Quest for a work tote: Goyard St Louis bag vs Marquises

For the past few years, I’ve been a happy user of the thicker Longchamp tote for work and travel. It’s lightweight and water-resistant (a must for Boston), perfect for hauling around my daily burden of clunky work laptop, heels, wallet, small makeup baggie, and snacks. Refer to my old Longchamp post for a review on these bags in all sizes.

Lately, however, I’ve been looking for something new. The Longchamp is undeniably functional (and I still highly recommend it), but is more casual, and is seen on the arm of most college girls and working women in Boston.
20080411goyard Enter, Goyard. I first learned about this French company while interning in northern CA. Goyard was founded in 1853, one year before competitor Louis Vuitton, and has a rich history of award-winning luggage and bag making for royals. The only Goyard boutique in the US is in San Fran (though they can also be found in 3 Barneys and at Bergdorf’s).

Their coated canvas with leather products are all handmade in France, and their signature chevron pattern is hand-painted (goodness!) onto the canvas. Owners of Goyard pieces can get them personalized with initials, graphics, and stripes.

Although I was enamored by this lesser-known company and it’s striking chevron, I didn’t buy for a few reasons:
– The price
– A very limited pre-owned market. I don’t mind pre-owned items and like to browse resale markets.
– Their most popular bag, the St. Louis shopping tote, seemed impractical for me.
– Their more structured bags (a better value) were not exactly my style.

Alas, for years I admired these colorful bags from afar, and pointed them out with interest every time I saw one on a stranger (this happens maybe twice a year here in Boston). When Nick surprised me with this blue St Louis PM tote last month, my heart skipped a beat.

Same outfit as from this post, Tote: St Louis PM (medium sized, 19″W x 10″H)

After the initial excitement, I regained my senses and started evaluating the bag. Designed as a shopping tote, the St. Louis has thin handles and no zipper. The canvas was thin to me, and did not hold it’s shape very well. I put my 10lbs of laptop and other crap inside, and wasn’t sure if this tote would be able to sustain that kind of weight long-term. Although I was immensely touched that Nick came up with this gift, I wasn’t sure if bag was practical for my lifestyle.

During our trip to Barneys to return the St. Louis, I caught sight of a very polished woman with a red Goyard tote on her arm. I had never seen this style before. It looked smaller in size than the St. Louis PM, had a structured frame, AND a zipper. What could this be? Turns out it was a relatively newer style – the Marquises tote. And even better? This lady had just exchanged a black on black one.


The SA pulled this tote out from behind the counter, and I just loved it. After asking if it’d be ok, I unloaded all of my junk from my Longchamp tote into this purse, and carried it around the store in a test run. Price wise, it’s about 50% more than the St. Louis. The Marquises is still light like the St. Louis, but felt sturdier, and bodes features I need like a zip closure, structured base, and protective metal feet. I felt the overall look was strikingly clean and classic, with over a century of embedded history.


Goyard Marquises Tote, black on black, 15″L x 11″H x 5.5″ W, with a 7″ handle drop

The size of this bag is borderline too big for a 5 feet tall gal, but it’s necessary to fit my daily haul. In comparison, my Lonchamp was similar in size, measuring 18″ across the top, 11″ across the bottom, and 11″ in height. In an upcoming post, I’ll show more photos of this bag against a shorter frame and the different ways it can be carried. Also, since Goyard is often compared against Louis Vuitton, I will be sharing some of my thoughts on how their coated canvas products stack up against each other.

Readers – Please share any recommendations for sturdy and nice-looking work totes : )
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  1. Anonymous wrote:

    love the bag, better choice than St Louis-more structural & professional and at the same weight, definitely worth the investment!
    as an Asian petite professional woman myself, I believe dressing up to look more mature and actually more of my "real age" is extremely important in the work place, to avoid situations where colleagues/clients mistaken me for an intern (it's happened before). Cheers to you!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  2. i like the second one much better on you, great choice! i love designer bags and i definitely think they're worth the splurge, especially since most of them have a good resale value anyways. i like leather and think celine and chloe make pretty good work bags, but they're a bit more plain, imo.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  3. Nan wrote:

    Jean, I discovered your blog this spring and have been hooked since. This is the first time I've commented on any blogs, but I wanted to say that you are fabulous, strong, and simply a class act 🙂

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  4. kristine25 wrote:

    Jean, I loved the Saint Louis tote because I honestly believed that the color would compliment any outfit, but reading that it had no zipper was a major turn-off. Also, I've seen this bag on some women and the thing that irked me the most was that the bag had no structure. If you're going to invest on a designer bag you definitely need something that will stand the test of time. That being said, I believe that the Marquises will be one of the soundest investments you have ever made! It will hold anything and everything you place inside. I can't wait to see more pictures of you with your Goyard.
    On a side note, I firmly believe that if you work hard for your money and properly allocate your earnings you are more than entitled to spend your money in any way you wish. As my mother says, "You can't take your money with you into the afterlife."

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  5. Tam wrote:

    Wow–your new bag is lovely, Jean! Personally, I like the black-on-black and the shape of the Marquise more than that of the St. Louis. I use a Longchamp Le Pliage large tote for work and have been considering getting something a little more upscale, but I haven't decided on anything yet. This post was very helpful!

    I have been reading your blog for a while now as I'm also a very petite professional and can relate to the challenges we face when trying to find appropriate and fashionable attire (I'm just under 5' and about 93 lbs.). I recently started my own personal style blog and plan to discuss petite fashion issues, as well.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  6. Megan wrote:

    I love the bag! I use my LV Neverfull GM everyday and it's so worth it to have a bag that not only fits everything, but one that is a good looking workhorse. I get a million compliments from my clients – I just wonder how you can let the Goyard of your sight, because even at half the price "Bad Louis" is never left alone, as I'm terrified someone will make off with him!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  7. I am Khatu wrote:

    great choice on the second bag. I don't think this ages you at all, if anything it resonates great taste. You don't see too many of these bags walking around town. And $1500 is a lot to some, but that number is also relative to how much one makes. You work really hard and you should spend your money how you please.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  8. gorgeous! those bags look great for work!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  9. I'm not a handbag connoisseur at all – I bought a satchel from an Army surplus store in 2006 and take that with me everywhere, causing some rude store ladies to tell me to get a better bag – so I can't say that I can appreciate your choice of bag at all. They are all the same for me.

    What I do appreciate is your transparency and good sense and politeness when it came to explaining to those of us who aren't handbag fans that you're not making a crazy, rash purchase but are spending carefully on something that is important to you. You're right – we should definitely use our spending money to buy things we enjoy, so good on you 🙂

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  10. Anonymous wrote:

    You look great as always. 🙂 I don't like the bag though… not because of the price, but the pattern looks too busy to me. I prefer solid color handbag for everyday use. Just my two cents.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  11. Michelle wrote:

    I think it's a very nice-looking bag. 🙂 Would I have ever paid that much for a bag myself? Probably not, but I don't have your job and I don't have your tastes. You clearly have been wanting a bag in this line for a while, and it does seem serendipitous that you went to Barneys at JUST the right time to snap up this return! Given that it was a relatively considered purchase, you're not spending "beyond your means", and and that you believe the bag will get a lot of use, you rock on with your bad self.

    The one thing I will mention, because you have said that you commute, is that I too used to schlep (NYC subway) in a big shoulder bag, because I was conscious about how I would appear to my mostly-male coworkers and clients. And then I noticed that my male AND female coworkers mostly schlepped their laptops in backpacks, so I caved and joined them. Less stylish, certainly, but SO MUCH BETTER FOR MY BODY to be able to spread the weight over both shoulders and my back vs only one arm/shoulder, even though I tried to alternate shoulders. My clients never seemed to bat an eye and no one ever said it was unprofessional — most of us have come to realize how bad for our bodies laptops in shoulder bags are.

    Now, the day that I can commute with just an iPad… 😀

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  12. it's a gorgeous bag but for 1500 dollars you can get a Prada executive tote that also allow you to carry everything to work and it's calfskin and classic!

    ps. what's the made of your watch you are wearing in the first pic?

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  13. I think you made a great decision! For my "nice" work tote, I purchased the Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas Stresa in the PM size. I love it, but it is quite limited in terms of what it can accommodate. I like this Goyard bag and I think you made a great decision. It is slightly on the larger side but if it fits what you need then it is perfect for you!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  14. Ashley wrote:

    If you want to stick with functional, durable, yet fashionable nylon, go for JPK Paris. They sell them at Nordstrom.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jean, first of all I apologize for posting anonymously but it seems the only option available if you don't have a google account or a blog. If that isn't the case, please educate your readers! I want to congratulate you first for returning your boyfriend's gift if it wasn't the right bag for you, as it would've been easier to hold on to something sentimental. I really liked the bold blue color of the St. Louis, and thought it added a nice dose of color to your outfit–I admittedly am less a fan of the black. Re: the new bag, I am witholding judgement until I see more pictures–I will say that in the one you posted it does seem a tad too big for your frame. I find as a fellow petite large bags that are longer vertically as opposed to horizontally elongate and are more flattering. My ten cents. –April

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  16. Grace wrote:

    I have to admit that I gasp at the prices occasionally. However, I also agree that it's a balance between preparing for the future and having a good quality of life now. Can't really complain if Jean's banking half her salary. Jean, do you ever feel guilty about your purchases? My parents are super frugal and I also bank half my salary. I'm a dining out person, and I feel guilty whenever I go out and spend +$20 on dinner. Never mind the few times a year when it's +$100 w/no alcohol! I truly enjoy those meals, but I feel like I'm spending money very frivolously.

    On a separate note, is there anything truly spectacular about designer bags in general? I'm super picky about my one purse. It takes me forever to find a purse that I like. I'm considering getting a designer bag but remain unconvinced that PVC, canvas, or even leather bags should command the prices that they do. The quality can't be that good, can it? Maybe you can do a post on things you have noticed between cheap and pricier bags? Maybe some ways to tell if a bag is of high or low quality?

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  17. Jagiri wrote:

    I need to new bag too, and I love the one you chose. Beautiful

    I did tell you

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  18. lin wrote:

    jean, nice choice in the bag. if you're going to use it often, spending a little more is worth it. in the long run, it's a great investment. by the way, thanks for the info on goyard. 🙂

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  19. Jean, what a gorgeous bag! I really love the colour of the one nick got you, but I do agree your final choice is more practical. I was skimming through some of your comments and although this is a style blog I would love to hear some of your financial tracking secrets!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  20. CynthiaC wrote:

    I think the bag is worth the investment, Jean. It's not like you're spending $1K on something that would only last you one season. I've watched enough What Not To Wear to know that it's important to spend more on classics that will last you for years. Besides, one might view something as "expensive" while another would see it as an "investment" and yet another, "affordable." It just depends on one's situation.

    As for looking "too old" – it's important for a petite woman, especially one who looks younger than she is to try to look mature. It's about being taken seriously.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  21. I've been waiting for this post! I've seen Goyard and have been a fan from afar. I think the bag looks great on you! A very chic work and travel bag.

    In regards to spending on investment items, I'm not the type to judge anyone on their spending habits or lifestyle. In the end, I think everyone is intelligent and reflective enough to understand their own needs and desires. Most of my wardrobe budget is dedicated to handbags and shoes because I truly think they make an outfit. For my own personal budgeting system, I always think about selling a handbag in my current collection before buying a new or new-to-me one. That way, I can fund new purchases without overindulging. I think everyone should live life responsibly and happily. I think saving is great and splurging once in awhile is healthy.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  22. I think it's a great investment! It looks classic and pulls off the work professional look perfectly!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  23. I love the one you ended up with. The more structured look seems more doable. : ) This is such a great investment! I wasn't really able to tell that it was canvas! The pattern is very unique and I know you thought about it and will use it for years.

    I've been on the hunt for a good tote as well. Something for school, but can also take me into the workplace in the future. My eye is on the Celine luggage tote. I'm still searching for a good deal! The taupe is gorgeousss. Have you ever considered that as a work bag?

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  24. R.L. wrote:

    I love that the brand is relatively unknown! Usually I stay away from ubiquitous patterns (like LVs) bec I feel I may as well don on a shirt with a huge label across the front. But Goyard's chevron pattern is now on my radar. 🙂 I'm very impressed that as thin as the straps are they can still carry a laptop and then some.

    My thrifty Asian mom loves to "save" nice things by not using them. She's let dozens of leather planners go to waste. So I definitely do by best to strike a balance between saving and splurging occasionally/wisely. The discretionary part of someone's hard-earned income deserves to be spent on things they enjoy.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  25. Hazel wrote:

    You made the right choice. The second bag is absolutely stunning! very professional and timeless look! Hate the thin handles of the neverfull-like shopping tote. I also invest a lot on my designer bags which i find worthy. It really depends on where you want to save and where to splurge, and what can make you happy!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  26. Pablo wrote:

    That colorful sweater is just gorgeous, I love it =).

    Btw, I have posted something about fashion on my blog that I'm sure you'll like. If you want, you can take a look at

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  27. a rose wrote:

    My mom is a business woman and she always told me how important it is to have a nice bag and nice shoes to meet customers. I've read your blog for a while now and you seem to be reasonable with your purchases (always looking for coupons and not buying thing because they are on sale).

    I think the bag is beautiful and classic. Though it's not something I can afford to buy for myself, I will definitely recommend it to my mom and her friends. Thanks, Jean!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  28. wrote:

    I have not been able to find a sturdy work bag…but being a teacher really doesn't give me room to spend too much money on a bag…I recently saw a marc jacobs tote I was willing to buy…but then I realize that I always need a black and brown bag to match my shoes/coat..I am still looking..:-) For now I am just carrying my work laptop in a lap top bag…:-(

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  29. Angie wrote:

    i like the name st. louis 🙂 i definitely think that the black one looks better. how sweet of nick to notice and get the bag for you nevertheless!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  30. Of course you made the right choice! Sometimes it just takes a little more out of your wallet for a great investment. If you haul that much daily, it really is worth the size. I'm sure Nick understands that if it were just a tad bit more practical for your needs it would have been perfect! And you seem very appreciative of the thought 🙂

    I can't wait to see you model this much more! Great post.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  31. I really like it…great choice!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  32. trang wrote:

    I would never judge you or anyone on how they spend money. I know the importance of saving and investing for the future and try to spend sparingly myself, but every fall..I just can't help it. I spend way too much during fall, but rarely spend any other season unless I really need it. Personally, you know yourself better than anyone else and if purchasing that bag was worth it for you, than so be it. Do what makes you happy and the rest will fall into place. You should never have to justify your purchases to anyone, but yourself.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  33. Vivian wrote:

    Love the bag! (= Would want one for myself as well, maybe later in life. Hahaha. How is the weight compared to the Longchamp?

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  34. i always enjoy this blog.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  35. @Anonymous@Erica

    Haha, oh Erica, my parents read my blog and I'm sure they're echoing your sentiments. As readers of my previous blog probably know, I'm a huge advocate of saving and investing, but I also believe in happily spending what is left over. I'm pretty intense with my financial planning and tracking, and save well over half of my income each month. Growing up in a family that stashed away every possible penny because we had to, I learned the importance of saving and living within your means. But in all honesty, it's about balance – saving and planning for the future, and enriching your current-day quality of life (and what that entails is different for every single person) with what's left.

    Anon – I hear ya, it's a ton for canvas. I even thought about not listing the price, but I post such information for reference (just like the measurements) and want my posts to be informative and transparent. I see this decision is opening myself up to the floodgates : ) Nevertheless, I stand behind my beliefs that with "leftover" hard-earned income – people should be free to spend on whatever makes them happy. Some people spend on vacations, some people spend on a car, and some like myself buy a canvas bag.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  36. vonnie wrote:

    I like it! Only thing is… can it fit over your shoulder? 🙂

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  37. Cher wrote:

    Beautiful! I don't think it's overly big. If you have to carry a laptop and all the other essentials, there isn't too much you can do about it. I didn't think "WHOA, that's BIG!" LOL. But I do prefer my bags on the larger side anyway.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  38. Susan wrote:

    It seems like serendipity that the woman returned the black on black tote. 🙂

    I love my Longchamp totes, but they're so ubiquitous, especially in Europe, so I've also been looking for something new for an everyday bag. Goyard is iconic but I can't bring myself to pay over $1000 for coated canvas. I recently bought the Burberry checked tote from Bloomingdales, which comes with a little removable wristlet as well. I use that separately as a clutch. The bag retails for $695, but I got it 20% off during their Family&Friends; sale. It's a bit big for my frame, but I love it.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  39. Anonymous wrote:

    Sorry Jean, but the bag is ugly, especially the patterns. It aged you by 10 years! You are young but you try so hard to dress a lot older. You might think dressing older is good for your career but that is just trying too hard. You should embrace your youthfulness.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  40. Anonymous wrote:

    I really like your blog, but wow, that much money for a canvas bag, money that is enough for more than one month rent for most people living in the US, just blew my mind away. I make a good living myself and can easily afford such a thing but it never comes across my mind that I should spend that much on a bag.

    I must be a minority here. You look lovely as always but it is not worth it.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  41. Erica wrote:

    The second one is a lovely bag, but is it really necessary to spend THAT MUCH on… a bag? It blows my mind. Please tell me you have the income to afford this and still save properly for retirement!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  42. @Vicky Lol! Oh gosh, my laptop is not 10 lbs. I meant the entire content of my bag is 10 lbs (laptop w/ charger and case shoes, food, makeup). BUt out of curiosity, I just looked and weighed it for you. It's a clunky HP, 15" and weighs 5 lbs on my scale.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  43. Cathie wrote:

    I love your final choice, it's classic and elegant. Love the trench coat, too! 🙂

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  44. Vicky wrote:

    Congrats again on your new work tote, Jean! Very beautiful. Thank you for educating us on the history of Goyard vs. LV. When you mentioned 10 pound laptop it got me interested. May I ask how heavy exactly and the measurement of your laptop?

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  45. jessica wrote:

    I think the Marquises tote looks great on you! perfect choice :))

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  46. J wrote:

    Jean, you look fabulous with the Marquises!! Great choice!! I've also had the chance to examine the St. Louis in person at both the HQ in SF & Barney's in Beverley Hills and it is excruciatingly underwhelming and incredibly overpriced!! The Marquises looks much better and I think is perfect for what you've stipulated that you need in a bag. Congrats again and can't wait to see more pics with it.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  47. Katherine wrote:

    I'm so happy for you, I know how hard finding the perfect work tote can be (I'm still on the hunt!) This is a beautiful choice. My husband is very used to me returning gifts lol – can't wait to see you modeling this more! Can you fit in a standard size paper file easily?

    I've been working on a splurge/save post for forever but can never really get it together because my closet is such a jumbled mess – can't wait to read yours!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  48. The pattern is very sophisticated, and I love structured bags that are big enough to hold a couple of folders and even a netbook or an iPad. Great choice!

    I've been eying the Lodis Audrey Satchel Brief in both black (love the red outline) and red (cannot resist a red bag). I also like the Lodis Audrey Zip Top Tote. I got a Lodis patent leather wallet back in 2009, and it has held up OK, so I am hopeful the bags will as well.

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply
  49. elleandish wrote:

    I think it looks great! Your second choice was much better.. more mature and structured which matches you quite well. 😀 Congrats! Also props to Nick for choosing out a Goyard piece for you.. very sweet!

    Posted 11.20.11 Reply

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