We aren’t going to play cute, and we aren’t going to beat around the bush. Luxury totes are worth it. We talked to Ana–a lovely working professional with an eye for fashion (more about her below!)–about this, and it’s not a matter of snobbery. Well-crafted totes last longer. They work their handbag magic and make you look better. You love them and use them forever. You could even call them sustainable.
And we’re not telling you to go out of your budget (please don’t go into debt for the sake of Louis Vuitton), but, as Ana said, “pick the best one you can afford.” But since you will be making such a big investment, you need to make sure the bag is as functional as it is fashionable, right? So let’s talk about how to pick out a tote that’s right for you.
How to Choose Women’s Tote Bags—Buying Guide
The world of tote bags is deep and vast, and–especially when it comes to fashion–it never hurts to have a second opinion, right? So we turned to Ana, who knows what it is to look and feel good among the daily rush of modern life.
Trunk Full of Fridays
When Ana was growing up, she was told that girls can either be stylish or have a career—one or the other, take your pick. But after she grew up and got out on her own, she realized there's really no reason she can't have both. She's a chemical engineer, project management professional, and an MBA, working towards her dream of running her own company.
And yet, she manages to be incredibly stylish and classy. And that's what her channel is about—how to have the best life and career, to be organized, to take control of your finances, but do all of that in style. She's super fun, yet straight-forward. Visit her below!
・Trunk Full of Fridays: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU61hcNsg1dbcmO8Iy-gULQ/featured
Simple and Clean Designs Will Serve You, Whether You’re at or off Work
We know–with fashion, the old maxim “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t really hold true, and you just go for whatever design you like. Which is fine most of the time. However, if you are planning on bringing that tote to the office, take just a moment to consider whether it matches your work environment.
Leather totes–simple to no patterns, toned-down colors–are pretty much guaranteed to look good in any professional setting, whether you’re at a suit-and-tie affair or a business-casual lunch meeting. You want something sleek, with a clean silhouette. On the other hand, fabric bags can look out of place if you’re somewhere fancy.
There aren’t that many structured totes out there that are comfortable to carry. If you’re taking the train, if you’re going to run around office to office, if you have a lot of meetings, 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 a part of your signature look. When I first started out working, I had this beautiful Whipping Post Tote Bag. And I kind of grew out of it; it started to look older and it fell apart. Then I invested in my first luxury handbag. It’s been six years since I got it; I still have it, and it still looks amazing.
Get a Tote that Just about Fits What You Mean to Put in It (Meaning Letter-Sized Paper for Work)
Be practical. Think about when you plan to use the tote and what you need to carry. Are you going to use it for overnight trips? Then it better fit your skin care, your PJs, maybe a few towels, and a teddy bear. Are you going to take it to a quick lunch with friends? Then all it needs to do is carry your wallet, phone, keys, and hand cream or something.
If you are looking for a work tote, make sure it can fit in letter-sized paper without dog-earring the corners. Who knows when your boss is going to hand you some important documents? It may also need to fit in your laptop, a power bank, and–as Ana pointed out–some energy bars and a treat or two. (And, if you’re out of the office a lot, something to keep you hydrated.)
However, we wouldn’t go much bigger than a foot on any side. Do not get overly excited and buy a tote so big it could double as Mary Poppin’s carpet bag.
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.
Each Material Has Its Own Strengths and Weaknesses
Materials are important. (But we think you knew that.) Materials determine the entire look of a bag, how it’ll age, whether or not it’ll stand up to the rain.
The Life-Long Companion: Leather Looks Good Pretty Much Anywhere
Leather ages gracefully. In Ana’s words, “the more you use them, the shinier and richer they get.” You can dress up an outfit–a sleek, structured black tote is classic with a suit, just as it is with a rumpled white shirt and jeans–or you can dress down an outfit–pair a grungey leather bag with a pair of boots.
So, if you are looking for a forever-bag, leather is your best bet. And it’s easy enough to care for, as Ana will explain below. Leather’s biggest downfall, however, is its weight. You do not want to carry around thick books and a laptop in a leather tote.
It’s really inexpensive—so you don’t even have to buy expensive leather cleaners or leather protectors. 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. I do not have a single piece of leather that’s deteriorated because I didn’t care well enough for it.
The Goods-Protector: Nylon Holds up to Time and Rain
If you’re an outdoorsy person, you’re most likely familiar with nylon. Nylon totes are light, which means you can fill it up with heavy equipment. They’re durable, which means they won’t rip with age or the weight of that heavy equipment. And they’re water-resistant, which means they won’t let the rain ruin your heavy equipment.
Most nylon bags are used as grocery bags–you know, the kind eco-conscious moms and dads shop with. But if you choose one with a bit more structure and detailing, you could just as easily carry it to the office.
The reason they look so nice is because the handles, being leather, add some structure to the bag. And they come with a zipper as well. Naturally, they look just like a tote and then because of the color, because of the little detail of the leather additions and the zipper, they look elegant and not like a grocery bag.
The Flexible One: Fabric can Be Folded up and Stored in Your Main Bag
Fabric looks soft and breezy in summer. Many fabric totes are weekend-casual–but, again, if you get one with structure and thoughtful accents, it won’t look out of place at the office.
We couldn’t possibly name all the different fabrics out there–but linen, hemp, and cotton are popular varieties. Linen and cotton are thinner and lighter; they fold readily and make good backup bags. Canvas is sturdy and possibly the best choice if you need to carry anything heavy–your laptop, a few textbooks, and a dictionary.
And then 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 great if I’m going for an overnight trip somewhere on the weekend. It’s so light that I can wear it cross-body and take it on the plane. Those are where I use fabric bags the most. I don’t typically bring fabric bags to work unless I have a lot of books to carry.
Features You Might Not be Able to Live Without: Handles, Zippers, and Pockets
If you take the train to work and you’re standing with other commuters, body-to-body, do yourself a favor and get a tote with a zipper. Forget pickpockets–the jostling might just knock something out of your bag. Fastenings–zippers and buttons–also act as extra insurance when you’re carrying a pile of documents that need to stay in order.
See if the handles are long enough for the tote to hang comfortably from your shoulder. If it includes a shoulder strap, even better. Inner pockets help you organize your stuff; they won’t just ensure you can find things quickly, but they also might help you fit more in by properly divvying up the space. Ana talks about more helpful features below.
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.
Top 10 Best Women’s Tote Bags to Buy Online
It’s time for some retail therapy. Here are ten totes for every occasion–whether you’re at a business meeting, visiting your in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving, or grocery shopping in the rain.
10. Nine West Ava Tote Bag
Budget-Friendly and Functional: Well-Thought-out Interior Pockets, Sturdy Structure
We get it–you’re not quite ready to dish out the big bucks right now, but you still need a classy bag for work. Nine West has a series that is just as sleek and functional as all the rest. This tote isn’t leather–it’s polyvinyl chloride, which is a type of plastic. It’s sturdy, but it does show your typical wear and tear over the course of a year.
The space on the inside is divvied up practically. There’s a zippered pocket running through the middle, which also functions as a divider, one zippered pocket in the back of the bag, and two open ones up front. It holds water and magazines, though it won’t fit a laptop. The base is strong and footed–so it doesn’t collapse in on itself when you stand it up.
9. Warehouse Pod Natural Cotton Canvas Tote Bag
Just Funny: Relevant Designs, Clean and Well-Stitched Seams
When it comes to canvas totes, design is a big one. Warehouse Pod likes to add some pop culture and attitude to their bags–as you can see above, so expect unicorns, profanity, and references to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. They’re not luxury handbags–the designs have just been stamped on–but they do what they’re supposed to do.
The bag’s made of a light natural cotton, and the stitching is solid. The sides are five inches deep with gussets inserted to help the bag last longer. The bottom is rectangular and not just a seam, so you can stand the tote upright and not have it collapse in on itself.
8. YALUXE Women’s Oxford Tote
Thoughtfully Made: Light, Long-Lasting Nylon, Functional Bells and Whistles
It’s a light, thoughtfully-made bag. There’s one zipper pocket without, big enough for your commuter pass. Within, there’s your typical two open pockets up front and a zippered pocket in back. The main compartment’s large enough for a 13″ laptop and it comes with a little pouch for small cosmetic bits and lip balm. And there’s also a pleather strap for your keys.
The nylon is sturdy and resists water; strains wipe off easily as well. The straps–again, being some kind of pleather–do split a little after about a year, faster if you expose it to humidity, but the bag itself will likely hold up for much longer. It’s also zippered.
7. Celine Micro Luggage Handbag
A Winner in Design: Elegant Piece, Convenient Pockets
Ana has reviewed this tote on her channel. The design of the bag stands out to her–she calls it a “robot’s face.” The mouth of the robot is made up of a zipper, which fastens the external pocket; it’s not quite big enough for a smartphone, but you can at least slip in your commuter pass. Inside, there are two smaller open pockets in the front and a bigger zippered pocket in back.
With the Celine, though, you have to really think about whether or not it’ll fit your lifestyle. The straps aren’t long enough to go over your shoulder–and though the design of the bag is bulky, it doesn’t hold much more than a few notebooks and a wallet. If you like to have both hands free, you might find the Celine not worth the inconvenience.
6. Cuyana Classic Structured Leather Tote
Customize It: Throw in an Insert with Pockets for Your Laptop and Water Bottle
We’re in love with how customizable this tote is. As is, it’s a simple leather piece, with a medium-sized zippered pocket in back (fits a flat phone) and a small slot on the pocket (fits a business card case). There’s two leather straps affixed on the lip of the bag. You tie them; they’re the fastening.
Now, here’s where the fun begins. The bag is, first off, can be monogrammed with your initials or simple symbols. You can ask for a scarf tied onto the handles or a tasseled keychain. But our favorite may just be the organization insert, which has designated pockets for your wallet, a laptop, your sunglasses, and a bottle of water. It will cost you an extra $95, however.
5. WP Standard Vintage Tote Bag
A Beginner’s Classic: Timeless Leather, Sturdy Bottom, Holds a 15″ Laptop
The Whipping Post Tote was one of the first bags Ana had when she started out working, and she has a lovely review on her channel. She talks about a former iteration with rivets on the handles. The newer design features cross-stitching, but it’s still made from timeless leather. The leather grows thicker at the base so the bag can stand and not fall over.
The handles are thick and long–both straps will stay firmly put on your shoulder. Apart from the main compartment, there’s one generously sized pocket on the inside, into which you can fit your phone, keys, sunglasses, and a smaller wallet. The bag itself will carry a 15″ laptop, though it will get quite heavy. If you get the bag from the WP site, you can also get it monogrammed.
4. Mulberry Bayswater Tote
A Timeless Tote: Impeccable Craftsmanship and Classic Design
Ana praised Mulberry for their craftsmanship. In her words, “Their work is impeccable, and it never loses structure over time.” In exchange for durability, their totes can get a bit heavy, even for leather. The inside, by the way, is this soft suede you could pet forever.
There is one large internal pocket on the side of the bag–it’s rather flat, but you could slip in a flat wallet, a flat phone, some keys, and a pen. The pocket doesn’t have any fastenings, though it does have a flap that goes over a top. The bag itself closes with a single popper, just to keep anything from falling out. There are no feet on the bag, though the bottom is sturdy enough for it to stand alone.
3. Saint Laurent Large Shopping Tote Bag
Elegantly Simple: Leather Both Large and Light Enough for Your Laptop
Here’s another bag that Ana both reviewed on her channel and graciously mentioned to us. It’s a simple, classy bag. The sides aren’t structured and are a bit, well, floppy; however, the bag can stand firmly on its base. And though unassuming–the lettering on the bag is tiny–the bag does have character. The little tag in front, for one, slides up to reveal a charm: the YSL logo in gold.
A strap connects a pouch to the rest of the bag, but you can’t fit anything into it but your phone. There are no other pockets within the main compartment, which isn’t lined. Since there’s only one clasp up top, most of your stuff will be unsecured (not a good public transit bag). However, the simplicity might be why this bag is light, despite being leather and its size (fits a laptop).
2. Longchamp Le Pliage Large Shoulder Tote Bag
The Most Versatile: Big Enough for Weekend Getaways, Classy Enough for Work
What can’t you use this bag for? The sleek outline, the leather detailing, the gold hardware dress up this bag–so you could put on your fanciest suit and nicest scarf, and this bag still wouldn’t look out of place. But it’s nylon, which means it repels rain–and you can even wipe wine stains right off the surface. It folds, so it’s great if you need a bag to stuff in your suitcase.
This bag holds enough for an entire weekend getaway, and the handles are long enough to hang from your shoulder. However, it might benefit from more interior dividers; there’s only one pocket-tissue sized pocket. But, of course you knew all this already if you read our buying guide.
1. Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM
The Alice in Wonderland Bag: Can Go Small, Medium, or Impossibly Large
Ana has a review out for this bag, and she sang praises about it to us. The Neverfull is versatile and comes in a small, medium, and can-fit-your-17″-laptop grand. There’s a big zipper pocket on the inside for any valuables–it will hold keys, your smartphone, anything you need quick access to. You fasten the bag with single clasp up top, which is just enough to keep things from spilling out.
The rest is just a gaping well, though it does come with the pochette; it’s a bit flat, but you can put odd bits and ends into it–lip balm, sunscreen, a comb. You can attach it to the rest of the bag with a strap and also use it as a divider. If you’re petite, the MM, which we’ve introduced here, is most likely the best size for you. It’s still large enough to hold hardcover novels and iPads.
Looking to Round out Your Wardrobe? Let Us Help
We want you to love everything you wear, from the bag perching on top of your shoulder to the socks covering the ends of your toes. Here are some of our other pieces that’ll help you put together the rest of your look.
We’ve run the entire gamut of bags–from high-end to affordable pieces that simply work. These are our favorites, and if you see something that works for you, great. We congratulate ourselves on a job well done. But if you don’t, don’t stress and keep looking.
Because, as Ana told us, “if you had to pick one bag–if you only ever wanted to have one bag–then pick the one that calls out to you the most.” We all have different lifestyles, different budgets. So get one that fits you, the best that you can afford, so that you can have it for a really long time.
Nowadays, we see more men with tote bags on the business scene. From high quality leather tote bags to fashionable, functional versions, there are many types available. And with the added bonus of being able to sling around many things at once, it’s gaining popularity with working fathers as well. For fashion-conscious men, we’ve carefully selected and ranked the top 10 tote bags for men. With such an alluring line-up of tote bags, you may end up wanting all of them! We’ve included tips for selecting a business tote bag as well. How to Choose Men’s Tote Bag—Buying Guide First, we will explain how to select men’s tote bags that are also business-appropriate. For those who are constantly interacting with clients, you might want to consider a design suitable for visits. In addition, we will look into practicality and special features. Material: Look for Quality and Practicality If the bag is for business, it’s got to leave a good impression; meaning, it’s got to be made of the righ
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Dogs aren’t pets; they’re family. If you’re like most Americans, your dog is your constant companion on adventures, and you go nowhere without him or her. We hear a lot about dogs with separation anxiety, but–just between you and us–we think humans suffer from it too. Fewer and fewer people are leaving their dogs at home nowadays, giving rise to a market for dog carrier backpacks (mostly for small dogs). With a dog carrier backpack, you can take your dog onto planes and through crowded plazas where they might otherwise get crushed underfoot. And he or she can stay close to you the whole day in luxury. It’s a win-win situation. So, in this guide, we’ll cover how to choose the best out of several options for dog carrier backpacks. How to Choose a Dog Carrier Backpack – Buying Guide We are unfortunately not certified pet trainers. So, to get a better idea of just what kind of carrier your pooch might appreciate, we turned to April, the voice behind the lovable blog, Tenacious Little Ter
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