This is kind of a random review, particularly because I'm not much of a "bag person." I currently own 3 bags and really only use 2 of them; one is a Coach purse I only use for special occasions (aka never), one is a Tignanello black leather tote for work, and one a Vera Bradley mailbag in Java Blue for the weekends. I'm going to just chat about the Tignanello and Vera Bradley bags I've owned now because those are the brands I've used regularly.
First, my work bag! When one of the straps on my big, black Nine West bag snapped, I went on the hunt for a new work bag. I didn't care which brand, I just wanted it to be black, have a wide bottom, and be a shoulder bag. I found "the one" at Marshall's - a Tignanello tote that had the most sumptuous silk lining I'd ever seen ^_^ the picture really doesn't do it any justice - it's pure autumn in a fabric!
- 2 deep, wide pockets on the outside
- 1 zippered pouch on the inside
- 1 ID window on the inside
- 2 smaller (cellphone/passport sized) pockets on the inside (opposite of the zippered pouch side)
- 3 pen loops
The good (and there are many!):
- The size. I can fit everything in here: my papers, my lunchbox, my umbrella, my makeup pouch :)~ love it!
- The wide base with little metal feet. I was adamant on getting a wide bottomed bag because it "sits" better when you place it down and doesn't lose it's shape over time.
- The generous pockets on the outside. This bag has pockets on both the front and the back, both lined in that beautiful silk. They don't close but the pockets are so deep that I haven't had a problem with things falling out of them. I keep my gum, tissues, hand sanitizer, and little odds and ends in these pockets.
- The gorgeous silk lining! It's very "thick" silk...or satin (I don't know my fabrics well), so it hasn't torn and has a study heft to it that is MUCH nicer and durable than the polyester lining my Nine West bag had.
- The zippered ends are protected with leather covers.
- Overall, the stitching is impeccable with no loose threads or unraveling anywhere even after 6 months.
The bad (sadly this is not a perfect bag :( ):
- The black leather material is very soft but is rather prone to scuffing. It's a decent leather but I dunno, it's not the prettiest leather I've ever seen in my life.
- The brown leather strap material has a strange cheap shine to it. I haven't had problems with it at all, but something about it...
- Another strap complaint. This is a little hard to describe...but basically, since the straps are wide and very, very smooth, the straps slide so easily off my shoulders. See how the straps on this one are folded in? The edges that pucker out make it so that it stays so much better on your shoulders. I wish they had folded in straps for this bag :(
- The cheap looking zipper pull. Why did they put that stupid thread through it (see 1st pic)!?
Recommended! You can buy the bag here (has a different lining), though at $209 I don't think it's worth that much. I got mine from Marshall's for $80 (worth every penny), so I'd say poke around places like Ross, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx.
Ok, I admit it...I always thought Vera Bradley was a little tacky >< but when I recieved a Vera Bradley Mailbag as a gift last year, I fell in love! The Mailbag design is discontinued, but you can find it everywhere online in lots of different prints. Average prices run $50-65 on Ebay and more expensive for popular prints. I would say a bag like this is worth up to ~$60.
- A front zip pocket
- A zip pocket under the flap
- 3 little cell-phone sized pockets on the inside
- Adjustable strap
- You can zip the bag along the top as well
- Very well-made. This is an entirely cloth-quilted bag (a la Vera Bradley's style) but every stitch is in place and tight as a button.
- Great bag design. The practical design of the bag won me over. The flap closes magnetically (so convenient) and the size is is just perfect. I regularly carry my iPad, a book, keys, cell, and wallet and it all fits great. I could also pop in an iPod and sunglasses with no problem. It gets a little "bludge-y"/out of shape if you put more in but if you want it to, it could fit in more.
- The cloth material is remarkably durable. I had reservations at first, but it's been about a year and no stains and minimal fading so far. I'm still surprised how vibrant the colors are after all this time! And the shape of the bag has held up quite well too. I've grown fond of the whole cloth bag thing really; it's casual, fun, and makes a great pillow in a pinch ^_^ There's something quite cozy about it.
- Great attention to detail, like the embossing of the brand name on all the zipper ribbons and on the adjustable strap ring. It's little touches like that that make a bag special.
- I kind of wish the base of the bag could go a little wider so I could squeeze more things in but honestly, that's just me being picky.
- If you don't have a lot in the bag and close the magnetic flap, the flap tends to puff up (see the last picture on the bottom row above).
Highly recommended. Obviously, I was being really picky but I still couldn't come up with many negatives. This is a perfect casual weekend-er kind of bag for people who aren't keen on slouchy, shapeless bags, which seem to be all the rage. I love this bag a lot, the crazy print has grown on me too :) Like I said, this bag is well worth at least $60.
.....which brings me to this: the Vera Bradley Mini Hipster. You know how I said the VB Mailbag design is retired? Well, they are currently selling a bag called the Mini Hipster that looks suspiciously similar in pictures to the Mailbag.
- 59 ¼" adjustable strap
- Doubles as a purse and wallet
- Four interior slots keep credit cards at hand (and a secure zip-top closure keeps them in place)
- On back, one curved slip-in pocket for quick access
- The full flap has a zippered front pocket and handy ID window underneath
- Knot the strap to your perfect length
In a nutshell, I made the mistake of ordering this online because I thought it was an updated version of the Mailbag for a criminal $44 (go figure it's marked down now to $33.75). Let's just say when I received it, I almost shit a cow -_-
The Bad (there are no Goods):
- This thing is TINY. While the the Mailbag could comparably fit an iPad or two, this thing will fit nothing but a Kindle, I swear. THIS THING IS BLOODY MINUSCULE. I'm not going to lie, I didn't read the fine print showing the measurements (6" x 8" x ½" - 59¼" strap) but I am telling you now - they aren't kidding when they say "doubles as a purse and wallet." You are literally getting a wallet on a string.
- This thing is one of the most uselessly designed bags I've ever seen. The strap is very long (I'm 5'5'' and it goes past my butt) and this does not have an adjustable strap! i don't know what kind of poppycock they're going on about "knotting the strap" because let me tell you, it looks stupid. What a horrible, cheap idea.
- The flap closes with velcro. Yes, the kind you see on kiddie shoes. So cheap, ugly, and not durable since velcro will inevitably lose it's "stickiness" after a couple uses.
The Good (an attempt at fairness):
- Ok fine...the print is vibrant and the bag itself, for being a doll accessory, is well-made.
- The packaging was very nice. It came in this monogrammed box and the bag was swathed in green tissue paper with a Vera Bradley sticker. Good for gift giving.
It beggers the imagination what this oversized wallet could be used for. I guess, according to reviews, if you carry nothing but a Kindle and lipgloss and are over 5'9'', you will love this bag. Otherwise, coming from a soul who likes to carry at least keys, a wallet, a cellphone, and a makeup bag and is 5'5'' - this thing was a poorly designed disaster. I returned this and do not recommend -_-
I will admit, however, most of the fault is on my side. Lesson Learned: Read the fine print very, very carefully. I still don't recommend this bag though.