+ Look for Less

10th Commandment: February 27

I receive a lot of reader mail from ladies in search of a stylish black handbag.  Some want to spend a little, others can spend a lot, but they all want bang for their buck.  So here are a few handbags that deliver a lot of style for the price.

Elected Official


Tory Burch Penelope Tote ($650)

A few weeks ago, I would have posted a Pashli Satchel in this spot, but now that every blogger from here to Kathmandu has one, I’ve moved on.  However, I really enjoy this Alexander Wang Pelican bag and this Marc Jacobs Belmont satchel.

Hill Staffer


Kate Spade Leslie Satchel ($348)

In this middle price range, I also like the Cole Haan Linley bag , the J.CREW Biennial Satchel and I was completely taken with this Vince Camuto satchel with black pony-hair detail.

Paid Intern


Street Level Faux Leather Satchel ($52)

If you need to spend under-$125, I found a few choices for you as well.  This Danielle Nicole Alexa satchel, this Melie Bianco top handle tote, and this edgy Kooba bag with buckle details.



  1. AR says:

    Love the Kate Spade… it sort of looks like a shoulderbag version of the 31 hour bag. Just an FYI to anyone considering the Pashli: I have been black bag shopping for a few months and was totally planning on ordering this bag. Then I saw it in person and was so disappointed in the quality of the leather and the lack of lining. What a bummer! For $900 I expected more.

    February 27, 2013/Reply
  2. Yellowrose says:

    Belle, YOU ROCK! That is all 🙂

    February 27, 2013/Reply
  3. RR says:

    Another (pricey) option I’ve been considering is the Michael Kors Blake Satchel ($1195):(https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/michael-kors-blake-leather-satchel/3344140?cm_cat=datafeed&cm_ite=michael_kors_'blake'_leather_satchel:582840&cm_pla=bags:women:handbag&cm_ven=Google_Product_Ads&mr:referralID=6a56425a-80f2-11e2-8751-001b2166c2c0).

    February 27, 2013/Reply
  4. HH says:

    Belle: Unrelated to the handbags, but I am loving that the product links now open up in a new tab in Firefox. I hated leaving the actual blog just to view the items you linked to.

    February 27, 2013/Reply
  5. A says:


    Love the bag from Nordstrom. Just ordered it! Thanks for all the awesome advice!

    February 27, 2013/Reply
  6. aruiz says:

    Hi Belle,

    I was actually black bag shopping and just as an fyi the kate spade bag is on sale for $299 on the kate spade website.


    February 27, 2013/Reply
  7. Mary says:

    I have a similar black Kate Spade that I love because it was on sale for $199! There are usually great sales on the website and if you signup for email alerts you will be notified of 2 day sales.

    February 27, 2013/Reply
  8. JKG says:

    Fwiw, I have a black leather Kate Spade bag that I carry all year, every day, over-stuffed, and it’s held up really beautifully for at least two years now (maybe three). The quality is really high. I got it during one of Nordstrom’s fall preview sales.

    February 27, 2013/Reply
  9. Ella says:

    I’m on the hunt for a tan (I’m thinking camel– right in between beige and cognac) bag, but I’ve noticed some mid-priced* black bags worth sharing.

    Oh, and I’m a shoulder-carrier (I know, not ultra-cool right now). The short handles + awkward, long shoulder strap combo really peeves me. I also like my bags to have structure but not stiffness.

    *Coach Abigail (18612)*
    Regular leather: https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-COACH-MADISON-ABIGAIL-LEATHER-SHOULDER-BAG-BLACK-GOLD-18612-RARE-/221191886881?pt=US_CSA_WH_Handbags&hash=item3380105821
    Gathered leather (soooo pretty!): https://reviews.coach.com/9059/100384/coach-madison-gathered-leather-abigail-shoulder-bag-reviews/reviews.htm?sort=submissionTime&dir=asc

    *Kate Spade Stevie*
    Kate Spade has made lots and lots of Stevie variations over the years. I don’t love them all, but I do love the Kent: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Authentic-Brand-New-Kate-Spade-Kent-Stevie-Handbag-/370642205508?pt=US_CSA_WH_Handbags&var=&hash=item564bff3b44 (not in black right now, but it pops up on eBay frequently)

    *Michael Kors Ludlow*
    I have this in taupe. The leather is a teensy bit delicate, but I love the look of it enough to make up for that. I prefer the matte ones, but the shiny one had the best picture.

    Also, *Banana Republic* makes surprisingly high-quality handbags. I got the Bridgeport Crescent bag in black for $20 (no joke) and had a friend who knows bags ask me what designer it was because she loved it so much. Unfortunately, Banana Republic’s bags usually aren’t listed with their names, so you’ll need to search for things like “pebbled,” “twistlock,” or “turnlock.”
    The bag looks pretty stuffed in that picture. Mine doesn’t look so pudgy in real life, though it isn’t a bag that can hold a million things. Its shape and size are very similar to the iconic Gucci Jackie O bags. In fact, my friend was carrying one of those the day she raved over my $20 BR bag.

    *These are all mid-priced on eBay. They’re definitely more expensive in stores if they’re even available.

    February 28, 2013/Reply
  10. Ella says:

    Forgot to add the least expensive one I found: the Perlina Octavia.

    February 28, 2013/Reply