The Best Bags & Purses

So, as I announced a few months back, I’m not spending any money on non-essentials for the foreseeable future. I’ve certainly broadened the meaning of “essential”—for me, a meal out with friends every few weeks to catch up is really life-giving, so it’s essential to my mental health. In the past months, I’ve (somehow) managed to knock out over $2,000 of debt! This process has had highs and lows—anyone ever sent all of their money to pay off credit cards and forgotten about a scheduled charge that sent your bank account into the negative? Uh…me either. Overall, though, it’s been a lovely experiment and has really helped me build a healthy relationship with money.

So, back to the bags and purses. Part of the saving money journey has been selling things through Poshmark, so it’s forced me to take a good, hard look at my possessions and figure out which ones I’m keeping for function and which ones I’m keeping for status. My biggest area of weakness is handbags—they are my moon and stars. I have an enormous collection that I’ve had to pare down and sell. So, in essence, this list is what I decided to keep, what I decided to sell, and why.

I hope this helps your shopping journey! Please check out my shop, a lot of this stuff and way more is up for sale! I always take reasonable offers—I’m not afraid to haggle!

Love ‘Em

The Medium Transport Tote, Madewell

This bag is the GOAT. I would literally never dream of getting rid of it. I have it in a beautiful wine-colored leather. It doesn’t zip, so you have to be comfortable with an open-topped bag, but if you can deal with that, this is a fantastic bag. It’s nice and deep, perfect for a laptop, books, really anything you need. It has shoulder straps and a crossbody strap, so it’s versatile AF.

The Zip-Top Transport Carryall, Madewell

Madewell bags are just excellent quality. That’s how it goes. This one is a great travel bag—you can get a decent-sized laptop in there with little effort. You can cram all of your belongings into this thing and still zip it. It just has the standard compartments, but they’re big enough to actually accommodate your sunglasses case, pens, and other stuff you reach for all the time.

Le Pliage Nylon Tote Bag (Large), Longchamp

The #1 travel bag in all the land. This thing has gone to Mexico, Florida, England—it is the only bag I’ll bring on a plane now. It really stretches the limit of how much can possibly fit into one bag, while not seeming massive or suitcase-like.

Like ‘Em

The Transport Tote, Madewell

This bag definitely doesn’t work as an everyday purse but it works for everything else. The one I bought is nubuck leather, so it’s super soft while still strong and durable. It fits a ton without getting unmanageable or misshapen.

Kanken Mini Backpack, Fjällräven

What could be cuter? I still haven’t exactly figured out how to incorporate this into frequent use, but I imagine that it will come in very handy next time I travel.

Riverdale Small Crossbody, Kelly Moore Bag

This is actually up for sale on my Poshmark just because I don’t have a need for it, but it’s such a cute little bag. It’s shockingly roomy, and the inside is padded to protect your devices (it’s designed as a camera bag.

Jet Set Large Crossbody, Michael Kors

I actually ended up selling this bag, which I have mixed feelings about. It was truly so, so cute. My only complaint was that the leather was very rigid, so it was tough fitting things into the bag while retaining it’s sleek rectangular shape. When I carried this, I got endless compliments. If you can find one on sale, snag it!

Leo Clutch, Rebecca Minkoff

This seems like one I wouldn’t like, since it’s super thing without a lot of stretch, but I’ve actually used this clutch a ton of time with great results. I bought it for a wedding years ago, and I still pull it out for special occasions or evenings out. Mine’s in a black floral pattern so it straddles the line between pretty and edgy. The winning feature of this bag is that it has card slots, so no need to carry a wallet.

Leave ‘Em

Simple Half-Moon Crossbody, Madewell

This bag is so cute and I’m keeping it, but it’s very thin, meaning you can barely fit your keys in it.

Le Pliage Nylon Tote Bag (Small), Longchamp

I bought this bag to carry on my trip to England and I honestly didn’t love it! The no-compartments thing, for whatever reasons, works better on a large travel bag, where constantly grabbing necessities (like your money, which you then have to rustle through because you’re not familiar with the currency), isn’t as important moment-to-moment. Because the Longchamp bags are so roomy, I ended up carrying everything all of the time because I had the space. Ultimately, I switched this bag out for a £30 backpack from TopShop (in Windsor where the queen lives, no big deal), because it was just way too heavy on my shoulder.

Ella Tote, Tory Burch

I wanted to love this bag so much. Every few months, I take it out for a couple of days, hoping I will change my mind. But alas, it’s just not a practical bag. It’s enormous, which I actually like, but it has no compartments and an almost accordion-like structure that just gets bigger and bigger the more stuff you, well, stuff in it. It doesn’t really stay closed (nor do the side snaps) and the straps are really rigid, making it really uncomfortable to carry. If you need a really disorganized suitcase, this is the bag for you. I bought it at a discount when I worked retail and I truly did love the status symbol, but ultimately it wasn’t right for me. I sold it within an hour of putting it up on Poshmark, and I made back a good percentage of what I spent.

Wishlist

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You didn’t think I was going to end a handbag post without a little window shopping, did you?

The Abroad Shoulder Bag, Madewell

The perfect size for a crossbody.

Harper Crossbody Bag, J. Crew

I know for a fact that this would be so impractical, but it’s soooo cute.

Darren Shoulder Bag, Rebecca Minkoff

This looks like such a great size! I love things that are divided by compartment!

Full STEM Ahead Bag, Modcloth

I’ve been lusting over this bag for months. It’s not as high-quality as I usually aim for, but it’s so freaking cute. I have a weakness for yellow.

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Report-ing for Duty

Today I gave my final oral report in my seminar! It took me all morning to prepare (since I was busy fighting off panic attacks about it). From all appearances it went really well. Probably because I fueled up with this beforehand:

Before the hot sauce onslaught.
Before the hot sauce onslaught.

I actually took of photo of my boyfriend’s plate, since mine was covered in unattractive hot sauce splatters. This sort of thing is a pretty typical brunch for us. I tend to make a lot of “deconstructed” sandwiches because my boyfriend isn’t a big bread-eater. However, even he is weak to the powers of the pretzel bagel. Bless its existence.

Once I felt that my report was adequately ready for the voyage to school, I took a quick study break and made Fig take pictures of me. He was more than happy to acquiesce, but rather offended that I wouldn’t be posting his ever-artful “Hipstamatics” to the blog.

IMG_7702 IMG_7704

I had so many books and devices to carry that I had to pack my weekender to get them all to school. It actually looks like a somewhat reasonable bag in these photos: be not fooled. The thing is bigger than my torso. I could probably fit inside it. The bag was so heavy that the straps were showing a little distress…I’ll have to be kinder to it in the future. My shoulder is still feeling the pain. It was worth it to get to publicly geek out about Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and feminism. For a grade. Now I just have to write 10-15 cogent pages about it. *skull emoji*

I even hammed it up and read Sexton’s “A Curse Against Elegies” aloud (I occasionally show evidence of my brief affiliation with my high school’s drama department—sue me). The following photo (which Fig said I’d hate and wouldn’t post) might be evidence of that:

top/Michael Kors, cords/Gap, shoes/Steve Madden, bag/French Connection
A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do–and sometimes, that’s matching her lipstick to her shoes.

top/Michael Kors (scored on clearance for practically nothing!), cords/Gap, shoes/Steve Madden, bag/French Connection