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Work Wardrobe

Your Perfect Work Tote

This post on the perfect work tote is part of The Five Must-Have Pieces for Your Work Wardrobe series.

What makes a perfect work tote, you ask? It has to be structured enough that you don’t look sloppy at work. And most importantly, it has to be perfectly functional (and beautiful) for you.

Consider what meets your criteria. What size is your laptop, if you even carry one? Do you always have a water bottle on you? Is a bright color a welcome pop to your usually neutral-colored clothing? Or, do you often wear brights, so favor a neutral bag? Do you prefer a backpack to a tote? Nylon, leather, or vegan leather?

We’ve pulled together many beautiful options for you to choose from! If you own any of these work totes already, please let us know in the comments below. And, tell us what you think makes a work tote “perfect”!

Happy Shopping!

P.S. If you love any of these bags, click through to the website to check for current prices and all available colors!


Cuyana‘s bags are simple, functional, and almost designer quality. The Cuyana Classic Leather Zipper Tote features an easy zip-top close, a popular request for the perfect work tote. And did you know that the Merlot color of the Cuyana Oversized Double Loop Bag is considered a neutral?

Cuyana Classic Leather Zipper Tote, $228

Real Life Style Work Tote Bag, Cuyana Burgundy Leather Oversized Double Loop Bag

Cuyana Oversized Double Loop Bag, $398

Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover is a “greatest hit” in the super functional tote category. They’ve thought of everything from a laptop sleeve and multiple pockets to a water bottle holder. If you’d like to try their pieces in person, check out your local Nordstrom.

Dagne Dover Tokyo Turnlock Tote, $325

Dagne Dover Daily Tote, $275


We discovered Leatherology while looking for small leather pouches a few years ago. I own and wear their elegant phone crossbody in bordeaux. They have a ton of color options, so don’t be afraid to try something fun!

Leatherology Aleena Soft Zippered Tote, $195 (Add $120 for Trapunto Monogram)

Leatherology Kress XL Tote, $325

Leatherology Large Zippered Downtown Tote, $195

Leatherology Uptown Vertical Tote, $165

Leatherology Tote Insert, $35

Lo + Sons

I’ve been using the Rowledge backpack for business and personal trips alike since connecting with the owner of this family business. I am now obsessed. The materials and construction are high quality. And, thanks to working closely with a Real Life Style client on the product’s development, the pockets are endless, and well-thought out. Not to mention how comfortable I find the straps of the Rowledge backpack. As a bonus, the interior is available in Real Life Style’s signature lavender!

Real Life Style work tote bag, lo and sons rowledge work laptop backpack in black nylon

Lo + Sons The Rowledge Backpack, $465 $325.50

Change the outside, not the inside of your bag! Lo & Son’s Seville Tote is genius. Ever have a hard time choosing the one color tote to buy to match your whole wardrobe? The pressure! Hate having to change your tote at the last minute because a different color matches your outfit better? Lo & Sons has solved your problems by creating a tote that comes with interchangeable sleeves.

Real Life Style work tote bag, lo and sons seville tote in black leather

Lo + Sons The Seville Tote, $578 $346.80


So many women swear by the Madewell tote for its hardy leather and edgy looks. There is a reason it has been a bestseller for years! The Zip-Top Transport Tote works well as a casual work tote, while the Sydney Tote reads “creative entrepreneur”.

Real Life Style work tote bag, Madewell zip-top transport tote in black leather

Madewell The Zip-Top Transport Tote, $198

Real Life Style work tote bag, Madewell brown leather sydney tote

Madewell Sydney Tote, $198

Matt + Nat

Matt + Nat was one of the original brands to make high quality vegan leather. We appreciate the many, well-thought out styles and colors they always have available. There is not a shape or function they have not thought up! How gorgeous are these colors???

Matt + Nat Hyde Vegan Tote Bag, $170

Matt + Nat Krista Satchel, $160

Mark & Graham

Mark & Graham‘s bags are all super cute and monogrammable. The options are endless, including custom combinations. You can see all of the options on their website. I can attest to the quality of the product too. Mr. Real Life Style has a camo briefcase from Mark & Graham that practically stops traffic.

Mark & Graham Caroline Leather Handbag, $299 and Bag Strap, $49

Mark & Graham Fillmore Vegan Set, $139

Pixie Mood

If you’re looking for a fashionable vegan leather tote, Pixie Mood should be your first stop. They have tons of styles and colors for professional to casual workplaces alike. Kyle and I once both purchased the same Pixie Mood tote in a limited edition holographic silver!

Pixie Mood Caitlin Laptop Tote, $110

Real Life Style work tote bag, Pixie Mood Alicia tote in desert clay faux vegan leather

Pixie Mood Alicia Tote, $90

Rebecca Minkoff

Kyle and I have matching Rebecca Minkoff bags too. They have lasted wonderfully well through several years of trips to New York and running around DC. I haven’t seen Kyle’s bag in a while, but I can tell you that mine still looks brand new. Rebecca Minkoff always has fresh, exciting designs for a more fashion-forward workplace. Although usually in a more relaxed silhouette, the leather is such high quality that the bags never look sloppy.

Rebecca Minkoff Megan Leather Tote, $198


Shinola makes elegant bags that are designer-quality and beautiful. We’re big fans of the Shinola Pocket Tote because it stores files and a laptop without bulk.

Real Life Style work tote bag, Shinola pocket tote in brown leather

Shinola Pocket Tote, $595

Real Life Style work tote bag, Shinola Sibley large satchel in black leather with crossbody strap

Shinola Sibley Large Satchel, $895


Tumi bags are a go-to for functionality but give you a hint of fashion too. They’re sleek, low-profile, and sometimes come with straps that fit onto luggage handles. And now they also come in pink!

Tumi Louise Backpack, $595

Tumi Gemma Backpack, $645

Tumi Ella Tote, $595

Which structured work tote is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Real Life Style is a style consulting firm that teaches busy women to wear their power so they can live their lives fully and confidently. Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy are based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and serve clients across the country. We offer personal styling services, an on-demand e-course, corporate services, and training to become a personal stylist.

Once in a while, you can find Lani Inlander and Real Life Style on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Mostly, they are happily busy serving their fabulous clients, not hanging out online!

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