Ten to Consider: Tote Bags

Ten to Consider: Tote Bags

Hey y’all! I’m Amanda, here to present a new semi-regular series here on the dressed.so blog called “Ten to Consider.” In these posts, I’ll highlight ten of any given item that I think you should know about. These could range from the practical (tote bags!) to the trendy (slide sandals?), and I’m more than open to suggestions – leave them in the comments or, if you’re a Twit, @dressedso or @ajraydc on Twitter. I’ll always try to present a range of styles and price points, but be aware that I may not be the typical dressed.so user – my style is more Lilly Pulitzer than RO Lilies, and less than 5% of my wardrobe is black.


As I’m writing this, it’s late July – that means just a month or so before students return to school, and a month or so before working adults stop feeling sorry for themselves over not getting a lengthy summer vacation. This also means it’s time to start the perennial quest to find The Perfect Tote Bag for school or work.



 Dagne Dover | The Tote

I could wax poetic about this bag for a few pages, but my buzzkill editors want me to keep this under 800 words (lol not happening), so I’ll attempt to use less than 97% of that for this review. The Dagne Dover tote was created with the modern woman in mind to solve something the founders have referred to as “Black Hole Bag syndrome.” This large (20”x10”x8” – all measurements provided in this post are in the format of length x height x depth) coated canvas tote bag is impressively organized internally – a laptop sleeve (capable of holding a computer larger than a 13” MacBook – why do all handbag designers assume all women have these dainty little computers?! #JAILBREAKTHEPATRIARCHY), two tablet sleeves, a zippered pocket running the length of the bag, pencil holders, a detachable insulated water bottle sleeve, and a strap to hold your keys. The details are lovely – gold hardware (be still my beating heart), feet to hold your bag upright, and leather rolled handles that are sizable enough to fit over your shoulder. Their line includes several other highly functional accessories, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They’re currently out of stock, but will be rolling out their summer line (including several new items) within the next few weeks.


Lo & Sons | The T.T.

The T.T. is described as a carryall laptop tote, and I’d lump it in with the Dagne Dover tote in terms of functionality. It has an easy-to-clean nylon exterior, with leather straps and accents. It clocks in at 14”x15.5”x4.5”, and packs a decently-sized laptop sleeve, a padded tablet compartment, a concealed front pocket (complete with key leash), tons of additional inner pockets, and an adjustable back panel that allows you to secure your bag over the handle of your rolling luggage. Their website’s product page has a video showing all that you can fit inside, complete with some really convincing smooth jazz. It comes in several subdued shades, and unlike many other bags, comes with both gold and silver hardware options. This is great choice if you love L&S for their overnight and weekender bags.


MZ Wallace | The Metro Tote

The MZ Wallace Metro tote comes in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and patterns – they’ve even got some great colorblocked options, including a sharp black and navy number. It is constructed of lightweight quilted nylon, meaning it’s not too bulky if you don’t stuff it to the brim, and it can be easily rolled or folded in a suitcase or another bag. Each bag packs an impressive six interior pockets, a detachable zippered case, rolled handles, and protective leather feet. Hardware options include, gold, silver, black. The small bag measures 19.5”x12”x9”, and the large 24”x14.5”x11”. Most readers will likely find the medium, at 21”x13”x9.5”, will be more than sufficient for daily use.

I haven’t tried any of the four following totes, and I’d categorize them all as pretty similar – they’re semi-large (big enough to hold your average laptop), open-top leather (or vegan leather for you hippies) totes. If I spot you using one of these, I think you are an absolute monster. What kind of twisted person carries all of their crap in an OPEN-TOP TOTE?!?! Does weather not exist where you live? Theft? Clumsiness, leading you to knock your bag over at the coffee shop and spill all of your earthly belongings on the floor? If you like to live dangerously, check out the four totes below – they’re all quite lovely looking, with a minimal approach to aesthetics and added functionality.


Cuyana | The Leather Tote

This bag is 19”x13”x5 (they also have a taller, narrower “magazine style” if you prefer to live your life in portrait instead of landscape), comes in a wide variety of colors (including two metallics), and contains one inner zip pocket.


Everlane | The Petra

Everlane carries three styles of their simple Petra tote – the magazine (11”x14”), the market (15”x13.75”), and the portfolio (18”x15”). Each bag contains two snap-closure canvas pockets, and polished chrome feet. The only ornamentation is a small chrome strap adjuster, one on each side. The chrome looks a bit out of place on the cognac and brown totes, but is a nice touch nonetheless.


Madewell | The Transport Tote

I think every blogger who has ever blogged has blogged this tote. Blog. Of course it doesn’t need a zipper, because it’s only used to carry seven dozen fresh peonies back from the farmer’s market so you can post them on Instagram later. Blog blog blog. It comes in black (with cognac handles) or cognac, as well as a few seasonal varieties – I love the contrast handles on the black version. It clocks in at 17”x13.75”x6”, has an interior zippered pocket, and can be monogrammed with gold foil or an imprint – a nice touch to differentiate it from the sea of similar bags.

 Tote7 Urban Outfitters | Vegan Tote

If you’re on a tighter budget or have moral qualms about wearing leather, Urban Outfitters has a nice option for you. Each 16”x13”x5” tote can be reversed to reveal another shade – some combos are subdued, like black/cognac, whereas others are more fun, like cognac/peach. Two more added bonuses – each comes with a matching detachable zip pouch and an optional adjustable crossbody strap.


Phew – let’s leave that madness behind us, shall we? Let’s look at a few that have closures.



 Rib & Hull | Heirloom Carryall

This bag is currently the frontrunner for my next tote – it’s a gorgeous vegetable-tanned leather tote with a zip-top enclosure (don’t worry, they make a tote without zippers for those of you who like to live dangerously). Clocking in at 14.5”x17” (no depth provided), each bag has an interior zip pocket and rolled leather handles. It comes in black, cognac, and oxblood – a shade in this instance more reminiscent of your grandfather’s desk chair than the trendy, Lookbook-y monstrosity of F/W past.


 Bookhou | Zip Tote

Bookhou totes remind me of a Steven Alan aesthetic – subdued shades and patterns, coated canvas bottoms, leather straps reinforced with brass rivets – but definitely veer towards the casual. I’d say these are better suited for students, or folks with very casual workplaces. They make a wide variety of totes – some zippered, some zipperless, some with crossbody straps, at all sizes. Many have interior pockets for added functionality.

Tote10 Contrapaul | Waxed Tote

Last but not least, MFAer and sometimes d.so poster Contrapaul has his own line of handmade tote bags (among other items). Each bag is waxed, with an interior zippered pocket (capable of holding a 14” laptop), a divided open pocket (can be used for phone, wallet, etc.), magnetic snap closure, and chestnut leather handles reinforced with silver rivets. He carries some lovely colorways – my favorite is burgundy with a navy base* – but I understand he is fairly willing and able to work with you to customize a bag. These totes, like the Bookhou, may be a bit out of place in many workplaces, but would be great for students or casual use. The totes clock in at 16.5”x15”x5”.

* Bhoka: Too bad, I bought the last one. Will review/cherish forever once USPS decides to stop holding it hostage.

And because 10 is never enough*, here are some honorable mentions: Lotuff, Frank Clegg, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Gigi New York, Kate Spade Saturday.

*Yeah, I know it’s called Ten to Consider, but this is my series so deal with it.




Ajraydc | Writer / Snark
Nightwing | Editor
Bhoka | Graphics

Intro Photo via Creative Commons


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