Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Weekend Haul: 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target Black Tote with Gusset

What to do when you finally get paid...hmmm...RETAIL THERAPY!

Hello Beauties!

Pardon the slightly blurry quality of the first picture- it's from my Instagram account (follow me!) and no amount of editing could make it any sharper. So here's a quick update on my life that sort of explains this purchase....other than it being one of most coveted designer collaboration bags...but I digress. I moved back to DC after taking the month of August off to relax after the hellish and exhausting experience of taking the Bar Exam. I started a fellowship at an incredible non-profit that does great work and that means.....meetings, meetings, meetings. I find myself carrying folders upon folders of our publications and research, my laptop, legal pads, highlighters, pens, business cards, my portable hard drive, my makeup bag....well, you get the point. I end up carrying my entire life to any given meeting. What does that mean? I need a nice, sturdy black bag that is both functional and stylish. Being a professional hardly means you have to sacrifice your personal style. Now let's be honest- I would love to walk into Prada, Fendi, or Chanel and snag myself a classic black tote and be on my merry way. Is that really feasible on a Fellow's salary? Hell no. You prioritize, make a mental note that you will one day own a bevy of fabulous bags, and move on to find something more affordable. So what did I decide on? The fabulous 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target line, of course. 

I took a look on Target's website for the black tote with gusset and FELL IN LOVE....but it was not available online....or available at my closest Target. Why? I was about three weeks late in jumping on that bandwagon. I noticed on Instagram that people were mentioning that bags were available on eBay. That search yielded bags that were being sold for upwards of $200! The bag costs $54.99 at Target! So, eBay was a no go. I expanded my store availability search on Target's website and found that a Target in Maryland had limited stock. After consulting with a friend on whether I should act on my impulse to go all the way out to Maryland to get this bag (thanks, S!), I made my out there on Friday evening hoping the store updated their inventory online and actually had these in stock. 

Well, long story short, I got there after a rather interesting Metro and bus ride (!) and walked to the special collection area....and saw nothing. No bags. My stomach sank. I was in a strange town and it was getting dark and I had to walk all the way back to the Metro station AND WHERE IS THE BAG?! I took deep breath and walked over to the accessories section and quickly walked through the aisles, frantically searching for the tote. I turned the corner into the last set of bags and, hanging there all by itself, was the LAST TOTE IN THE ENTIRE STORE. If I seem like I'm being dramatic, it's because that's exactly how this ridiculous shopping trip went down. I'm pretty sure the employee stocking the pantyhose behind me was a little concerned with my frantic marching through rows of bags, muttering to myself, "you better be here...you better be here" under my breath. Anyway, after I inspected it to make sure it was in good shape, I finally made the purchase and made it home in one piece. 
Enough ranting about my crazy shopping experience- let's get to the review!

The bag's dimensions are 15.0" H x 4.0" W x 21.25" D. The shell is made of polyurethane and has a cotton liner. 

My initial thoughts when I saw the materials it was made of online were not so positive. I looked up a few other reviews to see if it was sturdy and well made, even if it wasn't made from the most expensive materials, and I found largely positive reviews. Honestly, this is the type of bag you have to see and feel in person. The online description....leaves much to be desired. However, in person, the outer material feels nice- it's smooth and soft. It doesn't have that weird sticky feeling that some bags made of polyurethane tend to have. It's quite pliable and is actually a pretty good imitation of how a leather bag feels and moves. Also, this might be weird, but I HATE how some low end bags smell. You can smell the chemicals in the material. Not the case with this bag, thankfully. Believe me, I took a good whiff of it just to make sure. 

The structure of the bag is surprisingly good- very sturdy and nicely shaped. The bottom of the bag has a nice weight to it with lovely gold feet on the corners. 

The front of the bag has this beautiful pocket detail with a gold magnetic closure. I did find a few reviews that said this outer flap was crooked or the top metal piece didn't sit properly on the bottom half. I don't really have any problems with mine- I think the hollowness of the pocket and the shadows that creates might give the illusion of it being crooked. I stared at the pocket on my bag much longer than anyone should stare at a bag and it looked fine to me. 

Love the gold details!!

The picture above is a great close up of the quality of the material too. The graininess of the shell mimics real leather quite nicely and gives the illusion that this bag is more higher end than it really is. 

Gusset Zipper Close-up
The gusset zipper detail is really lovely- very reminiscent of the insanely popular Céline luggage totes you see all over Instagram (and, of course, the high end 3.1 Phillip Lim collection). Since I don't have a spare $3,000 to spend on those lovely Céline bags, I'll settle for the gusset detail on this one.

Here's what I really love about the bag: the ridiculously spacious interior. As large as the bag appears on the outside, it's even bigger on the inside. The best part is that it doesn't add any bulk to the bag or take away from the structure. It's spacious enough when the sides are zipped up, but when you open up the sides the inside is even better! Not only is the interior wide, it is really deep....perfect to lose everything you put in this bag and have you dig around for your keys for a solid 10 minutes. The fire alarm went off in my building yesterday and I shoved my 15" macbook pro, the charger, my portable hard drive, my gigantic wallet, my phone, my keys, and a water bottle and it was barely full.

The interior has a zippered pocket on one side and a double pocket on the other side. Both sides have tabs at the top where you can clip your keys, change purse, etc. All of the zippers on this bag are wonderful and zip smoothly without getting stuck or snagged on anything. 

Fits an iPhone easily!
 I am obviously in love with this bag, but I do have some gripes with the finishing of the edges. In the pictures above, you can see a loose end of the stitching sticking out from the side. The seam itself is finished; the end of the thread is sticking out though. I found the same problem along the top of the bag too. While the general finish is nice and even, the little threads drove me nuts.

The seams are nicely finished...but if you look a little closer....

You see these suckers here...

and here!!! ARGGGGHHH
Ok so this problem was easily solved with a quick snip of my manicure scissors. Still, when I saw them, I was a bit annoyed. Now that they are gone, I am much happier :) One other potential problem I see is the magnetic closure on the front pocket. If you're not careful with it, the two pieces scuff each other if carelessly flipped shut. Nothing too noticeable and this type of wear and tear happens with higher end bags too. 

So, after my ridiculous adventure and using this bag at work today, this bag gets high marks. When I carried my laptop in it, the handles remained sturdy and didn't seem like they were buckling with the weight. I got so many compliments on it today, that it was totally worth the trip and my hard earned money. If you can still find it in your local Target store, I highly recommend it!

Final verdict:  4.5/5 

1 comment:

  1. It's me, your enabler! But a reasonable one at that, I'd like to think. :)
    Awesome post, I'm glad your adventure paid off! xo