Today is the second Monday in October, which means it is Thanksgiving Day in Canada! Happy Thanksgiving!
However, this year, today is also October 10, which means it is Handbag Day! I didn’t realize before now that the event was actually created by the PurseBlog (I do post very occasionally in their forum) in 2013.
I have posted a little bit about handbags on my blog, though it’s obviously not the main subject at hand. But my latest handbag has got me pretty happy and excited, so I’ll review it today.
I’m writing this on Thanksgiving morning and am hurriedly trying to get it written up before anybody comes over—so please forgive any typos. I’m pretty tired from staying up to witness last night’s big TV event:
I think my brain melted from some of the incoherent sludge I heard, but I think I should be OK to do a little write-up about a handbag!
I received my J.Crew Signet Bag last week and have been using it nonstop. It’s the perfect size and style for everyday shopping and errands.
I did an initial write-up about the bag here, so please check that out for additional details.
The bag came perfectly packaged from J.Crew:
The bag’s dimensions are, according to J.Crew: 6-1/8″H x 8-3/8″W x 2-3/4″D.
The style is a rounded rectangle, typical of the classic camera bag. Its approximate 4:3 ratio of width to height is ideal to me for this style. I am not as into the camera bags that are more square or run too wide.
The shade I chose is Roasted Chestnut, as I always love a cognac brown to go with practically everything (I’m not usually much of a black bag girl). It comes with a red key fob for a little contrast.
In sunlight, I think the Roasted Chestnut can look a tad orange-y, so it’s not perfectly neutral. Indoors, it takes on a slightly yellow ochre tone. It’s not the ideal cognac brown I would have selected myself if I were dyeing the bag, but overall I don’t mind it. It’s still nice and goes with a lot of other colors.
The visible stitching on the around the zipper, and on the back and ends, is white, which initially annoyed me slightly—particularly since the bag has tonal stitching elsewhere (on the strap, the leather on the front where the key fob attaches, and on the key fob itself). However, after looking at it a bit, I’ve decided it looks fine and gives the bag a little bit more detail that tonal stitching would not have done. It’s a pretty plain, unfettered style, so it can handle some subtle detailing.
The quality of the leather is good for the price (US$128/CA$168), which puts it in Fossil territory. I think the leather used is generally comparable, though I have more experience with various Fossil leathers, and only this single J.Crew bag.
Since the leather is just thick enough to not feel cheap, the bag ends up being quite lightweight: good news to those with shoulder or back issues, or who just don’t like a heavier bag.
The leather on my Signet Bag has a very slightly spongy feel and a matte look. It has a pebbled texture but it isn’t glossy and smooth like some other pebbled leathers I have. I generally prefer a slight gloss to my leathers, since I feel it makes them a bit more durable and protected against stains and scratches—I’ll have to see how this bag takes prolonged use.
The 24″ long adjustable strap is 9/16″ wide and 1/8″ thick. I’m only 5′ tall, so I do find the adjustable strap slightly long for me even on the shortest setting. I plan on going to a cobbler to get a couple of extra holes punched into the strap so I can more comfortably wear it on the shoulder. As it is now, I can wear it fine as a crossbody, particularly if I have a jacket on, but if I’m just in a T-shirt then it will hang a touch lower than I would like.
My only other complaint is that I wish the strap was a bit wider, but I suppose the current width is better for aesthetics, and for pricing. I’ve read that leather straps, especially longer crossbody straps, are more difficult/expensive to manufacture than you would imagine!
One feature I really love about this bag is its hardware! Hardware is one of my favorite aspects of a bag, and J.Crew has done a very nice job here. The hardware all appears to be good quality metal, even the zipper. (Some even more expensive bag brands are guilty of using plastic zippers, ugh.) Again, J.Crew matches up with Fossil quality in this regard. The main zipper on the Signet Bag is so smooth! I’ve actually had high end bags come with metal zippers that are so stiff and hard to pull, so this was a really nice surprise. It’s like buttah.
The bag comes with a key fob which attaches to a loop on the front. There’s a small brass lock that is normally attached to the opposite end. You have the option of removing the key fob and lock, and using them to lock the bag closed. It’s not something I’d really do, and it’s a bit fussy to do it, but it’s cute nonetheless.
Finally, despite the bag’s smaller size, it holds quite a lot! This is partly because the top zipper runs a little down each side, as well, making the opening much larger:
I can fit my large continental flap wallet inside fairly easily, and it still fits a cellphone and keypurse, with plenty of room to spare for lipbalm, tissues, a compact, and whatever else you might want to carry. (My wallet is in the photo above, but it’s sitting too low and it’s purple, so it’s difficult to see.)
The inside of the bag has a flap pocket on one side and a zip pocket on the other:
The jump ring on the zipper for the zip pocket isn’t closed properly, which annoyed me a little. I’ll have to use my jewelry pliers to close it so it doesn’t snag on anything.
On the outside, the back of the bag also has a pocket where you can conveniently keep id/transit cards or what have you. It is closed by a magnet, though, and I haven’t tested it to see whether the magnet is strong enough to demagnetize a card. (In my experience, most bag magnets aren’t strong enough to do this, but I have had the occasional one that does. Eek!) I feel like this particular magnet is middling-strength—it’s hard to unclasp the magnet with one hand, but it’s not crazy strong like the one on my Marimekko tote bag that demagnetized my Oyster card when I was in London.
I’ve used the bag almost every day for a week, now, and I have to say it is so easy and comfortable to wear! The super-easy-to-use zipper is probably my favorite functional feature. It’s also very easy to get in and out of, so it’s ideal for shopping when you have your hands full (in my case, a stroller with a baby and a toddler, aaargh!).
My overall verdict, after one week of using this bag, is that at this price you absolutely can’t go wrong with the Signet Bag. The only other mass market competitor I can think of that matches the price point and quality is Fossil, and Fossil’s bags, while lovely, tend to run a bit more rugged in style.
J.Crew’s bag is also completely logo-free, while Fossils will sometimes have a small, discreet embossed logo.
Should these bags go on sale in the future, I’d be sorely tempted to pick up another in a different colorway!
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Handbag Day!
Eat pumpkin pie and carry a handbag in good health.
The J.Crew Signet Camera Bag retails for US$128/CA$168. It is made in China, from Italian leather.
J.Crew is an apparel retailer. Its predecessor was a door-to-door women’s clothing business, Popular Merchandise, Inc., which was founded in 1947 by Mitchell Cinader and Saul Charles. They introduced catalog sales in 1983, and by 1989 they changed their name to J.Crew. The company has changed hands a few times, and is currently private. J.Crew is based in New York, NY, USA.