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The Best Bags for Everyday Adventures.

By: Jen Shoop

Becoming a mom has completely changed how I think about handbags, at least when worn while mini is in tow.  Bags must be lightweight, easy to carry (i.e., no top handle bags…), and made of a material that is…let’s just say resilient.  They must be appropriately sized for the occasion (either big enough to stow everything or small enough not to get in my way when worn as a second bag) and, basically, they must enable me to be hands-free and comfortable at all times.  Below, my top picks for bags that go the extra mile, many of which are seen in the snaps below:

The Fashion Magpie TDE Crossbody

{TDE Belt Bag — $130!  And monogrammable! — also shown in snap at top of post}

The Fashion Magpie MZ Wallace Bag 2

{MZ Wallace Crosby Backpack}

The Fashion Magpie Clare Vivier Crossbody

{Clare Vivier Midi Sac}

The Fashion Magpie Paravel Crossbody 2

{Paravel Doubletake}

The Fashion Magpie Eye Backpack Anya Hindmarch 1

{Anya Hindmarch Eyes Backpack}

The Fashion Magpie Goyard Bag

{Goyard tote}

{Paravel Double Take again}

The Fashion Magpie MZ Wallace Bag 1

{MZ Wallace Metro Backpack again}

+EVERYDAY TOTE.  Most days, I carry my Goyard.  These are as ubiquitous as taxi cabs as New York, thanks in large part to the hundreds of stands peddling fairly good knock-offs on the streets.  But there is a reason for their popularity: they are extremely lightweight and made of a material that is easy to wipe clean.  I’m not sure if it’s water resistant, but it’s a lot easier to keep in good condition than, say, a calf hair leather bag that shows every scratch and watermark.  Plus, the patterns hide dirt and scratches well.  But did I mention its featherweight?!  Truly a dream when you are toting mini’s essentials around all day.

Other picks: I use and love this leather zippered tote when traveling because it’s so nice to keep everything, well, zipped up.  The pebbled leather also prevents too much wear and tear from showing; it could easily work as an everyday bag.

+BACKPACK.  I had been on the hunt for a backpack for over a year because things get a little dicey when I am taking mini with me on the subway by myself — it’s hard to carry mini, a stroller (even a lightweight one that folds up into a small square!), and a tote bag up those steep steps.   After months of searching, I finally found a winner in in the form of this quilted MZ Wallace bag after spying it on a super chic mom at the playground, who wore it with #allblackeverything and huge black shades.  Done and done.  I’m already in love with this bag and regret not having found it sooner.  It is super lightweight and intelligently designed, with plenty of interior pouches/pockets and two side slip pockets on the exterior just the right size for holding a sippy cup/bottle.  The straps are padded and exceptionally comfortable to wear.  I almost forgot I was wearing it!  I should add that part of the reason I wanted a backpack so badly was because I one time saw a man reach into my bag for my wallet while I was twenty feet away at the playground, watching mini!  I vowed from that time on that I would never leave my essentials unattended; the backpack ensures I can keep everything on my person while remaining handsfree.  (P.S.  — If you sign up for MZ Wallace’s emails, you can get 15% off your first order, bringing the price of the backpack down.  Also — I opted for the fullsize backpack instead of the smaller version because the fullsize can accommodate a 15″ laptop and I imagine I will use this a lot while traveling.  Also — as mini grows and as winter approaches, I find myself tucking extra sweaters and snacks and occasionally the iPad in my bag, and the full-size is more appropriate for such volume.)

Other picks: If I were to have splurged I was eyeing this Gucci leather backpack (sort of the big sister to the MZ Wallace!  Ha).  I also considered this other MZ Wallace style and this fun Anya Hindmarch.

+PLAYGROUND TOTE.  Prior to purchasing my backpack, my primary solution for the above-mentioned problem (wallet filchers on the loose at the playground!) was to throw bulkier items like wipes, diapers, bandaids, snacks, towels, etc, into a classic monogrammed navy LLBean tote.  I got the medium size and it’s just perfect for tucking onto my stroller hooks (<<I love these and just bought a second set for my Babyzen Yoyo; they have a super modest/sleek look and take up virtually no space; they’re re-positionable; and they can hold A LOT) and carrying enough for a day out in the sun.  I love the LL Bean tote, too, because they’re washable and can be used a trillion and ten ways as mini grows — as a beach bag, as a book bag, as an overnight bag, as a toy bin, as a shoe receptacle, etc.  They stand up on their own!  At any rate, for much of the summer, I’d toss all of mini’s gear in there and then carry a small crossbody with just my card case, key, and phone in it.  My thinking was that somebody might try to steal my Goyard if left unattended, and I’d be devastated.  But a $35 canvas tote?  Monogrammed?  With only a couple of diapers, wipes, etc inside?  I’m pretty sure no one would be interested in that, and if they were, it would all be replaceable without too much heartburn.

+CROSSBODY.  I have been wearing an inexpensive pink J. Crew crossbody similar to this (<<love that this can be monogrammed!) my mom gifted me for a birthday a few seasons ago.  It’s just right for what I need — just big enough to hold the essentials, not so precious that I’d kill myself if it gets ruined/wet/grubby, and lightweight.  You’ll note that despite talking a big game about wearing a belt bag over the course of many months on this blog, I wound up opting for a crossbody.  I just couldn’t find the right style for me on the belt bag front that wasn’t insanely expensive; I considered for some time splurging on a Prada belt bag or a Gucci one, and then decided that it was just too impractical to wear something that pricey while carrying a wet toddler around.  I also briefly contemplated this TDE style (#chic) and this Clare Vivier, but stuck with the crossbody in the end, though I do love the look of a belt bag right now.

Other picks: If I hadn’t had that J. Crew lovely on hand, I think I would have gone with the TDE linked above, this preppy, summer-ready Paravel, or this crossbody pouch from Cuyana.  Cuyana also has a proper crossbody bag that I love but I really only need something small to carry just the most modest of essentials and not get in my way.  Ultra lust-worthy item: this Celine.

Finally, setting all reason aside, I am absolutely dying over this Hunting Season bag.  It breaks all the rules of practicality of been preaching but — hey.  The heart wants what it wants, too.  This could be my date night bag.

P.S.  For most adventures with mini, I like to wear an easy dress like this or this, paired with Supergas (I especially love my gray pair) or my GGs.  I also wear these joveralls A LOT.  They are super comfortable and bizarrely flattering.  Something about the whiskering and the stretch…I pair mine with striped tees from Kule or feminine statement blouses, like this one.

P.P.S.  I would definitely add my new backpack to my round up of my favorite purchases of 2018.

P.P.P.S.  Things that make me feel good about myself.

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8 thoughts on “The Best Bags for Everyday Adventures.

  1. Ahhhh, so many good choices here! (Btw, forgive my radio silence in the comments — I’ve been transitioning between jobs and was away from home for the first 2 weeks of October as well! Much catching up to do!)

    I LOVE that TDE belt bag and it’s been added to the top of my running wishlist. Echoing your love for the classic LL Bean totes as well — so many sizes, handle options, and monogram styles that make for fun design opportunities! I still have the cream one with navy handles & pink monogram (haha, I was striving for #preppy) that I designed in 2001, but I think my next option will be an all-cream (including the monogram)!

    I would love to add the MZ Wallace Metro backpack to my collection, too — after buying the medium Metro tote in advance of my recent international trip, I’ve been so happy with it — it’s held up beautifully and there’s nothing better than a zippered tote for travel!

    Another one of my favorite lines for bags is BAGGU — their leather bags are especially nice with super soft, high quality leather (I have several iterations, eeek) and I have & love their travel-sized Cloud Bag and all of their printed pouches, too. I’m a fan!

    1. Baggu!! I hadn’t thought of that brand but have seen their leather pieces and admired them. Will take a closer look. Thanks for weighing in!! xo

  2. I have been lusting over an MZ Wallace bag after I saw a very chic woman in CVS carrying one and got SO close to her to see what brand it was, that I’m pretty sure she thought I was going to pickpocket her. Now I see every woman in my town has one, and your post has made me decide I need one immediately. I keep going back and forth between a backpack, a Sutton or the classic Metro Tote, not to mention all the sizes they have. I just need to decide, ugh, life’s choices.

    1. Ha – I know! I lingered for a long time over the size decision in particular. In the end, full-size is more practical when I know I’ll be primarily using it while out for the day with mini or while traveling. But I loved the dimensions of the smaller one…

      Personally, if I were you and did not have a mini toddling around all the time, I would probably go with the metro tote! I think it’s versatile and chic.


  3. Ugggggh you’re really making me want an MZ Wallace backpack right now, and we have an international trip coming up so maybe?? (My husband wants to know how many bags I’m going to go through before I settle on something I like – it’s just so hard though!)

    I’ve been using a wristlet (just big enough for my wallet, keys, and chapstick), but have been eyeing that tassel bag from Cuyana and really like the two Paravel options you linked. The decisions!

    My mother-in-law recently got me a large nylon Boat and Tote to use as a carryon/beach bag and I do like that it’s a bit lighter (though it doesn’t stand up on its own) – worth checking out also for travel purposes?

    1. I vote MZ Wallace. HA. Not to make the situation more annoying than before. I hadn’t seen those nylon boat and totes but they seem like a really practical pick! Thanks for introducing them to me. xo

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