Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Edit Vol. IV, No. Thirty-Nine

Today, the Edit is answering reader questions about $15 mentor gifts, the perfect work satchel, accessories for a camel coat, and more…


I recently achieved a major professional milestone that culminates a 3-year career transition. To celebrate, I want to buy myself a really nice handbag – something that I’ll have for years. Can you recommend any satchels or hobo bags that are timeless and professional? I want to feel like the Chairwoman of the Board when I walk into work with my bag. If you could keep the budget under $500, I would appreciate it.

Thank you! – AKS 

I love a good celebration gift, and handbags make the best ones. I still remember when I bought my first designer bag (a Rebecca Minkoff MAB).  Maybe it sounds silly, but it felt like a professional accomplishment.  I could finally afford one of the great bags all of the women I wanted to be carried.   Here are six examples of power satchels for the office.

Upper Left, Kate Spade Cameron Satchel ($378) // Zac Posen Eartha Bag ($495) // Furla Mercury Satchel ($425) // Loeffler Randall Dome Satchel ($450) // Vasic Collection Resty Satchel ($416) // Henri Bendel Carlyle Tote ($264)

The key to choosing a great work satchel is to choose a bag with presence.  It needs structure, a neutral color, and a strong look.  I also like to choose bags that aren’t obviously one designer or another.

My favorite bag in the group is the Furla in the upper right.  It has a strong shape, a gorgeous charcoal color (good in summer and winter), and isn’t identifiable.  The flap closure is super chic.

If you’re looking for a cool bag for under-$300, I would give Henri Bendel a try.  Their bags are well-made, and come in lots of styles.  Not all of the styles are winners, but some are cool.  If you’re looking for a versatile colored bag, I adore the Riverside Carryall in burgundy.

Hello Abra,

Help! I am desperate for a long, ivory cardigan, but the only ones I can find are expensive (Sorry, I’m not spending $300 on a Tory Burch cardi.) I love Banana’s merino boyfriend cardigan but they don’t have ivory, or white, this season. Can you help me find one?

Thanks! – Rachel 

Of course, I live for a good Easter egg hunt.  Halogen has an ivory rib knit cardigan.  Free People has a very hygge-looking chunky cardigan.  This Hinge shawl-collar cardigan is worth a look.  If I were buying one, I would grab this Charter Club cardigan.  Plus-size? Try this 14th & Union cardigan at Nordstrom Rack.


Do you have an under-$15 suggestion for a female mentor gift?  Mine is definitely on my Christmas list this year.  But, ya know, intern budget.  

Love the blog, Dia

Your mentor wants your gratitude.  But if a gift is on order, I like personalized stamps.  You can just stamp your address on the back of envelopes, no need to address them.  I used to have a stamp with my initials for approving memos (nerd alert).  Or go all in with a wax stamp.

Hi Abra,

You may have covered this already – but what are your gift ideas for the boyfriend’s parents? I’ll be spending Christmas Day with them, then we are going to Iceland (!) with them a few days later. I was thinking to get them separate Christmas and “thank-you-for-an-amazing-trip” gifts, but curious to see if you think that is too much?

Thanks! – Kristen

First, I would buy one Christmas gift and then send a nice thank you note (one to each parent) when you get back.  The other option would be to have a photo from the trip placed in a nice frame and give them that as a thank you gift.

As for gifts, I would consult with your boyfriend about what they like and what might be appropriate.  Intangible items are usually a little better for gifts when you don’t know the person that well, that way they don’t feel the need to use or wear the gift if they don’t like it.

Generally, consumables are good (try Amazon, Williams Sonoma, Goldbely).  Whether it’s food, wine, coffee, liquor, or snacks, almost everyone has a favorite food.  Tickets or passes can also be a good gift.  If the father likes to golf, maybe a buy him a round at a nice course near their home.

Hi Abra! 

I finally invested in a really nice camel coat. The trouble I’m having is with accessories. My previous outerwear wardrobe was all black and it turns out I’m just not a huge fan. I think I would prefer softer, more tonal combinations. Can you help me find some scarf/hat/glove combos in softer tones that achieve the grownup, sophisticated look I’m going for? Thanks so much and love your site!!

– Kristina 

I LOVE these cashmere woven gloves in oatmeal (nearly identical under-$50 option).  I’d add this luxurious looking ivory Free People scarf.  For a hat, try an ivory beret or fur-pom beanie.

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  1. Lexi says:

    For the gift to your boyfriend’s parents, you should make them a coffee table photo book on Shutterfly with all of your pictures from the trip!

    I did this for my boyfriends parents the first time they took me on a trip and they LOVED it. (A little back story, his mom used to scrapbook ALL the time back in the day, but for whatever stopped as her sons got older. So, making a book like this was even more special because it was like a mini scrapbook.)

    Also, be sure to make a shared album through your phones during the trip, so everyone can have each others photos!

    December 12, 2017/Reply
  2. Danielle Huntley says:

    For AKS – check out The Real Real. Congratulations!! I was in a similar situation a year ago when I started my own law firm. I got a smashing Ferragamo satchel under $500 that fits my iPad pro, a file or two and stands on its own. It’s dove grey Saffiano leather, goes with everything and it doesn’t have logos stamped all over it. I like The Real Real because everything is authenticated, so you know you are getting the real thing. They have a mix of designers too, from Kate Spade to Hermes, so you can find something in basically every price point. I am lusting after the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour – a girl can dream!!

    December 12, 2017/Reply
  3. raq says:

    this is more white but I love this cardigan!

    December 12, 2017/Reply
  4. Mandi says:

    Kristina, I’ve now decided I need a camel coat as well! I see plenty of very nice, cashmere options online but am not ready to “splurge.” Can Abra or any readers recommend a camel coat under $300?

    December 12, 2017/Reply
  5. Mel says:

    As a cute stocking stuff idea for the parents, you may want to throw in some nice gloves for the trip. Waterproof and even those kind that conduct electricity so you can take pictures without taking the gloves off.

    December 13, 2017/Reply
  6. Jessica says:

    Abra, I love your blog, but I have to offer some constructive feedback on your mention of “If the father likes to golf…” Women golf too, and the stereotype that it’s only a game for men is outdated, harmful to women in business, and not the type of thing I’m used to seeing on your blog.

    It drives me insane when people see my clubs in my trunk or garage and ask how long my husband has been playing. He’s never played golf, whereas I have played (almost exclusively with other women!) for years.

    December 14, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I wasn’t being stereotypical, I was just making a suggestion thinking about what my father likes.

      December 14, 2017/Reply
    • Xat says:

      Thank you. I was surprised by that as well and came to the comments to see if somebody had already mentioned it.

      December 26, 2017/Reply
  7. Nicole says:

    I like each of the bag suggestions. I have found Kate Spade bags have held up generally well, but I would suggest waiting for a sale, or going through their outlet site. I find you can get a good size bag for under $200 when they have an extra percent off the outlet. It makes it so that I can actually afford a new bag more frequently, if I want. Also, as a lawyer, my bag is frequently going though metal detectors, which can be unforgiving, and as a result spending a bit less, for what still looks like a more expensive bag, makes me less upset when damage inevitably occurs.

    December 14, 2017/Reply
  8. Steph says:

    Love the bag suggestions. I would just throw in a Michael Kors tote. I purchased a saffiano leather version a few years ago and it has stood the test of time. A quality bag purchase can last you a long time!

    December 22, 2017/Reply