The Bargain Tote

I’ve had the same black leather Coach tote bag for more than thirty years, so I’ve been thinking about getting a tan one. The lighter color looks great in all four seasons, whereas the black one can seem harsh on a warm sunny day.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you may remember that I do lots of research and think about how often I will use/wear an item before investing in anything new. A tan tote bag has been on my shopping list for about five months. I’ve found a couple that I liked a lot, but they were about $200 (or more!). That’s a lot of money for something I don’t use very often.

Family members visited this past weekend. Our teenager wanted to go to Plato’s Closet. (It is a chain retailer buying & selling trendy secondhand clothing for teens & young adults.) I will admit, I thought I would be waiting patiently by the door, or maybe out front if the music was loud. It was my first time visiting the store.

As I was standing by the register waiting for the others to try on their choices, I saw this tan Lauren tote hanging on the pegboard behind the counter. I was astonished to learn the price was only $17! It is almost new, so I bought it.

My summer ‘uniform’ is a blue top with white pants, so the tan accessories complement the colors very well. My blue and white striped cotton shirt is old from Everlane. Similar here. My white jeans are from last year by Ralph Lauren. Similar here. The sandals are a couple of years old. Similar here. My watch is by Nordgreen here, where they are offering you a discount code (SUSAN15). Referral and affiliate links in my posts may result in a small commission for me at no additional cost to you.

Some of you wrote that I was remiss not to show my eyeshadow in a photo with my eyes closed in the previous post. I apologize. Blending is the key, and I don’t take any dark colors to the lid’s outer portion.

  1. The way you are dressed in this post is my everyday look. Classic, comfy, stylish, and preppy. I wear this look in various colors. My longish neck requires a collared button down, and I feel and look my best dressed that way. I usually wear my cherished Hermes belt or a leopard one. I love your purse.

  2. I own an upscale Consignment Shop in Brandon, Florida. We consistently have new with tags or like-new purses brought in daily. Plato’s is a chain, and not actually Consignment, but a buy outright/resale store, set up for teens. You got a great deal! Anytime you can shop consignment, in a clean well, organized shop, there is no reason to pay full price.

  3. Isn’t it wonderful that Coach produces such a high quality product that you can carry for decades and not ever be out of style. I hope I get the same longevity from the two Laurens I have.

  4. I do love a large handbag! Congrats on your new treasure! – do you have your eyeshadow blended from above the crease of the lid to the lashes? I’m still struggling with trying to make my eyes “pop”. Age and chronic illness is robbing me of my rested, more healthy bright-eyed appearance. Weakness shows in my eyes. I believe a darker gray blended shows better for me over my large (nearsighted) blue eyeds. I tend to wear my eyeglasses more often now rather than contact lenses. – Thanks.

  5. Is that Lauren or Dooney & Burke? Whichever, it is a great bargain! Love the tan color, goes with everything, I never get rid of my tan leather bags.

  6. What a great deal! There is another store like Plato’s Closet but geared towards women not teens – it’s called Clothes Mentor. Lots of brand name clothes for a lesser price. I don’t know if there’s one near you but if so check it out some time.

  7. Love your classic outfit. The accessories you chose completed the look and what a great shopping find. Thanks for sharing your ideas on styling and shopping.

  8. Susan,
    There is also a store called Clothes Mentor, I believe may be a sister store, of Plato’s Closet. It’s for more “mature” clothing. I take my gently worn clothes there and they pay you cash on the spot for them. They only accept clothing in very good condition and I believe less than 2 years old. It’s great for relieving some of the guilt of impulse buys. You can also buy clothes there, of course

  9. The fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter. So much “instant fashion” these days with young women especially only wearing items once and disposing of them—- often to landfill.
    Everyone who uses a bag for decades or wears upcycled, pre loved clothes is doing their little bit to help the planet.

  10. I have been shopping at consignment and thrift stores for years. In fact, there are not many items in my wardrobe which I bought ‘new’. I have lots of very lovely, stylish pieces – none of which I purchased new. I also buy clothes for my husband this way. If/when I go to a regular retail store, or research online, I am shocked at the prices.
    I agree with Holly that purchasing pre-loved clothing (or purses or many other items) is a way to help the planet (while also helping the pocketbook!). Many thrift shops are staffed by volunteers and their profits go to support worthy charities.
    Acknowledging that these items must originally have been new purchases, let me say that I am grateful to all of the ladies who have the means to purchase beautiful new clothing and then, when they tire of it, take it to consignment or donate to the thrift shops. That means those like me can then purchase these lovely, almost new pieces for a very low price.
    It’s a win-win.

  11. Very pretty eyes and the shadow looks great! I’ve done a similar change to a softer more neutral look too.
    However I still am having trouble with a perfect brow pencil color. They’re either very brown or almost black. Yours looks just right to me as I have similar coloring. Can you share the name and color?

  12. Love the tote, as well as your outfit. You always looks so ‘put together’. I, too, have found some wonderful treasures at consignment shops – a Dooney & Burke bag in excellent condition for $40.00; a classic Pendleton wool blazer for $15.00; a perfect fitting pair of designer jeans for $7.00; an ankle-length, custom tailored wool coat for $50.00. I never would have purchased these items at full price but I loved being able to enjoy them at these prices. Thanks for teaching us we can age gracefully & with style.

  13. Susan,
    You look classy as always. Would you call that a French tuck of your shirt? May I ask your thoughts on why you choose to do that. In another post, you were asked about the “new” tucked in belted look. I’m not sure you addressed it. Is it due to the recent weight loss or just going for a different look?

    1. Since my legs are rather short, I try to show at least the front part of the full length. Partially tucking in the shirt and wearing a belt looks much neater than leaving the whole thing out. Fully tucking the shirt in isn’t an option for me since I have a very flat behind.

  14. I have followed you for a couple of years now and with each and every post I can’t help but admire you.
    First how you share with the public, second because I just love how you dress and how you tell us simply how to achieve
    the same looks and where to buy them. Every time I see a new post I get so excited and can’t wait to read it.
    Many thanks and please keep them coming.
    Not only are you the “real” thing but beautiful and classy and elegant. Thank you again for all you share.

  15. I love the tote Susan and what a great bargain. I buy a mix of new and consignment and am amazed at how many new handbags I have bought for only around $10 to $20 (New Zealand) each.

  16. Love the Lauren Bag. I found similar one, in brown leather, @ a second hand shop. I’d never gone there & only went because a friend kept saying she was discovering great items there. I was so pleasantly surprised, as you were! Wondering if you’d consider doing a video where you visit an upscale consignment or vintage clothing store(s),some excellent ones in Knoxville where I consign items, and perhaps put together an entire outfit there! I think it wd be great fun, for you, and for your followers!! You have great fashion sense & style, which is why I’ve continued to follow you over the years. It wd be terrific to see you do this!

  17. Susan your white pants look good. I think I would be sweating buckets during the summer months.

  18. Plato’s Closet is fabulous for young people. The guys as well as the gals. I had a similar experience when I went with my granddaughter. But it was a Coach Bag. Now I check it out whenever I’m near one.

  19. Great find! This is also my year round uniform since we live in Fl. I have a Frye tote, a little more mustard than yours…but is has served me well for years. It was a fortune but with price per ware I’m making money now!

    1. You are smart to consider cost per wear. Sometimes a cheaper item that we only use a few times turns out to be much more expensive (to us and the environment) than the expensive item we keep and use for many years.

  20. You keep looking younger all the time. Do you have a portrait in the attic that’s getting older? LOL I love this color of bag and sandals for here on the coast. We wear sandals a little longer than some places because of the weather so I have lightened up more on my wardrobe. You are right black can look a little heavy sometimes.

  21. Susan I’m struggling with what to wear in the summer. Where I live it is hot 90 degrees and up. The humidity runs 60% and higher. Dresses work for the most part but I’d like some options. Jeans are way too much when the high today was 98 and the humidity was 85% at the highest today.

    1. Look for lightweight cotton or linen. Natural light color fabrics that breath and stand away from the body are much more comfortable in hot, humid weather. I do not live in that type of climate anymore, so jeans are suitable for me on most days.

  22. Susan, what are your thoughts on women over fifty wearing hair accessories? When my husband and I traveled all over South America and Europe, I noticed older ladies with all sorts of hair accessories and they looked so lovely with their elegant outfits.
    Thank you!

  23. Susan, you look great, as always. Love your new bag!
    I agree with Holly that each of us needs to rethink how often we buy new clothing and accessories. If we buy upcycled instead of new, we are definitely helping the environment. We have several wonderful consignment shops in our area and I often buy designer bags and clothing. I’ve also bought a few well-priced designer bags, (Coach, BMakowsky, Lauren) on Ebay (it certainly helps to read all of the reviews before buying). Thanks again for inspiring us to look fashionable while buying something affordable.

  24. That is an impressive score! I am lucky to have a place nearby where I sometimes have a great find.
    A couple of them and you are hooked.

  25. Great find on the bag. I had a similar experience in a local quality resale shop. I needed a pair of black after 5 shoes and wanted some bling on them. Like you, I didn’t want to spend a lot as they would spend most of their time sitting in my closet. Lo and behold, I found a pair for $13 that looked unworn. Now I am hooked on more treasure hunts!

    Lavonne from Texas

  26. Susan, I have just recently started watching YouTube vloggers and you and Sandra Hart are my very favorites…you look a lot alike, but your styles are different. Both of you are wonderful advocates for older women. I just turned 80 years young…we still feel young in our inner beings, don’t we? and am thoroughly enjoying my life. I was not able to access the site for your sandals…could you tell me the brand, please. Thank you and keep up your great vlogging! Nancy

  27. I purchased a tan tote from Travel Smith years ago that is RFID secure – the whole bag! I spent about $100 on sale for it and I”m glad that I did because it’s the only bag I use to travel with now. I’d love an everyday one like you found though! I’ll keep looking. Thank you for all of your great advice Susan!

  28. Super find, Susan! Myself I shop on occasion at 2nd hand stores (namely to recycle fabrics to make designer clothing for my Grand Daughter’s American Girl & Boy dolls) however recently like yourself came across three handbags I couldn’t resist. (All three in real leather, made in Italy, workmanship superb, no signs of wear, price was more than right but one to be recycled to make a small wristlet bag for myself and the other two I’ve already used.) A win-win situation as someone else pointed out and shall add; proof that ‘one man’s trash is often another man’s treasure’. -Brenda-

  29. You and your new eye colors look fabulous. With your help I’m reworking my make up colors with new products as well as new placement. The blogs are so helpful in maintaining a youthful look while aging gracefully and with style. We all thank you for that.

  30. Hi Susan,
    LOVE your look with your shirt lightly tucked in the front. It looks great on you! I try to do that but always my slightly pudgy tummy makes it look bad. Great find with the bag!

  31. I love browsing at Plato’s Closet. It truly is a treasure hunt. There is one near my house and I visit often. Never know what you’re going to find!

  32. Susan,

    Can I ask you what do you use (if any) for your hair (i.e., setting spray) after you shampoo it to keep it in place. I have hair with a kink in it and it goes frizzy.

    Many thanks for your posts.


    1. The less product I use on my hair, the better it behaves. I wash it, condition, rinse thoroughly, pick it out and arrange it pretty much the way I want it and then go put on my makeup. The more I stretch, pull, tug, comb, brush, toss it, the more frizzy my hair becomes. If I am patient and let it dry completely before combing it out, it looks pretty good.

  33. Susan, I LOVE this!! How refreshing to see an honest, true-to-life review on products that blend perfectly with the OVER 60 lifestyle! I am your fan forever! -Patti (

  34. I’m glad your upcycle experience was a good one. It’s almost the only shopping I do. Some want to look great but don’t have a lot to spend. It’s a great option. My Nine West tote was $3. My friend’s Ralph Lauren tote was $5.
    I have recommended your site on my blog

  35. Your bargain bag inspired me to troll Ebay. Mine was $50 but like new. I buy a lot of “lightly used” clothing and accessories ( particularly Chicos). That way I have plenty of money in reserve for travel and splurges!

  36. Love your website – so many helpful and inspirational ideas for a ‘retirement’ wardrobe. Keep up the good work.

  37. It is my first time here and I thoroughly enjoyed your information. Love tips about applying eye liner and shadow. I’ve never used bronzer because my skin is so fair, but yours looks wonderful so I’m going to try it also. Your fashion style is similar to the outfits you showed. I like classic and timeless. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I’ll watch for you next post.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.