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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.
If you had an unlimited budget, what would your work bag be? We thought we’d go on a hunt for the best luxury work bags…
I remember years ago discussing the Prada Saffiano tote — the general consensus at the time was that NO, you do not need a super fancy, expensive, designer luxury work bag. In the years since, a ton of readers with big jobs (partner, C-suite, etc) have noted that they adore this $578 bag (frequently on sale!) and any of these $400-$700 bags — and it’s probably worth noting that these can be more functional, as well, since they are designed to hold laptops and, in many cases, fit over the handle of a rolling suitcase.
(In fact, we’ve even discussed how in some situations, carrying a bag that is obviously expensive can work against you, particularly in situations where you’re representing people other than yourself. Or, you know, if you’re an intern carrying a $9000 handbag. Know your office and your job!)
Still — there have been a lot of reader discussions recently where women are looking to splurge on bags, so I thought we’d do a roundup of the best ones if you ARE on the hunt for a luxury work bag.
(We’ve also discussed when “must” you carry a designer bag to work — and how to deal when your offensive client uses your designer bag to “joke” that he’s paying you too much. Ah yes, and how to deal when your boss tells you dress too well — or perhaps just feels bad that you’re dressing better than your boss. Aw, and Jean from Extra Petite rounded up her favorite stylish work bags for us.)
We’ve rounded up the best work bags for women in 2024, the best work backpacks, the best briefcases for women, and the best bags for interviews. (We’ve also rounded up the best bags for law students!) We’ve also pondered whether totes or backpacks for work are the best, talked about how to organize your bags, shared silly thoughts about what your tote bag says about you, and asked the readers how many bags they bring to work.
Our Latest Favorite Luxury Work Bags and Luxury Work Backpacks
As of 2024, some of our latest favorite luxury work bags (large enough to hold papers and a laptop!) include Bottega Veneta, Mulberry, Saint Laurent, Kaai, and Demellier. Of course, note that a lot of our readers who are in big jobs note that they love their (more affordable) Lo & Sons bags, as well as their Tumi.
Some of Our General Favorite Work Bags for Women of 2024
These start as low as $50! Note also that, while we’ll go through the best luxury work bags in a bit, there are a TON of our readers who have big jobs (law partner/C-suite type jobs) who adore this $578 bag (frequently on sale!) and any of these $400-$700 bags.
Some of the best work bags for women as of 2024 include great totes from Cuyana (with a zipper), Tumi, Tory Burch (lightweight, a laptop tote), Lo & Sons, and Madewell (north/south). Also try this highly-rated organizing insert or these clever pouches with some of the less structured bags! If you’re looking for a budget tote (or one in a specific color) check this Amazon seller (22K+ good reviews) or this Amazon seller (60K+ good reviews).
(Looking for a luxury work bag? Here’s our latest roundup…)
Some Of The Best Laptop Totes (Reader Favorites!)
The Best Backpacks for Work in General
Update: Hunting for the best work backpacks? Some of our favorites in 2024 are below — see the full post for all the details!
The Overall Best Work Backpack
The Best Convertible Laptop Backpack
The Best Affordable Backpack for Work
The Best Luxury Work Bags of 2024
Bottega Veneta Andiamo Large Tote
I’ve long been a fan of Bottega Veneta’s woven leather look — it’s the ultimate in quiet luxury. I haven’t seen a bag large enough for work papers until this one, though.
The pictured bag has an open top with magnetic closure, as well as an adjustable knot strap in the center — in the various images you can see women carrying it in the crook of their elbow, like a briefcase, and over the shoulder. It’s 13.8″H by 16.5″W x 7.1″ deep — so should you want to carry work papers in it, you can.
It’s $7990 at Neiman Marcus.
DeMellier Maxi Montreal Tote
DeMellier only has a few bags that are big enough to include in this roundup, because many will not fit a magazine, let alone a laptop. (They’re gorgeous as handbags, though!)
But they do have one bag — the Maxi Montreal tote — that is big enough to fit a 15″ laptop. It’s currently available in limited colors only.
If you aren’t familiar with the brand, they note that “all our pieces are crafted ethically in Spain using the finest sustainably sourced materials, and for every piece sold, DeMellier funds vaccines and treatments aimed to save the life of a child in need.”
Saint Laurent LouLou
Saint Laurent’s LouLou bag’s largest size is bigger than some of the tote bags I’ve seen. It’s missing a lot of the interior organization other bags have — no laptop sleeve, no pockets for eyeglasses or water bottles, and
Still, at 10.6″H x 5.5″W x 14.9″D, it’s plenty big enough to carry your work papers and all your essentials. I like that the bag has feet.
If you’re hunting for a briefcase-like bag for work, this gorgeous leather satchel from Mulberry should definitely be on your list. I like the fact that it has feet (so rare these days!!) and smartphone pockets, but do note that it’s unlined. This version only has a flap closure, but they also make zippered versions that look a bit more like regular tote bags.
In terms of dimensions, the bag is 10.5″ H x 14.25″W x 6.5″ D, with a handle drop of 6″.
Kaai Pyramid Tote
We featured this bag from Kaai a few weeks ago in a dusty blue, and it’s still on my mind. It’s definitely a bit of a splurge, but I love the origami-like folded leather.
Their pyramid tote fits a 15.6″ laptop, has a zippered top (YAAAS), and is $799. The brand is sold in a lot of places in Europe, or you can get free worldwide delivery on orders over $125.
Mulberry Bayswater Leather Tote
Mulberry has been around for years, but is having a bit of a trendy moment — the brand is known for their understated sophistication. I like the “iconic postman’s lock” and the interior removable flap pocket. This one is only 14″ wide, so it won’t be big enough for most laptops, alas.
This bag is $900 at Nordstrom.
(Also around this price range: these gorgeous totes from Strathberry!)
Christian Louboutin Cabata Leather Tote
Louboutin has a nice selection of interesting (but not TOO interesting) leather work bags. I’m loving this one with embossing and metal spike details — all with pops of that classic Louboutin red.
This bag is $1850 at Nordstrom and other department stores.
Burberry bags are also around this price range — they have some truly beautiful embossed totes that keep selling out at department stores.
Chanel tote bags aren’t sold online — but we’d be remiss to not include the brand. Their basic leather shopper tote has been around for ages, and while it’s on the smaller side, it’s a total classic.
These bags are around $5800 — contact your local Chanel store for more details. (If you know what you’re doing, you can also find a ton of them on resale sites.)
Readers, what are your thoughts — what are the best luxury work bags for women?
Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!