Shit I Bought and Liked: The Black Bag Edit
My dear, sweet Shitters, the time has come to treat myself to a new bag (and to bring back title case—we’re adults, we can capitalize). Now this time doesn’t come around often (“wildly overpriced new bag” would’ve been a more apt description), so when it does, one must engage in some careful deliberation—preferably with friends!
Of all my indulgences, bags are perhaps my favorite. I love the craftsmanship and the materials. I love the brands and their designers. And at the end of the day, they’re just beautiful things, and I will always be a sucker for those. Plus, unlike shoes, they don’t get worn into the ground, so if you take care of them, they really can last you a lifetime. (Though if you aren’t into the bag game or shopping at this price point, that’s cool too—everyone has their own tastes and budgets and things they care to save for.)
Shit I Bought And Liked is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Earlier this month, I wrote about being more thoughtful when it comes to adding things to my closet, and all the same rules apply here. If I’m adding a bag to my collection, whether or not it’s a splurge, I really try to make sure it’s something I’ll love and get use out of in the long term.
While I’ve gone the impulse-buy route before (the euro was low and spirits were HIGH), I’ve started to feel like there are some gaps between what I have currently (small bags in fun colors that I love with neutral outfits/in the summer) and what I find myself wishing I had (something more neutral/medium-sized that works for errands or daytime outings).
So this time around I’m taking a more methodical approach—aka compiling everything I’ve ever liked into one of our world famous collages and presenting it to all of you. As for our baseline, I have my sights set on a black* bag that’s casual enough for everyday wear, roomy enough for my essentials, but not a pain to carry (and preferably with minimal logos and hardware—I prefer something more understated for everyday wear). It’s a tall order, but there are some beautiful options out there, so whether you’re window shopping, looking for a new bag of your own, or are just here to give some opinions, you’ve made it this far—why not stick around for the ride?
*I said black, but I consider brown a great neutral too (especially if it’s by Bottega—their browns are exquisite), so there are also a couple of those in here as well.
1. Khaite August Hobo ($2300*): Slouchy, casual, cool—no notes. To me this looks similar to The Row Banana Bag when worn crossbody (more on that below), but it’s more of a conventional bag and shape. *Farfetch has this for $1985 at the moment if you’ve been eyeing it.
2. Celine Sangle Small Bucket Bag ($2100): This is a beautiful, understated bag that’s a great size for everyday and would play nice with most things in my wardrobe. The only issue with bucket bags for me is the exposed top—if the bag tips over in an Uber or a restaurant booth or the front seat of your car, your shit is everywhere. If you’re a little more careful than me though, it could be a great bag for you. (These ones are also nice and at a much more approachable price point.)
3. Bottega Veneta Cassette Crossbody ($2900): There are FIVE Bottega pieces on this list—clearly I love the brand. Their leather is gorgeous, the craftsmanship is meticulous, and the quality really is unmatched in my humble opinion (and that of this man who cuts up bags on TikTok). I think of this version as more timeless than its trendy padded counterpart. It’s a great size for everyday and the flap/closure ensure that your essentials are covered and secure. I can picture myself wearing this out at night or during the day and getting a lot of use out of it, especially while traveling.
4: The Row Large Banana Bag ($2350): This might be a polarizing pick—it’s worn like a crossbody belt bag and is far more oversized—but I’ve come to really love it. It’s cool and different and as someone whose style is generally pretty casual, it would work really well with my wardrobe. As of now, I mostly wear fabric belt bags for my everyday errands, and this is the perfect way to keep that feel while getting more space along with a huge step up in quality and appearance. (I like the oversized look of this one, but if it’s too much for you, they also make a smaller size.)
5: Bottega Veneta Cassette Shoulder Bag ($1950): Ok, to me this is more of a going out bag than an everyday one, but if you need a solid all-around player, this could be it. It has built in slots for cards and cash and the style is 90’s in the very best way.
6. Bottega Veneta Medium Suede Arco Tote ($2800): This has since sold out (depressing), but if I have to dream of it, so do all of you. The Arco is one of those bags you need to carry in your hand or the crook of your arm (it wasn’t made to wear over your shoulder), which will definitely be a drawback for some, but I will always love this bag—especially in suede. While totally impractical for weather of any kind, suede to me is just so luxurious. The medium size fits a laptop (great if you need a work/life tote), and a tie secures the two sides, though the top is still mostly open. I’m hoping Bottega brings back this version in more colors, but they also make this in their signature leather (see #10 for details).
7. Prada Leather Tote ($3100): If you plan on buying this bag, I hope you’re prepared to match with me (and Rosie HW!) because it’s one of my favorites! Prada bags are typically very structured, but I love this more casual departure. It’s a scaled down tote that can hold your phone, daily essentials, a water bottle, and then some. You can fit it over your shoulder if you need to free up your hands, but it’s also light enough to carry in hand or in the crook of your arm. The only downside here is the price, which IMO is quite high for a bag of this size, but sadly is very in line with other designers. Like those other brands, Prada is also priced far better in Europe than it is in the States, so if you’re eyeing something and have a trip coming up, we can exercise our patience together.
8. Prada Leather Mini Bag ($3300): This is another bag that I’d probably only use for going out, but that doesn’t mean you have to! It’s simple and structured, with a unique shape and elegant straps. I haven’t seen it in person (yet!), but I’m pretty confident I’ll love it. To me, it’s a silhouette/piece that will always be cool.
9. Bottega Veneta Cassette Mini Bucket Bag ($1300): For the girl on the go! If you only need the basics while you’re running around (or are out on the town—this could easily pull double duty), I love this little option. It’ll fit most phones plus a card or two, keys, and maybe even a lip balm, but as a childless person of a mere 28 years, that’s really all I need most of the time. Again, it’s a bucket bag, so you have to be mindful of keeping everything safely inside, but of the mini bags out there, it’s definitely one of the more functional picks. It’s also one of the most budget-friendly bags Bottega makes.
10. Bottega Veneta Medium Arco Tote ($3300): Yes this is a repeat, but this one’s in leather (and I could look at it all day), so it earned its own spot! These are pricey, but the construction is insane, the leather is beautiful, and if it’s one of those bags that just makes your heart sing, no one can blame you for doing what needs to be done. (It also comes in smaller sizes, but I wouldn’t recommend the small personally—because of all the leather used in its construction, I found it to be rather heavy for the size).
11. Celine Cabas Medium ($2100): This isn’t technically part of my search because I own this bag and have for almost eight (!) years, but it’s been my best pick to date, so I wanted to include it for anyone looking. It’s effortlessly cool, endlessly wearable, and will still be all of those things eight years from now. If you’re in need of a work bag or prefer a roomier tote option for everyday, I can’t say enough good things about this one. It’s held up to years of schlepping laptops and lunches, and even though the shape has relaxed over time, it’s still beautiful. A workhorse and a show pony! It also comes in a smaller version if you prefer.
I recently learned about Substack’s poll feature, and now feels like the perfect time to show it off! 11 is a lot to choose from, so I’ve narrowed it down to the ones I’m eyeing most closely (feel free to get mad at me in the comments if I’ve omitted one of your favorites—I like knowing what you like!):
This is definitely one of my favorite things to talk about (my poor boyfriend has politely reiterated that he does not feel the same way at least 45000x), but if any of you share this proclivity/have other favorites or pieces you’re considering/want to discuss any/all of the above, reply to this email or slide in the DMs. I could and would do this all day long.
Can’t wait to hear what you think!
Love this topic, i could look at and talk about designer bags forever!! I told myself I was going to get myself a designer bag for my birthday (… in July) and just impulse purchased an Alaia bag a few days ago when I saw it on more than 50% sale from Bergdorf’s! Has been in the back of my mind for a while , first saw it in Becky Malinsky’s newsletter. Also really love the Bottega cassette bags and waiting for a windfall to get one! Mansur Gavriel makes a woven bucket bag that’s very Bottega-esque so I might do that instead.
I’ve never opened a newsletter so fast! I’ve been obsessed with the Bottega Arco recently and this sold me 🤭 Thank you for the review!