I know you’ve covered work bags a few times on your site, but I really need some help. I work in a very conservative environment and need a bag for carrying to meetings, conferences, etc. I looked at the J. Crew Biennial but my worry is that it looks more like a big purse than a briefcase/tote, at least on my frame. It really needs to look professional being carried around all day, not just in and out of the office. What do you think?
Thank you! Heather
Professional women who are looking for a briefcase/laptop bag that has style and functionality face a an uphill battle. Most fashion designers and fashionistas don’t live lives like we live, hauling files, computers and essentials to committee hearings, to court or on business trips. And as a result there are very few options in the marketplace, and virtually no options in the under-$150 range.
If you want a professional work bag that will last for years, look for a leather bag with structure. When you like at it in the store, zip and unzip the sippers and fasten and unfasten the buttons. Well-made bags will have closures that move with ease.
Also, look at the thread used in the stitching. Is it frayed? Does it look nice and thick? Does it look secure?
Look inside the bag and examine the lining. You want something that feels and looks durable. No cheap, thin polyester or flimsy cotton.
Lastly, examine the handles. Is the stitching that holds them to the bag strong? Are they superficially attached, are there flaps (like the Lodis) or do they extend into bag (as seen on the Coach)? Handles and straps are where heavily-used purses usually fail, so examine them and determine if they look sturdy.
Do you ladies have a favorite structured work briefcase or bag to recommend?