Last Updated on 16 January 2020 by Marie Davis
Totes are the perfect bag to take to work and can help you look stylish, polished, and professional. They are sizable enough that they can fit everything you need to take along on your day, including laptops, lunch, shoes, and clothes, or whatever else you may need. The best totes are comfortable to wear with durable, sturdy straps and are made from premium material like leather that looks great and adds a beautiful element to your outfit. If you are wondering what some of the most popular designs are that make the perfect carry-all companion, we have compiled a list of some of the best options.
Street Level Reversible Faux Leather Tote & Wristlet
The Street Level Reversible Faux Leather Tote & Wristlet is a soft, faux leather design that gives the look of an expensive leather style but without the hefty price tag. What is cool about the design is that you can reverse it, so you actually get two colors for the price of one. It has a useful magnetic closure that makes it easy to open, close, or quickly retrieve items from the interior. The size is great for lunch, workout clothes, a laptop, a water bottle, and a book. There are no pockets on this design, but it does come with the wristlet that you can use to store smaller items. The 8.5-inch strap has enough length so that it will be comfortable to wear with a heavy winter coat or with bare arms. This design has a bit of structure, so it also stands up on its own. Since it isn’t real leather, you don’t have to worry that it will be damaged if you get caught in the rain, although it is waterproof and won’t stain. Overall, if you’re looking for a roomy, cheap option that is large enough to carry many things, The Street Level Reversible Faux Leather Tote is a great option to check out.
Available from Nordstrom
The Day Market Tote
The Day Market is the style that Meghan Markle famously wore on her first public outing with Prince Harry. It is quite large at 19″ W (top) x 16 1/2″ W (bottom) x 13″ H, and with the handle being 9.5″, so there is a lot of space, especially if you are wearing a bulky coat. The material is 100% Italian leather that comes in a few attractive color options like taupe, cognac, or black that go with any type of coat or outfit. It does have an interior pocket that can easily fit a phone or smaller items that you want to keep private. Since it is so large, it doesn’t quite stand on its own and is prone to toppingly over, so some people like to keep items in it for stability or to hang it up. If you are petite, the Day Market design may not be the best option due to its size as it might look disproportional or be uncomfortable when full or heavily loaded. For most women though, the design is practical and easy to use with plenty of room for everyday work items.
Available from Everlane
Madewell’s Medium Transport Tote
The classy Madewell Medium Transport Tote is quite a bit smaller than the Day Market design, but it is big enough to carry a tablet and wallet and a few other items for your day. The dimensions are 11″W x 12″H x 5 ½”D, but you can still carry a lot in it, and it is very lightweight even when stuffed full. The great thing about wearing a slightly smaller tote is that it won’t be quite so heavy carrying it around since you won’t be able to fit at much in it. It has an 8-inch drop-down strap that is comfortable and easy to wear on the shoulder and also comes with a removable over the shoulder straps that allow you to wear it as a crossbody. It has an open top with no closure, but it does have a large interior pocket with a zipper. It also has a handy outside pocket that can fit a phone or keys, so they are easy to access. The other notable feature is that it has a flat base so it will hold its shape to be able to stand up on its own and won’t fall over.
Available from Nordstrom
Cuyana Classic Structured Leather Tote
Another Megan Markle favorite is the Cuyana Classic Structured Leather Tote. It is a beautiful large option made from soft, high-quality leather with a microsuede lining. Since this is a structured bag, it holds its shape well, which can be difficult for such a large leather design. However, some women find the double-layer structure to be a little bit heavy, so if your day to day essentials include laptops and heavier clothing items and you have to wear it on your shoulder for an extended period. Regardless, The Cuyana design is a sophisticated style that is very well-made can be an excellent option work. This style does have a lateral leather tie for closure that changes the shape of the bag to make it look less like a traditional tote, it also features an interior zipper pocket, and you can get it monogrammed if you wish. If you aren’t familiar with Cuyana, they are a brand that makes high-quality items with the goal of using materials and processes that have a low impact on the environment.
Available from Cuyana.com
Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM
For a lot of women, the ultimate work or travel tote is the Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM. It is instantly recognizable as a high-end piece, but what makes it so loved apart from the branding aspect is that it is comfortable, practical, and sturdy. The colors are lovely, and the size is perfect for lugging your belonging back and forth to work. The price is obviously bonkers, but It is a luxury that can perk you up when having to go into the office,
Available from louisvuitton.com
Longchamp ‘Large Le Pliage’
The Large Le Pliage from Longchamp is another tote that you see everywhere. Women love them because they are lightweight and have a simple, recognizable look that is easily identifiable. They are a reasonably basic nylon style that is a little pricey, but women tend to keep their Longchamp’s for years so they can be considered a bit of an investment. If you find the price to be a little too much for your budget, there are lots of copies sold on Amazon with a similar style. The Large Le Pliage is very roomy and has a flat bottom to help it stand up by itself. The great thing about Le Pliage is it has a zipper closure as well as the leather snap closure, so you don’t have to worry about anything falling out. It folds up easily when not in use. The dimensions of this classic design are 12 ¼”W x 11 ¾”H x 7 ½” D, and it has a comfortable 9″ strap drop.
Available from Nordstrom
Iconic Vera Tote
The Iconic Vera Tote from Vera Bradley is an excellent option for commuting. It is lightweight and made of a durable, yet polished looking microfiber. It has six inside pockets and three outside pockets, so there are a lot of places to store all of your essentials for the day, and they will be easy to find. The Iconic Vera comes in several standard color options as well as fun printed patterns. It’s big enough to store everything, and looks beautiful and professional, whether you are wearing a suit or jeans. The Iconic Vera is the perfect purse/work combination since it has enough room for daily essentials as well as everything you need for work. The zip closure lets you close the bag securely, the straps are a comfortable length, and it has enough structure to stand up on its own.
Available from VeraBradley.com
Lo and Sons The Seville Tote
This innovative design from Lo and Sons isn’t a super popular option, but if you are looking for a high-quality, versatile tote that has brilliant features, you may want to give it a look. The Seville is a fantastic carry-all for work as it has a padded laptop sleeve that is perfect for storing your electronics. It also has tonnes of pockets, so it is convenient to store all of your goodies and easy to find everything. My favorite feature of The Seville is that it has a long key leash, so you will never have trouble finding your keys, which are always the toughest thing to find when you throw them in a large bag. You can get The Seville in two sizes, either a 13″ or a 15 “, and it comes in three color options: grey, dark grey, or black. The outer material is a Saffiano Leather that is scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and extremely durable, and the lining is a signature hummingbird Jacquard print. This Lo and Sons design is a beautiful bag that helps keep you super organized for work.
Available from Lo and Sons
Mamuye Classic Tote
For those who like to support brands by women, you may want to check out the female-run company Mamuye that sells products that are meant to make women’s lives easier. One of the brand’s bestselling products is the Mamuye Classic Tote. This is a lovely bag that makes the perfect everyday style. It has been handcrafted in Ethiopia and Mexico and is made from a soft, flexible 100% distressed leather. The dimensions of this carry-all are 14″ H x 16″ W x 6″ D, and the straps have a whopping 10.5″ drop, so there is lots of room there. This is a beautiful and well-crafted choice that will hold up well to wear and get better with age.
Available from LiveFashionable.com
Tory Burch Gemini Link Coated Canvas Tote
The Tory Burch Gemini Link Coated Canvas Tote is a gorgeous bag that is a little bit more exciting than your plain black leather options (although Tory Burch does also have a great plain tote that is very popular). The Gemini Link is made from a water-resistant coated canvas, with leather accents on the bottom and the straps. The canvas has a lovely pattern on the fabric that looks slightly similar to a Goyard St. Louis, but the bag itself is a much more structured shape. It features a magnetic snap-tab closure, interior wall slip pocket, and it has a flat base. It is spacious, stylish, and very lightweight. This is a classy design that’s perfect for work since it is comfortable on the shoulder and will fit everything you need.
Available from Nordstrom
Considerations When Shopping for a Tote
Material– The best work designs are generally leather (either faux or real), polished canvas, or perhaps nylon. Leather is usually the most durable and tends to easily fit with professional outfits, although they can come with a fairly hefty price tag. There are lots of great faux leather options worth considering if you don’t want to invest a large amount of money.
Weight– The weight of a design is quite an important consideration. If the bag is too heavy, it can be uncomfortable to carry the extra weight. Conversely, if the fabric is too thin or flimsy, it won’t hold up well to daily usage. Some leather options can be on the heavy side and worth avoiding if you will be carrying particularly heavy options like a laptop or shoes that may add extra weight. Heavier bags are generally the most durable and can take the heavier weight without showing wear. It can be a bit of a balancing act to find a style with a weight that will work well for your needs that will stand up to daily usage.
Size -Size is another crucial aspect that you will need to consider when looking for a great work option. First, you will want a size that will be able to fit everything you need for your working day. Some of the totes are very large and won’t have trouble fitting items, but they may become excessively bulky and uncomfortable to carry. Sometimes having a large bag will mean that you bring more stuff when you don’t necessarily need to. If you have back or neck issues, you may want to consider a smaller size, so it is more comfortable to transport. If you are petite, sometimes the large styles will overwhelm your frame and will not feel right.
Closure– Many totes don’t include a closure at all, so it may lead to a lack of privacy (people will be able to see into your bag). An excellent option on bigger bags is a magnetic closure to give you privacy but also make it easy to open and close it.
Structure– (or lack of structure) Whether or not the bag sits up on its own seems like kind of a silly thing, but when you have a large tote that slumps over, it can be kind of irritating. Designs with flat bases are often a style that will sit well on a surface and have a bit of stability.
Slip pockets– Some of these bags can be pretty cavernous and challenging to find smaller items. Inside or front pockets make it easier to find smaller stuff like keys or a cell phone.
Straps– You will want to look for a strap length that allows you to wear the bag over your arm, over your shoulder or both. If the bag includes a shoulder strap, ensure that the length is long enough to fit over a winter/heavy coat if needed.
Lining– Some styles are lined, a lot of the leather and faux leather options are not. Depending on the color of the lining, it can help make it easier to find items within the bag.
Color– if you are going to be using it everyday color is another important consideration. You should easily be able to find leather and faux leather options in basic leather colors like black or brown. Nylon or microfiber will give you many more color options.