Ask Belle: Satchels Under-$200

Dec 26, 2013

Dear Belle, 

The Rebecca Minkoff satchel that I received for graduation in 2008, is looking pretty rough.  I want to replace it, but I’m on a Hill Staffer’s budget.  Can you suggest a few satchels that cost under-$200?  I really need black, but I’d also consider gray as an option.

Thank you!  Aimee

Handbags are one area where quality and price are inexorably linked.  It’s tough to find well-made bags that won’t cost a pretty penny.  It can be done, but you have to be willing to kiss a lot of frogs, in order to eliminate the weak links.

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 12.07.05 AM

Elliott Lucca Medium Satchel ($138)

Elliott Lucca is a good bag for the money.  I owned two, and both held up well for daily use.  This satchel has a unique shape and some tasteful embellishments.  I also like this frame satchel.  If you’re looking for more of a tote, try this Carryall.

Dooney & Bourke is another brand to look into for good, mid-price bags.  And don’t discount the possibility of finding a great bag at DSW, on 6pm.com or in the Nordstrom sale section.

Beyond that, if you’d like something under-$100, Steve Madden makes a decent bag.  Not great, but good for the price.  I like the look of this BKorina large satchel and this Btalia satchel, which comes in several colors.

Prefer nylon bags?  LeSportsac is now making bags that are functional and stylish.  I LOVE the shape on this Sig Small Satchel, and this Travel Satchel has an extremely sophisticated shape for a bag made out of nylon.  Seriously, ladies, if you’re looking for an all-purpose travel bag, small gym bag or knock-around carryall, do not miss these LeSportsac bags.

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  1. B says:

    Belle didn’t mention this, but if you love your bag otherwise, have you ever had it reconditioned?

    I grew up in an equestrian family where we keep good quality leather goods – saddles, reins, handbags, wallets, etc – around forever, because we take time to clean and condition the leather. You’d be amazed at what regular maintenance twice per year can do to keep your handbag looking like new. If it’s just cleaning and conditioning, you can probably do it yourself unless it’s a light color leather, in which case I recommend going to the pros. People who do this type of work probably aren’t handbag-only, I have a local leather guy (I don’t live in DC) who does work on my bags from time to time – fixes straps, replaces zippers, removes ink, and can do the cleaning, too. It’s the same guy who removes the salt from my boots every year, fixes scuffs on my flats and replaces the heel tips and soles on my pumps.

    I’ve always found that they’re happy to take a look and quote you what it would cost, so why not try it? I bet your Minkoff is worth a lot more than $200, and even in rough shape is probably higher quality than what you can buy new in that price range.

  2. KK says:

    I recently purchased the Fossil Sydney satchel at Macy’s. Its listed at $178, but you can undoubtedly get it on sale. I love the removable crossbody strap. Great quality for the price!

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