Thursday, July 12, 2007

asked and answered: hip, professional work tote

a reader posted a question recently:

I am on a limited budget and need a new bag that is good for work and school. So, it needs to be able to carry a laptop and files and I would like something that is fun and professional and will work with brown, navy, and black suits.

Help? Please? Is it possible for a reasonable price?

i'm never one to shrink from a challenge, especially when i already have an idea in mind ;)

first, a couple of notes about construction. i'm actually not a big fan of leather bags for the briefcase/laptop carryall, for two reasons. one, leather is heavy. it will add as much as ten pounds to your load if you want a leather bag (at least, if you want a quality leather bag), which isn't what you need when you're lugging a 15" laptop and 10 case files at the end of the day. and two, leather doesn't take abuse the way microfiber, or other well-made fabrics will. it is going to show scratches and corner wear, and most of us aren't going for that "broken in" look when we're trying to put our best foot forward.

the other note about construction is to pay attention to the handles. thicker handles are your friends - those flimsy, thin handles you see on many bags are just going to cause you major shoulder trauma (not to mention stretching out your favorite cashmere sweater).

okay, enough principles. after going through more laptop bag sites than i care to admit, i've determined my first choice was the right one. i'm suggesting a bag by talene reilly - there are a number of great choices in this line, but my favorites are the cate and the sydney. for you, since i think this is going to serve as a multi-purpose bag, i like the sydney for its exterior pockets - the ease of access thing is very important for those hot young attorney-types.

lots of gorgeous color combos, but i think for your purposes, i'd choose the camel tweed with caramel trim (pictured above), because it's stylish and polished, but not stuffy. it's also going to be a very flexible color, and will look fabulous with black, navy and brown. this one's a tad over your budget, at $308, but i'm very pleased to let everyone know that the designer (who is absolutely darling, by the way) has offered all of my lovely readers a 20% discount off all of her bags, bringing the price down to $246.

the other color palette i'm loving is her brand new cream linen with white leather trim - if you're looking for a summer option, i think this bag is about as fresh as anything i've seen - much better than the standard, boring black laptop bag everyone else is toting right now.

so, that's my recommendation - i'm not bothering with a runner-up, because i really think this is the bag for you. in fact, i'm so convinced that i think i'm going to be adding the cate bag to my own work wardrobe! i hope the rest of you will follow suit - the designer has informed me (how exciting that i get to announce this!) that her line has just been picked up by neiman marcus, which is a huge step for any brand. buy one of her pieces now, and you can say you knew her when!

remember to use code cardio at checkout on the talene reilly website to save 20% on any purchase!