The most stylish bags to store your belongings
Introducing new purchase prices tested by the editors of The Kit, the Shop Smart Guide. The idea is simple: each month, The Kit editors exhaustively test items in desert island categories – not the exciting but fleeting trends of the season, but the evergreen essentials you’re most likely to enjoy. to buy now and wear or use forever. We’re talking mascara, jeans, retinol serum, black turtlenecks, white sneakers, and more. Our hope is that Shop Smart helps you achieve that mythical shopping ideal: buy less but buy better. Here, our guide to tote bags.
The best tote bags will take you anywhere. Infinitely versatile, a sturdy tote can function as an essential workwear, travel companion, grocery bag, and in the best of times, a style accessory. It should have pockets and sleeves to store all your valuables, or at the very least be roomy and sturdy enough to hold your essentials, as well as any random items you accumulate throughout the day. Maybe it’s a cozy cardigan to throw on at lunchtime, or maybe a can of chickpeas and a bunch of leafy greens for tonight’s coconut curry. Either way, your tote should act like an inanimate personal assistant: ready to provide you with everything you’ve armed yourself with to get you through the day.
And while the onset of the fall season often calls for a back-to-school wardrobe refresh (current and former post-secondary students will attest to the beauty and necessity of a proper tote bag), this year, a number of us are shopping for a new back-to-office wardrobe. Of course, that includes finding the perfect stand that can comfortably hold a laptop, a water bottle, and your neatly packed lunch (because we don’t eat every day, do we?!). Because let’s face it, a tiny little shoulder bag just won’t cut it when you’re out all day.
So whether you’re looking for a sturdy and sophisticated work bag or dreaming of a chic straw tote for your summer parties and trips to the farmer’s market, there’s a wonderful tote. everything for every purpose you can think of. of. Ahead, I’ve found seven of the best tote bags you should consider adding to your collection.
Everlane The Cactus Triangle Tote Bag, $269 (on sale from $447), everlane.com SHOP HERE
The winner: Everlane
The cost: $269 (on sale from $447)
Equipment: Desserto, a vegetable alternative to leather
The article: I started my tote bag test drive shortly before my month-long trip out of the country. Determined to pack light, I used Everlane’s triangle tote as an extra in-flight bag. Large enough to hold even the bulkiest essentials (i.e. laptop, toiletries, emergency underwear in case your checked bag ends up in the ever-growing sea of luggage lost), its sleek silhouette makes it a stylish, oversized carry bag that can be used on long day trips. which require SPF bottles and lots of snacks. I’m a big fan of the inside pocket, which stored valuables like my passport, keys, and wallet. At first I was a little worried about keeping my must-have items in the bag as it doesn’t have a zipper, but it was deep enough to keep everything neat and secure. The buttery material (made from organic prickly pear cactus) is exceptionally lightweight and an eco-friendly alternative to genuine leather, which is a nice bonus. The material retained its soft but structured shape quite well, and by the end of my trip it had a nice lived-in quality (a patina, if you will). This bag, stuffed to the brim, has followed me on three flights, two (very stuffed) ferry rides, and several train rides with very little wear and tear to prove. If you need an office tote that can hold everything and won’t be out of place during an after-work dinner, this is a valid choice. I’m drawn to the reddish brown colorway (aptly named “honey”), but it’s also available in jet black. PS: Both are currently on sale. You’re welcome.
Ba&sh Ara tote, $480, ba-sh.com. SHOP HERE
Best basket tote bag: to hit
The cost: $480
Review: While traveling through Portugal and Italy, I often kept this chic raffia bag inside my Everlane tote like a Matryoshka doll to save space while having bag options extras (hey, a girl needs options!). After all, what’s a summer in Europe without a cool girl-approved straw tote? I present to you this bag from the Parisian fashion brand ba&sh, which measures 31 cm high and 52 cm wide. But don’t be fooled by its compact size; I managed to fit beach towels, a change of clothes, and a bottle of chilled white into this gem, and it always kept its shape (you know when you can see your stuff sticking out of the holes in the straw? This n is not the case here). When not full, it has a nice supple look without feeling flimsy. Thin leather straps are detailed with stylish accents like criss-cross ties, exposed stitching and extra-long ends. Pus, this bag is equally stylish paired with a flowing kaftan or a crisp white shirt. It’s the perfect tote for the summer-fall transition.
Away FAR Tote, $180, awaytravel.com SHOP HERE
Best travel tote bag: A way
The cost: $180
Equipment: High tenacity recycled polyester
The article: The moment I laid eyes on this tote, I knew this would be my go-to bag for years to come. Not only does it hold up to 45L of volume (translation: you can fit lots and lots of stuff in there) but this thing is sturdy. Made from 100% recycled materials, including high-strength, abrasion- and weather-resistant polyester, this is the type of bag you’d want to take on a wild and unpredictable adventure. A major advantage is that it stores flat. This means you can fit it in your award-winning Shop Smart carry-on or backpack without taking up too much space or adding weight, and use it later as extra luggage. There are also plenty of interior and exterior pockets so you can keep track of all your loose bits. And while I need a huge tote bag less right now, I’ve since repurposed it as a laundry bag (stay with me here) and it’s become an absolute dream for carrying massive loads of fabric on three floors. . Special mention to the top strap closure which keeps everything together quite neatly. If you do your laundry outside the house, that’s a godsend. The baskets disappear!
Lululemon Clean Lines Canvas Tote, $98, lululemon.com SHOP HERE
Best gym-friendly tote bag: lululemon
The cost: $98
Equipment: Cotton body with polyester lining
Review: Too many times I’ve seen people walk into the gym with a flimsy cotton tote pretending to be a gym bag. This bag often contains a hastily filled water bottle, squished between a spare tee and a pair of socks, and it ends up wetting the bottom of the bag in the most unpleasant way. Who wants to change into wet socks after a workout? Nobody. If that sounds like you, your gym bag needs, no, deserves, an upgrade. Enter Lululemon’s Clean Lines Tote, which holds up to 22L and is made of cotton on the outside and water-repellent polyester on the inside, as well as a top zipper to keep your things dry and in good working order. Plus, the handles convert to a shoulder strap, which comes with a pouch if you’re carrying extra items like a yoga mat or traveling by bike. There’s even an inside pocket specially designed to hold water bottles! Always be my beating heart.
Michael Kors Karlie Tote, $179 (on sale from $458), michaelkors.ca SHOP HERE
Best Structured Tote Bag: Michael Kors
The cost: $179 (on sale from $458)
Equipment: Grained leather and straw with golden finishes
Review: If you’re looking for a work tote that’s a little more structured, Michael Kors’ signature Karlie bag is a great contender. It’s roomy enough to hold office essentials like a sweater, small laptop, and water bottle while still sturdy and holding its shape. Polished gold hardware and grained leather add a touch of luxury and speak to the quality of the bag. It is available in other colors like camel and sky blue, but the leather and straw style is my favorite. It is beautiful to look at, comfortable to carry and has plenty of space.
Ganni x Ssense Tote, $280, ssense.ca SHOP HERE
Best Canvas Tote: Ganni x Sense
The cost: $280
Equipment: Recycled cotton
The article: If you’re like me, you have an endless collection of cotton bags. Some are branded gifts that I acquired as a gift while shopping or at a press event, others are special keepsakes that I acquired from my favorite local stores and restaurants. Some I actually bought because they were so cute. Do I really need *another* canvas tote to add to the hideout? Probably not. Do I need a designer canvas tote to add to my bag collection? Depends on who you ask. And this exclusive Ganni x Ssense Canada tote is exactly what I’m talking about. The kelly green/candy pink color combo is absolute fire, and the cheeky tennis-themed graphic is very current. I regret nothing.
Furla Regina Tote, $468, furla.com SHOP HERE
Best Classic Black Tote: Furla
The cost: $468
The article: If there’s one item every work wardrobe needs, it’s a stylish everyday bag, preferably in black. This calfskin option from Italian fashion label Furla ticks all the boxes: it features a classic silhouette that’s polished yet eye-catching, it’s roomy enough for all the essentials, and it would complement many office outfits. It is practical, well made and will serve you for years. Consider it a no-fail purchase.
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