The only people who don’t understand the strategy commuting requires are those who don’t actually commute. I’m well into my fifth year of working in NYC while living in the suburbs, and all the pros are counterbalanced by the fact that I spend hours dashing to a train, waiting on the platform, sitting on a train car, furiously catching up on emails (or my latest Netflix addiction—shhh!), and then walking several blocks to the office. It’s not for the faint of heart.
But learning to be strategic with what I wear and carry changed the game. Since I stopped wanting to keep an entire basket of “office shoes” at my desk, my commuter style strategy now starts from the bottom up. Any footwear needs to be comfortable enough to get there and back, but also work for work. Sneakers are my MVP since they never pinch or slow me down and also add a sportier, trendier vibe to whatever outfit I’m wearing. I’m obsessed with Coach’s new Citysole line for spring, thanks to their three versatile styles and wide range of colors and prints. They’re just different enough to stand out from the pack.
With shoes sorted, I look at what I’m carrying (and what it’s carrying). The bag you bring on a commute has to be big enough for the basics, but not so huge that you end up over-stuffing it. Materials matter too: Excessive hardware or super thick fabric only adds to the amount of pounds you’re toting around. From there, I’m strict about what I bring and don’t waste space on anything but the essentials.
Whether you’re a fellow commuter or just looking to pare back on what you carry on any given day, here are the five accessories that have made the biggest difference for me -- starting with the Coach Citysole sneaker.
Picking a shoe that you can wear on the commute and straight into the office is super important, yet not always an easy task. When you do, you’ll find it improves your life (not to mention your look) immeasurably. Decades past would have seen women wearing a running shoe before switching into heels at their desk, but sneakers like the Citysole are sophisticated enough to work with spring dresses or smart trousers. Yet thanks to shock-absorbing cushioning and a lightweight design that’s based on basketball shoes (yes, seriously), they still do the job if you need to dash to make your train.
A roomy tote is a commuting lifesaver, but its practical nature doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. I’m always on the lookout for a bag that’s more elevated than a canvas shopper, and Coach’s Charlie Carryall is a worthy investment. The rich leather and sophisticated shape make it something you’ll want to carry; the fact that it’s wide enough for a laptop, has an interior zippered divider, and a detachable shoulder strap option are all happy benefits.
One of the smartest things I did to ease my commute was create a go-bag: a zippered pouch with the bits and bobs I like to keep handy (like mints, an extra hair elastic, and a few napkins—a jerky train doesn’t always work well with coffee). I rely on it without having to spend time thinking whether I have this or that; if I switch bags, I just toss it into the new one. Spending more on high-quality construction is worth it since it can double as a stylish clutch for a night out or traveling.
Editing down your bag to the stuff you really need is important for lightweight commuting. The wallet is one of the biggest culprits of random odds and ends and should definitely be addressed. Invest in a small zip-up with an ID window and only put the must-haves in it (a building security pass, driver’s license, single credit card, and train or bus ticket; the keychain will come in handy if your commute involves driving).
Cell phone grips or stands are nice for anyone, but essential for a commuter (you’ll thank me later if you haven’t used one yet). I invariably spend some of my standing-on-the-platform time responding to emails on my phone and being able to better hold onto it has definitely saved me from a few cracked screens. Beyond that, it’s handy for positioning on your bag or a bus tray table if you end up streaming a (well-deserved) TV show on the way home.
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