A reader asks:
“Any recommendations for work bags that won’t empty out my bank account and don’t look like a purse?”
My favorite places to find great work/school/messenger bags: thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales. I especially like hitting them up when I visit my hometown (Albuquerque, NM) because, in general, people in smaller towns/cities aren’t as obsessed with “vintage chic” as urbanites are in places like NYC. I can get a cool bag for less than a buck at the Albuquerque flea market. Brooklyn Flea is almost as expensive as Nordstrom sometimes! Take a ride out to the burbs. Or, look at places like Housing Works and Buffalo Exchange.
Here are some other options available online now:
Merona Tan Bag from Target is a bargain at $19.99.
Duluth Standard Book Bag comes in 15 different colors. While it starts at $90 (wool versions are $120), it is made in the USA and **guaranteed for LIFE**! A one shot $90 investment for as long as the company is in business sounds good to me.
ASOS Canvas Military Satchel is not the same quality as Duluth and is not guaranteed for life, which is probably why it is only $37. BUT, if you need something fashionable NOW as you advance your career, this one is certainly dapper enough for meetings with the executive staff at the office.
Camping and Army/Navy stores are a great places to find bargain accessories. This Rothco Vintage Two-Tone Specialist Carry All is on sale for $23.50 at Camping Survival.
If you’re a gym bunny, like my gal, you’re gonna want something that you can tote your workout gear in for pre- and post-work sweat fests. This Ben Sherman Men’s Iconic Canvas Holdall is available at online retailers like E-Bay, Loehmanns, and Overstock starting at $45.
Zara generally carries a good selection of menswear and unisex bags, like this Multi-Purpose Fashion Briefcase at $90.
Some commuters prefer backpacks so that they can keep their hands free to ride bikes, hold on to subway bars, read books, and grip their coffee mugs. This Herschel Survey backpack at $55 is a moderately priced option and sleek.
Rothco O.D. Vintage Pathfinder Laptop Bag is available in 3 colors. Prices range from $42 to $50, depending on the vendor. The lowest price listed is for the color shown here at Army Navy USA.
Etsy is a great place to search for affordable upcycled, recycled, and vintage work bags. This one is listed for $40 at the Nice Leather Goods Etsy store.
Side by side comparison