Tag Archives: under $200

Chop Style: Messenger Bags

It recently occurred to us than since we now own a laptop, we’re going to be in need of a bag in which to carry it if we want to take it with us next time we go a-traveling. After all, the TSA is good for more than just groping your grandma and stealing your souvenirs… they also excel at breaking electronics.

We didn’t want to end up with something that looks more like a big, ridiculous piece of luggage, and we’re not too keen on briefcases either, since no one is mistaking us for a businessman anytime soon. So a messenger bag makes for a natural choice.

Besides, we’re also seriously considering buying a bicycle when we come back in May, so a decent messenger bag may end up serving double duty by toting a computer, as well as keeping hands free on a bike. With that in mind, and since we’ve already gone on record as saying fuck leather, we’re probably going to end up with one of the following options. Fendi and Ferragamo they ain’t, but they’re all solid choices for getting around Charm City.

Ben Sherman canvas messenger: $89.

Ben Sherman

We like this Ben Sherman bag, but probably not enough to buy it. We’re mostly including it here because we like the brand and it’s a solid choice for anyone on a tighter budget. It’s probably not worth its price tag, but is likely better than anything else you’ll find at that price. On the plus side it’s well designed and neutral, appearing both modern and classic at once. The downside is that you’re looking at cheaper construction and material than is ideal. The lower grade cotton canvas may fray or open up, and we’d bet the faux-leather lining won’t last long at all. $89.

Fossil 'Ranger' messenger bag: $168.

Fossil ‘Ranger’

A lot of people give Fossil no love, deriding their stuff as cheap, trendy, what-have-you. We’ll grant you that the watches and clothing leave a lot to be desired, but compare this bag to the Ben Sherman above and you’ll see immediately what an extra $79 buys you.

The leather here is genuine, and covers the whole bottom of the bag. The strap is made of the same canvas as the body, as opposed to woven nylon. The closure is mechanical, and not the magnets found on the Sherman or the velcro on even cheaper bags. The interior comes with a dedicated laptop pocket (which is the whole point of this post, eh?) as well as standard zip and slip pockets and is lined with canvas. The Sherman bag has ‘multi-function’ pockets and is lined with…??? Again, maybe not Louis Vuitton caliber, but a very solid bag for the money. $168.

Jack Spade wool felt snap messenger bag: orig. $335.



Jack Spade

Update: The website is now showing this bag as ‘unavailable’

Wool marks a big step up from canvas, and this 80% wool blend, leather lined number from Jack Spade is (ahem) almost worth its ridiculously high price tag. Lucky for us, it’s been marked down significantly, and Jack Spade is offering an extra 25% off even on sale items with the online code 25off until 1/17/11. That’s enough to make it very competitive price-wise with the brands above. We’re kind of torn between this and the also-on-sale soft waxwear folded messenger which is made of waxed canvas and is actually cheaper than the Fossil with both discounts. Wool: $335 $175.88 Canvas: $255 $133.88.

Commuter Bag by Sketchbook.

Sketchbook ‘Commuter’ Bag

Finally, we come to our only option that’s not made in China. A Twitter follower turned us onto the shop of Etsy seller Sketchbook yesterday, and we’re suitably impressed. The design suits us both aesthetically and practically, and you’ve got to love anything that’s 100% natural. Nothing in here but wool, cotton, leather and steel. You’ve got to cut out a hell of a lot of middlemen to get something of that kind of quality for this price, but that’s the great thing about an Etsy find. We imagine there are few things more satisfying than having someone ask ‘Who made your bag?’ and answering ‘Amber Jensen from Minneapolis.’ Plus with a current availability of one item in each color, you can’t get much more exclusive. $140

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Chop Style: Best Boots Under $200

After a few fits and starts, it’s about to turn genuinely cold and gray here in Baltimore. Leaves are falling, rain is falling, and soon enough there may even be snow falling. Add that to the year-round hazards that pedestrians encounter on Charm City’s streets (glass, chicken bones, strip club flyers), and it’s clear that your stylish summer shoes just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

You need a pair of boots, Baltimore. But maybe you’re afraid to pull the trigger? You want something you could shovel a few inches of snow in, if it came to that, but they’ve also got to serve for everyday wear. Hell, you might even want to throw them on under a suit for the odd holiday party that’s bound to pop up. Clearly, not just any boots will do.

And you probably don’t want to spend a fortune either. Don’t worry, the Chop’s got you covered. We’ve scoured the net and narrowed it down to half a dozen solid choices, all of which are high on style, suited for winter wear, and at or below $200. It’s hard to go wrong with a basic black Chelsea boot, but when you want to step it up a bit, you might consider one of the following options:

Fratelli 8012. $99 at Zappos.com

Fratelli 8012

We’ve got kind of a love/hate relationship with zappos. You’ve got to look through a lot of crap to find anything that looks good, but once you do, it looks like this. These Fratelli’s are unconventional in a lot of ways. They’ve got buckles, which we’re not usually a fan of, they’re cut low on the ankle for what they are, and they’re blue (but available in 3 other colors). Somehow they pull it all together though. They may not be the ideal choice for everyday wear, but they’re definitely going to stand out. $99 at Zappos.com

Mataalii Wingtip boots: $150 at Aldo.


Mataalii wingtips

Wingtip boots are having a moment right now, and we’re all for it. Make sure you’ve got the stones to pull these off though, because they’ll be in your closet for years to come. Don’t worry about it; they’re definitely going to wear well with age, and after your first winter in them they’re going to look a lot less dandy and a lot more pedigreed, which is as it should be. $150 at Aldo

The Denver Boot: $160 at Banana Republic

The Denver Boot

We’ve got a soft spot for Banana Republic, and when they offer things like these boots, it’s not hard to see why. Their Denver boot is tough enough for most anything, and genteel enough for a garden party. Swap out cleats for the uppermost eyelets and hide a zipper inside the ankle, and they’ll even kick off easily if you happen to be lucky enough to escort someone home from said garden party. Now that’s good design. $160 at Banana Republic

Brinley cap toed boots. $185 at Johnston and Murphy.

Brinley cap toed boot

Perhaps you like the wingtip boots above but you’re not ready to commit to the style? A cap toed boot provides a nice middle ground. It’s every bit as classic, but not quite as ostentatious. Once you’ve outgrown your floppy old chukka boots, you may be ready for their grown up alternative. These particular boots are also refurbishable, which few shoes are nowadays (and even fewer under $200) So if you like them, you can literally keep them forever. $185 at Johnston and Murphy

Frye's Arkansas mid-lace boot. $198 at Macy's

Frye’s Arkansas mid-lace boots

If you’re planning to actually work in these boots (whether in the backyard or at an actual job), Then Frye’s got the boot for you. An American company with all the heritage and quality of a Red Wing or Carhartt, Frye’s Arkansas boots are a pretty rare find: a genuine, bona fide work boot that actually looks good enough to wear out on the town. They’re even made right here in the good old US of A. $198 at Macy’s.

Bed Stu 'Post' boots. $200 at Nordstrom.

Bed Stu ‘Post’ Boots

If Frye is something of a throwback, then perhaps Bed Stu is what we can get used to in the 21st century. A lot of talk about humble roots and honest work and good design and quality materials, from a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters who design in some charming old salvaged warehouse building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, but send those designs overseas to be produced and shipped back. Pair them up with an established national high end retailer who wants to foster something of an ‘artisan’ or ’boutique’ feel, and you’ve got fashion’s dominant business model moving forward. This may or may not be an overly jaded view, so we’ll put it aside and look at the boots themselves.

Yeah. Those are pretty fucking nice boots. $200 at Nordstrom’s

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