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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.