Varick Crossbody $272 at Zappos.
If you're not familiar with the brand, sold at QVC/Nordstroms/Macys, it's probably because they are relatively new on the scene (since 2006). I think the husband and wife team (Makowsky is married to fellow handbag designer Kathy Van Zeeland) have found their niche in the $200-$300 range. Made from super-malleable drum leather, or 'glove' leather, the bags feature metal hardware that really stands out against clean lines and a minimalist silhouette. A couple past collections had a teensy bit of fringing, studding, or weaving. On the whole, these are just really elegant leather bags in rich colours and traditional shapes. Look for the telltale leopard print lining from the past few years or the current paisley version.
Lahaina satchel $99 (Reg $250) on Amazon
So, why B Makowsky? Well, I recommend buying handbags much like you would buy a cantaloupe, using both appearance and intuition - touch, sniff, hold one in each hand to judge the difference in weight and heft. Of course, you could just take my word that this is the cantaloupe for you. The leather, being drum dyed, should retain it's colour even if scratched or scuffed (the dye penetrates the hide better). The chunky metal hardware usually has a satin finish and is really sturdy, especially when held up against brands of comparable price like Roots, Fossil, and Coach. If you're particularly brutal on your baggage I'd recommend a style with thicker straps to prevent fraying or breakage. You're going to want to wear this bag for a while!