I got asked on Instagram for the best work tote bags. I understand the struggle! It’s always a challenge for them to fit everything you want and also be functional. So, I’ve spent the last month testing a bunch and here are my favorites!
When it comes to tote bags, I like to stick with brands that I know deliver time after time. Sole Society is one of my personal favorites. They’re affordable and they last. My previous work tote was by Sole Society and it lasted for over 6 months through all of the Chicago weather. While there are a bunch of brands that make tote bags (and I own quite a variety), I wanted to write about the Sole Society ones I’ve been trying lately. They’re just so durable and you can’t beat the price. For a work tote, those are my top two requirements.
Here are the 5 best work totes out there. While it was tough to rank them because I’d honestly recommend all of them, I did come up with an order of my favorites. I’ve called out why I love each one, where it’s close, and what each tote is best for.
Hands down, the Jaya Tote is my favorite tote. It was my last one to try and it was the best. There’s a pocket on the inside as well as the outside for the small items that you don’t want to get lost. It can also fit a laptop – I put this to the test many times when I had to bring my laptop home. My only complaint is that I wish the zippered compartment inside was slightly bigger. However, I love the rest of the bag so much I would buy it over and over.
It’s structured but not too structured that it sits awkwardly under your arm. I also personally love that because it can mold to the shape of wherever you need it to fit. If your bag is too structured, you can’t fit it under an airplane seat or something like that. The tote I was using before I tried sampling these Sole Society ones was way too structured and it annoyed me after a week.
The straps are also the perfect length. They aren’t too long so that you have to hunch over in the front to balance the weight of your bag. Yet, they’re big enough so that you can easily slip your arm through it in a puffer coat. Maybe I just have longer arms or a really puffy coat, but most totes annoy the heck out of me for this very reason. I hate not being able to slip my arm into the straps in one shot and constantly having to hoist the straps back up. None of that happened with this tote! It also had a magnetic closure which was very easy to use.
The Jaya comes in grey and taupe and I currently own the grey! I love the taupe version of it too though! It’s a gorgeous shade of taupe. It’s also $75 but if you’re new to Sole Society, you can get 15% off your first order. It should prompt you when you go to their homepage!
The Amal tote was actually the tote that I used before I went on this search for the best work tote bags. It lasted me over 6 months, it went to Cuba with me, and it survived the worst of Chicago’s winter. That’s pretty impressive for a bag under $100. It’s slightly more affordable than the Jaya too and I really love the feel of the fabric (slightly softer than the Jaya). I’m also feeling the light beige/taupe color.
While I loved the Amal tote for all the same reasons as the Jaya, the one place it differs is in the strap length. It was definitely harder to get my arm in and out of the straps in one motion. Since the straps were shorter, I ended up having to hoist the straps up a little more as they tended to fall off. It still has an inner pocket that zips closed though which is bigger than the Jaya! I loved the size of it.
That being said, if you’re looking for a tote with a little more character, I do love the braided strap and the tasteful amount of fringe on the handle. I honestly never realized the shorter straps until I just tried the Jaya. That’s why the Amal tote is still a close number 2. It’s truly another great bag – it just has slightly shorter straps and a lot more character. With winter (hopefully) coming to a close, you could get the Amal now and wear it through to fall. The straps might not even be an issue since it’s not thick coat season!
Ranking the Nico tote was extremely tough. It’s such a close third to the Amal and the Jaya tote. It’s a great size (definitely large enough for a laptop), a magnetic closure, and comes in 3 colors. If you’re looking for a cognac color, this might be the tote for you. It also comes in that gorgeous taupe color and black as well.
The straps feel slightly shorter than the Jaya but they’re also more narrow. If you’re petite or want something a little more dainty that can still fit a ton, this is the option for you. There is a cute little bow on the front which I think is a great little detail. It’s not too obnoxious or “in your face”. At the same time, it is a little extra detail that the Jaya doesn’t have.
The zip closure on the inside of this bag feels a little bigger than the Jaya. If you tend to carry a lot of chapstick or smaller items in your bag and you like bows, this would be my recommendation!
I love the size of the Dawson tote and I’m obsessed with the dusty rose color. I love that there are 6 different shades of this bag including two shades of grey. The grey, chambray, and dusty rose have this really interesting texture to them as well. The fabric is really soft so again, it’s not too structured.
What this tote is missing (and frankly why it drops to 4th), is a pocket on the inside. Having a pocket is clearly a plus for me. Since I tend to lose things a lot and carry a lot of chapstick around, I love having a zip closure on the inside. While it’s definitely not a necessity, this is the only small drawback of the Dawson tote.
That being said, the size of this tote is amazing. You can truly throw everything and anything into it. Since I now own this tote, I’m thinking of making this my weekend tote. When I have a little more time and am not as rushed, I don’t mind the digging. I’m also going to put a little envelope pouch inside.
When we’re traveling, I tend to slip a smaller crossbody into my big tote so I can keep our passports and cash easily accessible. It also serves as a place to store my smaller items and makes it really easy for me to grab and go for a night out. Therefore, I’ll also be using this tote to travel. Plus the color is just too gorgeous!
The Adelina tote is a little smaller than the rest of the totes so if you’re not looking to carry a laptop, maybe just a Macbook Air or an iPad, this is the tote for you. It’s great if you’re not looking for your bag to get too heavy. There’s still a zip closure inside and there are also side tabs to offer more space to reshape the bag if you need it.
The one major plus of this bag is the shoulder strap. Instead of having to worry about the straps being too short, you have the option to wear it over your shoulder. I personally love when bags have this functionality. It allows me to carry it on my elbow when I want but also wear it over my shoulder too. This kind of flexibility is one reason why this bag still ranks in my top 5 work tote bags.
The ruffle on this bag is another feminine detail just like the Nico tote. If you love ruffles (they’re so trendy right now), than this is a great option for you!
Do you have a favorite work tote bag? Leave your favorites below so I can try them out too!