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Books and Boots Gift Guide: Treat Yourself with a Purse or Bag

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

A pile of black leather bags with the words Tote Life written across the top. Also, hot pink hearts were drawn along the side.

Holiday shopping officially begins today, so be sure to check out my Books and Boots Gift Guide for indulging in a nice bag or purse.

Hubs is the household shopper. He’s got his coupons, his deals, his promo codes, and has been keeping his eye on many Black Friday offerings since…. June.

I sent him a link to not one, but two bags from Coach. One from the outlet and another from the primary store.

He said, “They have the first one you sent me marked down. That’s the better deal. You should go with that one.”

I responded, “You misunderstood. This is a “yes, and…” situation, not an either/or situation. I want them both.”

And after a quick back and forth about who would actually be paying for these bags, we landed on him doing the hunting and I would do the purchasing and hopefully everything would arrive before Christmas.

No surprise, I love bags.

The holidays are the best time to make investment bag purchases because of the deals and offerings available for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and just the “It’s Christmas, dammit, I’m buying myself something nice.”

Books and Boots Gift Guide

While I would love to be the type of woman walking around carrying the “It” bag of the season, that would not fit my lifestyle.

The number one thing I need from a bag is durability.

I need something that is going to take me from the sidelines of Behr’s football game to the classroom where I am lugging around folders and devices.

I carry a lot of things, so it needs to be able to withstand the weight. I also spill coffee on everything, so it needs to be able to handle spills.

The one bag that 100% fits the bill for everywhere I need to go …

The Longchamp Tote.

It’s large, sturdy, waterproof, and chic. It can hold a 17” Macbook as well as my large planner. It’s also waterproof, which is good because I have spilled coffee on it many, many times.

Even though this is the bag that fits my everyday, sometimes I need a handbag, something small enough to run around town, something big enough for a wallet and a phone, and something a little nicer to go to dinner, church, or just not carry around the Big Mama bag.

My favorite:

The Kate Spade Quilted Chain Handle

When I purchased this one at the outlet, I unpacked all the stuffing and reloaded it with all my items. It can hold my wallet, a small planner, a phone, a lip balm, a hand sanitizer. My only complaint with the chain bag is when I put it down at church, the chain hits that pew with a crescendo of a rain stick, disturbing to those getting their prayer on.

My wish bag this year is the Coach Soft Tabby

I have held it in my hand at Macy’s but I have not purchased it yet. Real talk: that’s a lot of money for me to spend on a bag. But this is a bag that I think will serve my purposes – it’s classic, sleek, small but not tiny, and would be suitable to go anyplace I’m likely to hang out.

I’m praying for Hubs to work his points and miles discount magic and get that price down for me.

Teaching bag

I have been using my Longchamp for my everything bag for a while now. And why not? It’s damn near perfect. But considering that I have carried it to the point where I had worn holes in the bottom and had to replace it with a new one, maybe I needed a bag specifically for work.

I’ve been eyeing several crossbody bags to wear on campus. It’s part of my Trent Crimm professorial look.

When I started teaching I found a great crossbody slim brief in brown and black leather at the Fossil outlet. It is the perfect size for a large planner and a tablet. The reason I stopped carrying it was because it was too small for the laptop I was issued on campus.

I purchased a Ralph Lauren black tote, which was large enough for all my teaching needs. The problem, it was so freaking heavy. Once my office was relocated from the building where I was teaching, to a different one ¼ a mile away, every ounce counts. The Ralph Lauren was shelved and I used the Longchamp instead.

Now I am trying to live a teaching life without lugging a laptop at all. I drug out the Fossil and have used it the past two weeks. It’s easier to walk around a college campus with a crossbody than a tote. Sometimes I worry that I look like a pack mule with all my bags hanging off me, but c’est la vie.

Last week, I had to carry printouts to my students and that stack of papers slid into the Fossil bag perfectly. I felt like I was a character in a Dark Academia novel.

On my wishlist this year is a Sydney Messenger from the Coach Outlet.

If you are considering an investment piece this here are my tips for purchasing a bag:

  • Visit the showroom. I have fallen in love with bags online only to be disappointed when I saw them in person. Go to the store and see if all the things you really need will fit in the bag. Alert a salesperson that this is what you are doing so they know you are not the most brazen shoplifter in the world.

  • Don’t buy something you don’t want because it’s on sale. That’s how they get ya! In all honesty, I am not someone who likes to hunt. I don’t feel victorious when I see something normally set for one price but I got it for a lower one. I don’t even look at a sale rack if I can help it. I just want what I want. Hubs helps me find one for our budget.

  • Look at the brand’s policy for warranties or guarantees. Some brands stand behind the quality of their products where they will offer a lifetime warranty or a limited lifetime warranty. If they stand by their products, they’ll post on their website whether they offer repairs or replacements. Once I emailed Fossil because my bag broke, and while they could not repair or replace my bag, they offered me a hefty rebate which allowed me to replace the broken one and purchase another one as well.

  • Outlet shop online. Many brands have outlet stores, and they also have websites specifically for their outlets. And many of those outlets are available through savings programs like Capital One Shopping Portal, or Rakuten. For example, on Rakuten, I can get 10% cash back from the Coach Outlet if I purchase on their app.

  • If you are purchasing online, measure it. While websites are pretty good about showing you what should fit in a bag, nothing beats a good tape measure. A 17” laptop will never fit in a 16” bag no matter how much I love it.

  • If you don’t love it, return it. Return policies have improved. Sometimes all you have to do is show up at UPS with a QR code and they will wrap it for you. Review the return policy before you click “buy”.

Remember, while Christmas is for caring and sharing, sometimes it’s also an excellent reason to treat yourself. It’s a great time to be your own Santa.

Read Books. Wear Boots.




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