I am a hoarder of all things, not least of handbags. I’m forever buying beautful bags and then finding that actually the one I was already using is more useful/comfortable/practical. The best solution would clearly be to use my pink Berghaus rucksack for work just I like I do in “real life”, but it doesn’t really fit in that well with my office image :)
For work I think there are some basic requirements which a bag needs. One is to be pretty spacious as I need my umbrella, wallet/phone/keys combo plus a cardigan or scarf, hairbrush, tissues, gum, lip balm and painkillers. In addition I often pack my mini flask of coffee, maybe a snack or even some lunch, maybe to drop off at the postbox, a music player, and who knows what else (knitting, notebooks, maps, assorted gadgets, penknife, kitchen sink, you get the picture). It must fit onto a shoulder or shoulders, I used to be fine with bags to hold in my hand but since having some RSI problems it isn’t comfortable. Oh and they need to shut at the top to keep the rain out!
Pretty bags are a complete non-starter, they quickly get dirty and often are designed for looks rather than strength. I’m not geeky enough for a briefcase and anyway since I don’t carry papers its completely the wrong shape. I have one I use for intervews and rectangular just isn’t useful! On dry days I have a largish turquoise coloured bag with two sections and handles long enough to put them on my shoulder and tuck the bag under my arm (just). My other favourite is a black leather (actually plastic) record bag which at least keeps most of the water out and looks good with my suit.
I am constantly changing between handbags though, and leaving things behind in the old one! It doesn’t help that I don’t dress remotely smart at weekends and there’s also a weekly office dress-down day to complicate the issue. Maybe I will just give up and go back to the rucksack – it worked when I was a student – what do you think?