My Favorite Bags and Why I Love Them

The Best Bags to Buy Under $50

I used to have a pretty huge handbag collection, but over the years I’ve pared it down to using 2 daily, another 3 somewhat regularly depending on the outfit or season, and 3 used only for special occasions like weddings.  (Plus 4 more that I haven’t used in a year but have yet to let go of.)  So, 5 for daily use and 3 for special occasions.  That might be a lot for some or a small amount for others, but I feel like each of my bags get a lot of use!  They are the unsung heroes on my closet.  They’re major workhorses who get very little attention, so I want to feature them today.

Almost all of my handbags now are from Nordstrom, but they are not designer and are all under $50.  (And actually cost me less because I bought some of them during the NSale!)  What’s especially important to note is that on average these Nordstrom bags are a only few dollars more than bags I used to buy from Target and Old Navy, yet those bags ALL died on me within a year (saddddd) while Nordstrom’s bags have not.  Not one!  So when Nordstrom asked me to talk about fall items, I thought it was a great opportunity to highlight my favorite bags, all of which totally work for this fall!
Fair warning: this list is not sexy.  Whereas I used to have tons of different colored bags to use as a “pop of color,” I mostly carry a neutral bag everyday.  For me, they’re the most practical, most versatile, and the ones that require the least amount of thought before heading out the door.  Neutral bags are the best bang for my buck because I use them the most often, so the cost per use is incredibly low.

(Also, I’m just talking about handbags or daily bags, not special use bags like luggage, my beach bag, or diaper bags.)

Tan Faux Leather Tote Outfits
1.  REVERSIBLE TOTE (4 color combos HERE)
If I were only allowed 1 bag in my entire wardrobe, it’d be this one.  I use it nearly every day, carrying my laptop, 32oz water bottle, wallet, misc items, and sometimes books for working at a boba shop or going to work meetings.  I also use it anytime I’m on the go and need a bag that can hold my water bottle and jacket.

I’ve had this tote for over 2 years.  I’m fairly rough with it, putting it on concrete ground, not mindful of the material getting nicked.  With near daily use it took about 1-1.5 years until I noticed scratching or peeling.  Kind of impressive for how careless I am with it.

More impressively than that, I was worried about the seams given that I carry my laptop and big water bottle in it.  With the old bags I mentioned earlier, the first thing to fall apart were the seams, and I didn’t even hold my laptop in any of those!  The seams on this Nordstrom tote are holding up for far longer than my past bags at similar price points–and with a heavier load!

NOTE:  I use a base shaper which I’m positive has helped maintain the stitching.  Read about it HERE.  (And yes, I used a base shaper in my other bags that broke in the past.)

– It’s reversible, meaning you can turn it inside out to have a second color.  Like, two bags in one!  It comes in different color combos found HERE.
– There are no pockets, but it comes with a zipper pouch that I love using for lotion, medicine, etc.  If I’m not using this tote I still transfer the small zipper pouch to whichever other bag I’ll be using.

I considered its price very high at the time I bought it.  But my Target satchel that was just $8 less died on me within a year, and I had to spend even more money to buy another bag.  This tote has already doubled that lifespan at just $8 more!

Another tote that looks really nice, though is more expensive, is a Sole Society one HERE.  Comes in cognac and black.  More totes below, all between $24 and $65.  They all come in multiple colors!

Links to Shop:
one  |  two  |  three
four  |  five  |  six

Outfits with Tan Crossbody Bag
2.  SADDLE CROSSBODY  – (in black or tan HERE)
I’ve been loving smaller crossbody bags to be handsfree, especially since having a little kid to corral.  This saddle style is PERFECT for fall!  I switch between the tote and a small crossbody, depending on if I can get away with bringing less stuff.  I used to fill my purse with crap, but as my body has gotten older and as I find myself chasing after a kid, I appreciate a lighter load.  
I got this crossbody in July during the NSale, and though it’s no longer on sale I think it’s still worth the purchase.  It doesn’t feel luxurious or look expensive, but it feels of better quality than my past bags.  It has a few details that I really love as well, listed below in Features.

WEAR & TEAR:  I’ve only had it for about 2 months, but I’ve used this nearly everyday as well and it looks new.  But time will tell, of course.  For now I really appreciate this bag and feel the stitching is good for what it is.


– The inside lining is SUCH a cute dalmatian spot print!
– There’s a zippered pocket and a smaller open pocket inside.
– The magnetic closure catches smoothly.  I have another bag similar to this (but only works for the summer) and that button closure isn’t positioned well and it’s actually annoying to close the bag.  The closure on this bag is great in that sense.
– The strap is adjustable.

You probably recognize it from many of my outfit pics lately.  It should go without saying that I REALLYYYYYYYYY like this bag.  It goes with almost everything and it’s seriously perfect for fall.  Find it HERE!

More cute crossbody bags, all under $50.  I reallyyyyy love #4!  And #2!  And #3!  Okay, all of them really.  If you’re looking for the smallest one, I think it’s Option 4.  Option 2 comes in black, tan, or grey.  (Grey is HERE for #2).

Crossbody Bags Under $50
Links to Shop:
one  |  two  |  three
four  |  five

Black Bucket Bag Outfits
3.  BUCKET BAG CROSSBODY – (black or tan HERE)
Sometimes I don’t need a huge tote, but I need something slightly bigger than my saddle crossbody to carry my water bottle.  I love the style of bucket bags, and on a practical level I love that they hold my tall 32oz water bottle.

I got this during the NSale a year ago and it’s available again this season in cognac and black HERE!
I don’t use it as often as the two bags above, but I’m still impressed that 1 year in and there are no scratches on the bottom of this bag!  It’s held up very well so far.

– The faux leather has a cool pebbled texture.
– It holds its shape even if it’s empty, which is actually really helpful.  Some bucket bags collapse and look weird unless they’re super full.
– Comes with a small one-button closure pouch
– Inside lining feels like felt, but the bottom inside is the same pebbled faux leather as the outside.
– Adjustable strap

NOTES:  The ONE thing I dislike is that it’s hard to open and close.  But I like everything else about it!

Leopard Print Clutch Outfits
There is an extremely beautiful but very expensive leopard clutch by Clare V that I’d seen around Instagram and blogs.  I LOVED what a leopard clutch could do for an outfit.  It gave outfits life without being tacky or wild, and it also looked really sophisticated and fun at the same time.  But the Clare V clutch was $275.  Whoaaaa, no thanks.  After much searching, I found a budget version a long time ago that I’ve pointed you all to in the past, but it is often out of stock.  I’m very excited to tell you that there are 3 leopard clutches out right now ranging from $40 to $80.  And they’re beautiful!  (One is on backorder until January though.)

They’re all from Sole Society, which is sold at Nordstrom so you get the free shipping and free returns in case they don’t work out.  I haven’t seen any of these in person, but I have 3 Sole Society bags (all in my top 8 bags) that I really, really, really love.  Those are fantastic quality, which make me hopeful that any of these animal print clutches would be as well.  

Leopard Print Clutches
Links to Shop:
one  |  two  |  three

The remaining 4 of my 8 used bags are 1 cognac Sole Society bucket bag (see HERE, but sold out now), 1 black Sole Society tote (seen HERE, also sold out), and a black Sole Society clutch and a tan clutch that I use for special occasions when the leopard bag doesn’t work.  They’re all black or tan, but these 8 meet all of my bag needs for casual stuff, work, and weddings.  Pretty darn easy!
If you’re looking for other clutches, these are very versatile and under $45.  They all come in multiple colors except #2.
Links to Shop:
one  |  two
three |  four
Of course I’ve got other bags for luggage, the beach (just one), or diaper bags–special use cases.  But as far as handbags go, these are my essentials!

So, I’m reallyyyyy curious.  I feel like for a style blogger I have a relatively small number of handbags.  But my guess is compared to most PMT readers, since many of you come here for help rebuilding a wardrobe, 8 is actually a lot.  (Even though 3 of them are only for special occasions!)  How many bags are in your wardrobe?  

And if you are trying to figure out which bags are essential and are shopping around, I hope this post can point you in a helpful direction!  
Huge thanks to Nordstrom for partnering on this post!
And for selling bags under $50 that haven’t fallen apart on me yet 😀
Previous Story
Next Story

You Might Also Like