Finding the perfect bag for business school

I’ve been spending way too much time shopping lately. And I don’t even like shopping…it’s mostly a chore to me. One of the drawbacks of Ithaca is that there isn’t easy access to clothes options there, so I’m trying to get all that done before I get to Cornell. For me, that’s involved buying suits from Banana Republic during their “40% off everything in store” days and hopping into DSW for black heels. And then dropping everything off at a nearby tailor to get all the pants hemmed to the height of my new shoes. Being a short woman is expensive.

But I’ve spent most of my shopping efforts on finding a school bag. I don’t like backpacks, so I’ve been looking for totes. I have a black nylon tote from Gap (that I realized was basically a Longchamp Pliage knockoff many years later) that I’ve used for the past….13 years. Yup. I used it every day in college and for traveling afterward. Needless to say, it’s falling apart and pretty gross looking now. But I can’t argue with the value! Those $20 were well spent.

When I first started my search, my first thought went to getting the real Longchamp Pliage tote. But then I couldn’t stand the idea of spending $150 on something I spent $20 on previously, even if it wasn’t really the same thing. Plus the Pliage is literally a sack with zero side pockets or anything. My bag would be a purse replacement, so I need nooks and crannies for keys, phone, wallet, etc. I’d also need something big enough to fit my 15″ Macbook Pro.

Here were the contenders:

Cole Haan Parker Shopper, $178


This bag met all my requirements except one: Price. Too expensive for my taste. But pretty much great all around! A great buy if you have the cash.

kate spade new york Via Limoni Francis Shoulder Handbag, $138 on sale

A really cute bag with a decent sale price. Something about how the vinyl gave it a bowl-like shape didn’t agree with me, though. But if I see you with this bag, I will definitely tell you how much I love it.

Jess Tote, Banana Republic, $165 full price, $99 or lower on sale


I actually bought this tote during a major sale for $80 thinking it would be the winner, but once I received it I saw that the leather was not the best quality. It also has a feel to it that made me think that it wouldn’t last very long. And after my 13 years with my last black tote, I’m spoiled. I returned this one.

Tumi Voyageur Q-Tote, $225 full price


I came across the Tumi Q-Tote early in my search and loved it. It was perfect: I liked that it was made of indestructible nylon, had lots of little pockets and thin, flat straps (round ones always roll off my shoulders) all while looking somewhat classy. But $225?! No way, no siree bob. Then I hopped into Marshall’s one day and dug around the purse section a bit and found buried treasure. A single, dark blue Q-tote behind a stack of other bags marked down to $125. After a bit of mulling (“Am I really going to spend over a hundred bucks on a nylon bag??”), I bought it. I’m still kind of horrified that I spent that much money on it (I mean, come on…how much did it actually cost to create this thing? Ten bucks?), but I’m hoping that it will beat out my last 13-year streak.


2 thoughts on “Finding the perfect bag for business school

  1. I love your blog! You’ve given me inspiration to document my journey ! 😀 I am applying to B school this fall and I am at Phase 1: Conquering the GMAT beast. All the very best at Cornell ! 😀

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