I don’t travel anywhere without this bag—here’s why
Lo & Sons is as stylish as it is practical.
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When it comes to purses, I tend to be all or nothing. I’m either filling a tote bag to the brim with “essentials” like three-month-old receipts, or shoving my credit card into my pocket and calling it a day. It’s a system that’s tolerable most of the time, but when I’m traveling? Forget it. Organization mode: engaged.
I discovered the Lo & Sons Pearl leather crossbody bag several years ago, and it’s been the personal travel companion I never knew I needed. This sucker has been everywhere from Scotland to Hawaii—thrown onto floors of cafes and public transit, shoved into seatback pockets, you name it—and it still looks like new. Sure, the leather has some slightly worn spots by the corners, and I’ve spilled who knows what on the interior fabric, but it’s still something I’d carry to a nice dinner without hesitation. Here’s why I’m such a fan.
So many pockets
I bought the Pearl crossbody online before I ever saw it in person. While I was hesitant to drop almost $300 without even touching it, I was convinced that the design would be perfect for me after watching a video on how much could fit inside. The main fabric-lined compartment measures 9.5 inches wide (enough to fit an iPad), 6 inches high (to the three closing snaps), and 2 inches wide. Because I feel so secure with the other pockets, and not closing the bag’s main compartment allows more to fit, I rarely use the snaps. I’ve been known to fit a sandwich and a Kindle in the main compartment together without issue, which also makes it great for a workday commute, as long as you’re not toting a laptop.
Within that compartment is a small zippered pouch perfect for feminine products, lipstick, earrings, bobby pins, elastics—anything you want to keep secure. There are also two non-zippered pouches I use for my phone, headphones, charger, sunglasses, a mini crossword puzzle book, or other items that I want easy access to.
But the real gems are the two padded zippered pockets on either side of the main compartment. Each the entire size of the main compartment, they are great for storing smaller, flatter objects and keeping them from rolling around the bottom of the bag. I typically use one for important paper items—passport, card/cash holder, boarding pass, receipts—and one for travel-sized, non-liquid toiletries that I might want on a plane or while I’m touring a new city. Advil, Tums, Q-Tips, Band-Aids, tweezers, floss, and a couple safety pins always make the cut. If there’s room, I also throw in a couple 100-calorie packs of almonds since they’re small and won’t be affected by changes in temperature.
Storage is great, but if it looks clunky, you won’t want to carry it around. After being sold on the pockets, I was both relieved and surprised to finally feel the buttery, natural-grain Nappa leather in my hands when it arrived in the mail. It feels luxe and looks high-end. Plus, the softness allows for some stretch and flexibility so you can squeeze in an extra trinket or two if you’re shopping for souvenirs throughout the day. The Pearl also comes in a stiffer (but potentially more water- and scratch-resistant) Saffiano leather that Lo & Sons says will hold its shape better over time. After putting my bag through the ringer, I can see what they mean, but mine hasn’t changed enough to make a recommendation against the Nappa.
I opted for the black Nappa leather with gold clasps, but there are 14 different styles to choose from depending on your preference for leather type, and clasp and interior colors. Just keep an eye on the interior fabric color preferences; they’re not immediately apparent when you select your bag. I ended up with lavender instead of the camel I thought I was buying, but I liked it enough to keep it anyway.
Speaking of clasps, the Pearl has a few that seem delicate, but have held up as I’ve lugged it around the world. First, there’s the clasp that attaches one end of the adjustable strap to the bag that has never shown any signs of wear. The second clasp is on the interior of the bag, at the end of a fabric key leash. With my house key on one end, I have left the entire bag hanging in my front door more than once as I carry groceries inside. While I don’t recommend that particular use case, it’s proof of the durability of both the key leash and clasp.
The ability to fit in any situation
The best bag you can choose for travel is one you’ll actually use. I hate having to switch between a travel tote, day purse, evening clutch, and back again throughout a vacation—it wastes time and increases the chances I’ll forget something. Once this sucker is packed, it stays packed through airports and gourmet meals alike. It fits in among white tablecloths, sticky beer bars, music festivals, and sightseeing tours, all without outing me as a tourist.
Lo & Sons also boasts that the Pearl can switch between a crossbody, shoulder bag, or wristlet. To turn it into a wristlet, simply hook both of the strap ends to the same side and shorten it up. I will admit, while well-intentioned, the bag is simply too big to actually function well as a wristlet—at least for me. It ends up being easier to just keep the strap long and on your shoulder.
The bottom line
With a regular price of $248—or even at times like these when it's on sale for as low as $148.80—this is not a budget bag. But when I think of the mileage I’ve put on this purse, it’s more than paid for itself, not only in peace of mind that my necessities are safe when I travel, but in actual functionality. I feel like the Inspector Gadget of handbags when I’m able to lend out a bandage for a friend’s blister, or a safety pin for a popped zipper when we’re too far from the hotel to make a change. And with more than 400 users giving this bag an average of 4.5 stars (most of them being a perfect 5), I’m not alone. I’ve gifted this bag to a college-aged cousin traveling abroad—to rave reviews—and plan to do the same for anyone going on a big trip in the future. As for me, I may not need another one...but that plum color is awfully cute.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.