Perfect Tote Bag Under £100?

The handbag is most obviously the most sculptural of fashion accessories: unlike shoes (which tend to stay when put on the feet) or hats (which meld with the face) the handbag can just as often be spotted on its own set down on a table or chair as it can be seen swinging from its owner’s arm. 

Shape, structure and silhouette are key qualities of any handbag which if doesn’t impersonate its owner then surely adds up a unique twist to the owner’s image. This is precisely why when choosing a bag – let’s face it: it’s never easy. Simply because with any bag you’re looking to buy you’re also looking to fulfill that little new you, to help you express yourself in a new way, fast yet noticeable one.

Tote bags are seemingly simple additions to anyone’s new wardrobe: firsly these are extremely functional, practical, let’s say your daywear’s best option fit by purpose to be your all-carriers. 

With that in mind we’ve set ourselves a new challenge this Sunday: to ‘scrape’ London’s high street in search for ‘The Perfect Tote under £100!’. 

It turned out secret shopping got extended from a planned couple of hours to an almost all afternoon: sacrifice had to be made which in my case was to give up sunbathing on an extremely hot and therefore rare sunny week-end in London:). The results came worthwhile though. Few filters I’ve had on my mind before starting the journey: to find the leather yet durable tote, aiming to fit most of daywear looks (so the colour schemes had to be pretty unpretentious: pastels, creams or the ever-classy black or thereabouts). 

Ta-dah! Enough talking:). Have a look at my proud outcomes below:

Firstly I’ll admit it: I’ve started my journey from the aspirational Harrod’s ‘corner shop’ hosting the most luxurious pieces under one glossy roof. Was I expecting to find any leather totes under £100? Not quite, yet I’ve given it a go:

2014-08-03 13.38.42 HDR

Now that’s a choice from (as you can tell by the label) – Christian Dior, a 4-digit number piece to dream for and make one aim high to earn to then a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y get it : the queen of wardrobe’s temptations! Not to meantion – a pleasure to hold it:). Please welcome the ‘princess’ below – the coquette mini-version:

2014-08-03 13.34.31

I’ve then headed down Knightsbridge street along the way where I’ve spotted a sale at Russel & Bromley. There the below 2 colourful and very soft-leather-totes have sprung up from the ‘crowd’:  

2014-08-03 13.47.09 HDR

Mind you, indulging ‘momentum’:

2014-08-03 13.46.15 HDR

As you can see none of the above choices would come near the proposed benchmark of £100 (despite the above sale), although you might have noticed: the lovely green tote was discounted twice – from £210 to £165 to then £145, so pretty good deal if you’ve got a higher benchmark there:).

I carried on though since the goal hasn’t yet been achieved: finding a quality (preferrably leather) tote under £100. So I’ve headed over to Oxford Street – directly to the hub of multiple brands: John Lewis department store. First couple of totes that came about where in a good shape, overall pleasant look and feel from Fiorelli: coming under budget at £89 yet couldn’t find anywhere on the price tag saying it’s a leather fabric:

2014-08-03 14.21.13

I’ve then got distracted by the irresistable DKNY ‘red-head’ coming just under £220, still not in the proposed price bracket though:

2014-08-03 14.24.07

So the ‘secret mission’ continued on the next floor where I’ve come across the lovely leather tote, soft and nicely palpable from John Lewis’ own label (the only remark I’d have is around the shape – it’s a bit too wide at the top and slightly shorter than usual minimizing slightly its initial glam look especially when looked at from a 2-meter distance). Given the good quality of the fabric this can be skipped since the price is showing just under £70 – so very much a ‘yes’ on this ocassion!:

2014-08-03 14.49.59

I’ve then had a quick look at +Topshop where an entire ground floor on its label Oxford Street shop is dedicated to baaaags, a few of which have well-appealed to me, particularly the below totes from Paul’s Boutique, however the price tag was just over £110:

2014-07-30 13.26.35

Another interesting range I’ve then spotted at American Apparel, where good quality leather bags (in an awesome & comfy shape) was priced at £120:

2014-07-30 13.09.20

The more I’ve walked around the less straightfarward it was to come across a suitable tote under the price tag I’ve been aiming at so I’ve found myself next at River Island where the only leather tote I’ve stumbled upon laying on the shelf was the below (coming just under £90):

2014-08-03 15.05.37

First impression: a defo autumn-winter choice, a no-go for summer given the hard leather fabric and the slightly gloomy colour matches, so I’ve then turned to a rather more cheerful version, a non-leather one and so – a much cheaper choice:

2014-08-03 15.05.55

Here you go – on a cheerful note I’ve ended my secret shopping journey on Sunday with a few take-aways: sadly on a high-street £100 wouldn’t be enough to secure loads of freedom of choice when aiming for a good quality leather, yet durable tote. With that in mind – there’s always the next journey I’d gladly advice you to take: an online one:). 

Anyone got similar experiences? would be great to hear thoughts & tips,

Stay tuned for more,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 + 16 =