Fashion Tips & Reader Questions

So You Need A New Tote Bag?

Me + baby-to-be + Upper East Side rooftop + tote bag, sixteen lifetimes ago.

I do not, myself, have much use for tote bags these days (save for the Louis Vuitton NeverFull, which I despise myself for wanting with the heat of a thousand suns, but so be it). I need all of my arms free and clear for child-wrangling, and totes have a tendency to fall off of shoulders at the exact moment that you wish they wouldn’t, like when you’re mid-airport and carrying your stuff, your children’s stuff, your children, and a full grocery store’s worth of Einstein Bagels (BUT NOT THE ONES WITH SESAME SEEDS. God forbid a sesame seed cross my daughter’s lips; there will be hell to pay, and it will be Mom who pays it).

But in service to those of you out there who feel differently about this topic and are search of a good tote for fall, I thought I’d answer the below reader question, and do a little online shopping of the tote bag sort.

Jordan, I’m looking for a nice tote bag I can use for mom life and work. I’m leaning towards the brown leather, and specifically the Madewell ones…? Help? – T

OK, so when it comes to bags, I personally tend to go a little luxe, because the bags in my life get a lot of wear and tear, and I need something unlikely to come apart at the seams. And also because so sue me, I’m fancy about my bags. That said, I also have zero cash floating around at this particular juncture in my life, so let’s go ahead and check out some styles from my go-to site when I want to look at fancy bags that I might (someday) actually be able to afford, TheRealReal.

Peruse at your leisure.

Alex Wang ($286)

Proenza Schouler ($475)

Reed Krakoff ($325 plus 20% off with code REAL)

3.1 Philip Lim ($295 plus 20% off with code REAL)

Burberry ($325)

Bottega Venetta ($245 plus 20% off with code REAL)

Longchamp ($145)

Ports 1961 ($295 plus 20% off with code REAL)

Clare V ($195)

Scroll down for a whole bunch more tote bags that I can get (mostly) on board with, and that (mostly) don’t require refinancing your house.

1/8

Gap Large Tote ($59.95)

This is as basic and functional as it gets – but as “basic and functional” go, this is a pretty darn nice-looking tote.

The lack of compartments would probably bug me, though.

Which leads me to…

2/8

Gap Triple-Compartment Tote ($56-$69.95)

Ba daaa. Another basic and functional (and super well-priced) tote – thank you, Gap – that looks pricier than it is, and, if the name is to be trusted, has compartments. Yay.

3/8

Madewell Transport Tote ($168)

The color and finish on this one are great – and I love the extra-large size.

4/8

Madewell Zip-Top Transport Carryall ($129-$188)

And look! This one also lets you use your hands, and not have your wallet stolen.

5/8

Leatherology Downtown Tote ($185)

This one skews a little formal for my taste, but would be great for someone looking for a sightly more traditional bag. (Go for the Bordeaux shade, not pictured.)

6/8

Mark & Graham Brooklyn Tote ($229)

So slouchy! So simple! And you can monogram it!

Cute.

7/8

Mahi Leather Victoria Tote ($186)

This is very I-borrowed-my-boyfriend’s-briefcase, and I dig it.

8/8

RFID Leather Tote ($328)

If you prefer your bags all professional and structure-y, here you go.

  • Heather

    FWIW, I was in the market for a new leather tote, and I ended up going with a Dagne Dover classic tote in coated canvas and I love it! I like that I don’t have to worry about scuffing it up. And I love, love, love, the “key leash” that keeps my keys from disappearing to the bottom on my purse. It’s structured, so it works for the office, but is also casual enough that I use it all week.

  • Kellykelly

    YES about tote bags falling off and basically spewing your belongings onto the sidewalk (or maybe that was just me?). But if not totes, then what? So many of the leather backpacks out there look so uncomfortable and/or like they have pretty limited capacity. What’s a laptop carrying mom lady to do????

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