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A great day at the office is in the bag with these everyday styles.
Unless you exclusively work from home, at some point you'll need a bag to carry all your stuff to and from your job. Depending on your profession, this might include anything from laptops and tech accessories, to classroom materials, and other supplies. Plus, there are all the personal items, like your keys, wallet, and cellphone, that are essential to have on hand. And if you regularly clock long days at your workplace, you may also need room for bulkier items, like a lunch bag, umbrella, sneakers, or a change of clothes.
Work backpacks, bags, and totes, like professional attire in general, need to be more than just practical, though. As part of your ensemble, your work bag helps inspire confidence, so you can show up to your occupation feeling like the best version of yourself. This can especially be a game changer if you’re someone who experiences work-related stress, or if you’re anxious about returning to work after spending time away. Even if you’re completely comfortable in your job, dressing (and accessorizing) for success is just one of many ways to stand out among other employees, if that’s one of your career goals.
To sift through the variety of bag options available, Woman’s Day spoke with two style experts to get their advice on this important investment, and evaluated customer reviews, materials, storage, and styles to find the best work bags you can buy.
✔️ Functionality: Brown says that when choosing a work bag "functionality is key and style is secondary," but that "luckily, it's possible to find both!" Start by looking for options without a lot of hardware. She explains that while hardware can add style, "the last thing you want is to add unnecessary weight when you're already toting a laptop, chargers, and all your work essentials." Another consideration is a shoulder strap to help distribute the weight of a work bag, which Brown says is also "ideal as it allows you to be hands-free."
✔️ Material: You'll be using this bag pretty much every day, so you want to look for a durable material like vegan leather, leather, or canvas. That said, work bags "should also be fun to carry and add polish to your overall look," according to Berlin. So look for special details, which could be anything from color, to pattern, or texture.
✔️ Size: What will you be carrying in this bag on a day-to-day basis? Think about how much room you'll need (for example, an extra compartment for your gym shoes or a laptop sleeve for your work computer). Another tip from Berlin is to watch out for totes that can "turn into a ‘black hole,’ making keys, IDs, and other small items impossible to find." One way to avoid this is to to seek out styles with multiple interior pockets and compartments for organization. Or, "just pick up an organization sleeve online to trick out the interior."
There's pretty much nothing that this roomy Dagne Dover tote can't do. With three interior pockets, four exterior pockets, and a water bottle holder, it can easily fit all of your work gear, plus it can also double as a gym, grocery, beach, or picnic bag.
Material: Organic Cotton Canvas | Colors: Natural, Onyx | Dimensions: 18.5 x 6.25 x 14 inches
This simple, yet spacious tote gets the job done and costs less than $40. It includes two front pockets for functionality, as well as two side straps for some understated flair. If you're looking for something in a different color, you can also check out this similar Zara tote bag with shoulder straps and an exterior pocket.
Material: Polyurethane | Color: Green | Dimensions: 13 x 20.9 x 5.1 inches
Laptops were clearly top of mind in the design for this Michael Kors bag, which is rectangular, slim, and sized to fit most personal computers inside. The top handles are also long enough to easily fit over your shoulder, which makes carrying your devices even easier.
Material: Leather | Colors: Camel, Soft Pink, Black | Dimensions: 15.5 x 14 x 6.25 inches
For the woman who's constantly losing her keys, this Madewell bag is impeccably designed to keep belongings secure. It's built with an exterior pocket, interior side zip pocket, and a zip-top, plus there's a special edition version with rainbow stripes that add a trendy dash of color.
Material: Leather | Colors: Sweet Tulip Multi, True Black, True Black Brown, English Saddle | Dimensions: 12 1/4 x 11 inches
This best-selling BEIS tote truly has all the bells and whistles. It includes exterior zip and slipper pockets, a padded laptop sleeve with velcro closure, a removable interior zipper pouch, and a thick removable shoulder strap that's ideal for long commutes.
Material: Faux Leather | Colors: Black, Beige | Dimensions: 16.75 x 13.5 x 7 inches
Cruelty-free shoppers can rejoice at all of the different compartments this vegan leather bag includes, including an easy-access front pocket and a hidden anti-theft back pocket. It can easily fit a standard-size laptop, your wallet, phone, an umbrella, and more.
Material: Vegan Leather | Colors: Brown, Black | Dimensions: 14.3 x 11 x 3.9 inches
The beauty is in the details with this Vavvoune bag, which is subtle enough to wear everyday, but special enough that you'll be excited to reach for it. It's handmade with top grain leather, plus it features circle tab accents and an adjustable strap.
Material: Top Grain Leather | Color: Black | Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 2 inches
Stylist Samantha Brown loves Clare V. bags because they "can seamlessly transition from work to weekend," which helps justify their more expensive price tag. They also come in a variety of colors and sizes, so if this tote isn't your bag, you can find the style that's perfect for your needs.
Material: Suede | Colors: Camel, Black, Navy, Marine | Dimensions: 15 x 12.5 x 4.5 inches
Kate Spade has long been a go-to shop for women looking for elevated, feminine accessories, and this bag (that comes with a removable zip pouch!) exemplifies what the brand does best. Opt for basic black or pink, or there's a version featuring oversized black-and-white dots for a chic look, as well as elegant details like gold tone hardware and leather trim.
Material: PVC | Colors: Black Multi, Black, Coral Gable | Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 5.5 inches
Reviewers of this Rebecca Minkoff bag have praised its lightness, size, and the softness of the leather. It doesn't offer as much organizational structure as other options, which makes it better suited for those looking for something easy and simple.
Material: Leather | Colors: 15 options, including White/Black, Malbec, Navy | Dimensions: 14 x 12 x 6 inches
There's no need to fear rainy days with this Longchamp tote, which is made with a water-resistant finish, plus is spacious enough to pack your umbrella and jacket in. The functionality and wide variety of colors have made these bags a popular choice for years.
Material: Nylon | Colors: Navy, Black, Paper, Cognac, Deep Red, Blush | Dimensions: 12 ¼ x 11 ¾ x 7 ½ inches
This Everlane tote is made with the brand's first plant-based leather alternative, sourced from prickly pear cactus. It uses zero irrigation and regenerates soil, plus, half of the byproduct is used to support the food industry and feed cattle. As for the bag itself, the adjustable strap makes it comfortable to carry while commuting.
Material: Leather Alternative | Colors: Black, Honey | Dimensions: 11.8 x 10.8 x 7.7 inches
Reviewers of this eye-catching Anthropologie tote comment that they frequently receive compliments on it. The modern shape, constructed with a classic buttery leather, makes for a stylish combination at a reasonable price point.
Material: Leather | Colors: Brown, Cedar, Moss, Black | Dimensions: 17 x 17.5 x 2 x inches
Stylist Allison Berlin is "loving a tote that can be monogrammed for that extra special detail" these days, and shared this Zara pick with Woman's Day. It's roomy enough to fit even bulky work gear, and comes with a magnetic closure at the top to keep items secure.
Material: Polypropylene | Color: Beige, Dark Blue | Dimensions: 12.4 x 20.3 x 5.3 inches
This VIVAIA tote can easily be cleaned on a cold wash cycle and hung dry, which makes it ideal for a bag that will get lots of wear and is potentially prone to scuffs. It's also a sustainable choice, since it's made from recycled plastic.
Material: Made from recycled plastic bottles | Colors: Diamond, Polka Dots | Dimensions: 22.4 x 9.2 x 12.2 inches
With so many leather bags to choose from, it takes a lot to stand out like this Brysie Lane tote does. It's made from 100% soft Italian leather, plus it also comes with a matching removable leather bow, for those days when you're feeling extra fancy.
Material: Leather | Colors: Lipstick Red, Ocean Blue, Stiletto Black, California Tan | Dimensions: 12 x 14 inches
For those willing to splurge on a work bag, this tote features several Gucci staples. It combines the GG motif, Web stripe, and GG hardware to signify an unmistakably upscale accessory for the businesswoman who appreciate luxury goods.
Material: Canvas | Colors: Beige and Ebony, Blue and Ivory, Burgundy | Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 5.5 inches
Another pick from Allison Berlin, this crossbody satchel from J. Crew is made with croc-embossed leather, which she says "reads as luxe." It's one of the smaller bags on this list, which makes it most ideal for those who travel light to the office.
Material: Leather | Colors: Caramel Cafe, Almond Biscotti | Dimensions: 6.5 x 9 x 3 inches
Allison Berlin loves this bag from Noble Macmillan for the current season. She's looking for styles with "unexpected colors," or color blocking, and this tote checks both of those boxes.
Material: Leather | Colors: Pink and Orange, Lilac and Navy, Green, Navy | Dimensions: 24 x 15.7 inches
One material that Samantha Brown recommends for durability is canvas, and one of her favorite brands for canvas work bags is Parker Thatch. This option is roomy enough to fit your laptop and personal essentials, plus it comes in several fun strap colors.
Material: Canvas | Colors: Pink and Red, Neon Yellow, Natural, Neon Orange | Dimensions: 12.5 x 14.5 x 7 inches