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Where does one find high quality professional bags for women that aren't leather? Like messenger bag/satchel type bags. The only brand in particular that I can think of is Stella McCartney and that's a big out of my price range. I bought a satchel online from Topshop for $60 but it was a piece of junk that didn't last even a year.

 

Any ideas?

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Yes! I have one I have one I have one!!! Try Matt & Nat; they make entirely vegan bags and they look fantastic. They're a bit on the pricey side (I got my totebag on sale for $80, regular prices are around $125-175), but it's lasted me three years so far and it's still in awesome condition.

Their website is http://www.mattandnat.ca/

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I would try Timbuk2 messenger bags. I just got one a month ago (the D-Lux Racestripe messenger) for grad school this fall and I LOVE IT. It's a bit pricey (retail $100-120) but sites like rei.com , sierra trading post, and backcountry.com usually have them on sale all the time for half price or better (I paid $44 for my Medium sized messenger). Mine (in addition to many other models) is waterproof so I never have to worry about my computer getting damaged. And the quality of the material is amazing, with tons of storage space...I would HIGHLY recommend it. I expect I will use it for years.

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I loved my Coach black canvas with leather trim during undergrad (4 years ago). It doesn't have any obnoxious logos on it and it looks clean and professional all the time. Plus it has a zip top, great for weather and keeping things safe!

It held my entire life while in school: 15" laptop, library books, water bottle, etc. and is still going strong. I'm glad I made the investment because I know it will continue to serve me well for the next 5 - 7 years.

 

If you can find one at a Coach outlet, all the better. Lastly, sometimes they are classified as "baby bags" at coach, so search there too.

 

Good luck!

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I'd seek out sporting companies -- bags are designed for functionality... but also are with some style pizzazz.

 

My own reputable brown and black plaid laptop messenger bag that I've carted through many states (without looking worn) is Dakine, but Burton would be another reliable option. As an art history PhD hopeful, I particularly love fun-colored functional bags like this: http://www.bagking.com/burton-synth-messenger.html

 

Here is Burton's website (scroll for messenger bags): http://www.burton.com/womens-bags-luggage-packs/womens-packs,default,sc.html

Here is Dakine website (filter for laptop-holding bags): http://www.dakine.com/w/womens/shoulder-bags#4=43

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eBags.com has a lot of selection.  Also, the Coach factory outlet sells on eBay now, so if you're into online shopping like me ;) that might be worth a look.

 

I am trying to make myself wait before buying, as I'm thinking about a new laptop... tough, though. :)

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theclymb.com sometimes has timbuk2 packs on sale. personally, i use osprey packs in the field and a burton skateboard bag for books, but i've heard lots of good things about tb2. :) you can also click around to see if companies like osprey, arcteryx, kelty, et al. have any messenger bags; chances are, they're made of ripstop, waterproofed goodness.

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I buy Kate Spade diaper bags. While I don't have a baby, they work like a charm for school :-D

 

I find the investment worth it since they last FOREVER, but if you sign up on their website they also do somewhat frequent "sample sales"- if you move quickly, you can get purses for like, 25% of their normal price when that happens.

Edited by PsychGirl1
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I love Kate Spade as well.  I have a nylon computer bag that I bought from the Kate Spade outlet for $178; it is black with white polka dots and I got compliments on it from other academic women at a conference I attended recently.  It's very professional looking, and it's like my go-to conference/interview type bag.  It's big enough for my computer and iPad plus a folder, notebook, and my purse accessories (wallet, keys, phone, chargers, hand sanitizer, lotion).  Kate Spade has a lot of nylon options that are cheaper than her leather bags, and if you look in the sale section you can often find really good deals including bags under $200.

 

My most recent bag purchase and my new every day bag is the Go Round Tote from Vera Bradley.  Normally it's $86, but it's currently on sale and I got mine for $65. (Vera Bradley has sales quite often, especially when they are trying to get rid of old prints.)  VB makes all of their totes and satchels out of quilted cloth; I have quite a lot of pieces from this designer and they last a good long while.  Plus if they get dirty, you can throw them in the washing machine.  I had a "Vera" tote that was my 'everyday' bag and my complaints about it were minor; it's a huge spacious bag that you can fit tons in, with deep inside pockets and a few outside ones for purse type stuff.  I also have a laptop bookbag from this designer (normally $109, I think I got it on sale for like $60) for when I want to carry things on my back, like if I have a lot.  Anyway, that's how I know that her stuff lasts forever - I've had my two for over a year and a half and they still look brand new, so they definitely function like brand new.  No ripping or tearing at the seams, no fraying at the edges, and the straps are still securely attached to the bags (VB sews their straps quite a ways down the bags and sometimes all the way around, so there's less of a chance of the straps breaking).

 

The Go Round Tote I like a lot because it's big enough for my computer and it has more outside pockets than inside ones, which I tend to use more.  Today I carried my laptop (13" MacBook Pro) and my iPad as well as an umbrella in there, and I had room for maybe 1 or 2 books or some notebooks as well plus my pencil case on top if I wanted it.  I stuffed some pens into one of the inside pockets.  My outside pockets had my phone, keys, wallet, mouse, laptop charger, iPod, earbuds, hand sanitizer and lotion plus probably some other stuff I don't remember.  It's the perfect size for me, and I think the print (Ribbons) is both fun and professional enough for every day school/classes/meetings kind of stuff.

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i have a marc jacobs bag (http://www.shopbop.com/globetrotter-calamity-rei-bag-marc/vp/v=1/1572196283.htm?folderID=2534374302023816&s_kwcid=PTC%7Cpla%7C%7C%7C40769146697%7Cg%7C%7C15557953577&extid=SE_froogle_SC_usa-MARCJ4329512867) which i sadly admit to paying full price for. but, it's been worth every penny. it's the perfect post-coursework bag as it holds my laptop (11" air), planner, teaching materials, wallet, and a book or two (you can actually squish a lot in, but then it gets too heavy for the thinner shoulder strap). i wanted to buy a bag that would last several years while also nice enough to be my conference/"professional" bag and not just a "grad student" bag. 

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To add to the great suggestions above I would recommend a Sally Spicer messenger bag. http://www.sallyspicerbags.com/products/messenger-bag?MSNGR_DRAG-JADE. I got one years ago for biking/commuting and it still looks new. The patterns range from cute to professional, and you get the roomyness/convenience of a messenger, but with the looks of something a little more sophisticated. I use it if I have to bring my laptop with me somewhere, and it fits folders, 15" laptop, water bottle, iPad and my regular purse junk. 

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To add to the great suggestions above I would recommend a Sally Spicer messenger bag. http://www.sallyspicerbags.com/products/messenger-bag?MSNGR_DRAG-JADE. I got one years ago for biking/commuting and it still looks new. The patterns range from cute to professional, and you get the roomyness/convenience of a messenger, but with the looks of something a little more sophisticated. I use it if I have to bring my laptop with me somewhere, and it fits folders, 15" laptop, water bottle, iPad and my regular purse junk. 

 

OMG, want!  And they are made in the USA!

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i have a marc jacobs bag (http://www.shopbop.com/globetrotter-calamity-rei-bag-marc/vp/v=1/1572196283.htm?folderID=2534374302023816&s_kwcid=PTC|pla|||40769146697|g||15557953577&extid=SE_froogle_SC_usa-MARCJ4329512867'>http://www.shopbop.com/globetrotter-calamity-rei-bag-marc/vp/v=1/1572196283.htm?folderID=2534374302023816&s_kwcid=PTC|pla|||40769146697|g||15557953577&extid=SE_froogle_SC_usa-MARCJ4329512867) which i sadly admit to paying full price for. but, it's been worth every penny. it's the perfect post-coursework bag as it holds my laptop (11" air), planner, teaching materials, wallet, and a book or two (you can actually squish a lot in, but then it gets too heavy for the thinner shoulder strap). i wanted to buy a bag that would last several years while also nice enough to be my conference/"professional" bag and not just a "grad student" bag. 
Drooling over this bag.
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So many nice bags! I'd love to upgrade from a backpack but I'm worried about the effect a messenger bag will have on my back. Anyone care to share their experiences with this?

 

I used to get terrible upper back/neck pain and headaches from a full backpack.  Just something about it, no matter what backpack or how it fit. Not to mention a gross sweaty back during the warmer months. I switched to a messenger bag and never looked back. My first and current one is from Fossil. If/when it comes time to replace, I will be looking for a ClaireChase computer bag (VERY expensive from the retailer, but much better prices on ebay). Factoring in the years it will last, and the heavy daily use I will get out of it, the cost per wear works out to be pennies. Definitely worth it. Fossil's leather quality is hit or miss, but all of the CC I have touched has been superb.

 

No help to the OP, I realize, who wants leather alternatives -- I'm just a fan the way good quality leather wears.

 

But anyway, I'm sure the asymmetric weight isn't GOOD for your back, but I switch sides pretty regularly and haven't had any significant issues.

Edited by Donk
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Here is Dakine website (filter for laptop-holding bags): http://www.dakine.com/w/womens/shoulder-bags#4=43

Those are really pretty! I've been wondering for a while now about replacing my backpack with something better-looking ( :) ), and one of these looks like a great possibility. (I, too, am a little worried about the asymmetric weight, but the thing about sweating with a backpack is definitely true as well.) I've actually already got a messenger bag or two, but they're smaller and don't have a laptop compartment…

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Those are really pretty! I've been wondering for a while now about replacing my backpack with something better-looking ( :) ), and one of these looks like a great possibility. (I, too, am a little worried about the asymmetric weight, but the thing about sweating with a backpack is definitely true as well.) I've actually already got a messenger bag or two, but they're smaller and don't have a laptop compartment…

 

Yay! I'm so glad to hear the suggestions helped someone. :-)

 

As I mentioned earlier, I do have the Dakine messenger bag, which was designed to fit a laptop to fit inside, plus a larger area for books and other things. I really like how the bag's laptop section is separate and padded, and that it has a holder on the side for a nalgene waterbottle. No potential to spill on documents or the laptop here! Also, I love that it has a strap running on the bottom of the bag, so that I can put it on top of my rolling luggage. (In other words, my messenger bag is bigger, and looking an awful lot like this)

 

For an everyday bag, where you'll be toting a lot of papers, etc, you can't go wrong with a slightly larger messenger bag so nicely organized. :-)

Edited by ArtHistoryandMuseum
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I swear by my Vera Bradley North South Tote that is also in sale now! Fits lots of stuff, is comfortable on the arm and looks good for a variety of situation. I got mine monogrammed. Always get compliments on this bag.

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Yay! I'm so glad to hear the suggestions helped someone. :-)

 

As I mentioned earlier, I do have the Dakine messenger bag, which was designed to fit a laptop to fit inside, plus a larger area for books and other things. I really like how the bag's laptop section is separate and padded, and that it has a holder on the side for a nalgene waterbottle. No potential to spill on documents or the laptop here! Also, I love that it has a strap running on the bottom of the bag, so that I can put it on top of my rolling luggage. (In other words, my messenger bag is bigger, and looking an awful lot like this)

 

For an everyday bag, where you'll be toting a lot of papers, etc, you can't go wrong with a slightly larger messenger bag so nicely organized. :-)

 

Indeed. My smaller messenger bag is adorable, but there are no separate pockets inside and having to dig around for my wallet and things can get annoying. Yay for compartments!

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I don't know that this would count as a "bag for women" as it's gender-neutral, and it looks (and is) more sporty than professional, but I love my Chrome messenger bag.  Since I ride my bike to campus, I obviously need something that will stay in place, be water proof, etc.  The nice thing is it's designed to sit diagonally across your back, and there's an extra under-the-armpit strap that keeps it from swinging while riding and also helps it to hug your body more.  With it tight to your body, the weight ends up being evenly distributed across your back, not just on one shoulder. My only complaint is that (in an effort to keep it entirely waterproof, I suspect) there are no external pockets.  For that reason I'm glad I got the cell phone pouch accessory, which can also hold some cash, my student ID, and key clip. 

(I have a more brief-case alternative shoulder bag my mom got me a few years ago that is good for when professional looks are more important.)

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Indeed. My smaller messenger bag is adorable, but there are no separate pockets inside and having to dig around for my wallet and things can get annoying. Yay for compartments!

 

No one says you can't have both! Especially if it is adorable :-)

 

And, indeed, yay compartments! Sometimes you learn what you need by what you don't have...

 

Once I borrowed a friend's Burton wheelie luggage bag because I was attending a conference in another state and through using it for a week not only did I see that I needed a similar bag, but I was also familiar with its features and that helped me find a luggage set of my own. Generous friends and test driving what they own for the win!

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I don't know that this would count as a "bag for women" as it's gender-neutral, and it looks (and is) more sporty than professional, but I love my Chrome messenger bag.  Since I ride my bike to campus, I obviously need something that will stay in place, be water proof, etc.  The nice thing is it's designed to sit diagonally across your back, and there's an extra under-the-armpit strap that keeps it from swinging while riding and also helps it to hug your body more.  With it tight to your body, the weight ends up being evenly distributed across your back, not just on one shoulder. 

 

Many thanks for posting this SeriousSillyPutty... I realize now that the strap on the backside of my messenger bag also does the trick of making the main strap stay in place, if say, I was biking, with the additional snap on the main strap. I had no idea what that addition snap was for on the main strap and now I do! 

 

Also, I just looked up the Chrome bag. It has a bottle opener?! Wow - that bag's designer thought of everything.

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Everyone carries longchamps le pliage totes here. I carry a small vintage coach purse and a lunchbag most days. If I have to carry more I take a deuter backpack or a po campo bag. They are bike bags that don't look like it.

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