No one is going to judge you for carting your stuff around in a cotton tote–in fact certain screenprinted bags have become under-the-radar status symbols. Cheap–or free–and ubiquitous, totes broadcast your taste in radio stations, literary journals and artisanal whatever while transporting your farmer’s market finds or lugging your laptop to the coffee shop. Occasionally though, you want to wear something nicer on your shoulder (or back, or bum). Whether you’re trying to make a good impression at an interview or peeping fall foliage for the weekend, these splurge-worthy bags will be your classed-up workhorses for times when a tote just won’t make the cut.
If you need a backpack… A backpack makes the most ergonomic sense as it distributes the weight on both of your shoulders. Duh. If you want something a little classier than the Jansport you rocked in middle school, check out Pelcor’s Bali Backpack (on sale $166.80). It’s got the look of the bucket bag, but reshaped as a backpack. Plus, it’s made out of cork, which is renewable, sustainable, naturally waterproof, lightweight, and a fraction of the cost of leather. (Also, it floats…just in case.) The sunset and peony colors are on sale right now and either will brighten up these cool autumnal days. Available online.
If you need a messenger bag… A messenger bag is a classic NYC staple. The size and comfortable strap makes it as perfect for wearing while pedaling a Citi Bike all over town as it is for a job interview. Rag and Bone’s Derby Briefcase ($495) is a subtle choice that is worth the money. It’s grown-up enough for the office, but chill enough for happy hour. It’s got a pocket for your laptop, your phone, and some artisanally sharpened pencils. Rag and Bone, 160 Court Street, Cobble Hill
If you need an overnighter… Do you need inspiration to finally take a fall foliage trip up to Hudson? The Blue Claw Worton Weekender ($325) will definitely upgrade your overnight gear. This Minneapolis-made bag is engineered to maximize the interior space, but still fit into an overhead compartment. Unlike most other luggage, this one has waterproof lining. Also, you can make it personal and get it monogrammed. Go ahead, buy those plane tickets to Croatia. Available online.
If you need a handbag… If you love the look of the Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bag, but you want something cozier for the cooler weather, your must-have this season is Loeffler Randall’s Shearling Bucket Bag ($395). It’s got a drawstring and tassel, but the exterior is lined with soft, wintry shearling to keep your wallet toasty until summer. As a bonus, you can use it as a pillow or stuffed animal when necessary. Available at Bird: Williamsburg 203 Grand St.; Cobble Hill 220 Smith St.; Park Slope 316 Fifth Avenue.
If you need a Fanny Pack… Okay, it’s true nobody thinks they need a fanny pack. But this Taffee Bum Pack by Marlow Goods ($230) will have you rethinking the tourist staple. Looking more like an old-school shopkeeper pouch than a secret money stash, it’s perfect for the person on the go. Plus, all of Marlow Goods are handmade using cow hides sourced upstate. The bag comes in six different colors, including the exciting-sounding Electric and Tomato. Marlow Goods, 180 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg.
If you need an evening essential… Once in a blue moon, there is a special event to which your regular handbag will not be invited. A tiny frilly bag is an impractical investment, as any evening out still necessitates a cell phone, keys, lipstick and wallet (at minimum). For a limited time, Campos (based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard) is offering its Full Moon Bag in Silver or Gold on sale for $338. The metallic neutral color will shine up any evening outfit. Wear crossbody or over the shoulder, slide a metrocard in the exterior pocket, and you’ll be out the door in no time. The biggest problem will be relegating it to after hours. Available online.