Business Casual Superstar: Inspired by Robin Scherbatsky…and her bag? (How I Met Your Mother)

I’m trying something new today, and you guys are going to have to let me know if it’s working for you or not. You’ve probably noticed that in these posts, I rarely have a bag. This is mostly (like everything nowadays) for budget reasons. I have $100 to play with, and I cringe every time I put up a $15 pair of jeans, so it should be clear I don’t like to go completely low-end, and adding a bag to my moving parts here stretches the budget even further.

Plus, all the bags you can get for $20 are butt-ugly-pug-fugly. So there’s that.

I’ve been thinking about this lack of handbags lately, and figured it might be a fun way to play around with some of our favorite fictional characters. Every once in a while, I’ll put up a post that’s nothing but a collection of bags that the character of teh week would totally use.

Take Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother. What kind of purses would Robin wear in a work setting? When she’s on set? When she’s out interviewing people? When she’s at a work related function that’s a little short of an evening event/cocktail party?

That’s what I considered for today’s post. And trust me, I really considered it. Get ready for a picspam!


Yeah. I love Barney and Robin. Or couldn’t you tell? 😀

Anyway, all of these pic boxes give us a glimpse of Robin’s purse. But it’s a limited look at the character, since in these shots, she’s mostly in a casual setting – hanging out at home or at the bar. So we see her casual-but-still-put-together outfit purse. I don’t have good caps of her work outfits, much less ones that give us a good look at her purse.

Fortunately, I’ve seen the show – all of it so far – and I pay attention to wardrobe. And I know quite a bit about the character, too, so I can infer a lot as to what her purse should say about her and thus, what it should look like.

Let’s get a list going about Robin. What kind of woman is she?

  • career driven, often at the expense of her love life
  • hectic schedule
  • classy, scotch-drinking, cigar smoking broad
  • gorgeous and prides herself on it
  • spends her days being seen and/or talking to people (as a journalist)
  • often wears basics but with feminine accents
  • often on the go, what with work and hijinks
  • sexy

Yes, there’s a difference between a woman that is “gorgeous and prides herself on it,” which suggests a certain level of personal maintenance, and self awareness, and draws some self-worth from that, and a woman that is “sexy,” which speaks more to a certain je ne sais quoi that just makes a woman seem really attractive and in the moment. That’s why both of those things are up there, rather than just ‘pretty.’ 😛

See? I told you guys I gave this some thought.

Now, I’ve narrowed Robin down to two different types of purses: the hobo/satchel hybrid and the clutch/envelope. Based on her specific personality traits, I’ve narrowed it down further to these bags that I think the character would definitely have in her closet. To keep our budgets in mind, all of these bags are intentionally under $50. I thought $50 was a happy compromise.

First, let’s talk about hobos and satchels. Personally, I don’t care for them, but Robin clearly does – on her off-hours, especially. She likes hobos in solid colors with little accents, maybe a hardy, oversized buckle here or there, in a good, durable material, usually leather. She likes hobos that have a definitive curved shape, that fit just so under her arm and against her side.

Let’s talk about the ones I picked. As always, click to purchase.


This is a sensible grey tote. Robin would totally go for grey because it’s professional and can even somewhat dress up jeans, better than, say a bright red tote that’s identical. If she was out and then suddenly got a call to report in to the station or go out and interview someone, it’s a bag that can make the transition with her.

The curve of the tote allows it to fit snugly under her arm. I’m trying to avoid saying armpit. Hopefully you can see what I mean. If Robin’s on the go, she needs a bag that’s not flapping around everywhere – this one she can sling over her shoulder and clamp under her arm and she’s good.

I bet the material is pleasant to touch, and if this was Robin, it would be leather, and would cost more than $50. But we’re doing the best we can over here.

Also, look at the size of it. This bag can hold Robin’s work phone, her normal phone, her camera if she has one with her, her keys, a simple tape recorder, a little notebook, a lipstick and mascara and blush, a mini brush, her wallet, her press credentials – this bag can hold it all. Check out those straps – the bag itself can hold the weight of whatever she stuffs into it, too. Those straps are not going to break just because she’s got like 8 gadgets in there.

The pocket thingies on the side are most likely not pockets, but they give the image of pockets, which suggests utility. The woman that owns this bag has a lot to carry and a lot going on, and she has a place for all of it in her bag. But then again, a close look tells us that they’re not really pockets, but there for design. This bag, then, belongs to a woman that wants us to know that she’s busy and has a full life (mostly because of work) because she gets some sense of self and self-worth from knowing that others know that she’s doing things, that she’s ambitious. And if you watch the show, I think that actually describes Robin pretty well.

The buckle is another thing. It’s not a closure by any means; it’s just an adornment on the side of the bag. It’s a tough, bulky, edgy little embellishment, no? It tells me that the woman who owns this bag wants people to think she’s tough – whether she is or isn’t is not the point. In fact, she’s probably tough and hardy in a lot of situations … and not so much in others. But she wants the appearance to be there. She wants you to think twice before you cozy up to her.

Yes, people. Her bag says all that. Bags often do, if you just pay attention.


Ooh, now this one is an interesting pick for Robin. I imagine that this would be the bag she takes when she has an assignment that she’s a little unsure about. An assignment where she knows she needs to be professional, but where she also feels the need to fit in. I feel like she’d wear this when covering a community event – something at Central Park, not far from where the gang hangs out, or if she’s interviewing kids at a local school, something like that. Something younger and hipper where she can’t be the suave, professional journalist that she is if she doesn’t want to look out of place.

Why do I say that?

The zippers. And the strap. Look at those zippers. Sure, they have pockets, which harks back to that utility idea we’ve been stressing for Robin, because she has lots of crap she needs on the job, but those aren’t just quiet, unobtrusive zippers.

Nothing on a purse is accidental. Every little detail has been carefully considered and planned and designed. The zippers here have that big circular tag attached, along with that little leather strip. Those zippers are meant to be noticed and they’re meant to be a little noisy. Don’t they just look noisy?

And look at that handle – it’s braided. It’s got a younger, more hippie feel than the thick leather straps we just saw. The woman who owns this purse wants people to know that she’s got a little bit of hippie, boho flair to her. I can totally see Robin in her dark wash jeans (the most professional kind of jeans, but still, jeans) and a work blazer and this purse, thinking as she interviews middle schoolers about a charity run they’re doing for some national or international tragedy, “Hey, I know I’m older and have a microphone, but I’m one of you! Really!”

The bag has interesting, funky lining. But with lining like that it’s going to be hard to find what you need in that bag. Still, it’s pretty.

Plus, it’s big enough to carry her things, and it comes in a neutral, non-threatening color. She might be nervous enough on this assignment where she’s out of sorts, and it’s good to grab a bag that works with a wide variety of colors and clothing styles. One less thing to think about.

Yes, I realize I sound crazy, talking about her like she’s real. Just go with this. I’m experimenting, all right?

You’ve got the idea with hobos/satchels: a somewhat clean shape, curved, thick straps, and there you are.

Let’s move on to clutches.


This is a clutch without the sleek, uptight feel of a lot of clutches. I’m calling this an intermediate. This is one of Robin’s bags for days where she’s not running around doing interviews out God-knows-where. Maybe she’s at the office. Maybe she’s doing a one-on-one interview with someone, like that time she almost interviewed Mike Bloomberg.

This bag has noticeable hardware, but it’s all clean. The rings are mostly obscured by the material of the bag, and the part that we can see is the closure (I think), all neat, straight, clean lines. The little embellishment in the side is simple, not showy, but contrasts nicely and adds a touch of polish to this gathered bag.

The material is gathered and knotted a bit and it’s kind of hasty and laid back. This would be a good clutch for Robin to pair with a pant suit type ensemble because the bag says that this girl is fancy but not prissy and unbending. She’s flexible, she can be spontaneous, and she’s adaptable.

Yes. I get all this from a bag.


This is an interesting pick. I picked this one as Robin’s transitional bags. I’m sure a lot of you have jobs that are kind of like hers in the respect that you may not have predictable hours. You may log in a full day at the office … and then find out that you have to go meet a client for drinks or dinner or make a quick stop here to talk to that person or stop off there to drop this or that off, and you look a little square anyway in your work clothes. Sure, you can lose the jacket, if you wear a suit, or the cardigan you wear over a sleeveless dress, but then you’ve got that stodgy office bag …

Unless you have a little clutch like this one. It would totally work for Robin at the station, and it would work on interviews that she had to rush to in the evening, especially if she was meeting a person of interest at a bar or restaurant.

This bag is in a neutral color, which makes things easier, and its pleated exterior belies a rather spacious interior. Look at how it’s bulging. Granted, that’s all cotton or paper in there, but still. That bag can fit Robin’s phone, camera/recorder, keys, a few small make up items, AND her snub nose .38 police special.

It’s linen and leather, which is a great contrast – just like morning and evening. 😉 Leather is a great touch to just about any bag, and I like that this one is small and convenient and Robin can quickly tuck it under her arm and go about her business.

Plus, the buttons are an interesting touch. They’re not showy or flashy. I like them so much better than I like hardware most of the time. They’re just kind of there, kind of emphasizing the earthiness of the linen. Now, I never associate woven purses with Robin. It’s just not her thing. She’s a very crisp, polished kind of lady in that sense. But I think the leather in this case would win her over to the linen.


Now, this is necessary for any girl on the go. This is the clutch – leather, very simple with equally simple hardware, and symmetrical studs just to add interest. This leather isn’t patent – it’s just kind of weathered leather, intentionally so, that makes the clutch look used, and thus, useful, once again emphasizing that utility thing we talked about. The woman that uses this clutch is quick and on the go and purposeful and direct and frank.

…Or so we’re supposed to think.

Because this clutch, which would probably only hold cash, credit cards, eyeliner, gloss, a key or two, and MAYBE a slim phone but probably not, is the sort of thing that can EASILY fit inside a roomy hobo, like the ones I showed earlier. A girl could easily keep all her high-maintenance crap in that big hobo and at lunch just slip out to a nearby upscale deli or cute little cafe with that clutch and present a completely different vibe.

With the hobo, she’s the busy career girl with baggage – literally, as it were – and with the clutch? She suddenly becomes free spirited, alluring, the kind of girl that’s not one to be tied down to anything right away. After all, she has to be that way: she carries next to nothing with her!

…Again, or so we think. 😉


This is one I like. This clutch is bigger, so it might not fit comfortably in the hobo without distorting its shape.

First, I love the glazed leather look of it. It’s a very academic-looking clutch, isn’t it? I imagine that it would actually be great for the job Robin currently has as a researcher. Envelope clutches do look very studious, and there’s something particularly antiquated and nostalgic about a leather envelope.

This purse makes me feel like that woman that owns it appreciates the simplicity of how we used to live our lives. That doesn’t mean you won’t find an iPad or Xoom or whatever in there – it just means that part of her is nostalgic for moleskin notebooks and calligraphy pens, and this purse is the way that she keeps in touch with that side of herself, that side of history, while texting on her smartphone and listening to her iPod and playing AngryBirds on her iPad.

This woman wants to be taken seriously, hence the lack of embellishments, and I get the sense she’s the buttoned down, professional type because of, you guessed it, that button clasp. Everything is neatly folded and perfectly in place and wrapped right up, all prim and proper. This certainly isn’t the type of purse that a free-spirited college hippie chick in a maxi skirt and unwashed, curly hair would carry, except perhaps ironically.

And there we have a bunch of purses that are kind of tentatively inspired, yeah, inspired by the character of Robin Scherbatsky, all under $50.

Now, be straight with me, ladies (and the two very confused gentlemen that are lingering still, probably due to the hope that they’ll see more pictures of gorgeous Cobie Smulders), did this work? How did you feel about this post? Go on, I can take it.

And for the dudes that are still lurking…

Fine. Here.