Style + Ask the Edit

Ask the Edit: Handbag Questions Answered

A roundup of handbag questions from how to carry business cards to replacing a crossbody bag to backpacks that don’t look silly.  You asked, I answered.


I formerly had this BP. bag in gray and the strap just broke. I’ve been searching for a replacement and can’t seem to find a fit for the color, material, and size. I’m pretty open to other ideas and willing to spend up to $200 or so on a replacement. Any suggestions?

– Kelsi 

I found one bag that was similar in shape and size to your example, this Tiffany & Fred bag.  If you’re looking for something a bit more on the classic side, this La Parmantier flap crossbody with chic metal details is on point.  And this Street Level minimalist crossbody is a good choice for a clean look.

My all time favorite cross-body bag is the Rebecca Minkoff Mini MAC.  It’s surprisingly roomy (it’ll hold my mini-iPad no problem), stylish, and holds up beautifully.

Hi Abra,

This may seem like a dumb question, but how do you carry your business cards?  I just wind up with a stack in my pocket and that can’t be the best way.

Thanks, Bree

The best way to carry business cards is the way that keeps them with you at all times.  Some women just keep cards in their pocket.  I prefer a business card case.

I own this magnet-close Graphic Image case and it’s a great option.  It opens easily and nothing will fall out if I drop it.  This Furla case comes in a bright pink so you’ll never lose it inside your purse.  Another stylish option would be a vintage metal case for a sophisticated look.

If you’re one of those ladies who is never without your phone, try Kate Spade’s stick-to-it card case.  You affix the case to the back of your phone to keep your cards handy.


I love weird purses.  Crazy shapes and patterns, unique details, bold colors.  My favorite purse is lilac with navy contrast stitching, just to give you an idea.  The kicker is that I just started a job at the federal courthouse in DC and I need to tone it down a bit.  Can you help me find some avant garde purses that aren’t too over the top?

Trying to Fit In

Mango always has bags that are cool with just the right amount of strange.  This sculptural circle-handle bag caught my eye.  I also like the unique texture of their laser-cut hobo bag.  This floral-embroidered shopper also caught my eye as being interesting but in bounds.

If it were me in your position, I would just stick to pops of color.  Red, cobalt, orange, etc.  Given that your bag spends most of the day at your desk, a bright color with an otherwise staid outfit should be fine.


I’m traveling to Europe for a week this spring, and I want to take a backpack instead of a purse.  Can you help me find one that doesn’t make me look like a tyke on her way to school?

Thank you, Beth

The backpack I lust after, dream about, would actually use is this All Saints convertible backpack.  It’s a backpack and a chic tote.  It comes in a small size and a large size, and a whole bunch of colors.  Check their website as some of the colors (including my favorite, Marine) are on sale.

In the over-$200 category, people also speak very highly of this Cuyana backpack and this super sleek DKNY backpack.

For something under-$150, people rave about the Everlane backpacks.  This Sol & Selene Motivator backpack caught my eye.  And I always (always) love a Matt & Nat product, esp. if you’re in the market for vegan-friendly leather.  Their bags are so chic, and the Chanda backpack is no exception.

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  1. LHW says:

    PSA: The All Saints website has a great sale on their bags right now. Looks like the taupe and navy convertible backpack is on sale for around $150.

    January 2, 2018/Reply
    • LHW says:

      And I just see you mentioned that……

      January 2, 2018/Reply
  2. KG says:

    Kelsi – I have this Vince Camuto bag that seems pretty similar to what you had:

    January 2, 2018/Reply
    • Kelsi says:

      Thanks – all of these options are providing me with much-needed bag inspiration.

      January 3, 2018/Reply
  3. Jenn says:

    I actually clipped together a stack of business cards with a big binder clip when I was in a pinch once and tossed that in my handbag before a big meeting and it ended up hanging out in my purse for a while. I actually got a compliment on my minimalist card-carrying solution at the last conference I attended. It’s nice because the clip is an odd enough shape that I can find it by touch in my bag.

    January 2, 2018/Reply
  4. Danielle says:

    I own the Cuyana backpack in the blush color and it is my go to travel bag. It is an incredible purse, wears beautifully, looks sophisticated and the leather is gorgeous. One of my all time favorite pieces. I get compliments on it all of the time. One of the nice things about it is the top strap is big enough so you can wear it on your shoulder too. It is an AMAZING bag.

    If you want something super light, I used the Longchamp Le Pilage backpack when I had ankle surgery. It zips closed, the nylon wears like iron and you can fold it up super small which makes packing easy. It is on the smaller side so you can’t fit a ton of stuff in it, but it makes you handsfree. I use it instead of a crossbody when I’m doing errands on the weekends.

    January 2, 2018/Reply
  5. Ivanna says:

    I needed a backpack purse for my lifestyle, ordered this one in pink from Amazon, and fell soooooo in love: BOSTANTEN Women Leather Backpack Purse Satchel Shoulder School Travel Bags Casual Daypack for College Pink

    January 2, 2018/Reply
  6. Susan says:

    I recently purchased the large backpack purse from Madewell ($200) and I adore it. It’s big enough to carry my kid gear, ipad, phones, etc. and still cute and stylish.

    January 3, 2018/Reply
  7. T says:

    I bought this Baggu leather backpack to take to London last year and I love it.

    It’s a good size, not to big, but still fits everything and the leather wears well. I got it in a burgundy color to contrast with my mostly black winter outerwear. Highly recommend!

    January 3, 2018/Reply
  8. Sarah says:

    I bought the Hanover backpack from Lo&Sons and have been loving it! i took it to Europe and Disney, and find it versatile and also sleek, which is rare for a backpack. I’m not much of a backpack person but love it.

    January 3, 2018/Reply