Shopping Guide: Stylishly Professional Work Handbags

January 15th, 2009

Q: I am a Wall Street Journal reader who is new to your site, which is fantastic. I am looking for a work handbag suitable for a 40+ professional–can you provide some recommendations that do not cost an arm and a leg or are worth the investment?

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Thanks to the "it bag" craze of the last few years, the price of handbags went through the roof.  But despite this rapid price inflation, great bags can still be had for reasonable prices.  As a rule, you get what you pay for; a high quality investment bag is generally going to last longer and wear better than a lower quality (but much more affordable) bag.  But it’s also important to note that price doesn’t always correlate neatly with quality. 

For a work handbag with maximum versatility, you’re going to want to select a good neutral colored leather (black, chocolate brown, cognac, etc) in a classic shape.  Avoid overt logos, candy colors, and overly trendy styles that will quickly date your bag.  Another consideration as you choose your handbag: the scale of the bag should complement your size.  If you’re petite, for example, we’d recommend opting for a smaller sized bag. 

Our $ Picks:
Pyramid Croco Tote | $49.99 (sale) at Nine West

Jessica Simpson Alibi Large Shopper | $69.99 (sale) at Piperlime

Laptop Tote | $69.99 (sale) at Nine West

Our $$ Picks:
Francesco Biasia Erica Tote | $149.99 (sale) at Piperlime

Ibiza Convertible Flight Tote | $158.40 (sale) at Hayden-Harnett

Mina Leather Satchel | $195 at Nine West

Olivia Harris Turnlock Flap Hobo | $209.99 (sale) at Piperlime

Our $$$ Picks:
Vanessa Bruno Lune 2 Leather Satchel | $869 at La Garçonne

Chloé Heloise Hobo Bag | $1,610 at Net-a-Porter

Have a great work handbag? Share your find with us in the comments!

Entry Filed under: Q&A,Shopping Guide,Women,Women's

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. LolaT  |  January 15th, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I got this very inexpensive <A HREF=”″Merona faux croc leather work tote for my sister at Target. It even comes with an inner laptop bag.

  • 2. Sal  |  January 15th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    A fabulous roundup of practical, classic bags.

  • 3. AP  |  January 15th, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    check out Marshalls for bags. I paid $25 for a $100 tommy hilfiger laptop tote which was an awesome deal because it’s a great bag. They have cheap deals on a lot of good brands like Jessica Simpson, Betsey Johnson, Coach, etc. They have a variety of styles as well so I would definitely recommend Marshalls!

  • 4. Mimi  |  January 15th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    I think the cheaper ones are nicer looking

  • 5. deka  |  January 20th, 2009 at 12:31 am

    love the Francesco Biasia Erica Tote!!

  • 6. Trisha  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Oh – and there’s a cheap chic version of the Ibiza tote in Hayden-Harnett’s line for Target:


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