I feel a little disheveled. I can get the right outfit together but then I grab my computer from my desk and a notepad and some papers and rush to the airport, and none of it really fits in my handbag, but I don’t want to carry a computer bag and a handbag because I’ve got my carry on, and, well, you get the idea… Can you help me find a bag to pull it all together?
I get this desperate plea. No matter how sophisticated your outfit, you can lose confidence or credibility if you come into a room with multiple bags or papers spilling out of torn folders. How do we fix it? And how much will it cost?
First of all, if you have a big laptop, I probably can’t efficiently help you. My home laptop is big and heavy and there’s no good handbag to manage it. However, my work laptop is small and sleek and can easily go into a bag with papers.
Second of all, I don’t have time to change bags anymore. So if I’m going to find a handbag (or find you one), it needs to do double duty. It should be sized well when there are no work papers or computer, and I need to be able to actually find things instead of everything getting eaten by the bottom crater.
With those two premises, and the understanding that I can’t get you a super cool on-trend slouch bag because it doesn’t fit the criteria (I’ll write another post about impractical handbags I love and would buy if I had burn money), here we go.
For the classic career traveler:
This is such a perfect bag from Fossil. It runs $300 but it’s leather and comes in black, brown and camel. The interior, and all its many pockets, could not be more perfect for transition from personal errands to work, and it has a crossbody strap to simplify traveling. It fits laptops up to 15 inches but remains sleek and timeless. I’d opt for the camel color as it has maximum versatility.
For the casual career woman:
I should caveat this entry with the fact that this casual career gal needs to be okay with digging for stuff at the bottom of her hobo bag. There is a useful interior pocket for keys or a phone, but everything else may go straight to the bottom (under your computer). However, it’s so fun, I couldn’t leave it off the list. The crushed leather and sturdy strap make it a design treat, but what sold me entirely is this wonderful color that Nordstrom calls “Carmine” which is almost a salmony-red. Boy would I love a carmine-colored bag! (It really is versatile, trust me.)
For the “I can dream but I’d never spend this much money on a bag” career sophisticate:
Gorgeous! Why can’t you find this bag for less than $100? Apparently because someone will spend $2000 on a handbag. What the what? But it does offer great design insight if you want to steal the look and feel of this bag when you’re shopping for your perfect work bag. It’s a gorgeous rich camel color with beautiful construction and a big bold size that isn’t completely overwhelming. The interior is also tremendously practical with small interior pockets as well as sides so you can compartmentalize your personal from your work computer and papers. Alexander McQueen. What can you say?
For the edgy professional:
I think this Firehose Tote is so clever. It’s bright but completely unique (and recycled!). Plus, it’s a practical size and style with a large laptop compartment, smaller, colorfully zippered interior pocket, magnetic flap, and sturdy handles.
For the budget shopping new career professional:
This would be a tight fit, so you would need to know your laptop dimensions in advance. I’d personally take your papers and a laptop to a department store to measure how much space you need. But this structure is smart. It’s sleek and has multiple interior pockets for lipstick, phone, keys, etc. The central area could be used for work. It comes in an array of colors, including blue and bone which I think are the most versatile, and has two types of handles for whatever works with your travel style. And it’s only $38 on Overstock.
What about you? Where did you find your go to work handbag? What do you need most in a home/work/travel handbag? Share your secrets.