Grad-Gifts

Yesterday, it came to my attention that today is spring graduation at my alma mater, the University of Georgia, which marks four years since my own advent to the real world. At the time, I was carrying a 2007 Balenciaga bag that I had bought with my own money (from my very glamourous college job selling appliances and TVs at Best Buy), and I remember panicking a little bit when met with the prospect of what I should carry to a job interview. I had a bunch of fun options, including my bright purple Balenciaga (which I still have and carry), but nothing that screamed, “Hire me to do things for your company in spite of the sluggish economy!”

My solution? I went out and bought a cheap, businesslike interview bag and portfolio that I promptly got rid of once I landed a job. If you’re the mother, grandmother, aunt or big sister of a soon-to-be college grad who’s about to make her way into a daunting job market, you can help her out. We’ve picked some essential accessories for new grads, all under $1000, that will help her wrangle everything from her laptop to her resumés to her first set of business cards. Check out our picks, after the jump.


First things first: The Tory Burch Norah Large Satchel might be the perfect work and interview bag if you’re looking for a job in a more conservative industry. It’s neutral, reasonably sized, sports only the tiniest of hidden logos and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Most importantly, it looks sleek and professional. $525 via Neiman Marcus.


I remember my first business cards very clearly; receiving them was one of my proudest moments as a new member of the workforce, and it made everything seem very official. Once the grad in your life gets hired, she’s going to need something like the Smythson Textured Leather Card Holder to store hers. $280 via Net-a-Porter.


It’s downright difficult to find a stylish portfolio to hold actual papers (as opposed to an iPad) these days, but the Coach Crosby Leather Portfolio Envelope is exactly the thing a grad needs to carry her resumes when attending interviews or job fairs. $298 via Coach.


If your grad just can’t stomach carrying a neutral bag (and I feel you, because I’m not that great at it either), then something sleek and traditional in a bright color, like the Kate Spade New Bond Street Hadley Tote, is her best non-neutral bet. $319 via Nordstrom.


If I were shopping for my own work bag right now, the 3.1 Phillip Lim 31 Hour Bag would be the one I’d buy. It’s roomy enough for your laptop, contains no logos at all and is black with a white flap or white with a black flap, depending on which way you hold it. We may know it’s an It Bag, but it’s far enough under the general cultural radar that no one else will. $795 via ShopBop.


Everyone needs a good wallet, and the zippered styles like the Proenza Schouler PS1 Zip Wallet are my favorite because they hold everything more securely than the alternatives. This is a gift that a grad can use for years to come. $560 via Proenza Schouler.


If you’re giving to a grad who’s starting her handbag collection from scratch, something like the Marc by Marc Jacobs Francesca Shoulder Bag is a good first step. It’s not fragile or overly expensive, it can be carries both to work and on the weekends and this particular shade of brown-tinged gray goes with literally everything. Perfect! $540 via Net-a-Porter.


On the other hand, if your grad already has a bag that will work for during the week, what better treat than a sunny weekend option like the 3.1 Phillip Lim Lark Duffel? (Yes, there are two Phillip Lim bags here. I cannot overstate how perfect his accessories are for stylish young women in their 20s.) $875 via Neiman Marcus.


And of course, one thing that any new grad needs is a chic set of stationary on which to write thank-you notes. For graduation gifts, for their favorite professors, for people who take the time to interview them for jobs (even for those who don’t end up hiring them). A hand-written card like those in the Lanvin Airmail Card Set can set a young job-seeker apart in a dreary market. $95 via Net-a-Porter.

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  • RR

    I have the Francesca and I do love it.  The leather is incredibly soft and it fits a lot of stuff.  Great mom bag actually.  Recently I’ve been hoping to switch jobs (fingers crossed!!!), which got me thinking about interviewing. The Francesca, which easily holds by Macbook air, is not ideal because it does not sit.  I was thinking of the PS1 large keep all but so far the idea of purchasing another expensive bag has held me back.  The Tory Burch option may work – I’m not sure it would fit my Macbook?  The price point is certainly better.

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      The Tory Burch bag should hold your MacBook Air easily! I have a 15″ MacBook Pro and got out my trusty tape measure to see if even it would fit (we consider ourselves a full-service blogging operation here), and at about 14.5 inches wide and 9.5 inches deep, I think it would. The bag itself is 16 x 10.5, so an Air or iPad should be perfect inside of it.

      • RR

        Thanks!

  • 19yearslater

    Great choices! The thank you notes idea is great.

  • Ale Semenov

    The fucsia wallet is my favorite so far
    http://www.deliciasedelicinhas.blogspot.com.br

  • http://withloveshmon.wordpress.com/ monica

    they’re all appropriate but who can resist a phillip lim?

    withloveshmon.com

  • Laurakasbaum

    I love that stationary set! So cute!

  • http://www.tumblr.com/fraumu Annina

    I was thinking about this problem a couple weeks ago… graduating in october (europe..)! I was thinking about the celine luggage tote though, because it’s sort of classy and adult-y and it stands up straight, right? I know it’s expensive but as a present to myself for being such a good student (haha). What do you think – is the luggage tote a good idea for work? Or would you think it’s too heavy maybe?

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      After a bit of usage, my Celine Luggage Tote actually didn’t stand up on its own anymore, although I think mine was made out of softer and more pliable leather than the one’s I’ve seen recently. As for whether it would be a good idea for a recent grad, that sort of depends. If you’re going to be taking public transportation to work, I’d suggest something that can hang on your shoulder. If you’re going to be working in an industry where people are generally well-paid and/or stylish, I’d choose something a little more discreet. The Luggage might not be logo’d, but I think it’s become popular enough that in certain industries, someone is probably going to notice it. Being a 22-year-old with a $2400 hard-to-find bag at her first job could potentially give people the wrong impression about you – that you’re frivolous, spoiled, etc. It’s not a fair judgment, of course, but it’s one that I’d try to steer clear of at the outset of your career until the people at your new job see that you’re smart, hardworking and a good addition to the office.

      • http://www.tumblr.com/fraumu Annina

        Thanks so much for your answer! I always thought of the luggage tote as more of a working bag. To me it seems too big and heavy to just carry around town while shopping. But you are probably right and I didn’t think of the fact that you can’t carry it other than on your arm. Carrying a notebook, wallet, papers, etc. on your arm might get annoying (and again heavy!) after a while…

  • Vaishna Shah

    This is a 

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      Prada can be a little tricky for work because of its highly recognizable logo, but if you’ve been at your job for a bit and you feel comfortable with your coworkers or have carried expensive bags before and gotten no negative reactions, then I think Prada is a great pick. The brand offers lots of options that are chic and businesslike, and if you don’t have to carry files or your computer back and forth with you, that one’s very nice and should be versatile. If you really want a tote, though, wait a few months and save up the extra money. I’m a firm believer that it makes more sense to spend 1200 or 1300 on something you really love than 900 on something that you think makes a good alternative. 

  • Lynnie

    Could you also do a feature on graduation gifts for high school and middle school graduates too? I would love to see your picks!

  • Saaraneth

    I’m graduating in 1.5 weeks and I bought myself a Kate Spade Bow Bridge Helena! Despite the huge bow I like to think it’s interview-appropriate…! Well my friends have been loving it at least XD

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