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- Work bags often pull double duty — they need to be cute and useful with great organization and enough space to hold all the things you need during the day.
- Our top pick is the Dagne Dover Classic Tote because it moves seamlessly between roles thanks to a sleek coated canvas exterior and compartment-filled interior.
No matter how hard I try, I always seem to become the person who carries three bags to work. I’ve just never found one bag that does it all — holds my laptop, commuter book, and personal items while looking cute enough not to ruin my outfit. As a result, I usually pack a “normal” bag that matches my look and a canvas tote bag for additional functionality.
It’s not the best method for my street style photo opportunities or for my spinal alignment. I’ve always been jealous of those women I see on the subway carrying a single chic satchel or sporty-cool backpack. But thanks to a recent uptick of brands specializing in affordable leather goods and sharp staples, the options for stylish work bags are getting better all the time.
Brands like Dagne Dover, Senreve, and Everlane are changing the game and making it easier than ever to find everyday bags that look good and hold a lot of stuff. Say goodbye to your canvas tote collection with these five working woman-approved carryalls.
Here are the best work bags for women:
- Best work bag overall: Dagne Dover Classic Tote
- Best work bag under $200: Everlane Day Market Tote
- Best day-to-night work bag: Leatherology Belmont Structured Tote
- Best convertible work bag: Senreve Maestra Bag
Updated on 10/18/19 by Caitlin Petreycik. Updated prices, links, and formatting.
The best work bag overall
The Dagne Dover Classic Tote packs a ton of features in a slim, compact space so you can carry your entire life in the bag and no one will be the wiser.
Most tote bags, even if they are large enough to get you through a work day, tend to swallow half your stuff. I have several huge bags, but they’re all pretty unstructured, making it hard to find smaller items inside.
The Dagne Dover Classic Tote is designed to combat this exact problem.
This bag has so many specialized pockets that you get a clown car effect when you look inside. The Classic Tote has a neoprene water bottle sleeve, a phone pocket, pen holder, padded laptop sleeve, notebook or tablet sleeve with magnetic closure, and interior side pocket. There’s also a detachable key holder to prevent the tote from eating your key ring while you’re trying to unlock the front door.
The Classic Tote has a durable coated canvas exterior with leather trim and comes in six very classic shades that will go with everything in your wardrobe. It truly is the ideal grab-and-go bag for everyday use.
Dagne Dover’s praises have been sung all over the internet, and this bag and its larger counterpart, the Legend Tote, come recommended by Harper’s Bazaar, The Strategist, Best Products, and our Insider Picks editor Ellen Hoffman. We also love the brand’s leather Allyn Tote, though it costs more.
Pros: Beautiful design, tons of interior pockets formatted for different uses, detachable key chain, comes in six versatile colors, good value for the price
The best work bag for less than $200
Looking to make less of an investment? The Everlane Day Market Tote is a premium quality leather work bag with a sub-$200 price tag that won’t hurt your wallet.
A handbag doesn’t have to be exciting to be special. In fact, I think the best work bags are simple enough to go with any outfit. The Everlane Day Market Tote is the kind of bag you can leave packed Monday through Friday‚ and maybe even Saturday and Sunday, too — without a second thought about whether it will clash with your ensemble.
The simple, no-fuss silhouette lends itself to daily use, and the sturdy 100% Italian leather exterior will look great for years to come. While the Day Market Tote lacks the jigsaw puzzle of pockets you get with Dagne Dover’s Classic Tote, you can certainly still pack everything you need for a full day of activity — including a laptop — in this bag with room to spare.
This bag is a major hit with shoppers. It has well over 1,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating on Everlane’s website. Best Products, Harper’s Bazaar, The Strategist, and The Cut have all featured the Day Market Tote. Our Insider Picks team loves it, too.
As far as downsides go, there aren’t many, especially for the price. But keep in mind that the bag is unlined, doesn’t have a closure, and only features one small pocket inside.
Pros: Affordable, 100% Italian leather, roomy size
Cons: Only one interior pocket
The best convertible work bag
Can’t decide between a backpack, tote, satchel, or crossbody? The Senreve Maestra Bag is all of the above in a gorgeous and functional package.
If you’re really serious about investing in The Ultimate Work Bag — a bag that can be everything at once, forever — consider the Senreve Maestra. Yes, that bag. The one that every blogger and their mom seems to be wearing on Instagram.
The Senreve Maestra stands out in part because it’s just plain cool. It has an angular silhouette with a belt-style detail down the front and geometric seams in the leather. Despite its fashion-forward design, the Maestra is timeless. It’s not going to look dated in a year or two, which is great news because it is by far the priciest option on this list.
But functionality is the real selling point here. The Maestra is designed to withstand the wear-and-tear of daily use with stain- and water-resistant leather. It comes in three sizes, and the largest one has a whopping seven interior pockets, as well as an exterior pocket on the outside. And, yes, you can fit your laptop inside.
Perhaps the coolest thing about this bag is that it converts into four different styles, so you no longer need to choose between a backpack, crossbody, satchel, or tote.
Insider Picks editor Sally Kaplan couldn’t say enough good things about the Senreve Maestra in her review, and she’s not the only one — writers as Purse Blog, Olivia Janette, Man Repeller, and Travel + Leisure say it’s worth the price, too.
Pros: Comes in three sizes, convertible straps, up to eight pockets
The best day-to-night work bag
Leatherology is known for affordable yet beautiful leather goods that fit all your life needs, and the Belmont Structured Tote comes with a wristlet, making it the perfect day-to-night option.
The concept of “day-to-night” dressing is a little bit overstated, I think, considering when I worked in an office I usually just wore the exact same outfit — accessories included — to my any after-hours activities. But in the event that you really need to ditch the heavy tote for your post-5 p.m. plans, there’s always the wristlet-in-your-bag option.
Leatherology’s Belmont Structured Tote is a roomy work-friendly bag with plenty of storage space (though limited pockets). It also comes with a detachable wristlet large enough to hold your phone, cash, and keys for a quick getaway. The perfect two-in-one!
The Belmont tote is available in several neutral colors with contrasting interior leather for added stylistic interest (accompanying wristlets coordinate with the exterior shade). Made of scratch- and water-resistant Italian leather, the bags are easily cleaned.
Pros: Quality durable leather at an affordable price, customizable, spacious, comes with match wristlet
Cons: Only one small zippered pocket
Check out our other women’s style guides
Most of our favorite places to shop for work-friendly dresses won’t break the bank, but even so, you’ll find quite a bit of variation within a single store. Don’t be afraid to go straight to that clearance section or sale rack — sometimes, that’s where the best stuff is.
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Here are the best places to buy work dresses:
- Best simple dresses: Lou and Grey
- Best dresses for women of all ages: Loft
- Best dresses with European flair: Boden
- Best work-to-beach dresses: Lilly Pulitzer
- Best classic work dresses: Banana Republic
Whether you’re battling the office AC or just looking for a cute and cozy top, it’s important to have a good sweater or two (dozen).
No matter where you choose to buy your next sweater, we’re sure that if you’re picking from among our five favorites, you can’t go wrong.
Here are the best places to buy sweaters:
- Best sweaters overall: Everlane
- Best sweaters for work: MM. LaFleur
- Best sweaters for outside: L.L. Bean
- Best cashmere sweaters: Naadam
- Best simple sweaters: Cuyana
You’re a creature of many dimensions. Sure, it can take you two hours to get dressed, and sure, you can sometimes look at your closet full of clothes and assure yourself that none of it will work for your very normal day at work. But that’s not always you. Really, more often than not, what you’re really looking for in place of those two hours and your whole closet-full of clothes is a simple T-shirt. One that is as dependable as it is comfortable and stylish. Luckily, that T-shirt is not a white whale. It’s very much available to buy.
Here are the best T-shirt brands for women:
- Best women’s T-shirts overall: Girlfriend Collective
- Best box cut T-shirts: Everlane
- Best scoop neck T-shirts: James Perse
- Best v-neck T-shirts: Pact Apparel
- Best boyfriend fit T-shirts: Mott & Bow
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