In the world of handbags, totes take the cake for most essential. A great tote is a wardrobe workhorse – a morning-noon-and-night choice with enough room for all of your daily necessities.
A great tote has staying power (read: timeless, not trendy). The key is to buy right, keeping in mind function and paying attention to details. For instance, single or double straps? Long or short? (If you’re a mom of a toddler who still ends up being carried in your arms then you know that strap length is a crucial detail.) When it comes to material, the options are endless so think through where you’ll be carrying the bag. If this tote is purely for farmer’s market hauls and gym essentials then something slightly more casual like a L/Uniform’s canvas and linen style would suit. On the other hand, if you’re after something with a little more polish, level up with leather – see: like this classic from Khaite. Finally, don’t forget to take a peek inside. Some bags are designed with inner-compartments in the lining, while others are one big bottomless pit, leaving the organization (so. many. pouches!) up to you. It’s all about preference.
Now that you have your marching orders, go find yours! Below, a hit list of carryalls that are sure to fit the bill.
Consider this your leveled-up L.L. Bean. It’s every bit as functional as the beloved Boat & Tote but with a slightly more fashion-forward spin. Available in a variety of different color combinations, this bag will take you from the a day spent with the kiddos at the pool straight into cocktail hour.
L/Uniform’s bags are the ultimate blend of style and practicality. Crafted from cotton and linen-blend canvas, this tote is every bit as durable as it is chic. Bonus: it’s made to be folded flat so you can easily pack it in a suitcase.
While I’m a big believer that a classic tote is a worthy investment, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great one on a budget. Case in point: Mango’s striped cotton shopper tote which rings in at just under $60. Measuring 22″ in wide, there’s enough room for your entire life in this bag.
Priced at just under $300, this tote offers great bang for your buck. The pebbled leather tote comes in a variety of colors (I love the deep olive green one!) and is fully customizable. Once you choose your color and size, you can select a strap of your choice and add on extras like a laptop sleeve and specific pouches for extra organization.
This bag tops many-a-tote wish list. And for good reason: it’s fab. It has that “it-bag” quality without feeling trendy (in other words you won’t be sending it to the RealReal at the end of the season). It’s not super huge but there’s plenty of room for all of the essentials. Bonus: the interior of the bag is an unexpected – and gorgeous! – green hue.
The Row is always at the top of my wish list. Like everything else they do, their bags are chic as can be and truly timeless. This north-south tote is one of their newest styles and I couldn’t love it more. Though it comes in leather, I actually love the nylon version. It’s super durable and, unlike the majority of their bags, is under $1000.
I bought this bag a little over a month ago and thrilled to say I don’t regret that decision one bit. I am obsessed with the shape (feels comfortable on the arm) and find the size to be just perfect. It comes with an optional leather strap so you can easily wear it crossbody or over your shoulder.
The epitome of a great neutral, this caramel-colored leather tote is sophisticated enough for the office but looks right at home with a t-shirt and jeans running Saturday errands. The star of this bag is that it comes with a long strap option so you can easily carry it crossbody.