Fashion Scavenger Hunt: Help Me Find a Non-Ugly, Inexpensive Giant Tote Bag

Image via eBay
Fashion Scavenger HuntWelcome to Fashion Scavenger Hunt, a Jezebel column in which we all work together to find the elusive product of your dreams. Need help with a style or specific item, or just looking for advice on dupes? Email

If you work in New York City and have a fairly active social life, you have probably at one time or another grappled with the difficult task of carrying around all your shit. On an average day, riding the train to and from work and school and various after-work activities, I’m toting a big wallet, laptop and charger; on a good day I’ve also got my gym clothes, including both sneakers and flip-flops because my feet are NOT rawdogging that communal shower.

These items don’t really cause any strife on their own, but the vessel in which I carry them does: for probably a decade, I’ve had such difficulty finding a bag large enough to carry my laptop but also at least mildly stylish (read: anything that’s not basic) and also affordable. One would think this is an easier task than it actually is, though, because bagmakers apparently believe that working women are objective and sensible and would absolutely love to lug around our necessities in ten-gallon leather carryalls that, were they not manufactured in brown or black, would be one baby away from a diaper bag.


Admittedly, I have fallen for this ruse once or twice; a couple of years ago, I got something from DKNY on sale and convinced myself it wasn’t basic as fuck because it zipped into a neatly folded origami trapezoid, never mind the fact that the trapezoid couldn’t zip if my laptop was actually in it. Plus, I’m not really in the market for the kind of tote that comes embossed with a designer’s name on the side; I still use this bag for practical purposes but I feel staid and conservative carrying it.

Images via Lazy Oaf, Zara

There was a dalliance with a Lazy Oaf rucksack, which I loved, but the white canvas got too dirty to carry on; I inherited an old fashioned book bag from a former roommate but I can count on one hand the amount of days I wear clothing that would be beneficially paired with a purse that is brown. Currently, I’m making do with a cute Zara number in yellow, but it’s still on the boring side, and also makes me feel like I should be planning a trip to the Hamptons. And all that’s precisely why I couldn’t get on the Mansur Gavriel train when it left the station; the leather looks buttery but I’m not about to drop six bills on something so deeply obvious.

Are you also in this predicament? Here, I’ve found some possible options for us.

Image via Kate Spade

Okay, on a basic scale of basic, Kate Spade is up there for its conservativeness and love of structured pastels; but for a casual, fun vibe, I’m into this Kate Spade Minnie Mouse comic book jawn. Whether you can or want to spend $198 on a tote is your business; I probably would not, at least not this one. (If you like the vibe but not the price, here’s a vintage newspaper print guy for $25, though it’s significantly grampier.)

Image via John Lewis

This leather Ted Baker shopper is slightly outside of what I would want to spend (£189 which, at its current rate, translates to $273.45, yowch) and is structurally boring to me, but the oily, artsy techno pattern makes up for it; it’s the kind of thing you’d probably have for a long time and it could easily transition to winter if you’re the kind of person who wears winter whites (which, obviously, I am).

Image via Stylebop

I can’t really advocate for Vader Karl in any way shape or form, but I definitely CAN advocate for Choupette. $235 at Stylebop.

Image via

HAHA SORRY THIS IS MY SHIT. My favorite color is clear, legit (ask me how much time I’ve spent searching “lucite” and “perspex” on eBay); I don’t know if that’s because I’ve spent too much time in my life with candy ravers and Tumblr-famous teens or if it says something deeper about my psyche, but I definitely know that I’m about to cop this pink Eastport joint, with apologies to my coworkers. Twenty-two bucks, my dudes.

Image via Kohls

Or you could just go full fuck-it with sequined JUICY COUTURE. $69.30, Kohls.


Cooperative de Creation’s cotton denim Nolan bag is the spiritual opposite of a sequined Juicy backpack, with a nice deep bucket and clean lines, plus it’s on sale for $90 at Assembly New York. If you want to project that you have recently traveled to Scandinavia, probably.

Okay, now you!

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