When I got a job working at an office in Toronto, I realized quite quickly that the small handbag that I’d normally carried everywhere wouldn’t cut it for my long trek to work. There wasn’t enough space for a water bottle, a book, or a laptop—all necessities when you’re staring down an hour-long commute.

In my search for a new bag, I came across quite a few duds (too many, actually). So many “tote” bags were just sacs with a button closure, meaning my pens, phone charger and headphones would be hopelessly lost in a giant pile of stuff in the bottom of my purse. I was on the hunt for something functional (i.e. has a place for everything) yet fashionable. For anyone on the same journey, here’s what I found. 

black tote bag

Matt and Nat

Matt and Nat Canci Tote 

I expected nothing less than perfection from the reigning authority on bags—and I wasn’t disappointed. This tote comes with five different compartments, a 13” laptop sleeve, and specific pockets for your phone, pens, and other small items. 

$160, available at Matt and Nat.

tote bag interior

Matt and Nat

taupe tote bag

Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover Allyn Leather Tote 

The colour of this bag is what first drew me to it—if you, like me, are getting tired of having black everything then this light taupe shade is the perfect remedy. The bag also features a plethora of pockets, space for a laptop or notebook, and even comes with a water bottle holder. 

$473.26, available at Nordstrom

taupe tote interior

Dagne Dover

beige tote bag


Cuyana Tall Structured Leather Tote 

I love a tote bag that’s taller than it is wide. Super spacious, Cuyana’s tote can hold a 15” laptop, a change of clothes (so you can hit the gym like you’ve been meaning to) and your lunch. It also has a spot for your phone, wallet, and a clip to keep keys handy. 

$280.74, available at Cuyana.

beige tote interior


burgundy tote bag


Away The Longitude Tote 

This bag has some serious tech. Meant to be the perfect travel tote, the bag has a belt that you can use to secure it to your luggage (don’t worry; the belt and its clips can be tucked into the side of the bag for a sleeker look) and also comes with a detachable pouch in which you can store smaller necessities, like your keys, phone and makeup. 

$345, available at Away

burgundy tote interior


ruched tote bag

Charles & Keith

Charles & Keith Tassel Tote Bag 

Charles & Keith is always the spot for unique takes on bags and this guy is no exception. Despite its unique shape, the tote bag is still big enough to hold all your stuff (13” laptop included). The separate compartments and light-blue interior also make it super easy to find smaller items like keys or change.

$116.21, available at Charles & Keith

ruched tote interior

Charles & Keith


Contrary to what some designers might think, today’s working woman doesn’t want to spend all day rummaging through her purse in search of a pen (I know I don’t). Thankfully, with these smart iterations of the classic tote bag leading the way, she won’t have to. 



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