So, we did the research and compiled a list of the 10 best women's tote bags. Our favorite bag is Longchamp's Le Pliage Large Shoulder Bag. It is versatile, easy to carry, and foldable. Keep reading for our other picks and check out our buying guide reviewed by a popular style blogger for tips on how to find the best tote bag for you.
With the help of style-expert Ana, we've put together some points to consider as you're choosing a tote bag. Paying attention to style, material, and other details will help you find the tote bag that suits your life best. Keep reading to learn more.
You'll want to consider what you need to carry on a daily basis, how durable your bag needs to be, and what appearance will be best for the settings you're most often in. If you're looking for a tote bag for general or daily use, you will want to look for something versatile and strong enough to handle being thrown in the car, or that can deal with bad weather.
If you have a specific function in mind like work, gym, or travel, you'll want to consider what qualities will best suit those situations. For the gym, you will need a tote bag that is spacious enough to hold clothing and equipment and maybe has features like mesh pockets for sweaty towels. Materials with some sort of waterproofing would also be appreciated!
Similarly, if you are looking for a school or work bag, you might prioritize professional style and a laptop sleeve. A secure zip closure might be best for this type of use since it's all too easy for precious electronics to fall out easily.
[For work], I think a solid color is a good place to start. You want to have something that's comfortable to carry on your shoulder, so I wouldn't worry too much about the structure; I would worry more about color and texture. If you get a nice leather, it will last you a really long time. And it becomes part of your signature look.
Think about when you plan to use the tote and what you'll need to carry. For example, if you're traveling with it, it should be big enough to fit your toiletries, clothes, and maybe even an extra pair of shoes. If you just need it for quick outings, a smaller size might be better, just big enough for your daily necessities.
A school or work tote requires room for any necessary school or office supplies, your laptop, and, as Ana pointed out, some energy bars and a treat or two. It's never a bad idea to have extra room. Another useful function of a tote bag is to be used as a gym bag. In this case, you'll need something spacious for extra clothes, your phone, headphones, and a water bottle.
Anything that can fit a 13-inch laptop is probably the largest you should go with. If it’s big enough to fit a 15- or 17-inch, you’ve gone too big. In that case, you should carry a backpack.
After you determine what size will best fit your needs, consider what material you want your tote bag to be made of. This will largely depend on the style you're looking for, as well as the durability you need.
Leather totes, with their sleek silhouette and toned-down colors, offer a more neutral appearance and can be appropriate whether you're at a business lunch meeting or on a weekend trip with friends. You can dress up any outfit with a sleek, structured black tote, or wear it with a more casual outfit. Leather also ages gracefully. In Ana’s words, “The more you use [leather bags], the shinier and richer they get.”
It should also be noted that leather tends to be a heavier material. However, it won't accumulate as much dust or dirt, and can usually be cleaned by a quick wipe-down with a cloth. It does require a little extra care by occasionally using products like leather moisturizer, which come in the form of wipes or cream.
When there’s precipitation and I’m going out, I make sure I have some protector on my shoes and bags as a general rule. It’s really inexpensive - I just buy a $7 product from my local shoe store that I spray on and then wipe down. I do it once a month at the most, and it’s never been a problem for me.
If you’re looking for a bag that can be used daily, a synthetic tote is a great option. Synthetics are very durable and will hold up against regular use. As for their look, they vary in pattern and color, so you can easily find one that matches your personal style. Synthetic fabrics also don't wrinkle easily, keeping its look fresh.
While synthetic bags can be more difficult to wash, many are light in weight. For example, acrylic and polyester are both lightweight synthetic fabrics. This makes synthetic tote bags easier to carry around on a daily basis.
Synthetic bags can vary in use. They can be used as grocery bags, outdoor bags, and if you choose one with a bit more structure and detailing, you could just as easily carry it to the office.
I’ve seen a lot of women carrying black or brown or grey Longchamp nylon bags to work. They’re sturdy, lightweight, and water-resistant, so they’re a good alternative to leather bags on a rainy day. Because of the color, the leather additions, and the zipper, they look elegant.
Fabric totes are lightweight, casual, and easy to care for. Natural fabrics fit a soft and breezy aesthetic that is ideal in the summertime. These bags can also work well as a weekend bag or for shopping trips. While these aren't the best bags for professional spaces, they are perfect if you're looking for something simple.
Linen, hemp, and cotton are popular natural tote bag fabrics. Linen and cotton are thinner and lighter and they fold readily, making good backup bags. Canvas is sturdy and possibly the best choice if you need to carry anything heavy, like groceries or textbooks.
Cotton is typically soft and refined in texture, but canvas can be rougher. On the other hand, canvas is more resilient and can be water-proofed. Cotton maintains the most softness when compared to linen, but linen is the stronger fabric.
I love carrying fabric bags in the summer. If I’m going to my parents’ house or the movies and I need to bring extra jackets, I use a fabric bag. I just find it so versatile. The other [fabric bag] that I have is my weekend travel bag. It’s canvas, and it’s got a really long handle. It’s so light that I can wear it cross-body and take it on the plane.
Another important factor that determines how easy a tote bag is to carry is the handle. Shorter handles are great for holding the bag with your hands, while longer handles allow you to carry it on your shoulder with ease. There are cross-body designs that are made for the purpose of distributing the weight of the bag across your body, making it comfortable to wear, and leaving your hands free.
Tote bag closures range from buttons to magnetic closures, to zippers, to no closures at all. The best closure for you depends on personal preference, how easily you want to be able to access your bag, and how secure you want your belongings.
Zippers, for example, are a more secure type of closure. These work well if you are traveling or moving a lot since they ensure nothing will fall out. However, magnetic closures or buttons take slightly less time to open and therefore make your bag's contents more accessible.
Other things to consider are pockets. Inside pockets can be great to keep smaller items secure in your bag, so you won't have to dig around for them. You can use these to place your phone or wallet for easy access.
Many tote bags use twill or cotton in their lining. Twill is durable and conceals stains well, while cotton is sturdy and can be machine-washed. A wireframe lining is great for maintaining the bag's shape.
Another detail to look for is adjustable handles. Some have a sliding buckle, while others will have two separate handles of different lengths that you can choose from. This feature can be especially convenient if you're carrying a bag for a long period of time and want to adjust how you're carrying it, for example over the shoulder or across your body.
On the exterior, it's nice if there's a pocket that you can slide a transit pass in for easy access. I also like bags that you can cinch on the sides so you can make them smaller or larger.
And then on the inside, I always appreciate a zipper pocket, especially because tote bags typically don’t have a zipper. But even if it’s open, if it has a nice large zipper pocket on the inside, you can keep your wallet safe when you’re walking around with it.
There is a wide range of tote bags, so you're guaranteed to find at least one that fits your lifestyle and preferences. However, all the choices can be overwhelming. To narrow down your selection, read on to find our choices for the 10 best tote bags.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Ana unless explicitly stated so.
Le Pliage Large Shoulder Bag
Vintage Tote Bag
Zip-Top Boat & Tote
Large Tote Bag
Laptop Tote Bag
Micro Luggage Handbag
Large Lightweight Tote Bag
Stadium Approved Clear Tote Bag
Best for Versatility
Best for Long-Term Use
Best Practical, Customizable Bag
Best Tote That Includes a Charm and Pouch
Best Tote With a Durable Structure
Best Casual Tote
Best for Laptops
Best for Special Occasions
Best for Outdoor Events
Best for Concerts, Festivals and Sports
|Best for||Travel, work||Weekend trips||Travel, everyday||All occasions, regular use||Work||Daily use||Laptops||Special occasions||Picnics, beach||Events with security checks|
|Dimensions||12.25 x 11.75 x 7.5 in.||13 x 15 x 5.5 in.||12 x 13 x 6 in.||14.5 x 11.5 x 6 in.||11.25 x 14.25 x 5 in.||15 x 5 x 13.5 in.||16.7 x 12.6 x 5.7 in.||10 x 10 x 6 in.||18 x 6.3 x 14.5 in.||12 x 6 x 12 in.|
|Materials||Nylon, leather||Leather||Canvas||Calfskin leather||Leather, suede||Corduroy||Pleather, polyester||Calfskin, suede||Nylon, polyester||Vinyl|
|Weight||0.7 lbs.||2.2 lbs.||Not provided||1.3 lbs.||3.1 lbs.||Not provided||1.9 lbs.||Not provided||0.5 lbs.||0.48 lbs.|
|Design details||Zipper closure||Interior pocket||Zipper closure, 2 handle lengths available||Magnetic closure, tethered zip pouch||Removable pocket, suede lining, twist-lock closure||Zipper closure, side pockets, internal pockets||Water-repellent, shoulder strap, metal feet||Outer pocket, inner pocket, suede lining, studded feet, zipper closure||Waterproof fabric, inner and outer pockets||Adjustable strap, double way zipper, transparent|
|Best for||Travel, work|
|Dimensions||12.25 x 11.75 x 7.5 in.|
|Design details||Zipper closure|
|Best for||Weekend trips|
|Dimensions||13 x 15 x 5.5 in.|
|Design details||Interior pocket|
|Best for||Travel, everyday|
|Dimensions||12 x 13 x 6 in.|
|Design details||Zipper closure, 2 handle lengths available|
|Best for||All occasions, regular use|
|Dimensions||14.5 x 11.5 x 6 in.|
|Design details||Magnetic closure, tethered zip pouch|
|Dimensions||11.25 x 14.25 x 5 in.|
|Design details||Removable pocket, suede lining, twist-lock closure|
|Best for||Daily use|
|Dimensions||15 x 5 x 13.5 in.|
|Design details||Zipper closure, side pockets, internal pockets|
|Dimensions||16.7 x 12.6 x 5.7 in.|
|Design details||Water-repellent, shoulder strap, metal feet|
|Best for||Special occasions|
|Dimensions||10 x 10 x 6 in.|
|Design details||Outer pocket, inner pocket, suede lining, studded feet, zipper closure|
|Best for||Picnics, beach|
|Dimensions||18 x 6.3 x 14.5 in.|
|Design details||Waterproof fabric, inner and outer pockets|
|Best for||Events with security checks|
|Dimensions||12 x 6 x 12 in.|
|Design details||Adjustable strap, double way zipper, transparent|
From the beach to business, the right bag will keep you organized and make sure you have all the stuff you need. Check out these other useful and fashionable choices!
To find more great options for tote bags, check out Amazon's best selling women's tote bags.
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary, as well as extra tips and advice. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
Home electronics, PC, camera
Cosmetics and skincare
Food and drinks
Kids and baby
Interior and furniture
DIY and tools
Sports and fitness
Books, CDs, DVDs
Cars and motorcycles
Housing equipment and renovation
Smartphones and mobile phones
Investment and asset management
Credit cards and loans