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My go-to purse, originally purchased from Madewell about two years ago, has gone-done bit the dust. I’m on the hunt for a nice-ass, black leather, everyday crossbody bag (with a zipper) to replace it with. Preferably one that will last more than two years (I paid $100 for that mess) and cost around $200 or less. Haaalp. —Beca, Atlanta
Believe it or not, this is probably one of the questions we get the most. (Okay, well, maybe not your exact question, but some version of it.) It’s also one that I can personally identify with; for me, a black everyday bag that goes with everything is an absolute essential.
I’d suggest skipping affordable mass retailers like Gap and Madewell and starting your search at two direct-to-consumer brands that make great accessories: Cuyana and Everlane. Both offer relatively high-quality bags for the price in simple silhouettes that blend well with any style and don’t call too much attention to themselves.
On the smaller side, Cuyana has this crossbody pouch for $115, a zip-around crossbody in pebbled black leather (with a tassel!) for $150, and a mini saddle bag in smooth and pebbled black leather for $195. If you want to go a little bit bigger, check out the small carryall tote for $185; it has a top handle and a removable crossbody strap, as well as a gold zipper at the closure. (The large version of the saddle bag might be a little cuter, but it’s over your budget at $295.)
Everlane has fewer options that meet your criteria, but one seems perfect: the foldover crossbody. It’s made in Spain with smooth Spanish leather and features two gold zippers to an interior pocket for $150. The size seems pretty ideal for everyday use, and most reviewers agree.
Another DTC label we love, Paravel, is about to come out with leather bags, including a cute black crossbody. They don’t launch until mid-November, but keep an eye on the site if you don’t mind waiting.
If you’d like to go for something less ubiquitous, you’ve still got a bunch of options available to you within your budget. A reader in our Racked Facebook Lounge recommended the label Neva Opet out of Atlanta; the brand has several crossbody purses, including a very cute (and trendy!) circle bag for $150. Nashville-based brand Nisolo (which also makes pretty excellent boots) has a nice, structured crossbody bag for $158. It doesn’t have a zipper at the opening, but it does have a magnetic closure and an interior zip pocket.
And the Brooklyn-based accessories brand Baggu has a few, too. The brand’s simplest crossbody purse is $140 and features a magnetic closure and an interior zip pocket. There’s a mini purse in black leather for $120 that does have a zip-top, but it might be a little smaller than you’d want for a new favorite purse. My favorite might be the Lens crossbody bag for $160, which is a little funkier but will fit all the essentials.
And last, but certainly not least, the item you’re most likely to find in any nice vintage store: a vintage black crossbody bag by Coach. They’re available in all kinds of shapes, but I most frequently see the style with a front flap and gold twist closure. These are guaranteed to last longer than two years, because they’ve already made it through 20-plus years and are doing fine!
You can probably find one for super cheap at your local vintage boutique, but if not, they’re also all over the internet. A quick search on Etsy revealed over 2,700 results; this one for $60 is a pretty good example of what I’m talking about.