Ask Belle: Nylon and Leather Totes for Work

Feb 2, 2015

Hi Belle–

I love your blog.  Thanks for what you do!

I’m looking for a nylon tote for carrying items into the office that I don’t want to shove into my purse (lunch, shoes, change of clothes, book, etc).  While I don’t want to spend an extravagant amount of money on this bag, I also want something durable.

Can you help? Rachel

If you’re looking for a bag to carry workday extras I recommend nylon or leather totes.  They also make good bags for casual, weekend use.

Looking for nylon?  The first thing you have to decide is if you want something with structure or something you can fold up and dispose of later.

Snip20150202_19

Banana Republic Nylon Tote ($79)

This BR bag is a knock-off of the Longchamp Le Pliage tote.  Looking for more of a shopper style?  I like this emerald-green tote from Armani Jeans.  This Marc Jacobs tote is a more expensive option, but it’s a fashion-forward choice.

Looking for something inexpensive?  Baggu makes nylon shopping bags that you can roll-up in your bag when you don’t need them.  They’re very affordable at $9 a bag, and fairly durable.

Snip20150202_20BP Reversible Tote ($48)

I don’t like uni-taskers.  If you want nylon, if that’s what suits your needs, have at it.  For my money, I want a leather shopper that I can use on the weekends too.  This reversible tote from BP is a good option.  I also like this slouchier, reversible tote from Old Navy that comes in a selection of colors.

The burgundy tote from Baggu is gorgeous, and virtually bottomless.  Madewell also makes a fantastic tote.  But my favorite casual bag is a sturdy option from IIIBeca.

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  1. Nora says:

    My personal favorite shopper is the one from Cuyana. Same shape/style as you’ll see in a million other places, but the leather is TO DIE FOR.

    • Belle says:

      That’s interesting. I’ve been wondering what the Cuyana appeal was. I see people raving about them, but I didn’t know what the “x-factor” was that made them so much better.

    • I just clicked to mention I’d purchased a Cuyana tote and love it. Such great leather. I’m just using mine as an every day at the moment.

  2. Rachel H says:

    I have the nylon tote and really like it- it’s durable, large, and waterproof. I lug it everywhere and it’s held up really nicely. My only complaint is the lack of compartments…I like to have everything organized, and so it can make it a bit challenging to find what you need right away.

  3. Rachel says:

    I actually got the red Banana Republic nylon tote last week for this exact reason. So far I love it. It’s big enough for a book, lunch bag, change of shoes and other little odds and ends but not so large that it’s frustrating. I’m also looking forward to using it as my personal bag and purse when I travel for a work conference later in the month. Plus, scoring it during a 40% off sale made it the perfect price.

  4. Hanna says:

    I have a tote from Everlane (reverse denim) and it is holding up amazingly well. I really love it. They come in a variety of colors, snap or zip closure, and sturdy leather straps. Definitely worth a look! A cheaper alternative if you want more than nylon but not looking for leather.

    • I have an everlane weekender and back pack in the reversible denim and love both- for style and durability. Like the Cuyana, I feel like they look great w/o the excessive branding that seems tired at the moment.

  5. Abby says:

    Love the Everlane twill tote for a cheap option. Mine has held up well for the price. I’m currently in the market for a carry-all for work that travels well. Right now my top contender is the Dagne Dover tote. Similar functionality to the Lo&Sons OG/OMG, but (in my opinion) cuter!

  6. The totes from Stella and Dot–the How Does She Do It, specifically–are awesome, but I’m not sure if they are still available.

  7. Kim says:

    Mark and Graham Everyday Leather Tote. Great colors, and it’s monogrammable.

  8. Keilexandra says:

    I bought a Le Pliage in France and adore it, but the corners on mine are all worn through (yet I can’t spare it for the 4-6 weeks it takes to send back to the factory for repair) after less than 2 years. I’m addicted to the minimal weight now though, and leather/canvas bags seem so much heavier before I’ve even put anything in. I might end up buying another Le Pliage so that I can send my current one in for repair, as I haven’t found anything else that’s equally stylish and lightweight.

  9. anon says:

    Judge me, but I got a reversible black and tan pleather tote that’s similar to the BR one shown, except it’s more horizontal than vertical, for $30 at the Bass outlet. (The store of suede lace-up shoes with red soles from the ’90s, not the fishing place.) For what I’ll put it through – daily metro rides, cramming it with pointy heels, condensation from a bowl of leftovers, heavy books & files – I thought I’d try it out for the price. Six weeks in, it’s performing perfectly and no signs of wear. Best of all, it looks nearly identical to my coworker’s pricier one from Gilt.

    • Stacey says:

      Whoa, young crowd! Us oldsters hear “Bass” and still think “loafers.” Or, depending on where you’re from, “weejuns”.

  10. jssatx says:

    Feeling you, Stacey. Bass from the 90s? Chuckle.

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