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3 Commuter Bags That Make Even the Wildest Day a Breeze
09.16.19

In partnership with MZ Wallace.

I just sent a text to my best friend with a simple request: Tell me everything that is in your car right at this moment. Please.

Her response, after about an hour, went as follows:
1:42: Sorry had a lunch meeting
1:43: So, in my car: definitely 3 open water bottles, the old license plate from my previous car, 2 inflatables from vacation, a random empty cardboard box, a bag with 6 books I need to donate, at least 2 pairs of shoes, a folder with choral music from the choir I joined for 3 months and quit

I’ll be honest, I knew what kind of answer I’d get when I shot off that seemingly random text. When I went to visit her a few months ago, I spent our ride back from the airport just quietly taking stock of all the things in her car, completely surprised, confused, and delighted by the myriad stuff she could just keep there for whenever she needs them. What a way to live! As one of the 4.3 million New Yorkers who commute by subway every day, I have come to embrace the fact that for me, my bag is my car. It routinely gets me from place to place—work to yoga to party to bed, etc.—all without a pit-stop at home. It holds my lunch and books, and while I haven’t tried to fill it with post-vacation inflatables, never say never.

Once you have said bag, life is breezy. But finding one that can get you from point A to point Z as effectively as it would catch a random street style photographer’s eye is about as easy as finding a parking spot during a blizzard in a permit-parking only neighborhood (or so I imagine?). Enter MZ Wallace—offering up the style-forward yet mind-blowingly useful commuter bags that five-cups-of-coffee-day dreams are made of. Here, market strategist Elizabeth Tamkin plays matchmaker between MZ Wallace bags and a few typically atypical NYC itineraries.


A Super Social and Culture-Filled Sunday (All While It’s Threatening to Rain)

MZ Wallace Top Handle Backpack styled with Frankie Shop cardigan, 7 for all Mankind shorts, Everlane shirt, Simon Miller shoes, SVNR earrings and Mr. Larkin scarf

Where she’s going: Absolutely nowhere before 1pm, then her neighborhood park, an apartment two train-transfers away, a coffee-shop that turns into a performance venue, and then a dance party.

What she’ll need: An umbrella, wine (x2), books, pens, a notebook, water bottle, manchego and crackers, “sensible” shoes

You can carry the Top Handle Backpack as a tote if you’re feeling footloose and fancy-free, or square on the shoulders to keep your hands at the ready. It’s surprisingly storage-friendly, like if Mary Poppins’s carpetbag went to grad school. It can handle a brisk walk to the park, a birthday party across town on a close acquaintance’s patio (BYOB of course) and a very serious poetry reading that turns into a dance party after (also BYOB of course). It’s the ultimate commuter bag as it keeps everything in place, even if you have to run, and lies flat as you load things in and out. Keep a pair of statement shoes in your backpack and change right before you run into an event. That is, if you go out at all.

Networking, Housewarming, and Keeping Up With a Stylish Friend

MZ Wallace Parker bag styled with Mrs. Jones dress, Simon Miller shoes, Kule blazer, Pura Utz and Wolf Circus necklaces and La Manso rings

Where she’s going: A chic restaurant in the busiest neighborhood in Manhattan, an apartment one simple ferry ride away, then straight to the top of the corporate ladder (eventually).

What she’ll need: A crowd-wowing dessert for dinner, a blazer that says ‘hire me,’ four lipstick options, and a can-do attitude.

Hot tips first: If you’re looking to take your day bag to a chic night look, wrap a scarf around the straps. The quilting of the Parker bag makes it great for dressing up or down. If you spent the early evening shaking hands and taking business cards, this bag is all business. Ready to breeze through a room with effortless panache, the bag can be just as whimsical as you are. Need to wow a dinner party crowd? Stick a babka in your bag, it’s a genuine crowd-pleaser. Consider this your formal invitation to feel wildly successful both professionally and sartorially.

Closing Deals and Chugging Coffee on the Train

MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote styled with Frankie Shop suit, Bandier tank top, Adieu shoes, Jenny Bird necklace and La Manso rings

Where she’s going: A conference room at a startup, a conference room in a super-corporate building, a conference room at a university—all via MTA.

What she’ll need: Confidence and caffeine. But also a lunch, her pitch deck, her computer for notes, some calming lavender spray, a novel for the bus, an extra shirt in case she spills the aforementioned coffee on her shirt, more sensible shoes.

The coated lacquer of the bag takes it from something you just use to something you want to show off. Pair the bag with a power suit for a strong monochrome look or opt for a pop of color to play with contrast. From one big meeting to another to another to another, traverse three of the five boroughs with nothing but an MTA card (for environmental reasons but also just to save some extra cash) and everything you need for those meetings in your Medium Metro Tote. A healthy lunch, a binder full of serious business, and a laptop are nestled gently together with a little room to spare. Go get ‘em tiger!


As I flirted with the idea of just sending my best friend an MZ Wallace bag to simplify her life, my phone dinged.

2:05 Oh, there’s probably 3 granola bar wrappers in my cup holders, too
And like some gum wrappers. And pairs of earrings
But that’s the most of it. 😂

When it comes to getting you from place to place, event to event, a good bag can make a train commute a breeze, the secret glue that holds any good day-to-night look together. If necessity is the mother of invention, then the right bag is a stylish step-mother encouraging you to think about what you’ll really need for the day ahead. Why limit yourself to one car (and endless granola wrappers) when you can tailor your vehicle to your every need? I’m thinking it’s time to start your engine.

MZ Wallace
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Styling by Elizabeth Tamkin; Photos by Sabrina Santiago.

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