or make life hell (a big bucket bag into which everything is thrown together), and in which even a cat would have a hard time finding her kittens" Choosing the right model is all important. The Parisian chooses her bags on impulse, and not because she has been told what to carry around this season. She is not interested in the latest IT bag, but very keen to find the iconic bag for her"
Ines De La Fressange, Parisian Chic, a Style Guide.

I have been trying to find MY Iconic bag for the last few months since moving into our new home. Due to closet constraints (I do not mind it means I will buy less.....)  My bags have found themselves trapped in the attic in lovely plastic containers some of which may never see daylight again. The daily grind of changing bags has become tiresome.  I have to admit to being a bag hoarder , I part with one or two bags every year but I always hold on to one or two for nostalgia. My Pan AM and British Airways flight bags from EBAY really need to be on my vintage site and not in the attic, but I think I would love to have them on hand for some travel nostalgia someday soon....not soon enough. My Gwen Stefani Animal print bags I will pass on to my daughter since they are now worth a fortune on EBAY. The Vintage Hermes Constance will remain in tissue for my daughter because it is just too precious to part with and that was from Goodwill years ago. In addition, I need a bag which can handle constant plane and car travel for my job.

I would like an everyday bag and I need to contribute my unused bags to the Dress for Success organization, it would be an excellent way to help women going back to work.
My final choice should be able to accommodate a laptop if needed, a big folder with all of my job information, my makeup bag, planner, phone, purse, sunglasses,  keys, wipes and must have at least one book, Leapster and some crossword puzzles. With that I will also need a cross body bag no?  Yes, just in case.

My search began in earnest after reading two really great books

Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange

I Love your Style by Amanda Brooks

Ms. Brook's book is divided by style type (Classic, Minimalist, High Fashion etc.) and under the classic chapter she writes

"Some people are really into collecting handbags these days. I am personally not so into it. It's ridiculously expensive and a great way to ensure that you never know where your wallet, keys, and phone are hiding. Trust me. If you are a classic dresser, or like the simplicity of a consistently carrying one bag like I do, a Black or Brown Handbag is all you really need. Choose carefully and spend as much as you can- or even a little more1 Avoid excessive hardware; you'll get sick of it over time, and it will often interfere with your jewelry or your outfit. If you usually wear gold jewelry, buy a bag with gold hardware and vice versa if you're a silver/platinum jewelry wearer. That might be the matchy-matchy side of me speaking, but I suspect that most of you classic dressers are pretty matchy-matchy too. "
"Amanda Brooks, I Love Your Style"

That cemented it for me; I already knew I was a classic/minimalist dresser with a touch of eclectic because of my accessories. That meant a bag in brown or black with absolutely no hardware, my accessories will do the talking, not my bag.


I decided that black would be my color, brown would not match with a lot of my black heavy wardrobe, I like to keep all of the colors the same. Navy will come later, I love navy.

Hardware not gold, too glitzy that meant no Juicy Couture handbags or sorry Gwen no Lamb Handbags. Silver or platinum hardware it would have to be or just plain, black and please no logos, so no Coach, No Dooney and Burke, No B Murkowski!
This is getting easier......

Style /Shape

In her book Ines de La Fressange picked five shapes The Big Tote Bag, the Clutch (not good for every day), the Satchel (not big enough but that is always on my list), The Ladies handbag (not good for everyday) and the Straw bag (more casual). Straw bags have had a huge comeback this year, buy one at the end of the season for next year and you will be ahead of the trend for spring 2012.
For the Big Tote she says quote" A faithful friend for every day, you can slip your clutch inside, handy if you are going out after work and cannot go home first. Take out our clutch and leave your tote bag at the office."

Ms. Brooks chose the Slouchy Bag and the Crafty bags for her Bohemian girls, a Classic shape for her minimalists in black, brown, gray or tan or even lizard but always little or no hardware, perfect!

Based on my needs, a Tote would be the best choice, not a slouchy tote, something that is firm, sturdy and roomy, the straps would be the perfect length, and it can work over my shoulder or in my hands. It would be roomy enough to fit all of my goods and maybe if it has a zipper that would be nice too. They should all have pockets inside front and back with zippers. I do not want a divided Tote which tends to reduce space and restrict access to items.  A Hobo is my least favorite, everything swims at the bottom of a Hobo bag, and it drives me crazy.
Now for the search...

There are lots of choices out there in all price ranges of course, but the best investment totes for a working woman are in the mid $150 to $250 price range, so I zeroed in on a few brands which made which made it to the top of my list from my first time perusal of stores (Nordstrom, Macy's, Bloomingdales and on line).

Kate Spade- classy hardware but still too much.
Kate Spade Bon Shopper

Kate Spade Vanston Jackson

Loved these two bags but I wanted a bag with the same color strap and something without so much hardware. The prices are out of my price range.

Ralph Lauren- love the matte color, minimal hardware and the hidden logo make this a winner (straps are the right length for shoulder or hand).
RL Nylon Tote

RL Leather Tote

The leather bag is divine.

Le Sport Sac- The shiny black texture provides a nice contrast for minimalists. 
Downtown Tote Le Sport Sac

I like Le Sport Sac bags because of they are made from parachute fabric which will never tear and they are super light! You cannot find better travel bags and luggage anywhere. The shiny black is a great option for a minimalist girl who wants to add some punch to her all black daily wear. I really like this bag.

Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs Medium Tote

Love the non-hardware look of this bag, this is a close runner up and there are lots of little nooks in and around the bag. Also check out the diaper bag in this style, it is awesome.

Michael Kors - too much hardware for me, but great handbags!
Python Black Kors

Kors Option 2

MK Leather Tote (too slim for me)

Back To School Bag- My pick, the most practical and reminds of Prada!

Mr. Kors does many variations of totes, some are the collapsible type which would result in all of your belongings swimming at the bottom of the bag, however he has a fantastic range of upright Saturday totes in a variety of fabrics and colors. You will have to decide if you are a silver or gold girl, there is a lot of hardware, lots of bells and whistles.

Tory Burch 

Tory Burch Nylon Tote- Love this Bag too!!

Talbots Tote
Love this bag for the size and shape but the strap needs to be a little longer.

so my final picks..

Drumroll Please...

My overall pick is the Black Newbury Tote from RL, for its versatility and classic shape along with the lack of loud branding and hardware.
My second pick is the Le Sport Sac Tote because of the shiny texture which adds a stylish touch to a bag that is otherwise plain and practical.

What is your favorite tote ? Brand?

Please let us know...

Happy Shopping!

1 comment :

  1. Wow amazing outfit! She is so creative! Colorful outfit! I love the way you paint it, awesome. I love the whole look. Amazing photo! She has such an angelic face. They should all have pockets inside front and back with zippers. I do not want a divided Tote which tends to reduce space and restrict access to items. Thanks for sharing with us.


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