You Ask, We Answer

Ask The Backseat Stylers: Fashionable and Functional Work Bags for a $1,000 Budget

Our lovely reader Amy K. tweeted us a while back asking for recommendations for a work bag for a $1,000 budget, and we promised her an entire blog post of answers. Though it took us a little while to get our act together (sorry for the delay, Amy!), we think she’ll forgive us, because not only did we search high and low for our own best recommendation, we also consulted 5 fashion industry insiders for their picks as well.

The most fashionable and functional work bags from an editor, a PR maven, a fashion blogger, a lawyer, an on-air television style expert, oh and little old us? It doesn’t get much better than that. Read on for to-die-for handbags from Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander, Mackage and more.

P.S. Consider this the launch of a brand new blog series. Got a style dilemma? Email or tweet us with your question, and we and a fresh new band of industry insiders, a.k.a. honourary Backseat Stylers, will tackle it in a blog post just for you!

AYA MCMILLAN, Fashion Writer, Editor & Digital Media Consultant

Her pick: Sophie Hulme’s signature leather tote, $1,050 at SSENSE

Why she’s loving this bag: ”I fell for Sophie Hulme’s designs when I saw them in London a few years ago. They’re beautifully crafted and offer just the right amount of gold hardware. It’s ideal for work because it’s essentially a feminine take on the briefcase – it’s roomy enough to carry all your office essentials (i.e.files, a laptop, ipad and a pochette), it holds its structure, is surprisingly lightweight, and comes with a strap in case you want to go handsfree. All in all it’s the perfect balance of brains and beauty.”

Follow Aya on Twitter: @AyaMcMillan

AMY BURSTYN-FRITZ, Managing Partner, Knot PR

Her pick: Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM Damier (Ebene), $1,060 at

Why she’s loving this bag: “I’m almost always on the go and need to have a bag that can accommodate my nomadic lifestyle. This Louis is so versatile, a great neutral for pairing, and, true to name, it really is like the Mary Poppins bag. If you dared to dig inside (mine), you would find a wide variety of items; from flats to heels, Aveda makeup and Dannijo costume jewellery to transition from the office straight to client events; my laptop and/or iPad for working anytime, anywhere; my workout gear and a Nola Bar to keep me energized!”

Follow Amy on Twitter: @AmyBurstynFritz

ANITA CLARKE, Software QA Lead and Fashion Blogger

Her pick: m0851 City Tote, $400 at

Why she’s loving this bag: “I’ve been a huge fan of Montreal based m0851 for a very long time. Their bags are made in Montreal and are very affordable. The City Tote has everything I’m looking for in a good functional and fashionable bag. It has to be a cross body body style as they are the easiest to manage. The City Tote comes in neutral colours but they aren’t too boring. The Heath Grey is my favourite option. Size is important too, this bag is big enough to carry a laptop and the essentials. Finally the price is great for the value. You get a great Made in Canada handbag using luxury leather.”

Follow Anita on Twitter: @geekigirl


Her pick: Jil Sander Navy drawstring duffle shopper, USD$901 at Feathers Fashion

Why she’s loving this bag: ”If you thought the lawyer was going to suggest a rolling suitcase, think again. Neither structured nor staid, this tote pleasantly defies convention as a work bag. The unique drawstring closure gives you the option of fully or partially cinching the opening, depending on the weather and what you are carrying, and also hints that you know your way around a boutique as well as a boardroom.”

Follow Anjli on Twitter: @bluechipfashion

AFIYA FRANCISCO, Style Expert – Global, CBC and Creative Director, The Style House

Her pick: Coach Classic Duffle in British Tan, USD$398

Why she’s loving this bag: ”I adore the simplicity of this duffle – no logos, no embellishment – just understated chic. A zippered top is handy when travelling about and, while British Tan is my fave, you can’t go wrong with any of the classic shades. An iconic design, this piece only gets better with age. For under $400, as a functional work bag, I don’t think that you can do better.”

Follow Afiya on Twitter: @TheStyleHouse

Our pick: Mackage ‘Raffie’ tote, $450 at

Why we’re loving this bag: When we first heard word that one of our favourite outerwear brands was venturing into handbags, we were stoked. We knew only highly covetable and very well made bags could come of it, and we were right. The Raffie tote is the perfect size for everyday, and can be held, worn on the shoulder or across the body. It doesn’t miss a beat on the style front either; we love the unique silhouette and buckle details. It also comes in 3 equally desirable colours, black, white and sand.

Image Credits: Amy Burstyn-Fritz by Jenna Marie Wakani; Anita Clarke by Brittany Lucas.  

Red Carpet

Admiring from the Backseat: Golden Globe Awards 2013 Edition

Kate Hudson in Alexander McQueen

Golden Globes 2013 turned out to be quite the night! Honourary Backseat Styler D joined us for this year’s festivities and we spent the evening critiquing the red carpet fashions, accusing each other of cheating in the GG pool, and playing Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s Golden Globes drinking game. Lots of controversy, to say the least. So much so, in fact, that we couldn’t even narrow the best dressed field down to 10.

While the red carpet as a whole left much to be desired, favourites like Kate Hudson in Alexander McQueen, Anne Hathaway in Chanel and Julianne Moore in Tom Ford were shoo-ins. Ladies in red Jennifer Lawrence (in Christian Dior) and Naomi Watts (in Zac Posen) also made the cut, as did Kerry Washington in an embellished Miu Miu frock. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley looked drop-dead gorgeous in a bow-adorned Saint Laurent gown, while Julianna Margulies and Michelle Dockery both took risks with their Pucci and Alexandre Vauthier gowns that paid off.

The final spot in our top ten best dressed of the night was a toss-up between Rachel Weisz in a sheer, polka-dotted number by Louis Vuitton (S’s pick) and Katharine McPhee‘s revealing Theyskens’ Theory dress (T’s pick). Rather than settle the issue via a breakdance fight, we decided to expand our list to 11 and call it a night.

Who were your best dressed of the 2013 Golden Globes?

Anne Hathaway in Chanel

Naomi Watts in Zac Posen

Julianne Moore in Tom Ford

Kerry Washington in Miu Miu

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Saint Laurent

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Red Carpet

Admiring from the Backseat: 10 Best Red Carpet Looks from 2012

Diane Kruger in custom Nina Ricci at Cannes International Film Festival

From awards shows to movie premieres to fashion parties, it’s been quite a year on the red carpets. We saw new sartorial heroines emerge, like Jennifer Lawrence during her Hunger Games promotional tour, as well as established greats like Michelle Williams and Diane Kruger continue to bring their A games. With stunning look after stunning look to choose from, selecting a short list of the 10 best dressed of 2012 was a near impossible task. With much deliberation, we finally settled on the 10 that made our jaws drop and raised the red carpet bar.

What do you think of our top 10 best dressed of the year – did we nail it, or did we miss some of your favourites? Do tell!

Ginnifer Goodwin in Monique Lhuillier at the 64th Prime Time Emmy Awards

January Jones in Zac Posen at 64th Prime Time Emmy Awards

Jennifer Lawrence in Christian Dior Couture Fall 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival

Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton at 2012 Academy Awards

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Red Carpet

Admiring from the Backseat: Oscars 2012 Edition

Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton

Finally, the fanciest, shmanciest night in Hollywood arrived tonight, the 2012 Academy Awards! Fess up – you were glued to the tube for all 17 hours of Oscars red carpet and awards ceremony coverage like us, weren’t you? No need to feel ashamed about it. We too oohed and aahed over Michelle Williams‘ coral Louis Vuitton gown, cheered for Jessica Chastain‘s best red carpet outing to date (in Alexander McQueen!), and felt those pangs of jealousy over how hot Angelina Jolie looked in Atelier Versace.

All of our favourite leading ladies stepped up their sartorial game, just as we’d hoped. Rooney Mara wore a colour other than black for once – white Givenchy, in fact. Gwyneth Paltrow continued to rock the sleek, minimalist gowns, choosing a white Tom Ford for the occasion. Stacy Keibler - whom S still can’t believe has gone from WWE wrestler to George Clooney arm candy – donned the only Marchesa gown we’ve ever loved.

Rounding out our top 10 best dressed list were Emma Stone in red Giambattista Valli couture (how funny was her bit with Ben Stiller?), Rose Byrne in a black sequin number by Vivienne Westwood, Milla Jovovich in Elie Saab couture, and Natalie Portman in vintage Dior (from 1954!), carrying the Charlotte Olympia ‘Pandora’ clutch S so covets. They too seemed to have gotten the memo that red, black and white would be the colours for Hollywood’s biggest night out.

Who were your Oscars red carpet favourites?

Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace

Gwyneth Paltrow in Tom Ford

Stacy Keibler in Marchesa

Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen

Emma Stone in Giambattista Valli Haute Couture

Rooney Mara in Givenchy Haute Couture

Rose Byrne in Vivienne Westwood

Natalie Portman in vintage Dior

Milla Jovovich in Elie Saab Haute Couture

xx, T & S

Images via Just Jared, Celebuzz

Red Carpet

Admiring from the Backseat: Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton at Independent Spirit Awards

It’s the Academy Awards tonight, and because that isn’t enough awards ceremonies for one weekend, the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards were also held yesterday. A decidedly less formal affair, the purple carpet fashions would have been completely unnoteworthy if not for Michelle Williams, who donned an incredibly chic shorts suit for the occasion. Yes, you read right – shorts!

The two-piece look is from Louis Vuitton‘s Pre-Fall 2012 collection, and it suits Michelle’s often whimsical style to a tee. Her accessories, an Olympia Le-Tan The Catcher In The Rye book clutch (I need one of those!) and Fendi platform bow pumps, took the ensemble to the next level.

I cannot wait to see what Michelle and her stylist Kate Young have up their sleeves for the Academy Awards tonight. Might she top that gorgeous canary yellow Vera Wang gown from 2006, my favourite Oscars look of all time? I can’t wait to find out!

Louis Vuitton Pre-Fall 2012

xx, S

Images via TFS, Style Rumor

Retail Therapy

Coveting from the Backseat: Louis Vuitton Fall 2011 Metal Collar Necklace

I adore peter pan collars. They’re a whimsical touch to any blouse or dress, and I always find myself drawn to pieces with them. Sure, they’re on the cutesy side, but I’m not a stranger to the girly outfits. For those who are, however, Louis Vuitton has taken the peter pan collar and kicked it up several notches on the fierce scale this season. How? By transforming it into a to-die-for metal collar necklace.

The verdict? Need, want, have to have.

xx, S

Image via tooklookbook

Red Carpet

Admiring from the Backseat: Mila Kunis in Louis Vuitton

I have a thing for white dresses in the summer and the one Mila Kunis donned for the Friends With Benefits photo call in Moscow this week was no exception. The Louis Vuitton frock looked lovely paired with fierce snakeskin Lanvin pumps and a scruffy Justin Timberlake. Kunis has been on a roll since that Oscars dress earlier this year and, in ensembles like these, she’s sure to be unstoppable.

xx, S

Images via TFS

Red Carpet

Admiring from the Backseat: January Jones

Everyone has their own quirky style rules, and Mr. Backseat Styler has always had one that I disagree with – that black and blue should not be worn together. To him, black and blue is as offensive as pink and red is to some. Well, Mr. BSS, it seems I have evidence to the contrary. Or rather, January Jones does, because she looked absolutely fabulous in a black and navy ensemble last week at the Louis Vuitton and Vanity Fair cocktail party in Beverly Hills. The look was perfection from head to toe and the colour palette incredibly chic. I’m now dying for a pair of navy high-waisted pants – anyone else?
xx, S

Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 Campaign

I have to admit that initially I wasn’t all that excited about Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2010 collection for Louis Vuitton, but I suddenly find myself head over heels in love with the campaign. Steven Miesel’s stunning shots of Christy Turlington, Karen Elson and Natalia Vodianova have me wanting to put my Balmain-inspired military duds away and dress like a lady again. I’m also lusting for a LV bag, a feeling that’s eluded me for quite some time now. I might just have to run out and get me one of the latest reinventions of the Speedy.
xx, S
Red Carpet

Admiring from the Backseat: Kate Hudson


This is a red carpet look that you’ll either love or hate. A poncho on the red carpet might sound ridiculous to some, but I’m of the opinion that this Louis Vuitton Pre-Fall 2010 cape transcends carpet colours. Worn yesterday at the premiere of “The Killer Inside Me” at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, Kate Hudson takes a risk that pays off in spades. Her hair and makeup could use some work, but who’s looking up there when there’s such a fab cape in sight?

xx, S

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