Jerome Dreyfuss Billy Bag | A Review

After I posted an outfit yesterday in which I featured my “new” billy bag with an added shoulder strap, Sophie asked me to do a more thorough review of the bag. She indicated that she’s been a bit frustrated with hers and since I have shared some of her frustrations, I agreed it was time to write a deeper review.

(click each image for a larger file, then the back button in your browser to come back to the post)

My bag is the Jerome Dreyfuss Billy bag, NOT the large version (although I see the bag mis-labeled all the time), and I’ve had it for a couple of years. In 2009, I had a large billy bag (outfit here), but sold it because it was just too large to manage. I LOVE my bag, but it has some limitations, and in general, it’s not as practical as I’d like it to be, so I don’t end up carrying it as much as I’d like to. At least until I added the longer shoulder strap.

First, here are my absolute ESSENTIALS for a bag:
Short straps so I can carry it by hand or at my elbow – and grab it fast
At least one long adjustable strap so I can carry it on my shoulder or crossbody
One outside pocket
At least one inside pocket

This is why I love my Jas M.B. wings traveler bags so much, because they meet and exceed all of my requirements – except I do wish I had one larger version. The Billy bag has short straps, which is how I used to carry it (outfit picture here), but I don’t like for that to be my ONLY option. The shoulder strap that comes with the bag is good for carrying on your shoulder, but not long enough for me (I like my bags to hang right at my hip), and makes the bag much more difficult to get into.

The Billy bag doesn’t have a top closure, only snaps by the short handles. When you do close the snaps, it folds one of the straps inside the bag, which is a little awkward. I hardly ever close my bags though, so this isn’t a big issue for me. The bag has one large open pocket on the side, and one zipped pocket in the front. I wish the front pocket was a little deeper/wider, but it is just large enough to hold my phone, keys & a lip gloss. Overall the bag is large enough to carry all my essentials, plus my iPad & kindle in the same case and my 15″ laptop. When you set Billy down, it does kind of plop open (see image above), so you have to be mindful that nothing falls out, but I’ve never had an issue with it. Also, the flashlight in mine have NEVER worked, I just remove them…

I have used it for traveling, but just as a carry-on, not at my final destination. It’s great as a carry-on, but I like a little bit smaller bag and one I can carry cross-body when I reach my destination. Also, when I travel, I like to carry a bag that closes securely 😉

Adding the longer strap (again, as seen here) has made me love this bag even more. It still doesn’t close very well; I usually just make sure it’s not going to spill out and fold it over a little – but it’s so much easier to carry and get into than without the longer strap. Right now, I’m using a canvas strap borrowed from one of my kipling suitcases, but I plan on ordering one or two of these leather straps from Etsy soon (I almost bought a cheap bag from Target yesterday just for the strap!!).

In general, I think this bag NEEDS to come with a longer strap, but I would still recommend it as is. The leather is THE SOFTEST ever, and the bag is so beautifully made. The Billy is still Jerome Dreyfuss’ most popular style, but I love the Jacques this season (it has a longer strap attached), and since more and more places online are carrying Jerome Dreyfuss, it’s much easier to find on sale than ever before.

Do you have a Jerome Dreyfuss Billy bag? What are your thoughts/input?

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  1. Mamavalveeta03 says

    Amazingly thorough review, Grechen! I wish all reviewers put this much thought into posts. But you’ve spoiled us and now we’ve come to expect it from you 😉

  2. Judi says

    Thanks, Grechen! I’ve been a stalker for a long time…this is my first comment/question. So, you’re saying you have the Billy M…the one that measures 35 x 30 cm? I’ve been lusting after a L, but seeing yours makes me think I’m wrong, especially since you can fit a 15″ laptop in yours, and I’m only carrying a 13″ MacBook…

    Your reviews are so much fun…and so thorough. Thanks again!

    • says

      Yes, those are the correct measurements for mine. When I do carry my laptop there’s not a whole lot of room for my iPad/kindle case, but it fits with my wallet, makeup bag and sunglasses case ( which are all quite large!).

      The medium holds a ton, more than you’d think, and I think that’s because it has no closure…mine seems to hold even more now that I’ve added the longer strap. It just makes it soooo much more useful and easier to carry.

      Hope that helps!! Thanks for de-lurking to leave a comment 😉

      • Judi says

        Thanks! That was amazingly helpful, on many counts. (Lurker…not stalker. Got it.)

        Here’s a laugh for you: I actually cut out kraft paper replicas of both sizes to try out (now that I live in VT rather than NYC, life is way better, but shopping is done mostly online unless I run up to Montreal). Wow, the L is HUGE. I quite understand why you sold yours! Ideally I’d love to see a size between the M and the L, but I suspect a custom JD is not in my future.

  3. Sophie says

    Hi Grechen! Thanks for the review and the photos. I laughed out loud when I saw the last photo — looks exactly like mine!! I was out shopping yesterday and saw a Billy bag for spring in a textured leather (sort of looked like rough linen) and it didn’t have any of *our* collapsability issues because the leather held the bag up. I wonder if your bag is calfskin, like mine? Because the other bag they had there was in lambskin and it stood up a bit more too.

    The salesperson also had a good idea about maybe adding another set of snaps to the two straps on the inside of the purse to close it up more.

    As I was leaving, I ran into another shopper who said she returned the Billy because she said she just couldn’t make it work. I’m going to try your long strap — and the snap thing — and get back to you.

    Thanks again for the post!

  4. CM Soo says

    Hi Grechen! Great to find your post through my finding of JD-Billy bag.

    May I ask which color of billy that you showed on said document?
    Is it belongs to Moka/ brown (since it’s not very similar that I found in JD website), size for medium, right?

    Thanks for your comment and it’s really push me to try a billy bag in future soon.

    • says

      the color of mine is burgundy – or he might call it bordeaux, I’m not sure! it is a size medium. it is a few years old, so the color is not current.
      thanks for your comment! and let me know if you ever have any other questions.

  5. says

    I have the medium Billy Bag and my Macbook Air, a wallet, sunglass case, travel umbrella and cosmetic case are just too much in this so I just ordered a large Billy Bag. Just fyi on those wondering about the size. The fact that it doesn’t close bothers me but this is still my dream bag. I never close it because overlapping the straps is difficult and annoying. I don’t find an issue with the strap being too short at all.

  6. Asha says

    Hi, noticed this post is some time back, hope you still answer.

    Does the short handles on the medium billy fit under the arms/shoulder or do you really have to use the long strap? How about the large bag? I am tossing between the two sizes.


    • says

      yes, they do fit, but barely. they would not fit if you’re wearing a coat or a heavy sweater. i really found the only way to use those shorter straps was to hold the bag by hand. i had both the large and the medium sizes and the short handles were the same.

      hope that helps!

  7. Julie says

    Hey Gretchen,

    Thanks so much for this review, I’m aware it’s old! Just wondering if you know what your bag is made of? I actually prefer this slouchy soft look to what Im’ seeing at my shop now. Which looks like canvas, it’s so stiff. I’m assuming that is lamb I”m seeing, but really like the look of yours.

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