Few things are less fashionable than a sack lunch, except, perhaps, those boxy, insulated totes usually associated with schoolchildren. While brown bagging it, by some estimates, can save consumers $1,500 a year, looking the part is often a deal breaker for women who'd rather not have their humble, home-packed lunches viewed as an undesirable accessory.
But a handful of companies are elevating the brown bag concept with chic designs that can help them save money for what matters, whether it's designer heels or denim. Picnic Time, based in Moorpark, Calif., makes a neoprene lunch tote called the Milano that's offered in a rainbow of fall colors, from olive to orange to burgundy, and retails for $22. Built, based in New York, also makes a line of colorful neoprene totes it sells for $23 to $25 under the "gourmet getaway" label. Neoprene is insulated as well as easily washable.
Sachi Insulated Fashion takes a slightly different tack, offering lunch totes in dozens of styles designed to look like purses.
"People are looking to save money and the environment by packing a lunch," said Todd Hannon, president and founder of Sachi Insulated Fashion, based in Wisconsin. "Our bags look like normal handbags, so if you're looking to be fashionable or discreet, you can do that."