Disclaimer: I totally used the clone stamp tool on that picture. No, not on the bag, but on the bird poop that was on the bench.
Second disclaimer: I struggled with whether or not I should post this, but I had written well over a thousand words about a bag, so I’m going to let it free, if only because perhaps you are brown leather tote obsessed like me.
I have a lot of opinions on brown leather tote bags. In fact, there’s a chance that if you’ve carried one in my presence in the past year or so, I’ve been able to identify the brand and the model, and I’ve asked you how you felt about your Madewell Transport Tote or your Fossil Sydney Shopper.
I’m not generally that concerned with clothing or shoes or bags. But since I’ve started teaching at OU, I’ve made a real effort to not look like one of the students. Generally, I think I’m doing a good job with my pencil skirts and open cardigan combos, but when I’m in the copy room, there’s still some older professor that comes in and reminds me that students can’t be in the copy room. Then, I have to explain what I teach and who I am, and this professor will skeptically walk away. So, part of my desire to research brown leather totes has been so I can have a professional-looking bag that holds everything I need and doesn’t make me look like a student. (Though, to look like a student, I’d need to wear Lululemon leggings and a baggy t-shirt every single day.)
I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve put more research into brown leather totes this past year than I have into anything else. But this is what happens when you are out of school and you feel like you need the perfect bag. You use those research skills for everyday applications rather than determining the sociopolitical significance of a literary work, or determining the grand scheme effects of the digital divide.
So, this being the case, I didn’t make my brown leather tote purchase lightly. Momentarily, I considered buying a faux leather tote from Old Navy or G.H. Bass. I touched one in both stores, and knew that wasn’t going to be an option. I lightly pulled on the handles of the bag in the Bass store, and watched as the stitching almost instantaneously ripped the weird plastic-like material. Generally, I’m not against cheap bags and I own a few myself. But my brown leather tote would need to be a bag that wouldn’t abandon me in my hour of need. I live in fear of the moment when I’m walking the quarter of a mile to my car, and suddenly the strap of my bag breaks, leaving me to walk the rest of the way, cradling my bag like some sort of broken baby.
No sir. Mama wasn’t having that.
Because of this fear, I knew I wanted a sturdy brown leather tote with rivets that secured the handles to the bag (which knocked Madewell and Fossil out of the running) and I also knew I wanted a pretty sizable handle drop (sorry ’bout ya, Whipping Post) so I could still throw it over my shoulder even if I had multiple layers of clothing on. I looked through Etsy, but none of the sellers had pictures of their brown leather totes in use, which made me uncomfortable purchasing one of their bags since I didn’t know if it would hold up under the sort of duress I wanted to put it through.
Note to sellers: Stage your products better. Sure, that brown leather tote looks great just nestled next to some potted succulents, but literally no one buys a leather bag to nestle it next to some potted succulents. I need to see what the bag looks like on the shoulder of a human, preferably the shoulder of a human who is wearing a coat, because the armpits of coats have a real negative effect on one’s ability to toss a tote on the shoulder. Also, please show me what kind of laptop you can shove in that bag. And how many trade paperbacks will fit in there. And journals and notebooks. And water bottles.
Seriously. I’m buying the brown leather tote to use it. I want to know that it can be put through its proverbial paces. And I really carry a lot of crap.
(I realize I just have a picture of this bag sitting on a bench. But I’m not trying to sell it.)
I’d been eyeing the Chic Sparrow Rustic Tote for a while, but wasn’t sure. Even though I’m a super fan of Chic Sparrow notebooks, I didn’t know if the bag was going to be THE bag. (Clearly I turned my need to research a purchase into some sort of neurosis. I couldn’t just make the purchase. I had to ask every last possible question anyone could ever ask about a brown leather tote.)
I took myself to the Chic Sparrow Fans group on Facebook. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this group, because I love Chic Sparrow products and finding out about sales before the general public, but man. If you put a lot of people together on Facebook, they tend to get ugly. So, if you can handle hordes of grown-ass women complaining that the owner of Chic Sparrow gives preferential treatment to YouTubers, then you can handle this group.
I posted a question in the group, asking if anyone used their Rustic Tote to carry a laptop and textbooks, and how the bag holds up under that pressure. I got a lot of unhelpful comments from non-bag owners, telling me to measure the stuff I wanted to carry and to compare those measurements to the bag’s measurements. But I knew it would all fit. I was asking how it would hold up. Then, a woman told me all about how her daughter puts rivets on airplanes and if rivets can hold airplanes together, then they can hold a bag together.
I’m sure Chic Sparrow uses airplane rivets on their brown leather totes, and that no one has ever recorded any wear and tear on the Rustic Tote’s rivets.
(I have since left the group. I feel like I can enjoy my Rustic Tote and traveler’s notebooks more when I don’t have to interact with other humans.)
On Cyber Monday, I finally pulled the trigger on the Rustic Tote. And overall, I’m very satisfied with the buy. It’s a great bag that I can carry to campus. I needed a professional bag that didn’t make me look like a student and a bag that wouldn’t be too heavy if I needed to run into CVS or the grocery store after work. Sometimes I feel like it isn’t big enough, though, truth be told, I probably need to stop carrying around so much crap. That having been said, if Chic Sparrow ever makes a larger tote, I will be the first in line to buy it. And if that extra large tote could be made of the Outlander Jitney Red leather, well, I’d be one happy camper. (Also, I’m pretty sure that the Rustic Tote leather and the Outlander Jitney Red leather are the same thing.)
But I digress.
It’s been almost three months since I bought the bag, and I’ve used it as a laptop/book bag for work and as a carryon when we went to Universal Studios. I’ve carried it in the rain. I’ve set it on the floor of restaurants. Rosie has scratched the hell out of it when she jumps on me when I come home. And it’s still as good as new. Though, admittedly, it no longer smells like brand new leather, but Robert Frost did say, “nothing gold can stay.”
So, tell me about your brown leather tote. Do you have a hella professional bag you take everywhere? Let me know in the comments!