Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fall School Bags

It's barely August, but as many times as I tell myself that classes don't start for another month, I can't help but feel like summer is just about over. There are commercials for Trapper Keepers and school uniforms (I really, really like that Target one with the two roommates who have a dance off while decorating their dorm room), and I'm going to need to buckle down and buy a desk soon. It's depressing that soon I'll have to swap bare legs for tights and sandals for boots, but it also gives me an excuse to do more shopping. My biggest priority: a new bag to carry to class. My current one is looking very much the worse for wear, with the straps all cracked and peeling and patches of faux-leather worn off on the bottom. Time for an upgrade!

What I'd really love is a bag with a separate padded pocket for my laptop, since I almost always bring it to class. I'm lucky because my comp is fairly small (12 inches), although it will definitely get heavy when combined with a textbook or two. Which reminds me, good straps that won't dig into my shoulder are a must. And I'm also hoping to get a bag with a bit of color-- I have no interest in black this fall.

I'm a big fan of the Central Park Bag, $49.99, from Mod Cloth. I love how the classic brown and tan front and back mixes with the leafy green sides-- it's totally fresh and unexpected. I adore the metal rings and buckles, which give this bag an equestrian attitude while not becoming overly trendy. And there's no doubt I'd be able to fit everything I need into this bag, but I worry that its size and its rectangular shape would make it seem more like luggage than a purse. I don't want people to say, "Oh, are you going out of town for the weekend?" when I'm just going to class.

This bag is way, way out of my price range, but damn is this cherry red leather gorgeous. From Antoinette Lee, the Anna Stitch Tote, $598, is also available in tan, black, and a fabulous deep royal purple. This is a legit leather bag, no man-made, synthetic or PVC materials here. The thick braid circling the top is a fun addition to the subtly pleated circular patches on the sides. I also like how thick the straps are, so you'll have plenty of support to carry around your sadly empty wallet. But I do have to say, if I was going to drop hundreds of dollars on a bag, I'd rather it be something from a relatively unknown designer than anything plastered with a designer's initials. I mean, that's why we named our blog "Oh my god, where did you get that?" and not "Oh my god, I love your Prada!" There's a certain rush of joy every girl gets when she has something beautiful that other girls don't know where to get: that smug tickle of being in-the-know and willing to share.

The leather bag I really wanted from this Etsy store (called, simply enough, The Leather Store) sold between when I favorited it yesterday and today, but this simpler version is great too. The Leather Tote Shopper, $120, is simple, well made, and timeless. This is the sort of bag your super smart, extremely sweet grad student TA would bring to recitation, stuffed full of research and undergrad papers covered with thoughtful comments and fair grades. This is a bag for a smart person, is what I'm saying. There's no fussy hardware or labels or extraneous pockets. Just a roomy body with an envelope style flap to keep everything in place.

Elsewhere on Etsy, I want everything from Valhalla Brooklyn, which is full of stylish and fashion-forward leather goods. Let's start with the Middleburgh leather shoulder bag, $149, in dusty purple. This looks like the sort of bag a former hippie living in the suburbs in the 70's trying to convince her husband to try swinging would carry, and her daughter would steal it to carry her anti-Vietnam flyers. It's sort of groovy, right? The loose trapeze shape is complimented by the laid back braided hoop and button that keeps your Quaaludes from falling out in the middle of the supermarket.

This bag, on the other, reminds me of the 80's and its badass female rockers, like Joan Jett. The large zip leather hand bag, $215, is understated in its edginess, with the big brass zippers and clip-off shoulder straps. I like the two different pockets on the front: the tassel next to the zipper adds unexpected interest. And, of course, I effing love this creamy blue color.

But do I love this deep purple more? Tough to say. The four pocket leather travel bag, $249, is the sort of bag you'll carry once and then never want to be without, because it so perfectly walks the line between practical and fabulous. And check out the awesome lining inside! It looks like you have a bag full of M&M's, and what could be better than that? I would also like to point out, if you haven't noticed, how buttery soft the leather looks. Like baby skin! I just want to rub it all over my face.

Alas, that sort of quality comes with a price. I know that I should invest in a great bag sooner rather than later, but I can't help but be tempted by all the fun, trendy, cheap bags available from Target. Sure, they may fall apart in six months, but I won't have to spend those six months eating off-brand saltines for dinner. For instance, this Mossimo Large Satchel Tab is $19.99 but, hopefully, no one will be able to tell it's the cheapest thing on your body. The grown-up shape and timeless color (although, I worry that since it's called "rust" it'll look more red than tan in person) will help any serious-minded woman fit in around the midtown drones and their identical briefcases. It's also available in bright teal and yellow, if you're in the mood to stand out. I just worry that the straps are too short to be worn on the shoulder, since I have a strong dislike for bags worn on the crock of the elbow. First, it's not comfortable to keep your arm bent all day, and second, I feel like wearing it that way is too "LOOK at my bag! It's more expensive than yours!" On the other hand, if I had a Chanel quilted bag I would totally wear it on the crook of my elbow.

The Mossimo 2-Pocket Tote, $24.99, is in a color called "Pacific," and just looking at it gives me an itch to go shopping in LA. The color obviously makes it a great summer bag, but I also think it could be a beacon of bright happiness in the inevitable dreary East Coast winter. I like how well structured it is, and the multiple pockets ensure that everything stays in place. The contrast stitching is also a nice touch, resulting in a tote that's chic enough for any activity.

I'm totally torn as to whether I like the tote or the dome satchel version of this Mossimo woven bag better, but I think the tote, $26.99, is better suited for my laptop-carrying needs. It's the perfect shape for notebooks and whatnot, and the woven top is very fresh. I'm also a fan of the pleated body, which will give it a bit more give if I need to stuff it full of all the crap I think I need on a day-to-day basis.

Wilson's Leather also has come good bags for not too much, such as this square tote in "Sedgwick Blue," $19.99, marked down from $60. It reminds me so much of something Kate Spade would make that you'd probably call this a knock-off, but let's not dwell on that. This genuine leather bag looks like it could get caught in a subway door, get a beer spilled on it, and fall into a puddle without ever showing a mark or smudge of dirt. It like those annoying girls who get caught in the rain but manage to keep their dry, shiny, non-frizzy hair. At 11 inches across, it's a smidge small for my computer, but it's so cute that I want to buy it just to take it to brunch.

I have failed to find cute bags with built-in laptop pockets, so maybe I should just buy a computer sleeve, too. My dream sleeve is the Abby in gold leather from Lauren Merkin, $225. This is easily chic enough to use as an oversized clutch-- those softly scalloped edges are so stylish I could quiver. And I adore this pale shade of gold, which isn't too glitzy for everyday use while still bringing a bit of specialness to the party.

And as long as I'm being impractical ($225 for a computer sleeve? Really?), check out the Pankha tote, $99.95, from Anthropologie. I don't think I could even fit my laptop through the top, but I don't care. It has embroidery that suggests peacock feathers! Plus sequins! This bag is stunning, and that's really all that matters.

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