Stylish Florida fashion means it's 'all in the bag'

If you lust for leather boots and bags in the fall, but Florida fashion – and weather – means the mere thought of a heavy bag makes you sweat, here's your answer: a faux leather tote that's so expensive looking, your friends will think you took a trip to Paris and raided the shops on the Champs Elysees.

I just bought a cream-colored tote – it comes with a matching clutch! – at Anthony's, the leaders in women's Florida fashion.

This tote by Empire New York is the most fashionable and practical handbag for your Florida fall.

Here's why: It looks just like leather, but it's polyurethane, so it's light and durable, and you can wipe it right off.

If you think faux leather is not cool for a handbag, think again. The hottest tote bag in New York right now is a molded rubber tote that comes in a bunch of colors. This rubber tote is so hot that Bill Cunningham, a famous fashion photographer for The New York Times, just did a story and video on it.

My Empire tote is even cooler than the one featured in The Times because...it is colorful, practical, affordable and reversible!

One side is a go-with-everything cream, and the other side is a wild fuchsia.

The matching cream-colored clutch is just the right size to put my cell phone, lipstick, credit card and keys in. So, I can carry the tote all day long while I'm out volunteering or babysitting the grandkids – then just pull the clutch out and use it as an evening bag when I'm meeting my hubby later for cocktails.

This tote has a minimal amount of hardware – also a new trend – and the hardware it does have is gold.

I'll be taking my Empire New York tote on my next cruise. At under $80, it's the best handbag deal for my casual resort lifestyle.

Watch out – I'll be so chic, I might end up in The New York Times.

Val's total tote-bag cruise tip: I travel a lot, and I always take one large tote bag and a smaller purse that can go inside the tote bag. My hubby Marv and I are going on the Flower Power Cruise next February, and I'll be taking my Empire New York tote bag with me. This is a retro-theme cruise featuring '60s music and starring my favorite singers, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees and Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits. I'll use my tote bag on the wild fuchsia side and pair it with white go-go boots and a crochet shift dress by Rabbit Designs, available at Anthony's, the leaders in women's resort fashion. The cruise leaves from Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 29! Be on it, you groovy chicks!

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