Thursday, July 3, 2014

J.Crew Downing Tote Review

Remember this post where I couldn't decide if I wanted the J.Crew Downing Tote or the Madewell Transport tote?  Well, I ended up buying the J.Crew, and here are my thoughts.

Here is a picture of my bag now, after almost two months of use.  

Bathroom has the best lighting!

 I was a little disappointed that it loses it's uprightness, for lack of a better word.  The purse can collapse in on itself more than this, it kind of depends how much stuff you have in it. But I am not sure if the Madewell bag could stand either.  There also are some wrinkles in the leather on the bottom portion of the bag.  I don't know if this is due to the fact that there are two pieces of leather sewn together to complete the bag or not.  They horrified me at first, but now, it just shows that the bag is used.  The zigzag section gets a little worn out.  But like I replied in the comments of the first post, it has more of a charm to it- that I've had the purse forever, like some long-term heirloom that would have been much approved during Jane Austen's time!

It's a little out of focus but you can see the wrinkles in the leather and how the zigzag is worn.

The little pouch that comes with the tote is completely useless.   The size seems decent, but it is sewn so tightly that you can't get much in it. My phone doesn't fit in it, and I would be reluctant to stick credit cards or my drivers license in there.  So nothing is in it, but I still leave it attached to the bag.  Mostly from laziness.  Perhaps I will stick a lipbalm in it.  

The fact that the bag is one big pouch is slightly problematic if you are not organized.  It becomes a catchall for everything.  And with only one compartment, when the phone rings it becomes chaos to wade through the crap to find it.  I have resorted to buying little zipper purses for it.  One for my travel essential oils, one for first aid stuff, you get the idea.  It's not such a bad thing because when I want to switch purses it's easier in that way.

Cost ended up being the largest factor on why I purchased the JCrew vs. the Madewell.  I ended up paying $117 after taxes for the Downing Tote, and the Madewell Transport is $168 before taxes.  I think the zigzag adds something extra to the JCrew tote, but in hindsight, I probably would try and save up longer to purchase the Madewell bag.  I think that small zipper compartment on the Madewell would be well worth it.

For what it's worth though, I do have the Madewell Kensington Satchel, and even with all the issues with the J.Crew bag, I prefer it to the satchel.  Mostly because the JCrew tote is larger, and I am the type of person who likes a bag to be big for books.  And with 5 kids, my lifestyle isn't so much zippered up purses.  I need to be able to access the contents of my purse quickly!


  1. Thank you for this review. It was very helpful to me.

  2. likewise, very helpful!

  3. got the downing as a gift - trying to decide if I should keep. figure the buyer paid $168 - seems like a lot for this tote.