How Many Bags Do You Bring to Work (And: What Does Your Schlep Look Like?)

how many bags should you bring to workWe’ve talked a lot about the commute to work over the years, but we just got a great question about how many bags you should bring to work — specifically, how many do you carry, how large, what stuff do you bring to work, and WHICH bags.  Reader A literally just wrote in to ask this question, wondering how many bags you should bring to work, but it’s such a good one that I can’t wait to hear what the readers say:  what DOES your schlep look like, what do you bring to work each day, and do you bring one large bag or several smaller ones?

Are the days of taking a work bag (lady briefcase type thing) + handbag over? I’m about to become a fully admitted lawyer and my totes just aren’t working – plus it’s a lot to take with me for client meetings! in my mind, two smaller bags is easier than a giant overstuffed one, and it does make it easy for spontaneous lunch and drinks plans, plus can be a little trendier. I want to invest in something really nice but am I missing something?

Such an interesting question, and I think this is going to vary HUGELY based on what everyone’s commutes look like — and what your jobs look like. When chiming in, please share a little about what your commute looks like:

(Pictured above: yeah, not like that. Photo credit: Stencil.)

  • how do you USUALLY get to and from work — drive? subway? taxi/Uber/Lyft? walk?
  • do you have a lot of meetings or other events that require travel during the day?
  • on a USUAL day how many bags do you carry with you — and what do you bring?
  • what does an unusual day look like for you — e.g., what bags do you take with you for court appearances or big presentations, or how do you bring bags to or from work if you’re planning for, say, a long weekend at home with a lot of work?
  • what bags do you keep at the office for “last minute” things, either from a “last minute drinks!” perspective or a “yay I have to take home these three binders and review them asap tonight” perspective

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Backpacks for Work

backpacks-for-workAre there any backpacks that are stylish and large enough to hold file folders, binders and more on your commute from work? Backpacks are super trendy right now, but all of the really stylish bags are far too small for file folders or work papers. I was just at an event where I saw a young lawyer carrying a large, stylish backpack and my first thought was, good for her — whether she’s biking to work, walking to work, or just watching out for back problems down the line, it’s a smart move.  Coincidentally, I also recently got a question from Reader B, who wants to start walking to work and carrying large files — so I thought we’d go on a mini-Hunt. Here’s B’s question:

I’m looking to start walking to work more as I recently bought a home which sits about a mile away from my office. However, I’m an attorney and am often carrying case files and other paperwork back and forth. Tote bags, no matter what the straps are like, begin to hurt my shoulders on this. I know a backpack would solve the problem but as a relatively young professional, I’m afraid to look like I can’t let go of my college backpack days. Is it ever acceptable to wear a backpack to the office

Interesting question, B — I’ve written before of my love of walking to work, but I’ll admit that for any real file carrying I took cabs and client-paid cars to and from the office.  A few notes on tote bags, just at the outset: first, note that a leather bag is going to be far, far heavier than a nylon tote for work — and that I always found a single shoulder strap to be more comfortable for a long schlep. (You may also want to check out our advice on how to lighten your load.) Still, if you’re already feeling pain, there are a ton of backpacks right now that distribute the weight better across your back — I’ve rounded up a few of my top picks below, ranging from $29-$550.  Readers, would you consider wearing a backpack to work? Have you bought any backpacks for work lately that you love — and what qualities make one more or less professional and stylish in your mind?

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A Weatherproof Tote for Work

Weatherproof Tote for WorkIs it possible to find a weatherproof work tote — a stylish, quality bag for work that won’t be ruined by bad weather? How can you protect your bag from the elements? Reader C wonders…

Kat, I’d like to upgrade my work tote bag to something special but I worry about caring for it when commuting in rain and snow. The best thing about my 20 year old vinyl tote is that it’s indestructible, but it’s also pretty shabby. I’d like something classy but worry about the weather ruining it. Thanks for your advice.

We’ve talked about upgrading to a Prada bag (and upgrading your bag in general), what your tote bag says about you, how to lighten your loadthe best bags for commuting (and the best bags for interviewing!) — but we haven’t really talked about a weatherproof work tote. I’m curious to hear what readers say.

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Guest Post: Stylish Work Bags

best work bags

2016 Update: Check out our most recent roundup of professional tote bags for women!

Work bags: we’ve talked about bags for summer associatesinterview totessuitcases for overnight business tripsmessenger bags, and how much we end up spending on them all. In today’s guest post, Jean from Extra Petite brings you a roundup of stylish work bags, straight from her own closet. In addition to petite-focused fashion, Jean’s blog features workwear and accessories reviews across various sizes. Jean was kind enough to contribute a great guest post on suiting alterations during my last maternity leave — welcome back, Jean! – Kat.

Hello Corporette readers! I’m stepping in for Kat today to chat about work-appropriate handbags that fit at least a laptop and some documents. I know we each have various needs and preferences on material, structure, and price range, so I’ve pulled a few from my own closet that cover a wide span of options:

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Are Messenger Bags Unprofessional?

Are Messenger Bags Unprofessional? | CorporetteMessenger bags: unprofessional, or just fine for the office? Reader H wonders:

Hello! I love Corporette, and had a question about messenger bags. I read through some of the blog’s archives re: work bags, and found plenty of negative comments about carrying messenger bags to work. I always wore them in school, and recently impulse-bought a men’s messenger bag on sale (this one to be specific), because it was so gorgeous in the store. Going through the comments made me wonder — would this be appropriate to bring to the office and wear to a meeting? The leather is just such great quality, and I love the simple, understated lines. For the record, very, very new at NYC BigLaw, and I only wear these sorts of bags on one shoulder, not across the body.

Interesting question, Reader H! (Pictured: Bleecker Commuter in Leather, $598 at Coach.) We’ve talked about backpacks for commuting (including walking to work), women’s briefcases, and interview totes, and for Coffee Breaks I’ve often suggested briefcases primarily marketed to men, but I’ve never thought about the messenger bag question — so I’m curious to hear what the readers say.

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How to Lighten Your Load

how to lighten your loadIf you’re carrying a million bags, how do you look professional?  How can you lighten your load and reduce the number of bags you’re carrying? Reader R wonders…

I work in a large corporate environment and recently had a daughter. I’m back at work, but I feel like a bag lady. I’m only 5’3″ and have to carry in my laptop, purse, pump, lunch, and coffee. (Not brave enough to add my gym bag to the mix, although I’d like to.) I feel like the bags overwhelm my frame and generally make me look smaller, younger, and unprofessional. How do others juggle all this STUFF?

Congratulations on your daughter, R!  Great question — I can see how this is a problem for new mothers, but also for other people carrying too much stuff.  We’ve talked about what your tote bag says about you, as well as how to save your back while commuting, but we haven’t really talked about a) how to lighten your load, and b) how to balance your load (particularly if you’re petite) so it looks more managed.

From my perspective, most of reader R needs to do is to reduce the amount of stuff she carries.  Some tips: [Read more…]

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