Style + Ask The Edit

Meet the New All Purpose Bag

The search for a good all-purpose bag can make you feel like Goldilocks searching for a place to nap.  The bags are either too big or too small, too slouchy or too bulky, too heavy or too chintzy.  And even if you do find the dream bag–the bag that can hold all of your daily essentials plus a book, a pair of shoes and the kitchen sink–it’s usually so far out of your price range that it’s almost laughable.

A good quality every day bag is an essential.  Unfortunately, too many women are reduced to using shopping bags or hideous printed totes to transport their belongings.

The deep, abiding hatred that I feel for Vera Bradley burns with a heat that could rival an acetylene torch.  I have no idea how any person can look at one of those paisley printed cotton bags and think, “I need to own one of these, right now.” 

Every time I see one of those high school Home Ec projects hanging from the arm of a woman on the Metro, it makes me nauseous. But while some District residents have fallen into Vera Bradley‘s quilted tentacles, many Hill Staffers choose Longchamp bags instead.  Walk into any Congressional office and the odds are high that at least one of the women will own a Le Pliage expandable, nylon tote.  (My co-workers own several.) 

The bags are basic and sturdy, but in my opinion, painfully boring.  And while they may be the perfect solution for women who need a bag that can double as a bottomless pit, I’ve just never warmed up to the French made bags.  Luckily for me, it seems that a new all-purpose bag is starting to threaten the Longchamp’s domination of Capitol Hill and the greater Mid-Atlantic.


JPK Nylon Bucket ($165)

I saw my first JPK bag last year when Miss M started selling them in her store.  A few weeks later, I saw them for sale on the Nordstrom website.  Then, I saw them on the racks at Pentagon City.  And before long, I was seeing nylon bags with oversized hardware everywhere I went.  In fact, I have rarely seen a new product stake a claim in the retail market so quickly, but it isn’t hard to see why.

If you’re looking for a good quality carryall, the JPK Bucket Tote or Sasha Bag could be it.  The bags are durable and washable, so if you spill wine on it or snag it on a door handle, it isn’t the end of the world.  They’re also big enough to hold all of the every day items that you need (or want) to carry. 

While JPK bags are far more subtle than a Vera, they are just as utilitarian as the Le Pliage for toting items to and from work. So while legions of Longchamp bags parade through the House X-Ray machines each morning, JPK totes are certainly a threat to their supremacy.  Because isn’t it better when a good basic is also just a little bit stylish?

Whether you choose and Longchamp, a JPK or another simple bag for every day, just remember one thing: friends don’t let friends carry Vera.



  1. sally says:

    old news. these have been around forever.

    September 22, 2010/Reply
  2. VA says:

    The bucket bag is cute but I still love my red Longchamp Le Pliage, especially for travel, because it zips across the top and hides my horrible jumble of belongings. I actually bought mine while studying abroad in France (for the record, I realize how snooty that sounds, but really it just makes the bag a little more special to me) and it's held up well despite the years of wear and tear.

    September 22, 2010/Reply
  3. LB says:

    What is Miss M's store?!

    September 22, 2010/Reply
  4. Rory says:

    That bag is cute, but the hardware on it is way too close to the hardware on those fake Coaches/D&G/etc. that are popping up everywhere.

    September 22, 2010/Reply
  5. natlyg says:

    I got the JPK bag two Easters ago (my Mother-in-Law is way on top of these things). I got a mustard color that was fantastic and went with everything except yellow. The straps and hardware were great, as are the three compartments, but the compartments do limit how much you can stuff in there. The seams at the bottom of mine were worn thin, almost bursting, by the end of the summer. I got lots of compliments on the JPK and it's still a good price for an every day bag, but I am on team Longchamp – its slightly less expensive, more durable and holds more.

    September 22, 2010/Reply
  6. Maggie says:

    I agree with you about the Vero B. bags. They sort of look like diaper bags and I never want to carry one of those again!

    I have been selling the JPK for 2 years now and my customer's love the look of the bags and get tons of compliments. However, I do agree about the golden hardware and the leather handle makes the bag a little heavy. I have also been selling a very similar looking nylon bucket bag that has a good looking faux leather handle, which makes the bag much lighter and is also perfect for my animal friendly leather customer's. It very hard to tell them apart, except it is without the JPK logo. Please take a look for yourself and save lots for a great everyday tote bucket bag, in a very fashionable style.

    September 24, 2010/Reply