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Ask Belle: Workout Bags


I recently started working at a company that has an on-site gym. I generally workout in the mornings before work, however that means I need to shower there. I am in the market for a stylish workout bag that is office appropriate but will also hold my clothes for the day, plus shower/makeup accessories. I am trying to keep a price range of less than $100. Is there anything you can suggest for this?

Thank you, Jessica T.

While I don’t think many people would judge you over a gym bag, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.  You should look for something simple with some size to it.  Here are a few suggestions:


Mason Oversized Travel Satchel ($79)

This Sole Society travel satchel, in my opinion is the perfect gym bag.  It can hold all the essentials, and the separate pocket below is perfect for dirty gym clothes, a wet towel, or your shoes.  Sole Society also makes a large weekender in oxblood, black, or tan that could work well.  And their braided leather oversized satchel is another excellent choice; I love the charcoal grey.

Prefer a fabric bag?  This striped gym bag from Athleta is a good casual, but not too casual bag.



  1. MC says:

    I own this Sole Society bag in brown, and I got it for the gym. It works in the base sense of the word – I am a size 6.5 shoe and my sneakers fit in the bottom compartment on their sides. What bothered me, however, is that it’s not a sturdy top – the bag doesn’t stay up on its own unless it’s stuffed like in the picture. That means its usefulness as a normal bag is totally shot. It is VERY floppy. The zipper also sticks, and the decorative stud on the zipper has fallen off. Finally, there is one outer pocket and that’s it. So your phone/bus card/keys will always be next to sweaty gym clothes, and you will always be struggling to pull the zipper open to expose all that mess to get your house key. Oh, and it is really an arm-crook bag, not a shoulder bag. Which means this entire struggle dance is harder than it already sounds. I think I used the bag faithfully for around a month before I couldn’t deal with it anymore.

    I would look at Athleta or Lululemon if you want to find something that errs on the side of professional + gym bag. Or even REI – I use one of their house brand ones. It’s not the exact style this poster wants, but it is small, not bulky, and works well.

    December 9, 2014/Reply
  2. Sugar Scientist says:

    It doesn’t meet your stylish work bag requirement, but this bag from Athleta is the best gym bag I’ve ever owned:
    It has two separate compartments in the top, so I can keep all my work-related things (lunch, wallet, keys, umbrella, files) on one side and my sweaty gym clothes on the other side, completely separate. The shoe compartment is large enough to hold sneakers (I’ve even jammed a pair of 2″ heel booties in there), there’s a water bottle pocket on the outside, and two small outer pockets.

    December 9, 2014/Reply
  3. Alison says:

    Ooh, that Athleta bag is amazing! I’m such a sucker for stripes. I just bought a pretty similar bag at Target:

    Seems pretty durable so far — might not have as many compartments as a typical gym bag, but you can’t beat the price.

    December 9, 2014/Reply
  4. JNick says:

    I’ve had the Sole Society weekender bag in black for over a year and still get compliments every day. It’s roomy enough for gym essentials and it looks way, way more expensive than it really is. Planning on buying in the camel and oxblood colors as well. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

    December 9, 2014/Reply
  5. Teri says:

    This is also not suuuuuuper stylish, but I’m fairly certain it was recommended on this blog last year. I got it last year for Christmas and I ADORE IT. Here’s a link to it on the company’s actual site:

    And on Amazon as well, in case you have Prime:

    December 10, 2014/Reply
  6. Lila says:

    I actually think that in some environments having a fashionable and expensive may be looked upon negative. Spending a lot of money on something that only carries your gym clothes may be looked upon as a waste of money

    December 11, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I don’t know that spending under-$100 on a gym bag qualifies as a lot of money. But I see your point if someone is carrying a Louis Vuitton duffle.

      December 11, 2014/Reply
  7. Christie says:

    I love this Under Armor bag. It’s probably not what most would call “office appropriate” in that it’s not professional per se, but it’s so discreet that you could carry it as a second bag. I carry it as my regular bag and no one seems to notice. I like that it has an insulated waterbottle holder, laptop pocket & drawstring bag for dirty clothes.

    December 11, 2014/Reply