The Best Tote Bags for Work, Interviews and More

The Best Tote Bags for Work - 2017 Roundup!Sure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Here’s today’s question, readers: what do you think makes for the best tote bags for work, interviews, and beyond? I’ve argued in the past that the best tote bags for interviews are nylon (lightweight) but structured (non-floppy, stand up by themselves on the floor), large enough for a folder (for copies of your resume), and are mostly a solid color without brash logos. In contrast, I’ve argued that the best professional tote bags in general may be leather (they often look more polished), be a laptop bag (or have a removable laptop sleeve), and have a ton more organization as needed for your daily schlep.

Ladies, do you have different tote bags for interviews and tote bags for work? Do you tend to collect tote bags in general? (I know I’ve got about 10 of them in my closet…) Which ones do you carry the most (and/or love the most)? In general, what qualities do you think makes the best tote bags for work?

Pictured at top, clockwise from top left: one / two / three / four .

If I were shopping today for a tote bag for work, these would be the bags and stores that I’d consider first:

(Curious for older versions of this post? Here they are from 2016, 2014201320122011, and 2010).

Best-Selling Tote Bags for Work

Some of the best selling work totes of all time are linked to in our Hall of Fame styles mentioned above — here are a few of those, pictured, ranging from $168 to $298: one / two / three // four / five / six

Featured Tote Bags for Work

Best-selling, classic styles are great, but sometimes you want to know what else is on the market today for the freshest look or the best discount.  So: here are a few bags we’re liking today:   

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The Hunt: Job Interview Heels

Sure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

In honor of on campus interviews coming up, I thought I’d focus today’s Hunt on job interview heels. What DO you look for in a job interview heel, readers? The most important thing to me, first, is that a job interview heel is comfortable for you — this may mean arch support, it may mean a puffy, sneaker-like insole, it may mean anywhere from a 2″ heel to a 4″ heel. (You can also wear flats for an interview, of course!) A comfortable shoe means a confident stride — I’ve seen some women interviewing look wobbly and unsteady on their feet. Don’t choose height  for “style reasons” if you feel like a baby giraffe just learning to walk! The second thing that’s most important for an interview shoe is that the shoe should be pristine — no scuffs, marks, or anything. If you’re interviewing in a heel you’ve had for a while, take it to the cobbler for new tips and polishing, at the very least. (Along the lines of a “confident stride,” note that many cobblers can add rubber tips to heels and even replace part of the sole with a rubber portion to make the shoe less slippery.) Readers, how about you — have you gotten any great job interview heels lately? Have you seen any faux pas or other fashion gaffes (or made any yourself) while choosing heels for job interviews?

Pictured at top, clockwise from top: one / two / three

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The Hunt for Budget-Friendly Interview Suits

budget friendly interview suits for womenSure, we all know what work wardrobe essentials professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have. Today: we’re hunting for budget-friendly interview suits for women!

Obviously, we cover a Suit of the Week every week, and we have our regularly updated Guide to Interview Suits as well as our recent overview of brands of suits for women for every budget— but we haven’t specifically looked for budget-friendly interview suits in a few years, so let’s round them up! (Here’s our last discussion on cheap interview suits, as well as our discussion of whether you can mix black separates to make a suit (noooooooo!).  In general, if you’re hunting for an interview suit, keep an eye out for options with a) suiting separates b) available in a solid, dark, neutral color, c) that fit your budget. By buying suiting separates you can get a better fit off the rack (such as by buying a size 10 pant and a size 12 blazer, and maybe even a petite skirt even if everything else is a regular size) — and you can make several outfits, particularly if there are two blazers, such as one that’s collarless and one that’s the traditional lapel+button. (If you have problems finding suits in your size range, check our Guide to Plus Size Suits, Tall Suits, Petite Suits, and Maternity Suits!) Readers, which are your favorite budget-friendly interview suits? 

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The Hunt for Nude-For-You Heels

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Beige pumps and other “nude” heels are starting to hit the stores, so I thought we’d do a hunt for nude-for-you heels today. The theory is thus: the closer to your exact skin tone you can get with any shoe, the more elongating and flattering a look it can be with sheer hose or bare legs. (Here’s our last guide on when and how to wear pantyhose if you need a refresher!)  Ladies, do you have any favorite beige/tan/pink/caramel/brown pumps that you love because they match your skin tone and are YOUR nude heels? What style of nude-for-you heel are you on the hunt for most this year — block heel, a strappy heel, a wedge, a classic pump, or something else?  (Looking for nude flats? Check out our last roundup here.)

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The Best Women’s Dress Shirts

Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We haven’t gone on a hunt for the best dress shirts for women in a long time — so let’s take a look, ladies! Which are your favorite spots to check first if you’re looking for a classic, button up dress shirt, whether for interviews or beyond? Do you prefer a crisp dress shirt (like the ones we’re featuring in this article), or do you prefer a silkier dress shirt? A few older articles may be of particular interest in this discussion: a) if you prefer silky button-fronts, check out our Hunt for that one, b) if you’re busty, check out our guide to specialty shops for busty blouses, c) one of our all-time top posts: 10 ways to wear a button-down shirt, and, finally, d) as a laundry tip, I’ve had great success with putting the shirts in the dryer for no more than about 15 minutes and then hanging them up to air dry. Oh, and I’m on Team White-Camisole-Beneath-White-Shirt–but many others are on Team Nude Camisole; you can check out our discussion here.

Pictured at top, clockwise: blue / blue / white

First, some of our Hall of Fame styles — these are the best-selling, classic styles that have been around for years and are always highly rated:

Pictured above: pink / stripey / blue / white / blush

And, before we get to our featured styles for today, here are some of special interest categories for women’s dress shirts:

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The Best Affordable Cashmere For Work

affordable cashmere for workSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

Which are your favorite affordable cashmere sweaters for work, ladies? Which ones do you reach for, for warmth, style, or comfort — and which have held up after laundering or dry cleaning? We haven’t talked about this in a while, and cashmere sales are starting (Neiman Marcus, Uniqlo, Lord & Taylor, and Nordstrom all have some crazy markdowns right now) — so let’s discuss.

Pictured at top, clockwise: black / cream / navy / blue.

Pictured below, some of our Hall of Famers: boatneck / crewneck / turtleneck / faux wrap / turtleneck

 

Before we get to our featured cashmere sweaters for work for today, let’s talk about some greatest hits:

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