Basic Work Bags: From Budget to Beyond

I receive a lot of questions about work bags (shop more totes here) and honestly, it’s hard to narrow a few down because they really run the gamut.  You can go basic and you can go downright baller–and everything in between.  But before buying a work bag, it’s important to consider your needs and determine what really matters to you in terms of functionality.  The most important factors for a work bag in my opinion are:

  • They must be big enough to carry a lot of stuff.   If I were you, I’d err on the side of bigger.
  • They can fit your computer – maybe you don’t bring it home each night, but if you’re going on a work trip, you’ll want to ensure the bag will work
  • There’s at least one inside pocket.  Trust me, you’ll want to put something valuable in there some time or another (a diamond, a memory card, tampons – whatever!)
  • Go for a neutral color – you won’t regret that.

And here’s my list–all price points represented:

  1. Everlane Day Market Tote / $175 – I have the Day Square Tote (see the post here) which is slightly smaller but this is a basic, gorgeous, leather bag.  It’s bare bones in the fact that it’s not lined and the leather isn’t as stiff as my Mansur Gavriel bag, but it’s still very soft and functional – comes in a ton of great colors, too!
  2. LV Neverfull MM / $1300 (shop more LV here)-This was my primary work bag for years (I received it as a gift in 2008 and they were a lot cheaper back then….under $800, I think) and I traveled with it a lot. It held my ThinkPad (which was so heavy) nicely and the thin leather straps didn’t even buckle…it’s a great quality bag.  I originally had the GM but returned it for the MM….I regret it.  Get the biggest bag! (The GM) . PS I still have this bag.
  3. Rebecca Minkoff Stella North South Tote – $198 (shop more RM here)- The shiny, polished leather appears very structured, which I love for work.  Also, I was SHOCKED at the price of this bag; it looks way more expensive than it is.
  4. Cuyana Carry-all Tote / $215 – I also have a beloved Cuyana bag and the pebbled leather just gets more supple with age.  The reason I chose this one was because of the longer strap option – it’s great for when you want to go hands-free while commuting.
  5. Clare V Zip Leather Tote / $445 – (shop more Clare V here) This tote is a little more funky and has some elements of style than the other classic bags I featured.  I love how this looks like a weekender tote and the contrasting strap is a fun pop.  I have a few of Clare V’s clutches and I think her bags are a great quality.
  6. Mansur Gavriel Oversize Lambskin Tote / $695 – Mansur Gavriel…the brand that launched a thousand dupes.  I have the first leather tote they launched (see here) and love it.  The leather has tanned gorgeously but there’s something about this lambskin that says “buy me…I’m cheaper than the Saint Laurent tote.”  Also, red, in my book, is both a bold color but also highly complementary to most neutrals.  If red isn’t your thing, it comes in a few other colors! (See my beloved bag here)

And I have been eyeing a Goyard Saint Louis…if you have one, let me know how it is in the comments below.

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11 comments

  1. I have a goyard tote and I’m obsessed – I did the custom monogram through them as well after pining over the bag for YEARS and I haven’t regretted it once!

  2. Love this post! Any chance you could do a follow up with work backpacks? I love the classic tote but walking around the city with a heavy laptop, lunch, and everything else necessitates a backpack- and I’ve yet to find one that’s feminine and classic.

  3. I got the Goyard St. Louis a few years ago – I also have the MG tote and a few other tote bags I swap out for my computer and work essentials. I LOVE THE GOYARD. I researched it extensively – I read the complaints about it being a pricey waxed canvas bag, but it’s amazing. It folds up to the size of a notebook when you’re not using it. It can withstand all sorts of attacks from dirty floors, toddlers, weather, it never scratches like the MG tote, and it fits perfectly over my shoulder without falling. The only drawback that I see is that most of the other carriers of Goyard bags are white upper middle class moms (like myself) and grandmas. So yeah, not original.

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