In search of the perfect work bag: Lily Jade Elizabeth review and why I returned it

So, I will admit, I succumbed to the aggressive social media and influencer marketing strategy of Lily Jade. Their diaper bags are so beautiful on Instagram! They convert to backpacks! They are full grain leather! Lots of organization inside! I fell in love with the look of the Elizabeth bag, especially in camel. It looks so incredibly chic, and I thought those outer pockets also would be so handy for organization too. I thought the search for the perfect work bag that would hold the long list of all the things I needed to bring to work (and in style) would finally be over.

Sadly, as soon as I opened the eagerly awaited box, I knew I would be returning the bag.
The materials this bag was made of were a great disappointment, and certainly not worth the $350 price tag.
I admit, I am a leather snob. I love the richness of full-grain leather. I love the patina it develops. I love it even better when it isn’t lined, so I can appreciate the suede side of it too. I love its thickness. I love its natural markings. I can even put up with the weight, given scrumptious enough leather. I love how it smells. Lily Jade says in its marketing materials to get ready to smell the full grain leather. I opened the box and I smelled…plastic. Seriously guys? I thought it was just the packaging that the bag was carefully wrapped in but no, even when I took it out and gave it a sniff, it just smelled like chemicals, and not too much like leather. It was a little too close to “vegan leather” for my taste. I think that term should be banned anyway. Vegan leather is not leather, it’s plastic. I’m sure the chemical sell would air out eventually, but then I would have a bag that smelled like…nothing really. Quality full grain leather bags smell like leather from across the room. Even just touching the leather didn’t particularly interest or excite me. Again, “vegan leather” came to mind. I don’t doubt that it’s genuine but it just didn’t feel particularly luxurious or inspiring.
The interior lining did not fare much better. The pretty green “jade”-colored lining and organizer insert felt like a cheap polyester material to my fingers, not at all luxurious like I’d expect the lining of a $350 bag to feel. I would even have preferred cotton canvas. It’s hard to describe but it was just so cheap-feeling. The hardware was the same. Nice hardware has a certain sort of heft to it. This was just ordinary stuff–again, cheap-feeling.
And finally, it actually wasn’t quite big enough of a bag. That was the nail in the coffin.
Back to Lily Jade it went. Sadly you have to pay for return shipping, so I was out $25 or so, but at least I wasn’t out over $300 with a bag that I just didn’t love and therefore wouldn’t really use enough to justify the price. I know better now than to keep something I don’t absolutely love in the hopes of making it work.