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Review: Lo & Sons Nouvelle Recycled Purse

Whether you’re running to the gym or going out on the town, this pretty, durable, and recycled purse can fit most of your needs.
Lo and Sons Nouvelle Recycled Purse
Photograph: Lo & Sons

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Recycled nylon is versatile and durable. Pretty silhouette. Adjustable strap works as cross-body or shoulder-bag style.
Can’t fit all my snacks. Strap is slightly too long.

After a lifetime of wearing and looking for bags, I can state that there is no perfect bag. Supersize, slouchy totes and Juicy Couture velvet handbags reigned supreme in high school. In college, I took a backpack to class and switched to tiny purses for unobstructed bar crawls. While commuting in a city, nothing but a cross-body that I could fill up to last the whole day would do.

Recently though, I've been on the hunt for a shoulder bag. It has to be big enough to hold essentials but small enough to be unobtrusive and versatile. I couldn't find anything that hit all the marks. They were too tiny, too big. They either looked too cheap or cost too much. I was Goldilocks in search of the perfect purse, ready to give up. Then I found the Lo & Sons Nouvelle. It's a shoulder bag, it's a cross-body, and it's meant for any and all occasions. It's recycled, too.

Get Your Bag

Every style magazine has some feature or article about taking a look from day to night. The Nouvelle is exactly that kind of piece. Nylon bags are usually casual and athletic; they're great to throw on for grocery store trips, but maybe not for fancy parties. But this purse, particularly in black, adapts well wherever I go. With yoga pants and a hoodie, it's a simple purse. I'm out running errands or going for a walk. With a dress and heels, it's a going-out bag for dates. I'm put together and sleek. Its silhouette is modern but functional. The flat bottom lets it stand upright on its own (unless it's overly stuffed) and a curved top fits comfortably under an arm.

I work from home, so I'm not necessarily going from an office to a nightclub, but I do like to own things that are multi-use and can withstand wear. Want to own one bag and one bag only, or can only pack light for a vacation? The Nouvelle is your girl. It's water-resistant too, so I don't have to be overly cautious of getting caught in the rain or spilling a drink.

Lo & Sons Nouvelle Purse.

Photograph: Lo & Sons

It's compact, just 7 inches by 9 inches, but still fits my phone, wallet, oversize keychain, a few accessories like lipstick and a hair clip, and an e-reader—I toted a Kindle Paperwhite and even the larger Nook Glowlight 4 Plus.

This isn't the bag that you can stuff your entire life into, and unfortunately, I couldn't fit my Ziploc full of pretzels and my Kindle on a recent outing. But despite its size, there are deliberate details meant for organization. An interior zipper pocket runs the entire length of one side. In there, you'll find three card slots if you want to go completely sans wallet or if you just want your most-used cards, like a MetroCard or ID, to be within easy reach. There's an additional mesh pocket on either side and a key leash. A zipper pocket on the front fits my iPhone 11 with room to spare.

Lo & Sons Nouvelle Purse.

Photograph: Lo & Sons

The removable nylon strap is as thoughtfully designed as the rest of it. Nearly every purse I have, despite the style, has similar straps—thin and uncomfortable, usually made of some type of faux leather that eventually cracks. This one, though, is sewn into padded tubing. It's functional, so it doesn't dig painfully into your shoulder, but also adds an extra element to an otherwise simple design—it looks sporty, but also like a pretty woven element. It also seems like it can withstand a good amount of weight and pulling without snapping.

When fully expanded, it's long enough to wear as a cross-body, but I do wish it got slightly shorter at its smallest. I was hoping for a bag to sit directly under my arm, and this one is just a little longer than that. (Reviews editor Adrienne So switches out her purse straps for guitar straps from Etsy, but that's more of a daytime look.)

At either end of that strap, the metal clasps are attached using faux leather made from nopal cactus. The rest of the bag is made from sustainable materials, too. The exterior and strap is made from recycled nylon and the lining is recycled polyester with a jacquard hummingbird print. As a bird lover, I appreciate that little detail every time I open the bag. The zipper pulls also get the same hummingbird imprint.

The Nouvelle comes in a few colors, but I particularly like that there are three black options: one with gunmetal accents, one with silver, and one with gold that also gets a purple lining. The other colors—navy, tan, and ivory—have gold hardware.

Family Matters

I had never tried the brand before now, but other WIRED writers have liked and recommended Lo & Sons bags for years, including the Hanover 2 backpack and Pearl cross-body. Whatever size or style, every piece of the design is meant to work in both beauty and function. It doesn't work if it's pretty but unbearable to carry all day, or if it fits a weekend's worth of items but looks like a sack.

Lo & Sons is a family brand started by, you guessed it, two sons, who partnered with their retired mom in an attempt to make her the perfect bag. She wanted something that could travel well without being frumpy, heavy, or, as they perfectly describe, a “pocketless black hole” (also known as the purse where your things go to die). Several prototypes later, the O.G. was born. We haven't tried it or its second iteration, but it has a similar shape and design to the Nouvelle sans the unique strap, in a larger size meant for travel.

As a TJ Maxx girl, I normally shy away from accessories that cost even close to triple digits. It feels good to save money, but I end up with cheaply made bags that don't last long. The search for the perfect bag is, perhaps, a futile one. I'm not sure a single purse works for every situation, need, and style, but for me, the Lo & Sons Nouvelle comes close.