Fun fact: I use to be a tomboy. From puberty up to high school I only wanted jeans, t-shirts, and cool sneakers, but my mom (who hated jeans) always had the upper hand and going to Catholic school didn’t leave much time for me to shine in my Baby Phat / Rocawear / Timberland’s prime.
I started getting into handbags when my father got me a Louis Vuitton Damier bucket bag for my 13th birthday (don’t ask, I don’t know what he was thinking either). It’s funny to me how I loved it and didn’t know it’s value at the same time. It wasn’t’ until high school, when those Murakami Louis Vuitton bags were all the rage that I figured out I had something special and got me curious about designer bags. Since bags were one of the few ways to infuse any sort of style into my daily life I got really into them.
After college, my love of handbags somewhat waned, but lately, I’ve been back on the train with a lower emphasis on designer names, so I decided to write a post for you all. I want to retire sooner than later, so no Louis Vuitton picks in this post, however, there is a range of picks from mid-range investment pieces to fast fashion based on what I own right now. Plus, for any bag over $100, I put in similar-looking under $100 options.
The Convertible Backpack
Last year I was on a quest to find the perfect work bag — something that held a lot, didn’t get dirty easily, and would be convenient to carry. I was initially drawn to the Henri Bendel convertible bag, but the leather one that I wanted was sold out for weeks. I ended up getting the Lo & Sons O.M.G., but weeks later, and I’m sure because of crazy ads targeting, I saw an Instagram video for a 5 in 1 convertible bag from a Swedish brand called Bukvy.
I’m usually skeptical of Instagram ads for brands I’ve never heard so I did some research and still couldn’t find much in terms of reviews. During my internet sleuthing though, I did find an Indiegogo page for the company and decided to take my chances and order the bag at a reduced price, even though I would have to wait MONTHS to see it.
It was a great decision. This bag is an investment piece (depending on the color, it retails for $579 – $696), but completely worth it for the quality and versatility. Made in Portugal with European calf leather and goat suede, it can transform into a backpack, laptop case, tote bag, shoulder bag, or clutch. It suits so many lifestyles and transitions in life, so anticipate using this for years to come.
The Transparent Purse
The clear/transparent bag is on the trendier side, so if you’re like me, you spend less on pieces that will go out of style in a year or two. I got an orange transparent faux croc version from ASOS similar to the more expensive Staud version. I will say, I’ve already gotten my money’s worth. It’s more versatile than I was expecting and makes a statement without being overpowering. It’s also ripe for customization — change the inside purse out to whatever you’d like, whether it be another purse, a photo, or just your random assortment of favorite knickknacks. Plus, I’ve discovered that security loves it more than I do.
The Neutral Classic
I first spotted the Polène Numéro Un on the late and great Kyrzayda Rodriguez last year. I instantly loved the classic look and wanted to place an order right away, but couldn’t justify spending $400+ on a purse without seeing and touching it in person. Fast forward to a trip to Paris last month where I got to do just that and fell even more in love with the bag. If you’re looking for quality and craftsmanship in an everyday bag, this is it.
Under $100 options:
The Belt Bag
The festival favorite fanny pack is all grown up. I love being able to give oversized dresses both shape and pizazz with a double accessory. Keeping those pickpocketers away, the belt bag is perfect for concerts and traveling. My absolute favorite is from Zara, and yes, I got it in both black and red. If you’re ready to step this look the way up, the Gucci Marmont belt bags are absolutely exquisite.
The Metallic Cage Purse
I actually haven’t seen much of this around, but I get a ton of compliments whenever I use mine. Cage purses are a uniquely whimsical evening bag alternative. And even more than the clear bags, everything’s on display. Unlike the clear bags, I think these also double as jewelry. My favorite is this round one from ASOS that you can wear around your wrist like a bracelet. Amazon has a similar reasonably priced pick in different finishes, and if you’re looking for higher-end versions, both Anndra Neen has lovely ones to choose from.