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”!
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?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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”.
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???
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
You can find Lani Inlander and Real Life Style on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.