StyleThe Essentials

The Five: Affordable Bags for Work & Weekend

Recently, I pulled a bag from my closet to take on a trip.  It had been some time since this bag had seen the light of day and, after I dusted off the cobwebs, I realized it was looking a bit worse for wear.  If your handbag selection is also showing its age as we emerge from the pandemic into the light, here are five picks for under-$175 that you’re really going to like.

The Brunch Bag. This AllSaints Sheringham Bag is the weekend bag you grab on your way out the door that has enough style to pull together any outfit.  It’s large enough to carry your essentials, with a little extra room for a Saturday Sephora or bookstore run.  This is also a great bag to put into a larger carry-on laptop bag, so you can have a smaller purse when you travel.  Plus, AllSaints bags are beautifully made, so if you can snap one up for less, do.

The Perfect Weekender/Gym Bag does not exist!  Well, actually it does.  And did I mention this Cleo bag costs $99 and strangely comes from Pottery Barn?  I have no idea what a home goods retailer is doing selling luggage, but they have some very nice options.

I love the charcoal grey canvas next to the pale tan leather.  So if you love a weekend roadtrip, pick up the Weekender and this chic, matching duffle to have the whole set.

A Designer Wallet can be yours for less than $175 on the resale market.  Many women receive designer wallets as gifts and either don’t use them or only use them sporadically, so you can snap one up in great condition for a drastically reduced price.  I chose this Miu Miu wallet because it’s a recognizable brand (named after Miuccia Prada) that has an interesting look to it.

At the top end, an Hermes wallet will still set you back thousands, but in the mid-range you can grab Prada, Gucci, and other designers for under-$300.  Both Luxury Closet and The Real Real offer authentication.  There is some question as to whether the services do a good job of catching fakes, but I’ve bought four bags this way, and I’ve had one problem, which was resolved with two e-mails.

The Travel Crossbody should be simple, durable and able to hold the essentials.  Wolf & Badger offers this tassel bag from Johnny Loves Rosie.   They also offer a slightly smaller style from the independent brand Betsy & Floss.  If you like shopping smaller brands, W&B is the place to go.  For me, the tassel on the bags adds a little something extra and makes it feel a bit more fun.

The Laptop Bag You Need comes from CALPAK.  This is the Haven bag’s third appearance on this blog, and it likely won’t be its last.  This bag has excellent internal storage, a generous drop, a separate shoulder strap and zips closed to prevent issues.  It will also hold a 15″ laptop, which I know is a challenge for many lawyers and professional women.

The bag comes in four standard colors (tan, bone, black and pink) and additional seasonal colors, like this deep green.  It’s faux leather so you can really beat the hell out of it and no one will know.  Not that any of us would ever do that on our morning commute, our work trips, our daycare runs or our weekend’s away.

If you have a favorite affordable bag, please leave it in the comments!

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  1. Nadine says:

    Not a suggestion, but a request! After years of online searching, I found a Lo&Sons OG bag secondhand in my budget. I love it! The pocket organization is superb!

    But right now I need to use a backpack. The Rowledge backpack looks amazing, but is out of my budget. Are there other backpacks with excellent organization you’d suggest in this under $175 price range?

    February 21, 2023/Reply
    • Cheryl says:

      Try knomo! I have the beauchamp for daily use and the Beaufort if I need something bigger. Wonderful organization!

      February 21, 2023/Reply
      • Nadine says:

        Thank you!

        February 22, 2023/Reply
    • Kate says:

      Keep your eyes peeled for the Rowledge on the resale sites too – it’s often listed in about this price range. I had my eye on it for YEARS and bought a bunch of cheaper bags trying to avoid spending what it cost, and ultimately none of them were quite right. I ultimately found the Rowledge on Poshmark, and it’s absolutely worth every penny of its regular sale price. I should have just bought it in the first place.

      February 22, 2023/Reply
  2. TheLOOP says:

    Seconding the request for a backpack, especially a travel backpack that can withstand some wear and tear on flights and still look somewhat professional. Cherry on the cake would be if it’s a convertible backpack / tote.

    February 21, 2023/Reply
  3. E says:

    This Calpak bag is a godsend, thank you! I’ve been struggling with my Lo & Sons OG since upgrading to a 15″ laptop, and I’ve been really hesitant to pull the trigger on their Seville tote (nearly $600). The luggage sleeve seals it. Thanks again!

    February 22, 2023/Reply
  4. J says:

    Pottery Barn is part of the Williams-Sonoma empire which means its sister company is Mark and Graham. So thats probably the housewares/accessories connection.

    February 22, 2023/Reply
  5. Kate says:

    Any suggestions for a convertible backpack/tote that could be used with a diaper bag organizer (so no center compartment)? I have a newborn and five year old, so I’ve gotten out of the habit of having a diaper bag. My newborn is just out of more than a month in the NICU and on monitors, so we’re not really going anywhere right now but I’m looking forward to hopefully taking my kids places over the summer. I prefer a tote style but having the hands-free option of a backpack is could be useful.

    February 22, 2023/Reply