Handbag suggestions (brand & specific) for new assistant prof?

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  1. Any profs/phd students/post docs/contract faculty here, or any students who have a keen eye for what their profs carry?

    Price is not an object here in the usual sense: I would wear a premier designer if it blended in appropriately. However, I don't want to overdo it. I don't want first impressions of me to be that I spend way more on handbags than most new - or even long-tenured - profs (even if that is totally true, it isn't the first thing I want someone to notice about me at the university, as this can make them think of a negative stereotype). I also think a briefcase might be a bit over-formal for a young female.

    I also don't want to go too far in the other direction and seem too casual or young, as I don't want people's first impressions of me to be "student." I am not considering backpacks and I don't think monogrammed material is the way to go.

    What do you think of shopping for a large satchel in a neutral colored leather, at a brand like Coach, Michael Kors, or Kate Spade, in a size large enough to hold a file of papers? Am I on the right track? Are any of these brands ones you would avoid?

    Do you have a specific bag suggestion for me?

  2. I like Levenger for my work bag. Understated quality. It's a leather tote with a shoulder strap.

    But if you want more flair, then yes Kate Spade, Michael Kors will do the trick.
  3. #3 Jun 18, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
    I have carried Coach and See by Chloe in the past for understated looks. Lately, I carry a Ted Baker bag.
    Women I work with often carry a brandless (or not obvious to me), but well-made leather tote or bag. One colleague carries one that is a nice orange that she picked up while in France. But the women I do notice who wear these kinds of bags are young and pre-tenure, like myself. The women who do not wear these kinds of bags, but carry traditional messenger style bags are post-tenure.
    If you do go with a satchel/tote bag, I personally would aim for bags with feet because you will likely need to set it on the floor at some point (for tight meeting spaces, e.g.). I found that I couldn't depend on an empty seat or space on the table to place my bag. And depending on how much you carry, you might want to have a messenger strap as an option.
    I have seen a lot of my students carry Michael Kors and Kate Spade, so personally I tend to stay away from MK and KS. But each university will have students embrace different trends. If you are not sure because this is your first job, just go with what you like and fits with your style. Or wait until you get there, also thinking about what style of bag would most suit your purposes. I go back and forth. Some semesters I want a messenger bag strap, and other semesters I want to hand carry my bag.
  4. (Add rofl emoticon here)
    Oh, thanks. I needed that giggle.
    Never would I have grouped "PhD students/post doc/contract faculty" & " price is not an object here" in same category.
    I must be a freak.;)

    When teaching daily, carried brown leather attache case. Soft sides, shoulder strap.
    One tenured prof I knew carried a plastic grocery sack, filled with his papers/files/etc.

    Now, I might choose something as deadly ponies' mr. comet.
    But, opted for more professional/less casual look in past. And cheaper.:P
    See no problem with brands you named.
    Best luck.
  5. That is a lovely bag from Deadly Ponies. How ever did you find that? Where do they sell that? I must. see. more.
    Also I would agree with Remainsilly. I've seen several colleague-profs carry grocery bags to work. But one of the Deans here carries an LV duffle bag. There is a huge range.
  6. They are a NZ company.
    Mr. Comet is in the dp man collection. But I consider unisex.
    Hope helps.
    sneedonist likes this.
  7. Thank you everyone for your feedback so far. I'll be going over each of your recommendations and please keep the thoughts coming :smile: I'm glad I appear to be roughly on the right track. I do worry about the popularity of students, especially undergrads carrying those brands (Coach/MK/KS), but then again because faculty are not big bag-splurgers in general, I wonder if there's a big brand differentiation or whether it's more about which bags from those names one might choose.

    My male advisor carried a Ferragamo bag, and while I definitely realized that couldn't be typical, I wasn't smart enough to pay attention to what other faculty wore, plus the uni was perhaps different than most (eye popping tuition for undergrads) whereas I will be at a much more typical institution.

    My own taste is for premier brand, impractically small, impractically loud colored bags, so it cannot be overly relied upon to come up with a decent work bag - I'll save it for the more subtle stuff like shape and hardware details :smile:
  8. I'd aim for something high quality, and under the radar. Look at Clare V. Very little branding, good quality & value--I believe everything is still made in the USA. Roots is another company to consider. Canadian.
  9. Do you like Smythson? I see there's a sale on. I love the Nina Ricci satchels, but they might be too delicate for your needs. Alexander Wang's Rogue is not so refined looking, but also appealing. It's utilitarian & a little edgy, but not as obvious as a Bal. Congrats on the job!
  10. I'm going to be a PhD student starting next year and have wondered / worried about this.
    I have asked several different PhD students and profs about this (along with other things about attire) and it has varied based on the school. It seems the students and profs at religious institutions and in smaller towns or in the US Midwest were most likely to say that people never carry anything branded / designer. People at schools in the west coast, in larger state schools, etc said there was more variety. So I think you may want to get on campus with a plain bag and scope things out a bit. Hopefully you've landed where it's a premium bag runway and you can feel comfortable wearing what you want. LOL!

    That being said, I'm coming at this a little differently than I think you are because I am going back to school after having been in corporate America for a while. So I'll be older than most students. And this will give me a teeny bit more leeway to be a bit different as it will make "sense" that I may have some nicer things than most students who may have never worked and be living off a stipend or family support.

    I plan to carry a lightweight backpack and my smaller designer shoulder bag/crossbodies. My backpack will not be designer - it will be lightweight, durable, functional and able to be thrown around without me caring about it. My handbag however will be premium designer because that what I love. I'll compromise by wearing the "quieter" ones (no monograms or Chanel double C's.) knowing I may have to take the "hit" because some narrow minded idiot begrudges me wearing my own property. I want to work to fit in but I can't pretend to be the stereotype of a college kid with no money. That would be kooky.

    Many things can change between now and graduation but I expect that once I get out of school and start as a baby prof, I'll do as I did in the latter years of my corporate career. I'll carry a neutral, durable, practical leather tote for my laptop, folders and papers. It will be something that can be thrown on the floor or under an airplane seat. Coach, something from Wilson's leather or just about any decent quality unbranded brand would be fine for that. Along with it, however, I'll carry the premium bag that coordinates with my outfit. If that is Chanel or Dior, so be it. And I won't say a word when another prof zooms away from campus in their expensive sports car. :smile:
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