The best work bags that are roomy and stylish
- Work bags pull double duty — they have to excel in organization, style, and spaciousness to do the job well.
- Bonus points are awarded for the sort of versatility that can take you from the gym to the office or the office to evening drinks.
- 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.
It's difficult to find a bag that can jump through every hoop on a given day, including storing your laptop, keys and wallet, a book to read on the subway, and possibly even a change of clothes for the gym or after-work drinks. Because of this, many people will be familiar with buying, packing, and schlepping around multiple bags — one for work, and canvas totes or gym bags for the overflow.
But thanks to a retail landscape with more high-quality, affordable options than ever, it's easier than ever to find stylish work bags that do it all. Plus, their designs are getting better over time.
Brands like Dagne Dover, Senreve, and Everlane are changing the game and making it easier to find everyday bags that look good and hold an incredible amount of stuff. Say goodbye to your canvas tote collection with these office-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 convertible work bag: Senreve Maestra Bag
- Best day-to-night work bag: Leatherology Belmont Structured Tote
- Best waterproof bag: Bellroy Tokyo Tote
Updated on 09/22/2020 by Mara Leighton: Updated links, prices, the "what else we considered" section, and added in the Bellroy Tokyo Tote as our waterproof bag pick. We're still on the hunt for the best backpack work bag, and we will update this guide in the near future with our findings.
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 this tote without it being bulky.
Most tote bags, even if they are large enough to get you through a workday, 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 it's impossible not to keep everything organized. The Classic Tote has a neoprene water bottle sleeve, a phone pocket, a pen holder, a padded laptop sleeve, a notebook or tablet sleeve with magnetic closure, and an interior side pocket. There's also a detachable key holder to prevent the tote from eating your key ring, which is great if you've ever found yourself digging around your bag while trying to unlock the front door.
The Classic Tote has a durable coated canvas exterior that comes in six very classic shades that 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, including by our Insider Reviews executive editor Ellen Hoffman. We're also fans of this bag's larger counterpart, the Legend Tote, and the 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
Read our full review of the Dagne Dover Classic Tote
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.
Just because a handbag is on the simple side, that doesn't mean it isn't exciting. 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. The Insider Reviews team loves it, too, thanks to its simple silhouette and roomy interior.
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. So if your bags tend to gobble up your smaller items, you may want something with a little more organization.
Pros: Affordable, 100% Italian leather, roomy size
Cons: Only one interior pocket
Read our full review of the Everlane Day Market Tote
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 one 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, the largest of which has a whopping eight pockets, including one exterior pocket. 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 Reviews senior editor Sally Kaplan couldn't say enough good things about the Senreve Maestra in her review, and she's not the only one. Although it might be on the pricier side, because of its versatility, you'll get a lot of use out of it, which may justify the investment for you.
Pros: Comes in three sizes, convertible straps, up to eight pockets
Cons: The smaller sizes aren't roomy enough to use as a daily work bag
Read our full review of the Senreve Maestra
The best day-to-night work bag
The Leatherology Belmont Structured Tote is an incredibly roomy option that comes with a wristlet, making it the perfect day-to-night option.
The concept of "day-to-night" dressing may be a little bit overstated. But in the event that you really need to ditch the heavy tote for your post-5 p.m. plans, Leatherology's Belmont Structured tote provides a wristlet in the tote for an easy transition.
Leatherology is known for affordable, yet beautiful, leather goods that fit all your life needs, and the Belmont Structured Tote is a perfect example of this ethos. It's a roomy work-friendly bag with plenty of storage space (though there are 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. (The accompanying wristlets coordinate with the exterior shade.) Made of scratch- and water-resistant Italian leather, the bags can easily be cleaned and are durable enough to stand up to daily wear and tear.
Pros: Quality durable leather at an affordable price, customizable, spacious, comes with a matching wristlet
Cons: Only one small zippered pocket
The best waterproof bag
Bellroy's Tokyo Bag applies the brand's characteristic practicality, inventive design, and ample organization hacks to a waterproof tote.
Bellroy's Tokyo Tote lives up to its mission of creating surprising amounts of space in a sleek, functional tote — just like the brand's timeless leather wallets. It's water-resistant thanks to a tough exterior and water-resistant zip closures, so you can take it into adverse weather without a second thought. In our experience, the nylon doesn't stay wet for long, so you don't have to worry about toting around a soggy bag. It's also backed by Bellroy's three-year warranty.
The silhouette is undoubtedly sleek. While two pop-out pockets store larger items, such as water bottles, the others sit flush against the interior walls so as not to infringe upon valuable real estate. It fits a 13-inch laptop or tablet, though it may be tight depending on the case, and you can easily store — and locate in a rush — a wallet, headphones, makeup bag, and more. An external, quick-access pocket is great for essentials like your keys and phone.
It's also relatively affordable for its quality and functionality. Its price ranges from $65-$90 depending on the colorway, with most options ringing up at $90.
That said, the bag isn't exactly a statement piece. It's compact and versatile, but potentially not as trendy as some shoppers' preferences. We also love the fashion-forward and water-resistant MZ Wallace Sutton Bag and Caraa Cumulus Bag, but neither is as accessibly priced as Bellroy. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Pros: Sleek and compact silhouette, ample organization, water-resistant fabric, relative affordability
Cons: Not as fashion-forward as some water-resistant options
Read our full review of the Bellroy Tokyo Tote here
What else we considered
- Lo & Sons The Seville Prima Tote ($378): While pricey, Lo & Son's bags are seriously versatile and practical. This sleek leather bag has a travel sleeve as well as plenty of pockets for all of your belongings — including a laptop. It's also waterproof, which is a major boon.
- Cuyana Trapeze Satchel ($395): This bag embodies Cuyana's "fewer, better" motto. It comes with a removable crossbody strap so you can switch up the way you carry it. The pebbled leather is a sleek option that looks good with everything.
- MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote ($225): MZ Wallace's nylon totes are more casual than the leather options on this list. That said, they're a great pick because they're super lightweight, easy to clean, and can fit a ton of stuff. You can find our full review here.
- Caraa Studio Bag ($395): Caraa's cult-favorite Studio Bag is both inventive and intuitively designed. It morphs into whatever you need — a backpack, satchel, or crossbody — by changing the straps. And it's deceptively spacious. But, $400 for a cool backpack, no matter how functional and inventive, isn't an accessible price for many people.
- Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack ($195): This is our top pick for the best backpacks you can buy. Its aesthetic may be a bit too sporty to earn a top spot in this guide, but we appreciate its high-performance and water-resistant neoprene material and ample organization. Inside, it also fits a 15-inch laptop.
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