The 8 best work totes of 2023 #work #totes

Finding the perfect work tote is truly a balancing act. It may need to fit larger items like a laptop without being too bulky for crowded places like the subway or a happy hour spot. You may also require space for your workout sneakers, or a change of clothes for dinner with friends. Style is another consideration — if you’re like me, you don’t want to sacrifice flair for convenience, even if you prefer something simple.

Given all of the considerations for finding the best work tote, choosing one can be difficult. With that in mind, we spoke to an expert in personal style to gather shopping advice as well as expert- and Select staff-favorite work totes to consider.

SKIP AHEAD The best work totes | How to shop for work totes

How we picked the best work totes

Choosing a work tote is an important decision, since you’ll likely use it often. “A work tote is a utility wardrobe staple that will get a lot of use,” says personal and celebrity stylist Samantha Brown. Since many people are in-office for at least a portion of the work week, your tote will be a constant companion, which is why Brown says that “investing in a good quality, durable and stylish work tote is important to ensure that it will last.”

She recommends considering the following criteria when choosing the best work tote for you:

  • Size: If you wantto prevent constantly switching bags throughout the week, make size a top priority. “A work tote should be roomy enough for all the workday essentials. This means something different to everyone in terms of functionality, but typically it should have space for a laptop or tablet,” Brown says.
  • Material: The tote’s material is very important because it’ll determine the durability of your bag over time. “When looking for a work tote, genuine leather will provide the most durability,” says Brown. She also suggests nylon — “it’s very lightweight and won’t add any bulk to the bag.”
  • Color: “Choosing a tote that compliments your work wardrobe is also important” says Brown. She recommends neutral tones (which she calls the “urban rainbow”) like black, gray, navy, cream, or camel/tan, all of which can be paired with your day-to-day office looks without clashing with or overshadowing your outfits. She also suggests “deep jewel tones like green or burgundy,” which can be worn as a neutral while adding a pop of color.

The best work totes in 2023

With expert guidance and Select staff recommendations in mind, we gathered a range of highly rated work totes across sizes, materials and colors.  We also made sure each one is large enough to fit a laptop, though not all of them come with a dedicated laptop sleeve.

Longchamp Le Pliage Original Large Shoulder Tote

This classically-stylish tote pairs easily with a variety of work looks, thanks to its versatile yet minimal design. It comes in seven colors, including black, red and navy, and has a fully-lined interior, along with double handles and an interior pocket. The double closure comes with both a zipper and a snap tab for added security around the items sitting inside. Brown recommends this tote for its lightweight durability — the recycled canvas material can fold and expand when needed, making it resistant to tears.

Material: Nylon, leather | Measurements: 12.25”W x 7.5”D x 11.75”H | Laptop sleeve included: No

Mark & Graham Handbag with Shoulder Strap Set

Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin received this “surprisingly spacious” tote as a graduation gift, and hasn’t stopped using it since. “It fits my 14-inch laptop, a little makeup pouch, two phones, headphones and lots of snacks. ” She also likes the two internal pockets that give her easy access to keys and cards, and how she can use either the over-the-shoulder or crossbody strap, depending on her mood. The bag can also be monogrammed for an additional $12.50, which Malin says made hers “super, super special.”

Material: Leather, twill | Measurements: 16.5”W x 12”H x 6”D | Laptop sleeve included: No

Béis Commuter Tote

Béis is a Select favorite brand, and the Commuter is one of Select associate reporter Bianca Alvarez’s go-to work totes, thanks to its sleek yet practical design. “This tote is basically a 3-in-1 bag because it has interior and exterior space that can fit all of my work and day-to-day essentials,” she says. The bag also has a travel-friendly features like metal feet, a trolley pass-through, a key leash, and a hidden cell phone pocket. Alvarez loves its durability and the compartments that keep her smaller items from getting lost. The bag can also be easily spot-cleaned, and is available in black and beige.

Material: Nylon, vegan leather | Measurements: 12”L x 6.5”W x 14”H | Laptop sleeve included: Yes

Cuyana System Tote 13-inch

This bestselling tote is designed to be fully customizable — after choosing your color and size, you can add optional snap-in accessories, including laptop sleeves, pouch inserts and more, according to Cuyana. The bag itself is made from a soft Italian leather that’s Leather Working Group-certified, meaning that the leather has been tanned in an environmentally-responsible way — it also ages well over time, and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, according to the brand. This tote is available in six colors, including black, cappuccino and dark olive, and comes highly-rated with a 4.5-star average rating from 103 reviews on Cuyana.

Material: Leather | Measurements: 10”H x 13.25”W x 5”D | Laptop sleeve included: Yes (as optional add-on)

Béis The Work Tote

Beis’ The Work Tote has flat straps, a zip closure and pockets on both the inside and outside — Select updates editor Mili Godio says it’s the perfect size for her laptop, planner and other larger work essentials. The bag also has a trolley pass-through that converts to a zippered pocket when not in use, and features a padded laptop sleeve with a velcro strap closure in the interior, according to the brand. Godio also says the “cute and sleek design” resembles a purse, and that the black color matches every outfit — for those who’d prefer another shade, this bag comes in additional colors, including both Cognac and Black Croc, Beige and Plaid.

Material: Polyester, vegan leather | Measurements: 14.25” W x 11”H x 6”D | Laptop sleeve included: Yes

L.L.Bean Open-Top Boat and Tote

Select commerce editor Lindsay Schneider considers this her everyday work bag — we also think it’s a great weekender bag. The tote is reinforced with bottom and double-stitched seams to make it more durable for heavier items — “it’s incredibly sturdy and can hold so much, like a Mary Poppins bag,” she says. The bag zips at the top and has shoulder strap handles that can hold up to 500 pounds, according to the brand. It comes in small, medium, large and extra-large sizes, and is available in 12 colors, including red, mauve and dark green.

Material: Cotton canvas | Measurements: 12”H x 13”W x 6”D | Laptop sleeve included: No

Baggu Duck Bag

This classic canvas tote comes with straps for both handheld and on-shoulder carrying, and is made from a recycled cotton canvas material, according to the brand. It’s sized to fit larger, 15-inch laptops and also has an interior zippered pocket and taped seams, for extra durability during transit. This bag is also machine-washable for a hassle-free clean, and comes in eleven different shades, including tamarind and pistachio. For those who prefer a zippered top-closure or a wider design, the bag also comes in Zip, Horizontal, and Horizontal Zip versions.

Material: Recycled cotton canvas | Measurements: 15 ¾”H  × 11”W  × 4 ¾”D | Laptop sleeve included: No

Rothy’s Lightweight Tote

Similar to her other choice, Schneider says this bag from Rothy’s fits everything she needs and more for work. It has shoulder straps, a key leash and is made from ocean-bound marine plastics, according to the brand. Schneider also likes how lightweight the bag’s material is — “no matter how much stuff I put in, the bag itself isn’t adding much to how heavy it’ll get,” she says. This tote is also fully machine-washable for an easy clean, and comes in 18 different shades, including sapphire and onyx (which Schneider finds to be particularly sophisticated), soft sesame, dragon fruit and more.

Material: Recycled marine plastics | Measurements: 13.6”H  x 12.8”L x 6.7”D | Laptop sleeve included: No

How to shop for work totes

When shopping for your own work tote, in addition to the advice above, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Aside from the material, other design elements, such as straps and pockets, are an important aesthetic and functional consideration when buying. The straps need to be comfortable enough for long-term wear without hurting or straining your shoulders during your commute, and also come in different styles, like shoulder, crossbody, etc. To better keep track of smaller items, you should also consider totes with interior pockets and sleeves for items like keys, laptops and wallets. You can also look for bags with zipper, rather than button, closures to ensure that everything stays where it needs to be as you move through your day.
  • Your bag’s cleaning method is also an important factor to consider — some materials, such as leather, need to be carefully cleaned, while others like nylon and canvas are lower-maintenance. You should also be aware of how often your bag will need to be cleaned — Brown recommends a seasonal trip to your local shoemaker for a good cleaning, which she says “ is key to making sure your work tote will last.”

Meet our expert

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Samantha Brown is a professional personal and celebrity stylist with over a decade of experience in New York City. She is also the owner and founder of Samantha Brown Styles, a personal styling and consulting agency.

Why trust Select?

Ashley Morris is an associate SEO reporter at NBC Select and a journalist who regularly covers beauty, home and lifestyle. For this story, she interviewed a professional stylist  for guidance on what to look for when shopping for work totes. She also consulted Select staffers for shopping recommendations.

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#work #totes

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