Stylish mummy: Diaper bags for a FTWM

I didn’t really think too much about diaper bags until my last trimester. Then one recent afternoon I realised that as a FTWM (that’s short form for Full Time Working Mum, as opposed to a SAHM – Stay At Home Mum) who plans to place baby in an infant care centre near my workplace, my daily work bag once I go back to work will probably not be my usual work bag, not when the interior is made of suede.  But can I carry a diaper bag to work?  A quick browse through the usual flowery/printed bags from most brands that absolutely screams “DIAPER BAG!” left me quite horrified. Thus began my search for a practical yet chic/stylish/professional looking diaper bag that won’t make me gag… and I thought that it might be helpful to jot some of the choices in a blog post for any mummies who have a similar ‘problem’.

[Ok, so I realise that this is not a usual problem for many mummies in Singapore who can split between a weekday ‘work bag’ versus a weekend diaper bag e.g. if their parents/maid are taking care of their kids for them. But since I foresee that I will also have to bring my kid along for dinner after I pick him up from infant care after work, asking for a dual purpose bag (or more?) that doesn’t look bleh is fairly reasonable IMO. I mean, I don’t think I have enough hands to carry two bags and a baby while taking public transport… 🙂 But yeah, first world problems… ]

The first candidate after much browsing of reviews on Amazon was the  Skip Hop Versa Diaper Bag:

Skip Hope Versa 1

It ticked nearly all the key criteria that I had in mind for a FTWM diaper bag, i.e.

  • No flowery/loud prints (at least not for the black one that I picked)
  • Practical waterproof material
  • Lightweight (who needs a bag that is already heavy when empty right? This bag weighs 1.4 pounds or approx 0.6 kg)
  • Stroller straps (which is why I think that retro-fitting a Longchamp with a diaper bag insert may not work that well…)
  • Loads of pockets (even comes with a changing mat!)
  • Highly rated by fellow mummies
  • Affordable
  • Safe (BPA Free, PVC Free, Phthalate Free, etc)

So off I went to order one online (since I didn’t spot this bag in any brick n mortar stores). But what I didn’t count on was (i) how much I disliked the gold hardware on the bag (if only it came in silver hardware!), and (ii) how far off from a usual designer bag this looks like… but hey, at a fraction of a designer bag price I really can’t complain. Plus this bag is super lightweight, so I can still see myself carrying it if aching shoulders demand that. By the way, I only considered the black version but it really comes in a range of colours/prints (graphite, cream links, khaki and bronze).

Ok, and on to full blown panic mode now that I realise it really isn’t so easy to find a diaper bag that I can imagine carrying to work (and not feel kinda depressed/deprived). And since I’m in my last month of pregnancy, I really don’t have much time left!

Loads of research later, these are the candidates that I’d considered but rejected eventually due to a gamut of reasons ranging from the practical (too heavy/need more practical straps/pockets don’t look well designed/need to look a bit more professional to carry to work, etc), emotional (just not my style/colour/type of bag), and budget (erm, mostly cos I can’t imagine stuffing soiled items into a bag that costs a good 4-digits). But here they are in case they work for you…

First the usual suspects… diaper bags from well known brands (both luxury and mid-range), or ‘baby bags’ as they are called by these brands (sounds more glam perhaps? Haha):

  • Gucci – Only if you like the monogrammed to death look… plus the designs look diaperish to me compared to their other usual designs, a problem that quite a few luxury brands have…
  • Burberry 
  • Prada – Umm… can’t get away from the thought that if it’s made of nylon anyway why don’t I just order a cheaper not-so-branded version instead of paying for the logo? But there are some really good reviews given for this bag.
  • Rebecca Minkoff 
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs (MBMJ)
  • Coach – I usually hate their monogrammed to death look, but was surprised by how luxe and understated the Black Saffiano Leather (#26353) one looks. Looks heavy though, and as with all diaper bags from luxury brands, not sure how practical the design is. Wouldn’t mind popping by the store to have a look IRL though (yeah I am tempted)…
  • Kate Spade – The Stevie seems to be a commonly used bag (at least in Singapore), but the handle just doesn’t seem very practical. I just think that with babies you probably need more carrying options like both shoulder and cross shoulder and not just a shortish handle.

Anyway here are some eye candy…

 

Then we have the diaper bag specialists (in no order of preference):

And my final choices (yeah, that’s plural)…

The Singapore Sling from Tribe (Midnight, silver hardware):

Tribe-Singapore-Sling 1

I have to confess that I probably have a thing for leather bags … cloth, nylon or PU/faux leather just doesn’t do it for me.  Plus I can actually imagine myself carrying it to work. Only concern was the weight… so when I found out that Tribe had a booth at a baby fair, off I went to try the bag IRL.

Ok, so it’s not the lightest (I’m a fan of really light bags) but it’s ok. The sales lady said it’s about 1.5 kg… maybe I’ll try weighing it one of these days. And then it seems to come with all sorts of practical features. Plus it’s a local brand (I’m patriotic?), won a UK magazine award (the Junior Design Awards 2012’s ‘Best Changing Bag’) and was carried by Gisele Bundchen. Oh, and it was offered at a really good price at the fair too (actually, the bags are also on discount online but the Midnight was shown as out of stock online. They had limited quantities at the baby fair tho). 🙂

And then just cos it was at such a wonderfully attractive stock clearance price at the fair, I couldn’t resist swiping the Orchard Tote from Tribe (Midnight, silver hardware). Figured that I can always use it as a computer tote if I don’t use it for diapers:

tribe orchard-tote-midnightsilver

And the folks at Tribe have made wonderful visual guides (click on pics to zoom) for both bags that I really like. Think all diaper bag makers should have such guides – makes geeky parents/mums happy. 🙂

Tribe-Singapore-Sling 2Tribe-Orchard-Tote 2

Ok, so that’s like two bags at one go ya? Which means that I already have THREE diaper bags, even before the little one pops out.  So there is absolutely no reason for me to go for a fourth diaper bag, which I’ll sorta shamefully admit that I did…

But I just couldn’t stop thinking obsessing over the Lily Jade diaper bags. The Caroline and Madeline seem to be the latest “IT” diaper bag on the blogsphere, probably thanks to many generous giveaways, but it does look gorgeous. Plus the really practical design means that the bags will have a life long after a diaper bag is no longer needed, since each bag comes with a detachable, washable Baby Bag organiser. So remove the organiser and you just have a gorgeous bag to use.

So I obsessed for a while over whether I like the Caroline or Madeline better, difference being that the Madeline can be fully zipped up and can also be carried as a backpack (i.e. three ways to carry the bag, shoulder, cross body or backpack) versus the Caroline which has a magnetic button fastening and can be carried over the shoulder or cross body.  In the end while I kinda liked how the Caroline looked a bit more, the practical side of me that thinks spilling bags and pickpocket targets isn’t the way to go won. So the Madeline it is.

Then just cos I loved how lush the Brandy colour is, I was on the fence about getting yet another black bag (hey, I like black and it goes with everything in my wardrobe – cos it’s mostly black!) or to opt for Brandy. But again… black won the day. So here’s my fourth bag:

Lily Jade Madeline 1

So yeah, that’s the long story of how I finally got not one but four diaper bags even before baby is born. Didn’t realise that the bagaholic in me in so strong. Oh well…

P.S. All pics are credited to the respective bag makers.

P.P.S Just in case you are wondering, all opinions are my own, and I wasn’t paid to endorse any of the bags (yeah, I paid for all four of my bags).

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