Recommendation for a women’s briefcase?

I asked my sister to get me one for Christmas, but she got me one of those cloth grocery bag things instead (a very nice cloth grocery bag thing from a tourist gift shop in Europe, but definitely not a substitute for something I can both carry work papers in and take to a conference.  I’m sure if I were in a less Boston-y field in terms of formality, it would work except that it’s still too tall.)

I had been using my limited edition Medela bag after DC1 stopped needing it, but that ceased to be limited edition so everybody with kids knows it’s a breast-pump bag now and we’re using it as a diaper bag anyway.

I can’t ask my sister to get me another women’s briefcase because that would be embarrassing for everybody.  And I really shouldn’t put it on my Amazon wish-list either because she would know.  That means I have to buy my own.  (I’ll just have to be careful that she doesn’t see the one she got me getting groceries.)

I’m looking to spend under $150, preferably $120 or less.

Does anybody have a bag that they absolutely love?  It needs to look professional, fit papers and manilla folders, not be too heavy, be sturdy, not be a PITA to deal with (as in, you don’t have to fiddle with leather straps and buckles every time you want to put something in or take something out), fit under the plane seat in front of me… and probably a bunch of other things I’m not even aware of.  Being able to fit in a laptop is a plus but not a necessity.  Ditto pockets.

Any suggestions?

#2 loves this one, and for a couple of years was the only person in town with it, but now the local Macy’s has it and so does everyone else.  It has inspired much covetousness from others.  Mine’s brown, not black, but it has the same lovely blue interior.  I think maybe they’re only available in black now?  Anyway, it’s been a lovely workhorse.

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79 Responses to “Recommendation for a women’s briefcase?”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    I just have a regular guy style laptop bag that I got as part of my 10 year work anniversary. It’s getting worn now. I also have a canvas one of the same style that was $39.99 at some online store. It works fine. The hipper ladies at work swear by the coach brand but that’s too pricey for my blood. I may buy one someday on one of their super duper sales but the cheaper ones work just fine. Now you have me curious about my dream bag. I’ll link Back if I find something.

  2. plantingourpennies Says:

    I have a Ralph Lauren tote bag that I’ve been using since 2006 – I bought it at Ross for ~$45 at the time. It’s similar in style to this one:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ralph-Lauren-Tote-Bag-/281240009023?pt=US_CSA_WH_Handbags&hash=item417b35f93f

    but with coloring like this one:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/A-Must-Have-Brown-Plaid-Ralph-Lauren-Small-Hand-Bag-/251419723512?pt=US_CSA_WH_Handbags&hash=item3a89c886f8

    While I got it the year I taught high school, I also used it in an office where standard dress was suits with jackets, and the more business cas office I’m in now. It comes with me to conferences, and sometimes on personal trips.

    It’s been really versatile, durable, and is a really no-hassle bag. Mine has two main pockets and for trips I load it with a 13″ laptop, an iPad, a water bottle, and a couple of books and magazines at least. When it’s super full like that, the straps aren’t really comfortable, though so I loop it over the roller-carry-on handle and lug it around sitting on top.

    When this one dies (not anticipating anytime soon), I’d probably look at similar cloth RL bags. Good value and I don’t have to worry about cloth (especially dark colored) being damaged the way leather can be easily damaged.

  3. First Gen American Says:

    http://www.coach.com/online/handbags/Product-bleecker_legacy_business_tote_in_leather-10551-10051-70600-en?cs=b4tm&catId=7100000000000000644&navCatId=5000000000000313807

    Here’s the coach one. I have an outlet near me and they have 50 and 75% off sales sometimes and then it can be worth getting one as I’m told they last a long time and all my peers swear by them on the quality and how long they last (5-10 years of constant use) I think my next bag will have color. I think even a boring bag looks interesting if it has some color. All my boring winter coats are colored now and I get loads of compliments on them (even though they are just regular no frills lands end winter coats..but in orange, they pop on a dreary winter day) You just have to make sure it’s not too light so it doesn’t get scuzzy looking which is easy when it’s being dragged around airports…so a deep burgendy or red or navy would be better than black or brown.

    I think if you’re bent on leather, then I’d spend a little extra. I bought a nicer leather bag at macy’s that was about $80 and it only lasted a year. I was super annoyed that I spent good money and it didn’t last (I use the same bag every day and never change it, so it gets used nonstop). This time around I tried a coach at $150 (on super duper sale). We’ll see how long it lasts. It’s big enough to put my ipad and a notepad into, so usually I just take that into customer meetings and it sort of doubles as a briefcase for me. Since I hate shopping, I’m going for quality over quantity these days, especially if something can last 5 or 10 years. So yes, I’m now at the point where I’ll spend double for something that lasts 5 times longer. I’m not bent on changing my look when it comes to handbags, so that’s just fine with me.

    If you’re not sure if you’ll like a business tote stylewise, then I’d try a cheaper one. Here’s the $50 version of the coach bag. It may not last 10 years, but you’ll be able to find out if it’s a style that suits you.

    http://www.ebags.com/product/ebags/soho-deluxe-leather-laptop-tote/248104?productid=10226384

    Ooh..and what about this Kenneth Cole for $35. Has a laptop and tablet pocket

    http://www.ebags.com/product/kenneth-cole-reaction-business-and-luggage/lady-shine-laptop-tote/264051?productid=10272521

    This samsonite is similar to the one that I have now and it does the job. It doesn’t take that long before the leather starts wearing off the handle and edges but it fits everything and it still functions even if it’s worn. On sale for $50.

    http://www.ebags.com/product/samsonite/expandable-leather-top-zip-laptop-bag/249109?productid=10229439

    I think my dream bag is something like what indiana jones would take to class. An old distressed english briefcase.

    It really depends on what your intent is..daily use, business travel (in car vs in air?). People who do lots of air travel like the ones with wheels, but they are total overkill if you mostly travel by car or only do a handful of flights a year. No matter what the situation, it should be able to be used as a shoulder bag and have long enough straps to sling over the shoulder. The shoulder strap is what broke on my bag and it’s a pain to lug the heavy bag by the handles when I’m in an airport with a long walk to the gate.

  4. Scooze Says:

    I think I own the exact bad your sis has. In black. I once had a similar one I’m red from Macy’s as well. If you can get to Macy’s or a luggage store, there’s lots of styles – but I’ve found they often don’t last. So I have a dilemma as well – I don’t care if my bag is unique, but as a road warrior I need it to look good for an extended period. I hate when they fall apart after 9 months, so I’ll read the replies with interest as well.

  5. Astra Says:

    My current one is this: http://www.amazon.com/McKleinUSA-94835-WINNETKA-Briefcase-Removable/dp/B000PCOBRG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389187495&sr=8-1&keywords=womens+briefcase . It just came up on top of the Amazon search so I guess others like it too. It fits my 13″ laptop well, has slots for pens, phone, and calculator (I’m sure they intended that slot for an HP-15C) and space for wallet, sunglasses, etc. It is pretty sturdy too.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Is it heavy? Would it fit papers too?

      • Astra Says:

        It feels heavy when I have my laptop in it, but by itself it’s not. Yes, there is room for papers, especially if your computer is smaller than my 13″ MacBookPro. When I travel, the bag holds, computer, all computer peripherals (the computer sleeve has slots), a few papers, a kindle, wallet, sunglasses, a little bag w/lip balm and stuff, and (in the front pocket) keys, calculator, pens, and iphone. It fits under the seat in front of you.

        My last bag had higher quality leather — this one is a bit stiff — but I think the stiffer feel here may be why it’s holding up better.

    • rented life Says:

      I want that just because it comes in pretty colors!!

  6. OMDG Says:

    Honestly, for that price range, I’d just go to Macy’s or Lord&Taylor and see what they have that appeals to you. You might also consider a higher end messenger bag, if that sort of thing appeals to you. I just got a new Kipling purse for ~$65 and I LOVE it, but it’s decidedly more informal than what you seem to be looking for.

  7. Linda Says:

    I use a Lands End backpack most days because it is much easier to deal with a back pack when on public transit every day. (Plus there is less shoulder strain, which isn’t an issue if you’re only carrying the bag from house to car or car to plane.) But, over the years I’ve purchased a few nicer business totes for those very few times I travel to conferences or meetings where impressions are paramount.

    I really like this Baggalini bag the best. http://www.amazon.com/Baggallini-La-Carte-Dark-Olive/dp/B000RZ1G2E/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1389185880&sr=8-16&keywords=baggallini

    There is no padded laptop sleeve, but I don’t usually need that. (I’m not flinging the bag around, after all.) There are zippered compartments for small things and the pockets on the outside allow for expansion. (The photos on Amazon don’t show all the interior pockets and compartments.) I can stuff a big water bottle in there and it is secure. I can put in papers, a book, an iPad, and snacks, too. The handles are long enough to fit over a heavy coat or jacket, and it has a sleeve to fit over the handle of a roller bag. It comes in lots of colors — both conservative and fun ones — and is not very expensive. On ebags they have a wider selection of colors for this tote.

    The Baggalini Kindred Tote on ebags also looks very interesting, although the color selection is limited. http://www.ebags.com/product/baggallini/kindred-tote-exclusive/253096?productid=10265995

  8. anandar Says:

    I have and love Queen Bee’s Trucker “Stitch Stripe” (sorry can’t do link now), somewhere between a briefcase and a bag, and conservative enough for my work while still looking like “me.” Not as formal as a more traditional bag, though- the shoulder strap is made of seat belt webbing.

  9. Susan Says:

    I have something similar to this

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Coach-Black-Leather-Handbag-/251418739812?pt=US_CSA_WH_Handbags&hash=item3a89b98464

    and I can recommend two specific things about it. First, the outer pocket for the phone, which is something I grab a LOT – it’s nice not to have to hunt/dig for in the main bag. Second, the straps are just the right length where most of the time, they go over the shoulder (even with papers in the bag). As a working professional, I am NOT one of those bag-in-the-crook-of-my-elbow kissy-ladies-who-lunch. It’s a fussy thing, but a lot of bags seem to have handles that actually take up your hands, so I was very particular about handle length, and I didn’t a separate shoulder strap in addition to handles cluttering up the interior of the bag.

  10. bogart Says:

    I’m not a fan of this activity, but it sounds to me like you’d be well advised to go to an actual store to shop, if there’s a good one around you.

    I’m probably not the best person to ask; I am not stylish or dressy and I’m obsessive about bags, but mostly in a way that involves function (not appearance). Basically I’m on a never-ending quest for a bag that defies the laws of physics: takes up no space and weighs nothing, but carries everything (preferably in a single accessible spot that stays well organized with no effort). If you find that one, please let me know.

    I have a Baggallini Only bag in black nylon, the lightweight stuff, that I’ve used to good effect for conferences. If I’m only there for a day and pack carefully (and it’s not a freezing cold destination), I can get away with having just that bag by my carry-on, and fit in a change of clothes and a laptop plus a few papers. If I need something bigger (but am not checking luggage), I can fold the Only bag into nothingness and put it inside my small rolling suitcase and then use it as a briefcase at my destination.

    I have a Jujube Quick that I ADORE. They are tiny — not what you want — but not “overorganized like so many Baggallini bags, and light, adequate to carry my Nexus 7 and a few essentials. Not directly relevant to you, but given the Jujube approach (and your willingness to use a Medela bag) you might also want to look at their Gigabe or possibly the Be Fabulous. A lot of the prints are wild (though lovely) but there are some plain conservative (professional) options, too.

  11. Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

    Hit up DSW! I got a really nice leather handbag (with some fancy schmancy designer label on it) for $70 or so around this time last year, and it’s just the right size for papers and the usual stuff I carry around in my purse. I’d love it if the handles were about 2 inches longer so it wouldn’t slide around on my shoulder, but it’s worked great for me and looks snazzy. I did pick up a cheap, fake leather handbag in a flashy color at the same time and have gotten a lot of mileage out of that one, too.

    On a totally unrelated note–I have an ask the grumpies/finance question! I’m a late-stage Ph.D. student, and as a result of a lack of funds I haven’t been saving/investing at all beyond a small cushion in a plain old savings account during my early adulthood. I am about to hit the job market though, and I really want to get myself on track financially in the near future so I have my ducks in a row when I need to find health insurance, pay off loans, start investing/saving for retirement, prepare for the eventual death of my car, etc. My SO is a finance nut (as a hobby, not a job), so he has his own suggestions (which are USAA and Vanguard-heavy based on his own experience), but I think a visit to a financial planner would be a really wise one, especially when I have some indication of how said future job will compensate me. But, there are a million of certified financial planners out there–how do you get started? And do I need to meet with one in the first place? I’m pretty overwhelmed with options and acronyms but am eager to learn and be involved with it, so just handing over the money to my SO or some bank is not going to cut it. :)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Meeting with your SO and asking him these questions is probably your best bet! USAA and Vanguard are good signals. Don’t hand the money over to him, but do have him give you explanations and links and so on. The Bogleheads Investing guide is another good place to start.

      It turns out that in finance, the simplest options are usually the best. (Or close to the simplest options.) We can talk about this more later though in a full post.

      • Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

        Simple options…very wise! His recommendations were to open a Roth IRA and buy some “boring” index funds (which seemed to be safe and reasonable to me), but I wasn’t sure if I’d get something different from someone who does this stuff for a living. Thanks for the quick response!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        No, he’s totally right.

        Someone who does this stuff for a living is likely to tell you to buy something that they get a big commission off of.

        (Yes, you can get fee-only certified financial planners, but at this point you really don’t need one.)

  12. chacha1 Says:

    I will probably be no help at all because I run screaming from anything that could be described as “briefcase,” but just based on personal use and observation, leather bags get really heavy really fast. They don’t squash well (to pack or to squeeze under airplane seats), and they often have extraneous “designer” details that catch on clothes, break your fingernails, or cause the bag to set off security scanners.

    I would go with something made of, oh I don’t know, Kevlar. :-)

  13. Perpetua Says:

    I have a slightly different Kenneth Cole laptop bag than the one linked to above. I *love* it. With my laptop and cord and some papers, it’s astonishingly easy to carry – and I do a lot of walking with my bag when I am on work trips. It’s not something that can double as an overnight bag. It’s streamlined. I got if at ebags because I hate stores.

  14. ChemProf Says:

    Try Knomo. They have an excellent sale going on currently. I have used a Knomo computer bag, ipad case and carry-on suitcase and have been very impressed with the durability, the functionality and the style.

  15. L Says:

    I love this one….

    http://www.duluthtrading.com/store/product/womens-lifetime-leather-travel-tote-bag-30005.aspx?ev3=recommended_products

    It’s at the upper end of your price range (but they sometimes have sales), but it will do everything you want and they last decades…

      • L Says:

        It’s full leather – so not super light. But I can load it up with laptop, hard drive, lunch, etc and it is fine. It doesn’t seem any heavier than a backpack with the same stuff. And the shoulder straps are ~2inches wide so that balances it nicely without digging into your shoulder.

  16. Fiona McQuarrie (@all_about_work) Says:

    I use a Kipling bag similar to this (older model without the flap). It’s not huge, but it’s very lightweight, made of nylon, and it has an expander zip on the bottom. It’s very sturdy as well.

  17. Ana Says:

    I’m a convert to backpacks. I have a huge canvas Everlane one I got a few months ago that I LOVE. It holds absolutely everything and weighs nothing on its own. Its definitely not “fancy” or polished, but I think it looks more professional then holding a bag, lunch bag, spare shoes, hat/gloves etc.. all in my hands!

  18. Ree Says:

    The price will not meet your requirements, but every hardworking NY media type I’ve ever known carried this tote. Stylish, durable, long-lasting. I’m sure there are knock-offs. http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/kate-spade-new-york-cedar-street-harmony-medium-tote/3563565?origin=related-3563565-0-3-3-4-RR&PageCategoryId=PP

  19. SP Says:

    I have this one: http://www.zappos.com/dooney-bourke-victoria-black-black?ef_id=Ur5L7AAAAYz1kicO:20140109053714:s

    It is lightweight. Not leather, but I find it looks nice. Combo of secure pockets & easy to get in and out. Cell phone and pen holder. Middle zip pocket, little string / hook to put your keys on.

    It is a little small if you tend to carry a lot of stuff and have a big laptop. It fits my bulky 15″ lenovo + charger and a water bottle and short kitten heels and a hair straightener with a few other smaller items all at once – but that might be the limit. It is heavy if you put all that in it. :)

    Of the ones linked above, I like the McKlein one, the Duluth trading co, kate spade (obviously – but I don’t think it is functional enough for the price). I hate patent leather and not a big fan of cloth. I’m kind of wanting something larger since I now have to carry EVERYTHING with me every day (no permanent desk space) and ordered this to try: http://www.ebags.com/product/women-in-business/francine-collection-bond-street-laptop-weekender/259821?productid=10260263&sourceid=ADWPRODUCT\

    It might be too larger for your purposes. I’m planning on getting a neoprene laptop sleeve with a long strap to be able to carry the laptop only. I also think the brown works better, and now that you mention it, i’m worried about dimensions for under seats on flights.

  20. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction Says:

    I have one similar to this (not this exact one) from Danier Leather. Mine has a sheen to it, but I do like the matte finish on the ones in the link, and mine has a red satin lining (just a small pop of pizazz). It’s sturdy enough for a laptop, except my laptop is such an old beast it gets a bit heavy. Great for documents and a smaller, lighter laptop/netbook/tablet. Plus it has a few good pockets in it so you can still have easy access to your cell phone/keys/lip chap, etc. I got mine for $179 – 25%, +tax. I think it was a good purchase.

  21. oil_garlic Says:

    I loved looking at the suggestions. I carry a purse and tote bag so I can’t help here. The one thing I would add is that if you purchase through Amazon, read through the reviews. I’ve found them very helpful and on-the-spot for most of my purchases. Let us know what you finally pick!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      What tote bag do you use? Do you love it?

      I’m having a hard time, precisely because I’ve been reading through the Amazon reviews! It seems like a lot of these bags are inconsistent quality (for example, the lining varies a lot in the one that #2 recommended). Also the rounded handles seem to be a problem for a lot of people as they dig into the shoulders for carrying, which makes me think they might not be pleasant for running across O’Hare etc.

      I’m wondering if what I really want is a messenger bag? Is there anything that anybody fights with their significant other to use on trips?

      And I’m not wedded to leather! Just need something that looks more professional than the green canvas conference tote I’ve been carrying for 10 years and for which I have sewed the handles back on several times.

      • Linda Says:

        I guess one’s tolerance for resting handles on the shoulder can vary widely. I always have some sort of layer between my shoulder and bag straps, plus I don’t overpack my bags so they are super heavy.

        If you’re looking for a messenger type bag, I highly recommend Tom Bihn bags. This Pilot bag looks great for a combination carry on and briefcase, but they have lots more to choose from. http://www.tombihn.com/messenger_bags/pilot.html
        Several of my friends use Tom Bihn bags for every day use and they have converted me, too.

      • oil_garlic Says:

        I have a Kate Spade bag and it’s way better than the canvas bags I used to carry and I do love it. It’s something you can use for weekends and for work, but probably a little too fun for a conservative work environment.

  22. Nina Says:

    Above your price range I’m afraid but the Lo and Sons bags are amazing. Lightweight and durable. http://www.loandsons.com/the-omg

    Kate Spade Saturday is selling similar weekender bags that can be customized http://www.saturday.com/The-Custom-Small-Weekender-Bag/4IRU0066-p,en_US,pd.html?cgid=kss-customize-weekender

    Both Kate Spade and Saturday have periodic ‘surprise sales’ with some great deals, I’m expecting one around President’s Day. Sign up for their emails (and direct them to your ‘promotions’ tab)

    I also recommend ebay for bags. Look at all these Coach Beekman’s in your price range! http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=coach+beekman

  23. frugalscholar Says:

    Maybe you need two totes/briefcases: one for everyday (I use LL Bean waterproof Hunter’s tote, as does my chic daughter) and a leather one for the NY/MA conferences. Leather bags tend to be very heavy. Saffiano leather (like the Kate Spade above) is usually on the light side.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I actually don’t want anything heavy for conferences– sometimes I can get away with putting all my clothing in for a daylong conference so I don’t need to carry a roller bag carry-on. And that has to be carried across the airport.

  24. Thisbe Says:

    I’m late to this party but have some opinions about bags.

    The strongest opinion is that this company:

    http://www.tombihn.com/CTGY/laptop-bags.html

    is where it’s at. They’re a little pricey, but amazingly well-designed and durable. (I have one of their bags that I have owned for several years now. Not only has it stood up to my “normal” travel routine, but I also had it strapped to the back of a horse in the central Asian steppe for a few weeks and it still looks brand new.) I think backpacks are much better for the back than over-the-shoulder briefcases, but Tom Bihn also makes an amazing shoulder strap that makes everything feel half as heavy.

  25. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Maybe I should get a diaper bag…

  26. Happy Says:

    Thanks to the few commenters who suggested Tom Bihn bags. I just received my large Café bag from them as a small/light travel/conference bag that could still hold my laptop in a pinch. It’s wonderful and exactly what I’ve been looking for over the last few months.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Ah, this one. I may also be in love with it. http://www.tombihn.com/travel_bags/TB0203.html

      I’m thinking Navy? And $20 extra for the more comfy strap. #2 needs to come online to tell me to make this purchase!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Hm, the navy is on backorder until April… I can probably wait that long though.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      hm, but they don’t have cayenne as a lining choice… the lining for the navy isn’t as nice. Hm…. I am so bad at decisions.

      • Linda Says:

        I have both a Large Cafe bag (Steel exterior/Cayenne interior) and a Medium Cafe bag (Plum exterior/Cayenne interior). I use them as my day to day bags/purses. I find the Medium size my favorite, but if I want to stuff my full-sized iPad, water bottle, and a small knitting project in my bag the Medium can’t handle it, which is why I also have a Large one. Switching between the two bags is super easy since my little things are in organizer pouches that I can toss inside or hook on the o-rings. I’m OK with the standard straps. The Medium came with a Simple Strap and the Large came with another type of strap that is padded (but I don’t see it on their current site.) I find the Tom Bihn bags super functional and they really fit my lifestyle! :-)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I would totally get one with steel/cayenne if they had that… The color choices are kind of limited and I don’t like the wasabi.

        What do you think of the plum? Is it a bright plum or subdued plum?

      • Happy Says:

        I ended up with the Brown which is a lovely, rich chocolate color, along with the quick change messenger strap. The strap is awesome. The padding is sewn right to the strap and goes basically all the way around the strap so no slipping of a little pad down your back like my other bags. My 13″ laptop just fits so I can drag it along as I may need to but I’m planning to use it regularly for iPad, conference book, wallet, drink, etc. and it will do that incredibly well. I wanted Navy, too but couldn’t wait that long. The brown with black accents is actually nicer than I expected. Just go for it!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Is brown the same as cocoa? There isn’t brown with black accents as a choice on my screen, only cocoa with wasabi. :( The wasabi looks really ugly on my screen.

        So I’m thinking either black and steel or conifer and steel. :/

        Or maybe I should wait for more color choices?

        Hm, I wonder if I should get the quick change or the absolute?

      • Happy Says:

        Yes, the brown is officially “cocoa”. What I didn’t realize from looking at photos online is how much black there is on any of the bags since so much webbing/strapping is visible and that is always black. The wasabi is a nice bright green. I like it a lot with the brown. In some photos online it looks positively ghastly (like on the color swatch page) but in person it looks like the cocoa/wasabi bag picture under “small café bag”, if that helps. I do like that the bag has both brown and more black than I was envisioning so it will go with whatever I where to a conference. It also seems so svelte for a bag of its size (both in real weight and visual weight) so it won’t overwhelm small frame.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Hm, so I could go with cocoa/wasabi without going eeech every time I opened the bag? Because I confess, I was liking the cocoa.

        Of course, if the wasabi isn’t awful, I could get the plum, which will stand out a bit at conferences, but maybe not too much. A lot of my wardrobe is subdued purple…

      • Happy Says:

        Ergh. Typos. Sorry. I need more coffee…

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #2 is voting that I go for plum/wasabi…

      • Happy Says:

        I like the lighter interior. On my trial run yesterday it really helped find everything in the bottom – no black hole. But, do you like bright green at all? If it’s just the online photos that’s throwing you, that’s one thing, if you’re not a fan of acid green, that’s another.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        ARGH! decisions!

        I’m not sure about acid green. I don’t like neon green, which is what it looks on my monitor (the turquoise is similarly neon, as is the pink). I have a portion of my wardrobe in Spring Green.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        hm, wikipedia’s acid green looks like snot (rather than neon) on my monitor…that’s not very pretty either…

  27. Happy Says:

    Oh, and I ordered it Friday and received it yesterday. Almost instant gratification :)

    • Linda Says:

      The plum is brighter and not a subdued tone. It’s not IN YOUR FACE bright, but it is not drab. I got it because I wanted something that wasn’t neutral and had a bit of personality.

      A friend has the large bag in black/wasabi. The wasabi green is…like wasabi that comes with good sushi. It’s not neon or acid at all, but it is not a dull green, either.

      The brighter linings are great for finding stuff inside.

  28. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Ok, I think I am going to go for exactly what Happy got. http://www.tombihn.com/travel_bags/TB0203.html
    Cocoa and wasabi.

    Still torn on shoulder straps, but I guess I’ll get the quick adjust– it sounds useful for the airport.

    • Happy Says:

      Let us know what you think of it when it arrives. I was torn on the shoulder straps too – it’s so hard to tell what they really look like on the website. In the end, I didn’t want to deal with a slipping shoulder pad so the ‘basic’ was out. The bag does have a waist strap no matter which strap you get – the quick adjust adds a short strap that goes from the strap to the bag (rather than just from the bag around the waist, back to the bag). I like how both options distribute the weight of the bag and stabilize it. The waist strap makes is almost like carrying a backpack rather than a shoulder bag while the QA stabilizes a bit less but allows easier access into the bag. The entire setup is nicely designed and will definitely make airports easier.

  29. Amanda Says:

    So I’ve been following this conversation closely because my go-to bag was a jansport backpack for ages and then when I had a kid, my pump was a backpack style so I switched to a series of over the shoulder bags that have just not been working. I’m now done pumping and the over the most recent shoulder bag is falling apart.

    I like the CONCEPT of over the shoulder bags but with a kid they seem impractical (She’s not old enough to walk well yet and we don’t do strollers and there will likely be another). So I’d like a bag that looks more professional than jansport….and can hold lunch, wallet, sunglasses, pencil case, gloves & hat or cardigan, laptop(occasionally), ipad (often), papers to grade for up to 80 students, and a single textbook. But isn’t unwieldy and too large and has enough pockets to keep me moderately organized without making me insane. Note: THe only feature I love on my current bag is that my coffee mug (http://www.oxo.com/p-904-plastic-liquiseal-travel-mug.aspx) fits in an upright pocket that I can grab easily because even though its not supposed to leak I manage to spill often.

    So… Is the cafe bag (http://www.tombihn.com/messenger_bags/TB0203.html) a good choice for me? Or do I carry more stuff than that can reasonably hold? What about the backpacks? In the backpacks I’m torn between the Synapse (19? or 25?) http://www.tombihn.com/backpacks/TB0111.html and the smart alec. http://www.tombihn.com/backpacks/TB0103.html

    Or is there something else entirely I should be considering…

    • Happy Says:

      My guess is that the café is too small for what you’re carrying. It’s pretty slim. So, though a great size for each of the items you mention, all of them together is probably too much. I’d definitely go backpack – I do for most normal days. I haven’t tried the Synapse so hopefully someone who has can chime in.

  30. Icey Says:

    Hi guys I stumbled across you posts and love reading about the challenges and grumbles of gifted babies, sleep deprivation and isolation – made me feel ‘normal’. I’m a sahm but previously every new job I got a new bag from this place. They are simple, stylish and durable plus reasonable priced. I also find I can fit wipes and nappies easily in. But for the bonus points you should see if you can get a custom made briefcase to meet your needs. He made a bag for my friends chair and it looks great and is utiltiarian. http://www.leomonkhandbags.com/customised-leather-goods.html. They do ship overseas but if you get an opportunity to travel to Sydney, Oz, its worth a vist to Newtown.

  31. link love | Grumpy rumblings of the (formerly!) untenured Says:

    […] picked this one.  It’s supposed to come next week.  (See the original thread for more […]


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