Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: The Weekender

Hi Belle,

I was hoping you could recommend a stylish but inexpensive overnight or weekend bag – carry-on size. Tis the season for long weekends at the beach, and I’m ashamed to say that I’m still carrying the ugly duffel bag I used for my gym clothes back in middle school. I’m 26 now and desperately overdue for something more attractive and grown up. I’d love to stick to intern prices, but understand if this isn’t realistic given that I also need durability (the bag will likely be tossed around trains and hostels worldwide).

Thanks in advance!


Clockwise from top left, Brahmin Weekender ($395), Forever 21 Duffle ($25), Lattico Duffle ($249), Topshop Canvas Weekender ($90)

Stylish weekenders and duffle bags are tough to find.  There is an overload of inexpensive bags in garish prints and many luxury brands (Louis Vuitton, Fendi, etc.) make a duffle bag that costs more than my first car.  But few brands in the mid-price, Hill Staffer range make stylish travel bags.

Perhaps this is why so many women end up carrying Vera Bradley duffles and Longchamp bags that have seen better days.  (I’m not opposed to Longchamp, it’s just not my favorite. It’s kind of bland.)

Personally, if I were going shopping for a stylish, flexible travel bag, I would go vintage.  I think that you’ll have better luck finding a well made leather or canvas duffle that was made in the 60s, 70s or even 80s, than you will finding a brand new mid-priced bag.

Any other suggestions for stylish travel bags that won’t break the bank or break after one use?

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  1. Anon says:

    I also recommend LL Bean or Lands End. I have a LE tote that I got on clearance a couple years ago for $13. I liked it so much I bought it in all 3 colors it came in. I've carried as much as 45 lbs in it (yep, law school books so heavy my car's light came on telling me to buckle the passenger lol). Subscribe to their emails for coupons.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Emily says:

    I love and constantly travel with my LL Bean zip top boat tote. I love that it is low cost and I can wash it if needed. The x-large can be carried on but has plenty of room for a weekend.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  3. AD says:

    Emily – Do you have the long handles or regular handles?

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  4. CD says:

    I have a Longchamp weekender bag that I LOVE. It is durable, long-lasting, and a great size. An added bonus is that it has a zipper along the middle to expand (or vise versa) the bag. Sometimes I even use it as a purse if I'm going somewhere after work and need a change of clothes. It's the perfect size and material. Here's the link:

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  5. Helena says:

    Don't bother looking at handbag brands for a good weekender– try luggage lines, instead. They are durable and many offer chic options without crass branding and hardware. Tumi's weekenders are in the $400-800 range, so certainly aren't cheap, but they are really well-made (better than their suitcases!).

    I have a leather Latico duffle that has held up for about 6 years. It's a bit heavy, even when empty, so I don't recommend this style and material if you have to walk a lot with your bag.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  6. Kate says:

    Thanks for this post — I have been having this EXACT same dilemma for weeks. I've had no luck finding anything stylish AND durable for less than $250. Maybe I need to just suck it up and invest in something I'll love and use all the time ­čÖé

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  7. sms says:

    Love the Hayden Harnett Weekender with the matching Flight Tote!–16162–16131

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  8. saramel says:

    Check out stores like TJ Maxx. They usually have a lot of nice and reasonably priced luggage options. I found my favorite bag there and it has to be at least ten years old at this point. Black patent leather with natural leather trim, it's a classic. I was dismayed when it finally got a hole at the seam but a good cobbler repaired it for $20 and it looks as good as new (if you ignore the scuff marks on the bottom from where it's been shoved in and out of the space under the seat a hundred times).

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  9. E says:

    Belle, I know you hate Vera Bradley but I have a suggestion. I got this tote for as a bridesmaid gift and I LOVE it! It's huge and incredibly durable! I'm a teacher, and it's in my teacher bag rotation and I've traveled on trains and planes with it (a little difficult to stuff under airplane seats). It also has a zip closure, great for securing items. Another added bonus…it's listed here on the website as only $40.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  10. addie says:

    i've been lusting after this bag for the past week. the kicker? it has a separate pocket for shoes!

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  11. meg says:

    addie – i was just pulling up the link to suggest lo & sons! I've heard great things and have been wanting one for a while… just can't decide between the O.G. and the O.M.G. and in what color!

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  12. Lindsay says:

    I personally LOVE Jon Hart Luggage. I won the weekender bag at my after-prom party yeeaaaarssss ago. It is still in fantastic shape, is really durable, very classic looking, and looks like something you would spend thousands on, but is quite reasonably priced. Look at the website for alternate sizing options. I have the Weekender in tan.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  13. Carolyn says:

    It might be a little too “bling” for some, but I fell in love with this weekender from Deux Lux –

    I bought it, and have used it on one trip so far – it's well made and a good size. It probably isn't the best for throwing around too much (I'd be worried about losing sequins), but for car trips, it's great!

    Deux Lux also makes a bunch of other weekender/duffle size bags that are a little more tame –

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  14. addie says:

    meg – definitely the OG. but i always overpack because i like to be prepared for everything. as for the color, you're on your own. thankfully, all the colors are pretty classic so i don't think you can go wrong!

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  15. Beth says:

    I LOVE my Herve Chapelier bag. It had been through thick and thin with me and fits more than I could ever imagine. Definitely worth the price and looks cute and classy while traveling. I got mine at Bloomingdales, but here is a direct link to their brand site:

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  16. Emily says:

    Hi AD, I have the long handles.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  17. Jenn says:

    I've been using a Lorton and Horn (they're on Etsy) satchel to tote my computer and papers for the last few months. Their weekender bag will probably be my next gift to myself when I have the means to splurge: The leather quality of the satchel is excellent; it's sturdy, although it does smell of leather. But I love it. I know I'll love the duffel, too.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  18. LT says:

    Check out Nordstrom Rack. I see weekender bags there all the time. I bought a great one that looks like an oversized M Z Wallace satchel. It's perfectly sized with lots of pockets. And it was $60.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  19. Nancy says:

    I bought myself the Kady bag from Rowallan last year (mine was a light blue with white trim), and love it:

    It has a removable shoulder strap, as well as the smaller handles on the top to carry on your arm. Also, there's a second zippered off space on the bottom which is a great place to stick shoes and other stuff you might wanted separated from your clothing. I actually bought it off ideeli so got it for much less than the $199 price tag quoted on the rowallan website.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  20. Ellen says:

    I have commandeered my boyfriend's Filson bag as my weeekender, and it's awesome! Sure it's a tiny bit masculine but it holds up to everything he or I have subjected it to!

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  21. Jessi LV says:

    I love this Tumi “Just in Case” tote for either weekends or to bring on a trip where I know I will be needing an extra bag on the way home. Super lightweight.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  22. Freyja says:

    I second the LL Bean bags. They have all kinds of sizes/options/colors. They are great for weekend car trips. Each of my kids has their own, with their own color and their name embroidered, which they love, and I have the xlarge and large. Very durable and easy to wash. I prefer the zip top and long handles. Caveat that I wouldn't check them (I have used them as carry-on bags) and I wouldn't use them on a work trip – too casual. But, classic style, classic value.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  23. Cindy says:

    I'd suggest taking a look at It's Vintage Darling on 14th St. In Columbia Heights, on my last visit they had some really cute vintage overnight bags. and you might as well also check TJ MAx or Marshalls, I boughta fantastic suitcase there, for a moderate price 6 years ago, and it's still going strong.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  24. A says:

    As someone whose job involves a lot of travel and whose family is overseas I spend a ton of time in transit. I can't reccomend enough a canvas bag (you will want the inside washed, not just the outside) from TJ Maxx. Luggage is something to spend mid-range on as you do want it to last but the likelihood your needs change in a few years is strong. Also go for a solid shade or a discrete pattern (no Vera no) but not black, you will spend mOre time than you would care to think, chasing down mistaken black bags from hostels.

    June 7, 2012/Reply
  25. MCWS says:

    How are y'all washing those canvas totes?

    June 9, 2012/Reply
  26. Meg says:

    I actually use an Elizabeth Arden tote that was a free gift with a purchase. It's pretty, was free, and holds up pretty well!

    June 9, 2012/Reply
  27. Valentina says:

    Wow that top left bag is to die for!

    <strong><a href=””>Valentina de Pertis</a></strong>

    June 10, 2012/Reply