Buy It: Zara tote

Even though I was in San Francisco back in September, I felt like I didn't spend quite enough time there, so I decided to book another trip out west...the week Hurricane Sandy hit NYC. Great planning, Cheryl! But after 48 hours of obsessively checking the JFK departure schedules—and a near-miss with my car service, due to the citywide gas shortage—I miraculously made it out, just in time for the most beautiful weather I've ever experienced in SF. I spent my first two days catching up with old friends, eating, drinking, walking around in the sunshine, going to Napa, and drinking some more. But then Sunday morning I found myself in a strange situation: I had no plans. So I thought, what would I do on a Sunday morning if I actually lived here? I took a walk to Sightglass Coffee in SoMa (good, but I still prefer Blue Bottle), sat outside and ate a croissant in Yerba Buena Park, then drifted over to shops in Union Square, which were miraculously open at 10 a.m. on a Sunday (I love the early rising that happens on the West Coast). I wandered into Zara, which made me feel a little like a traitor, since San Francisco has such great locally owned stores, and god knows we have Zara in NY, but, hey, I'm only human. There is so much awesomeness in Zara right now (like this skirt and this top, both of which I've already purchased this season), but what really caught my eye this time were the tote bags. Now, in a perfect world, my Balenciaga arena bag would be large enough for everyday use, but considering it barely fits my wallet, sunglasses, iPhone, keys, and a tiny makeup bag, it's best for weekend use. Also, it should be noted, I carry around a ton of crap during the week. I need a big-ass tote, the kind that can hold all of the above, plus a magazine, an iPad, a sweater, maybe an extra pair of shoes, and my planner (yes, I still use a planner). To make a long story short (too late!) there are all manner of fabulous totes at Zara right now: huge, real leather, and under $200. My favorites have faceted studs; yes, they are heavily inspired by a designer that begins with Valentin and ends with o, but, sorry, I'm not going to spend $2500 on a bag and then put my lunch inside it. Instead, there's this studded black tote for $149, a sexy leopard-print haircalf tote for $189, an equally hot red version for $159, and for the less flashy, this understated classic tote for $149. I wanted to buy all of them, but instead decided to wait till I was back home. After all, I had another leisurely afternoon of drinking ahead of me; sometimes the best way to spend money is sitting outside, sipping Negronis in the sunshine with friends.

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