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Ask Belle: Work-Appropriate Gym Bags

Hi Belle –

I’m on the hunt for a work-gym-yoga bag. I carry way too many bags to-from work on the Metro now and I want to simplify (#lifegoals). I’m on the hunt for a professional looking bag that will hold my wallet, lunch, and gym clothes and (preferably) yoga mat.

Any suggestions?  Liz

This is a question that I receive frequently.  You need a bag that’s big enough, but not too big.  Professional looking, but still a proper receptacle for sweaty clothes.  And you need this magic bag to cost less than the arm and leg you are working to tone up.  Add in the yoga mat and you might as well grab a fedora and a whip, and go searching for the Holy Grail.

Luckily, the Interwebs are generous.  Here are a few bags that may fit the bill.


Clockwise Upper Left, Nine West Hot Mesh Tote ($68) // Victorinox Weekender Carry-All ($100) // Sole Society Miah Bag ($79) // Ralph Lauren Max Gym Duffle ($178)

These bags all have a sleek look with enough room to pack gym clothes and some extras.  The Ralph Lauren bag has straps specifically for a yoga bag.  This Eddie Bauer Zen bag is also a good choice.  And Mark & Graham’s Club bag is yoga-mat ready, and customizable.

Want something a bit more fun?  This spotted Under Armour On the Run bag mixes the professional with a bit of whimsy.

The two bags on top have a separate pocket for dirty laundry/shoes.  But what if you find a near-perfect gym bag without a separate compartment?  Canvas shoe bags (like this cute Kate Spade) and travel laundry bags can keep sweaty/dirty items away from clean ones.

Have a favorite gym/yoga bag?  Leave your suggestion in the comments.

Leave a Reply to Laura Mc · cancel comment


  1. Jo says:

    I put my gym clothes in a lightweight nylon bag and then put that in my large Amanda Uprichard tote. It’s not ideal if you have bulky gym stuff but works if you only have a few items.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  2. RH says:

    Obsessed with my lululemon Urban Warrior bag. It holds a ton, and the black one is sleek and has just minimal logos (on the zippers). There are a million pockets for organization, a laptop sleeve (which I put my still hot flat iron in), and a shoe bag. It’s super sturdy. I think there’s also an external strap for yoga mats. Best investment I’ve made!

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  3. Crystal says:

    Though perhaps not as sleek and professional as a few of these options, Apera offers some well-designed, anti-stink, and very cute sport bags ( — one specifically has a space for your yoga mat ( I can also attest that Apera’s customer service is spot on.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  4. Laura Mc says:

    I’m a fan of the lululemon bags. This one ( is the most sleek out of the current offerings (and includes yoga mat storage and dirty shoe storage to boot!).

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  5. AS says:

    I love Lo&Sons bags! I have a large tote for work/school, but I have two friend who have this OMG bag and they carry it to work and the gym:
    It has an separate pocket for shoes!

    June 13, 2016/Reply
    • SunnyIA says:

      After obsessive research, I bought the OMG. (Wait for one of Lo & Sons frequent sales.) It’s great as a gym bag and a travel carry-on. There was a bit of a learning curve for me in how to pack it effectively; it’s deep and has tons of pockets. But once I got into the routine, I love it. It’s professional looking and easy to haul around. The pocket to slip over a suitcase handle is genius. Also: since I get a sore neck from even the tiniest of purses, I also invested in the Tom Bihn Absolute Strap, which makes me feel like a genius for figuring out this life hack.

      June 13, 2016/Reply
  6. KC says:

    lululemon bags/ totes. they. are. the. best.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  7. neenz says:

    I love the lo&sons OG bag which has a compartment for my sneakers that keeps it seperate from the main area of the bag, which has slots for my laptop, chargers, gym clothes, etc.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
    • caroline says:

      Seconding this. I think Lo & Sons has a bag for everyone, given that they’re all designed to carry way more than they look like they would.

      June 14, 2016/Reply
  8. lm says:

    after finding the lo & sons OMG to be too heavy/bulky with too many pockets — i’ve recently switched to the “free to be bag” from lululemon. it also has built in straps to store a yoga mat on the side.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  9. Rebecca says:

    I carry a LOT to and from the gym and work – clothes, toiletries, makeup, plus food for breakfast + lunch + snacks. I have this bag:

    Its giagantic and people will probably figure out its a gym bag, but its more discreet than most gym bags while being really functional. It also doesn’t weigh that much on its own, so I’m not carrying more weight than I need to.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  10. Hilary says:

    I have the Lo&Sons OG but am contemplating a switch (it’s pretty beat up after 2 years). Finding this Lulu one on the sleeker side: as well as the afore-posted Free to Be.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  11. Anon says:

    On a sort-of related topic, do you have any recommendations for a travel yoga mat? I like to do some exercises when I’m travelling, but I’m not wild about lying on the hotel bedroom floor, and a normal roll-up yoga mat is out of the question.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  12. Kara says:

    Lo & Sons OMG!

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  13. Jennifer says:

    I got an MZ Wallace medium metro tote to use as a gym bag. I love it. It’s lightweight but roomy and comes with a matching cosmetic bag that I use to store my gym toiletries.

    June 13, 2016/Reply
  14. Lauren says:

    I have the Lululemon Vinyasa to Vino bag, which is perfect but no longer sold, unfortunately (though you might check ebay/other sites). This looked like the next gen version, but it’s a little more casual (and mentioned in comments previously):

    June 14, 2016/Reply