Shopping·8 min read

The Best Work Bags That’ll Fit All Your Essentials

handbags for work
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Sattaché, J.Crew, Cuyana, Ann Taylor, Dagne Dover
September 6, 2023

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When it comes to work bags, you’re going to need something durable enough for busy commutes and something spacious enough to hold your laptop, lunch, and emotional-support essentials (hello, water bottle). More importantly? You’re going to need something that is stylish enough to have you feeling confident…effective immediately. Enter: the ultimate curation of work-friendly bags. You’re welcome.

Psst…for more recs to wear to work, when going out, and while at home, check out Fashion You’ll Actually Wear Week, our destination for affordable, stylish, and practical clothes.


A versatile leather tote to hold anything and everything…

Classics are classic for a reason and this structured, lightweight option from Cuyana is just that. It’s got a double handle, which makes carrying all your necessities a breeze. The hardware-free design is made from a super-luxe Italian pebbled leather that will age well over time. (It’s even certified by the Leather Working Group to affirm that it's tanned in an environmentally responsible way.) Pick your color, add an optional monogram, and you’ll be able to store everything from a laptop and sunglasses to your wallet and water bottle. Tote-ally love it. ($268, Cuyana)

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A compact tote with a crossbody strap…

Madewell’s Transport Tote is a no-brainer for work. It’s affordable and made with a soft, yet durable leather that’ll get better with time. It has two sets of straps — one that is meant to be worn over your shoulder, and a crossbody option that’s great for days when your hands are full. Plus, it has an internal zippered pocket to protect any valuables. We suggest adding your initials for the ultimate treat-yourself moment. ($168, Madewell)

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Dagne Dover

A perfect backpack that’ll rest easy on your shoulders…

This water-resistant backpack from Dagne Dover has so many pockets, it’ll be practically impossible to feel disorganized. (It even comes with a removable shoe bag, which is convenient if you’re constantly traveling for your job.) ($215, Dagne Dover)

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L.L. Bean

A classic unisex tote that’ll take you from the farmer’s market to the office…

An L.L.Bean cotton-canvas bag never goes out of style. It’s super durable thanks to its double-stitched seams, reinforced bottom, and handles that can hold up to 500 pounds. Available in a variety of size and color options, you can monogram it for an extra-special touch. ($29.95+, L.L. Bean)

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Longchamp’s bestselling foldable tote…

This isn’t your average nylon bag. Thanks to the leather trim, it’s a little more elevated and feels dressier for ultra-professional environments. It’s made of a sleek, water-resistant nylon so even on rainy days, your stuff will stay protected. The best part? It folds flat so it’s easy to pack and store in your closet. One of our editors has had one for years and raves about how well it washes. It truly holds everything. ($155, Nordstrom)

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FP Movement

A quilted carryall that’s the ultimate Mary Poppins bag…

This customer-favorite bag from FP Movement is lightweight, flexible, and thanks to its nylon-esque material and quilted pattern, is incredibly durable. It has a zippered top for added security, and there are spacious interior and exterior pockets to keep you organized. It really is a do-everything bag. You can take it from the office to the gym — it’s even ideal for quick overnight trips. Because the material is so slim, it’ll pack easily in your suitcase, too. Not to mention, the color options are endless. ($68, FP Movement)

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Baggu’s cult-favorite shoulder bag, but in a larger size…

Everyone from our editors to TikTokers can’t get enough of Baggu’s Mini Nylon Shoulder Bag. So we freaked out when we found out that the brand came out with a larger (and equally affordable) version that can fit a 14-inch laptop. Obsessed is an understatement. ($54, Baggu)

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A Scandinavian-inspired, waterproof backpack…

This sleek design comes in a number of neutral colors, plus pink. If you’re someone who prefers something minimalist, look no further. It’s not too chunky or large — and has an internal laptop slot, roomy main compartment, and concealed external phone pocket, which is extremely useful. All you need now is the matching rain coat, and you’re set. ($110, Rains)

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A puffy tote bag perfect for travel…

If work requires you to be constantly on the go, this bag is a must. It’s made of a lightweight, machine-washable nylon and has a completely zippered top. The straps are thick and padded, which means your shoulders will feel extra comfortable. And because of how spacious it is, it makes for a great carry-on or overnight bag. If you need to go from your travels straight into an in-person meeting, this discreet, minimal bag is perfect. ($78,

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A leather and suede bucket bag…

If you love the shape of a classic canvas tote bag, but want something that feels fancier, go for a bucket bag. It has a simple tie closure and is even large enough to fit a laptop (shocking, we know). ($198, J.Crew)

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Ann Taylor

A designer dupe that’ll take you from day to night…

Your search for the perfect nighttime bag is officially over. It’s compact, yet roomy, with a woven texture that will have everyone asking “where’d you get that?” Pro tip: Keep this textured crossbody in your work bag so you can easily go from coffee to work to drinks to home. ($118, Ann Taylor)

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A structured briefcase…

You can fit a large laptop, important paperwork, and so much more. It has an external sleeve for a tablet, plus it’s padded throughout to ensure your tech stays protected. It also comes with a removable, longer strap and has two compartments separated by a zippered pouch so you can stay organized. What can’t this bag do? ($92.99+, Target)

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A smaller bag you can wear five different ways…

Shoutout to a smaller bag we would keep in our main work bag at all times. It’s foldable, packable, and rollable (can attach to a suitcase), and you can wear it over the shoulder, as a handheld, crossbody, backpack, and even as a sling bag. If you meet people for coffee frequently, or take plenty of lunch meetings, this is a great option so you can take your essentials with you, while leaving the rest at the office. If you wear heels, pack them in here and commute while wearing sneakers. Strategic lugging = a must. ($249, Sattaché)

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