Review: J. Crew Harper Satchel in Italian Leather

The Harper Satchel, which comes in two sizes and a rainbow of autumn colors (in the mini), is part of J. Crew’s fall “relaunch.” Marketed as a “have-forever” bag, it’s inoffensive and universal enough to be considered for addition to any wardrobe.

As a bona fide J.Crew fangirl, I wasted no time ordering the bag in both sizes to try on, and ultimately decided to keep one in each size, despite their simplicity, as I found the price points reasonable and the frill-free design versatile.


(Regular) 9″ H x 12-½” W x 6″ D with a 2-½” handle drop and removable, adjustable shoulder straps

(Mini) 5-½” H x 7-¼” W x 4″ D with a 5-½” handle drop and removable, adjustable shoulder straps

I take issue when bag makers release a bag in like five similar sizes (because paradox of choice), but the Harper Satchel should have been released in another size: one that falls halfway between toy bag and tote. The mini is adorable and great for running simple errands, but doesn’t hold much more than a smartphone, keys, a card case, and a few smaller beauty items; while the “regular” Harper Satchel is too large for any occasion other than work. An “in-between” size is likely more desirable to reformed pack rats who need bags large enough to store personal essentials but not so large that mobility is compromised.

J. Crew The Harper Mini Satchel in Italian Leather: Burnished Pecan and Desert Canyon


(Regular) $328

(Mini) $168

The retail price is reasonable for the quality, but because the bags are J. Crew, why pay full price? As the design is still new and seems to sell well, J. Crew has excluded both sizes from current store-wide promotions; but if you are willing to wait, both styles will be discounted, likely within weeks. Of course, if you have a need for new bags or a clear color preference, I wouldn’t wait too long. Something like a 25% discount brings the price of the bag to a very reasonable range.


The bag is well made (i.e., even stitching and durable top zippers), the leather smooth and supple (downside is it lacks structure, especially in the larger size; this bag is best for those who like bags that slouch easily with wear), and the hardware sturdy.

The bags are “minimalist” in concept (which is cost-saving!): exterior-wise, there is a blind imprint J. Crew stamp on the front and a card pocket on the back, with polished “loops” (“subtle equestrian vibe”) and a hanging key fob as its only decoration.

On the inside: The larger satchel has one zippered pocket on one wall and two slip pockets on the other, while the mini satchel has just one zippered pocket on the inside.


Add a monogram (max: three letters; in the front, top and centered) for $10. Available in gold foil stamp, blind imprint stamp, or silver foil stamp.

There is nothing groundbreaking or especially compelling about the Harper Satchel: it is not meant to make a statement or draw attention. This is a bag designed to be used (and used often) so it can’t have too much personality or it may risk clashing with outfits.

I decided to keep the bag in both sizes because 1) I wanted a very small bag for outfits that don’t have deep enough pockets, and 2) I also wanted a slouchier leather work bag that has a zip top. And the price is reasonable for the material and construction. If you have a similar set of considerations, this bag may be for you.

Buy the Harper Mini Satchel in Italian Leather at Nordstrom and J.Crew and the “large” Harper Satchel in Italian Leather at Nordstrom and J. Crew.

Hi, I am Elle!

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