I’m manifesting this now: one day I’ll have a work bag from Mary Kate and Ashley’s The Row that I’ll toss around carelessly and casually like it didn’t cost me thousands of bucks. Abundance Mindset for the win. However, in my Reality Mindset, I know that I can’t afford anything from The Row. But a girl can dream.
And as the saying goes: “visualize the highest version of yourself and show up as her.” This is the mantra behind my vision boards, my new year’s resolutions, my self-improvement journey. On the list to become my highest self: decluttering my physical and mental space, resetting my WFH environment, actually working out at home, and getting in more self-care.
But my higher self is still me, so she does have a more superficial side. When I picture her, she looks put together and successful. While I don’t believe in toxic girlboss culture, I’m — admittedly — seduced by the idea of being someone who gets shit done. And this year, I want my outfits to embody that aesthetic.
Shopping for clothes is easy: vintage blazers, tailored pants, slicked-back buns. That aspect of this aesthetic is the easiest part to nail. I even bought a pair of cool-girl sunglasses to seem totally unflappable, and hot-girl headphones to snap myself into DND mode. But I’m missing one thing — a sleek, stylish work bag.
I’ve been a tote bag girlie for ages. At some point during the fog of high school, I swapped out my beloved — but ratty — Kanken Backpack for a tote bag and I’ve never looked back. I’ve got tote bags from hotels I've stayed in, stores I've shopped at, and even sheets I use (shoutout to me and every other person in Thompkins Square Park toting the Brooklinen Tote Bag).
But now that I’m older and channeling my highest self, I want to elevate my bag of choice and signal to myself and the world that I’m someone to take seriously. A 2023 recent report shows that luxury bags are the best investment. They beat out watches, art, and jewelry. They definitely beat out crypto and NFTs. And while I’m not claiming my Chanel flap bag as a business expense, this insight shows the power of carrying a nice bag. It’s far more than shallow status-seeking. It’s an investment in yourself and your overall vibe.
When I hit the coffee shop, co-working space, or (god forbid) Soho House to work, my tote bag doesn’t give off the energy I’m seeking. I want to project sophisticated energy — without going into debt at The Row.
I’ve been scouring the internet for the coolest work bags out there. From affordable options to higher-end choices, here are the best work bags to carry around for both fashion and functionality:
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Baggu Tote Bag
One step up from the humble tote bag is a Baggu bag. They’re superior to totes because they’re durable, tougher to scuff, and come in a variety of eye-catching prints and patterns. They’re always carried by the coolest people in the thrift store or at the airport, so I know they’re It-Girl approved. They say: you’re alternative, but you know what you’re doing. And that’s a vibe I can get behind.
Everlane New Day Market Tote
Everlane is my one-stop shop for elevated basics. This functional but stylish work tote combines functionality with sustainability. The faux leather an alternative is made from plant-based proteins. It’s sleek, but spacious enough for your everyday essentials.
Cuyana Tall Easy Tote
Cuyana is built on the values of “fewer but better.” This heritage-led company boasts timeless design and luxury quality. Sustainably minded with a stylish finish, this soft, lightweight bag is perfect for casual outings and work alike. And in the spirit of sustainable luxury, it wears well over time, getting better with age and love.
Dagne Dover Signature Tote
For anyone on-the-go — hello working moms and busy city girls — this gigantic tote can comfortably accommodate your laptop and daytime essentials like a change of clothes, baby paraphernalia, and whatever else you can imagine. Never lose anything again with its padded laptop compartment, pockets for your personal items, a leash for your keys, and a pretty sturdy zipper that holds it all.
Telfar Shopping Bag
The bag that sells out each time it drops, the Telfar is the trendiest work bag on the market. The Large size comes in a variety of colorways with an emblematic print, sturdy faux-leather material, and snug inside compartments. Wear it multiple ways with the double straps for a chic, work-ready look.
Beis East to West Tote
For all things travel I’m a Beis stan. Their luggage, their carry-ons, their make-up cases, and this terrific tote. If you’re traveling to work or heading out on a trip all your own, this multi-use tote truly means carry-all. Made of recycled plastic, this versatile bag will take you wherever you need to go.