Normally when I'm asked what I want for my birthday my response is 'nothing really, just something small you'd think I'd like...' which tends to receive rolled eyes in response. This year however, almost a year into my freelancing life, I knew exactly what I wanted, or rather, needed.
Running around like an overloaded donkey...
I'm that girl you see running through Soho with a handbag, a cross body bag and 1 or 2 tote bags filled with things I absolutely need for my day. Half my time, I work from and therefore I have everything I need but when I'm in town for meetings, teaching or presentations, it's quite a different story. Thanks to my mum, I'm not the kind of girl to travel minimally - she's taught me to carry things for every eventuality. If I'm venturing into Central London then I'll tend to make a day of it....I'll pack meetings and catch ups in and make social plans in the evening. This seems sensible enough but also requires a full day's worth of kit. There's my laptop, bullet journal, pencil case, business cards, text books, files for my working day plus things like earphones and a book for my leisure time. Meetings and being out all day means the beauty kit is quite extensive too - makeup, handcream, perfume, dry shampoo, hairspray, deodorant, hand wipes, chewing gum and sometimes a dental kit and emergency ibroprofuen and paracetamol. Finally there's my essentials - a purse plus oyster card, phone, chargers, chewing gum, sunglasses and an umbrella. Now, this does not make for light packing. I have got better and invested in travel sized beauty products and use one bullet journal as opposed to four notebooks plus most of my documents are now all on my laptop and easily downloadable. This reduces things slightly but by no means allows me to totter around all day with a small ladylike handbag. I'm often intrigued whether these woman that manage to do so actually have a army of people behind them carrying the stuff that us normal girls need and could no way fit into their tiny Chanel boy bags?!
My Working Day Essentials
My Daily Makeup Bag
Getting on with the Search...
My venture for this "ultimate of bags" started back in February and took until my birthday in August to conclude the perfect one. Before I started this hunt I drew up a list of what I wanted/needed from my bag:
- Shoulder strap so that pressure wasn't unevenly applied to my arms or back.
- Large enough to store A4 sized documents, books or my mac.
- Simple inner design to allow me flexibility to pack it as I see fit (and not be restricted by lots of pockets and pouches).
- Lightweight (you do not want the bag to be heavy before you've put anything in it).
- Study and secure - capable of holding all my 'essentials'.
- Classic in colour to match lots of outfits but with a twist to suit my personality.
- Quality but not excessive in price. Whilst I could have stretched my budget I quite like to update this sort of bag every year or so to suit my mood and style at that time so don't really see the point in spending hundreds of pounds on one of these sorts of bags.
I Found It!
So how did I get on? I went to the usual suspects including Smythson, Aspinal of London, Anya Hindmarch as well as checking out Net a Porter, Matches, Selfridges and Liberty. I also wanted to see what the High Street had to offer and had a look in Zara, & Other Stories, Topshop, Next and ASOS with very mixed results. I must say that if you're going to use a bag every day and pack it full with things, the quality of the leather and the make of the bag is of high priority. Zara had some amazing dupes for the Saint Laurent tote and Next had some good quality leather but the Zara one seemed to flimsy and the Next styling wasn't quite to my taste. However, over these months of research and scouring online and in store, I did find a huge range of great options which I've put below that you might like yourselves.
I ended up opting for my favourite department store, Liberty and choosing one of their own brand tote bags (the Merton Tote Bag) for £195.00 and I absolutely love it. I've used it a few times and find it easy to wear, light to carry and it fits absolutely tons in it. I also love the peacock design as it gives a little something extra...
If you're on a similar hunt whether it be more work, for study or for a general busy life then I've linked some options I found on my hunt below to save you the leg work. As usual I've included a range of prices and styles so I'm sure there's something here to catch your eye!