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Similar to your favorite work dresses, blazers, and trousers, the best designer work bags are as essential to a well-rounded wardrobe. However, what sets a work bag apart from a favorite beach bag, crossbody bag, or shoulder bag, is the shape and design.
For most, life has resumed to normalcy again, meaning those Zoom meetings are now back to in-person. As office hours resume, there has been an uptick in larger bags that provide function, versatility, and fashion for the woman on the go who needs more than a mini bag for a day out.
Tiffany Hsu, Vice President Womenswear & Kidswear Fashion Buying at Mytheresa, tells WWD Shop, “I love a great tote bag for work. It’s super important for a work bag to fit my laptop for practical reasons, and I find that leather is always preferable as it can double as a day bag and hold all of my other essential items.” Practicality is the driving force behind a work bag, but it’s not the only factor to consider. Size is also a question when it comes to selecting the best work bag for your needs, but the idea of versatility also comes into play. “I also need them to be a bit more oversized, so it’s not too ‘work’ looking and gives my outfit a bit of an edge,” Hsu says. “The proportions are always fun to play with!”.
When it comes to a designer handbag, the function is definitely key, but so is the style. “I would recommend that any ‘work’ bag lean a bit more casual in nature so that it can be paired with your non-work outfits,” Hsu recommends. “Investing in a luxury fashion item with function is important so that it doesn’t just have to be your work bag and can transition to other aspects of your life.” This investment mindset is exactly why dipping into the designer price point category will be well worth your time, research, and budget.
Finally, designer work bags can be an easy styling tool to create depth in any outfit. “I think each bag is perfect for minimalist styling, which allows the bag to stand on its own!” she explains. “Big pants and oversized coats will be my preferred way to style them, but don’t limit yourself. There really are no rules!”. Consider this no-rules approach when choosing your own, but remember, less can be more.
Whether you’re commuting to work or taking your laptop on the go, keep reading to see the best designer work bags for women, along with expert picks and tips for shopping for women’s work bags.
Top Women’s Work Bags for 2023
- Bottega Veneta Cabat Medium Leather Tote Bag
- Ulla Johnson Women’s Remy Large Fold Over Tote
- Mark Cross Maddox Briefcase
- Loewe Large Flamenco Leather Clutch
- Wandler Joanna Bag
- Gucci Business Case
- Coach Signature Zip Tote
- Chloé Mony Tote Bag
- Saint Laurent Loulou Matelassé Leather Shoulder Bag
- Staud Alec Bag
- Altuzarra Play Bag Tote
- Tory Burch Ever-Ready Zip Tote
- Khaite Lotus Suede Tote Bag
- JW Anderson Belt Logo Embroidered Recycled Tote Bag
- Missoni Shopping Bag
- The Row Large N/S Park Tote
- Ree Projects Nessa Leather Tote Bag
- Alaïa Hinge Medium Leather Tote Bag
- Savette Textured Leather Tote
- Mansur Gavriel Large Leather Tote Bag
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Bottega Veneta Cabat Medium Leather Tote Bag
- Materials: Lamb leather
- Size: 10″ H x 16″ W x 6.5″ D and 18” handles
- Colorways: Green, white and pink
- Background info: Bottega Veneta is one of Italy’s premiere luxury brands, founded in 1966. The brand’s signature is intrecciato-woven leather, a symbol of the luxury house’s standard of quality.
“This roomy tote is truly perfect for all things work-related,” Hsu tells WWD. “Bottega’s signature leather weaving allows for a sturdy tote that’s fashionable yet functional. Its vibrant color also adds a playful touch to any work attire.” As Hsu says, the Cabat leather tote bag is a great designer tote bag for work. Featuring a wide and deep shape, a detachable zipper pouch, and longer handles, great for resting on the shoulder, this style is worth the investment. Thanks to Bottega Veneta’s signature woven fabric and quality leather, you will carry this bag for a lifetime. While the green color is bold and may make it seem like a summer handbag, don’t be afraid to wear it year-round and pair it with your everyday neutral blazers and trousers — it will liven up any look.
Ulla Johnson Women’s Remy Large Fold Over Tote
- Materials: Leather
- Size: 14.5” H x 16.5” L
- Colorways: Noir Colorblock
- Background info: Ulla Johnson is a New York-based designer infamous for her bohemian-chic designs inspired by travel and the city alike.
Ulla Johnson’s Remy large foldover tote bag is designed with the commuter in mind. Toss all your daily necessities into its spacious interior with a top magnetic closure to keep things safe and contained. There is also a zip pocket inside to store anything from your cell phone to your wallet for extra safekeeping. The black and brown color-blocked exterior proves its versatility, allowing it to be paired with anything in your wardrobe, depending on your dress code. Wear yours with the strap handle on your shoulder for your travel to and from the office, or simply fold over and wear it as an extra large-sized clutch for happy hour.
Mark Cross Maddox Briefcase
- Materials: Saffiano calfskin leather
- Size: 15.75” x 3.25” x 11.25”
- Colorways: Black and acorn
- Background info: First founded as a Boston saddlery in 1845, Mark Cross is an American heritage brand that has since grown to a luxury leather goods destination known for its craftsmanship and design. Currently, the label is helmed by Creative Director Rebeca Mendoza, who has brought new life and a modern twist to the house’s signature designs.
If a briefcase is what you require, the timeless design of Mark Cross’ Maddox bag will be your ticket to success. Designed with a top handle and detachable and adjustable leather crossbody strap, there are many ways to wear this understatedly chic option, depending on your comfort level and needs. Open the logo-engraved push-lock closure to find the brand’s signature red interior, complete with organization pockets to hold paperwork, an iPad or laptop, and more. This stylish briefcase is the best work bag for female lawyers and will go with everything from this season’s oversized suiting to a blouse and slacks.
Loewe Large Flamenco Leather Clutch
- Materials: Leather
- Size: Approximately 15″ H x 11.4″ W x 5.5″ D
- Colorways: Vintage khaki 4429, black and warm desert
- Background info: Jonathan Anderson’s takeover as Creative Director of iconic Spanish house Loewe, known for their leather craftsmanship since 1846, has resulted in some of today’s best It bags, including the Flamenco.
Pulling from Loewe’s signature Spanish roots, the Flamenco bag’s design was crafted to mimic the ruffles of a dancer’s skirt. Using a cinching technique at the top, complete with knotted drawstrings, the flouncy shape brings femininity to an essential leather bag. Due to its minimalist construction, the Flamenco can be worn from the office to meetings and beyond and service both a conservative and creative workplace environment. Choose the larger size option of this bag to fit all your everyday essentials and more.
Wandler Joanna Medium Bag
- Materials: Calfskin leather
- Size: 11” H x 15” L / 6.25” D and 8.25” straps
- Colorways: Gingerbread and black
- Background info: In just a few short years, Elza Wandler’s eponymous accessories brand, which launched in 2017, became a fashion favorite due to its simplistic designs and artisanal manufacturing.
As a small, new designer, it is hard to stand out from the many designers in the marketplace today. However, Wandler’s modern take on accessories (and now ready-to-wear too) has left a mark on shoppers, who are looking for beautifully crafted goods without the brand name logos. The Joanna is one of Wandler’s signature options, a slouchy handbag made from the softest Italian calf leather, tanned at a Leather Working Group-certified partner. Hidden magnetic closures add shape to the folded top, and the structured base helps create definition. The size is large enough to fit a 13” laptop inside as well, making for a functional and fashionable approach to boardroom dressing.
Gucci Business Case with Interlocking G
- Materials: Canvas with leather details
- Size: 16″ W x 12″ H x 2.4″ D
- Colorways: Beige
- Background info: Gucci is one of the most desirable fashion houses today because it represents the best in Italian craftsmanship and design. Since its introduction, the Interlocking G pattern has remained one of the most illustrative and infamous of the House.
Three words: classic, iconic, unforgettable. Gucci’s business case is an investment you will never regret. Carefully selected with materials that focus on longevity, you won’t be disappointed by the GG Supreme canvas exterior, which makes for easier cleaning than leather. Don’t miss out on the luxury details, like brown leather accents on the top handle and removable crossbody strap, as well as pockets aplenty. There is a padded laptop compartment and card slots to keep things organized inside. Style yours with an equally iconic look, like a blazer, jeans, and loafers, for casual Fridays in the office.
Coach Signature Zip Tote
- Materials: Canvas and leather
- Size: 11.5″ L x 9.5″ H x 4.5″ W
- Colorways: Watermelon, Military green, brown/black, brown/black with ornament print, midnight multi, black, and khaki saddle
- Background info: Founded in 1941 in New York City, Coach is an American global fashion house that focused on its leather offerings from the beginning. Currently, the brand is helmed by Creative Director Stuart Vevers, whose modern aesthetic, mixed with the brand’s craft and legacy, has become notable worldwide.
Looking to inject some color into your everyday work look? Again, it’s all in the accessories, and Coach’s effortless tote packs a punch in a bold, watermelon pink. If pink is not your color, never fear, there are six other colorways to choose from to find your perfect match. The signature design stands solid, complete with long shoulder straps and a boat tote shape to match, the size is roomy but not too oversized and will keep things confined with the top zipper. Interior pockets provide organizational tools, so you can feel confident on the go.
What reviewers say: “Many compliments. Some girlfriends and also random ladies have commented that they like the color and size of this bag. I was surprised by the amount of feedback.”
Chloé Mony Large Whipstitch Leather Tote Bag
- Materials: Leather
- Size: 8.3″ H x 16.1″ W x 11″ D
- Colorways: Black
- Background info: Chloé was founded in 1952 by Gaby Aghion, an Egyptian-born Parisienne whose bohemian spirit and style inspired the brand. Today, Gabriela Hearst serves as Creative Director, bringing a new spirit and focus on sustainability for the modern-day customer.
The Mony tote is a great piece for everyday wear if you prefer something more bohemian than structured. Crafted in sumptuous leather, this oversized style hangs off the shoulder with thick straps that are comfortable enough for a long commute without cutting into your skin. True to the brand, the bag features a bohemian, crafty element throughout, thanks to the whipstitch detailing covering the edges across the handbag. Wear yours with flowy dresses or a blouse, skirt, and boots for an up-to-date work look.
Saint Laurent Medium Loulou Matelassé Leather Shoulder Bag
- Materials: Leather
- Size: 11.5″ W x 8.5″ H x 4.25″ D
- Colorways: 7 colorways including natural tan, dark beige, light sage, grey khaki, crema soft, noir, and storm
- Background info: Yves Saint Laurent revolutionized the Paris fashion scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Today, the brand is still covetable, thanks to Creative Director Anthony Vaccarello, and the house’s line of accessories are mainstays in a well-rounded wardrobe.
Not all designer laptop bags for women have to be totes, and the Loulou shape proves that. The boxed-shaped design is medium-sized, allowing for plenty of stashing. Supple calfskin leather is emblazoned with Matelassé, a weaving or stitching technique that creates a quilting effect. Retro-inspired pull-through chain straps keep things classic and can be worn doubled or extended. The YSL meta logo is front and center on the foldover flap, which closes with a magnetic snap. Choose from one of the seven hues to find your perfect neutral shade that will mix and match with your closet favs.
What reviewers say: “This lady-like classic bag is so elegant yet understated with enough room for everyday carry and I enjoy the chain rattle most of all.”
Staud Alec Bag
- Materials: Smooth cowhide leather
- Size: 8.75” H x 10.75” L x 2.25” D and 8.25” handle
- Colorways: Bordeaux and tan
- Background info: Staud was launched in 2015 by Sarah Staudinger, a former stylist, and fashion director. The brand’s vintage-inspired flair has made their handbags cult-worthy in the fashion scene.
Staud’s signature cowhide leather, synonymous with the brand’s DNA, gives structure to the vintage with a twist Alec bag shape. Smooth with a clean shoulder strap, this ‘90s-inspired silhouette looks equally as great with a classic suit for formal business meetings as it does with a knit dress for a casual office. Contrast stitching adds definition to the minimalist design, and a zip-top closure reveals hidden pockets for stowing the necessities. Opt for the Bordeaux colorway for a subtle pop.
Altuzarra Play Bag Tote
- Materials: 100% Calf leather and suede exterior
- Size: Approximately 11.5″ H x 13.5″ W X 6″ D and 11” drop shoulder straps
- Colorways: Black
- Background info: American luxury women’s wear label Altuzarra was founded in 2008 by Joseph Altuzarra. The line has become known for its fresh take on dressing that mixes femininity, with a little bit of sexiness.
A sleek yet unsimple design, the Play bag melds a classic tote shape with a few modern details. Patchworked leather and suede make for the perfect combination to create a textured look to this carryall shape that will hold it all. Modern hardware, including standout buckle details, gives a little edge to the overall design and an easy snap closure keeps things protected. Pair yours with a patterned blouse, wide-leg jeans, and pumps for an understated and unique work look.
Tory Burch Ever-Ready Zip Tote
- Materials: Printed coated canvas with faux leather trim
- Size: 11.4″ H x 12.6″ L x 6.3″ D
- Colorways: Mediterranean blue, sunset glow, winter peach, new ivory and zinc
- Background info: Founded in 2004 in New York City by Tory Burch, the company prides itself on empowering women through its iconic American-style collections. Accessories are a key part of the business and are always enviable.
Tory Burch’s Ever-Ready zip tote is all about function. Made from a lightweight material that is water-resistant, the durable shape will be your go-to pick for everyday use. Top handles will rest comfortably on the shoulder while you store everything from a 13” laptop to your workout clothes for a post-work sweat session. A removable zippered pouch adds to the versatility, and let’s not forget the print, inspired by Tory’s fascination with basketry, which is subtle yet memorable.
What reviewers say: “Love this bag! It is roomy enough to fit many items without it feeling too big. I can use it to go into the office, to go to the beach or to travel with. You name the activity – this bag can come along. The material inside and out is awesome, feels extremely durable and has an elevated vibe to it. It holds its shape well, and is not slouchy. The two organizational compartments – are helpful, and hold loose items. I appreciate that there is a zipper to close the bag as well.”
Khaite Lotus Mini Suede Tote Bag
- Materials: Cow leather
- Size: 6″ H x 6.5” minimum W x 6” D
- Colorways: Wine red
- Background info: Khaite, founded in New York in 2016 by Catherine Holstein, quickly became a cult favorite brand due to its high-quality craftsmanship and modern design. Khaite’s handbags have been seen on celebs and models alike, personified by the label’s mix of classic American sportswear for today.
“The textured, buttery suede on this bag makes for the lushest, everyday tote,” Hsu says. “A chic alternative to everyday black that can elevate any work outfit!” If you are not toting your laptop around, the mini Lotus shape may look small, but it surprisingly holds a lot. The top handle design and sculptural silhouette made from soft calfskin suede drape beautifully and effortlessly. Wear with a Canadian tuxedo look for a casual office setting or with leather pants and a blouse when you need to be a little more dressed up.
JW Anderson Belt Logo Embroidered Recycled Polyester Tote
- Materials: Recycled polyester with leather trim
- Size: 12.75″ W x 11.75″ H x 8″ D
- Colorways: Dark olive
- Background info: London-based Jonathan Anderson continues to mesmerize audiences since his debut in 2008. His designs are known to be innovative, blending both masculine and feminine aesthetics. The JW logo features an anchor, nodding to Anderson’s coastal upbringing in Northern Ireland.
This generous size tote is made from a sturdy, recycled polyester that has an almost felt-like feel. Completely unlined, it makes for a great place to store your laptop, changes of shoes or clothes, and more for a full day out of the house, and also has an interior wall pocket for things that need more protection. Belt-inspired leather handles keep the design element playful, and the embroidered logo is subtle yet striking. Pair with your office attire for your morning commute, or wear with a chunky sweater and jeans for a weekend away.
Missoni Shopping Bag
- Materials: 100% Polyester with leather handles
- Size: 13.7″ L x 5.1″ W x 15.7″ H
- Colorways: Multicolor
- Background info: Known for their unconventional prints and striking knitwear, Missoni has been a leader in Italian design since 1953. Family has always been at the heart of the brand, making this label unique.
Who says workwear accessories need to be boring? The Missoni shopper proves print can still look polished when paired with a minimalist design. The canvas-like polyester fabric will make cleaning a breeze, and the leather straps can be worn on the shoulder or carried like a top handle. The interior features the house’s signature orange lining and a built-in pocket for your cell phone. Wear it with a simple navy and white workwear look for a conservative workplace, or play up the vibrancy for a creative environment.
The Row Park North / South Leather Tote Bag
- Materials: 100% natural milled calfskin leather
- Size: 15” x 17” x 8.5″
- Colorways: Brown
- Background info: The Row is known for its high-quality goods, focusing on exceptional fabrics. Their handbags offer just that, for a timeless approach to accessories that you will keep for a lifetime.
The single-strapped Park bag embodies the ethos of The Row’s DNA with its simple, timeless shape and beautiful matte-grained leather material. Made in Italy, the quality of this handbag is unparalleled. Rest yours on your shoulder with ease, thanks to the thicker strap and longer arm drop. Carry yours alongside your other favorite minimalist essentials, like a cashmere turtleneck, trousers, and trench coat for a chic, understated everyday look.
Ree Projects Nessa Leather Tote
- Materials: Leather
- Size: 15.5″ W 13.7″ H x 2.7″ D with 13” strap
- Colorways: Ash brown and forest
- Background info: Amsterdam-based designer Desiree Kleinen founded luxury brand Ree Projects with the intention of empowerment. Her handbags are known for their distinctive yet understated designs.
The Nessa shape is a signature style of Ree Projects. Made in Italy, the sumptuous leather is smooth and clean, adding to the overall minimalist aesthetic of the handbag’s design. The top handle strap makes for easy carrying, and the top pocket interior keeps things organized. A simple bridge-clip closure ensures that everything remains guarded. The taupe colorway will go with everything from black and brown to more vibrant pastels.
Alaïa Hinge Medium Leather Tote Bag
- Materials: Lamb leather
- Size: 12” H x 10-18.5” W x 9” D with 20” handles
- Colorways: Black
- Background info: Azzedine Alaïa was known for his understanding of the female form, creating sculpted garments with a powerful touch. Today, Creative Director Pieter Mulier continues the house’s legacy through his thoughtful cuts, quality, and extensive accessories collection.
“The silver stud embellishments on this tote add a chic twist to your everyday black tote bag,” Hsu says. “Its modern shape adds to its spacious design, able to fit all your everyday essentials for work.” Named for its illusionary hardware, the Hinge features signature mini studs that seem to link on the seams of the bag. Inside you will find a suede leather lining and a detachable zipped pouch. This investment bag is a step up from a simple tote but is still timeless.
Savette Textured Leather Tote
- Materials: Calf leather
- Size: 13.4″ H x 14.6″ W x 8.7″ D with 7.5” handle drop
- Colorways: Brown and black
- Background info: Relatively new to the scene, Amy Zurek launched the handbag brand Savette in 2020, inspired by the women of her family. Each bag is handmade outside of Florence, Italy.
Simply named the Tote, Savette’s take on the iconic style is luxury at its best. It’s large enough to fit a tablet or laptop and stow extras, thanks to the hidden interior pockets and dividers. The top handle rests gently on your arm for a relaxed look, while the T-bar closure is thoughtfully designed to keep things secure. Wear yours with everything from creamy cashmere knit dresses to oversized suiting for a modern work wardrobe.
Mansur Gavriel Large Leather Tote
- Materials: Calfskin leather
- Size: 13 ½” W x 11 ½” H x 6″ D and 9 ½” strap drop
- Colorways: Black
- Background info: Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel launched Mansur Gavriel in 2013 with just a bucket bag and a tote. Today, that tote is still part of their core collection and a customer favorite.
Crafted from vegetable-tanned Italian leather, Mansur Gavriel’s classic tote in large is the brand’s roomiest, able to hold up to a 16” laptop and more. The easy design makes this shape perfect for every day, from errands to the office and beyond. Their signature coated matte-patent lining in bold red adds contrast and distinction to the otherwise minimalist design. Customers flock to this style, which is regularly sold out, so make sure to get your hands on one now.
What reviewers say: “Perfect tote for work! Last year I purchased this bag in black and I absolutely love it! The bag itself is very lightweight. It’s large and strong enough to carry everything I need for the day. It’s also very sleek and stylish. Love it so much I purchased it in another color!”.
Related: Bag Check: An Honest Review of Mansur Gavriel’s M Frame Shoulder Bag
What to Look for In a Designer Work Bag for Women
- Brand: High-end houses that have been crafting leather goods for years, like Bottega Veneta and Gucci, are tried and true, just look at their retail value on resale sites like Fashionphile, The Real Real, and Rebag. Alternatively, many new, up-and-coming brands are focusing on craftsmanship and materials to create modern heirlooms, such as Savette, Ree Projects, and more.
- Quality: When searching for your investment piece, it is important to consider the quality of a designer handbag. Superior fabrics, like leather and luxe canvas, will create structure. You also want to seek out hardware that will withstand daily wear and tear. Also, look for reviews while shopping online to see what has passed the test in terms of customer feedback, as well.
- Design: Look for something with lasting design value, i.e. a minimalist or classic style like a tote, that you can wear forever and won’t ever go out of fashion. Special details will upgrade the look, but a clean shape will benefit you in the long term.
- Size: Size is important to consider based on your daily needs. A large size will be important if you are a commuter and need to be able to stash everything from your laptop to gym clothes. If you don’t require so much space every day, something in a medium size will do the trick. Consider what you will be toting regularly and what size will therefore work best for you.
- Versatility: As Hsu pointed out, you want to look for a handbag that will play double duty in your wardrobe to get maximum wear out of your designer investment. A versatile color like neutral will be able to be worn with a plethora of outfit options; however, a timeless pattern or clean design in a bold color can liven up simple outfits in a still chic way. Contemplate what you have or don’t have in your closet and what would work to get the most for your money.
The Best Designer Brands for Women’s Work Bags
“I love the timeless styles that The Row, Bottega Veneta, and Saint Laurent offer in their tote bag selection. Their leather quality will last for years if you take proper care of them,” Hsu says. “I also find that Khaite and Alaïa offer amazing fashion options with impeccable detail and craftsmanship. You’ll have these bags to pass down for generations, so they are a great investment and also provide an undeniable polish to any work outfit.” We agree all of these brands that Hsu favors are excellent additions to any closet and prove to be smart investments that will work hard and last for years. However, we can’t forget that Louis Vuitton work bags are some of the best bags for commuting to work since they can hold a lot of stuff.
Meet the Expert
Tiffany Hsu was born in Taiwan and graduated from the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design of London with a fashion design degree. Afterward, she gained a Master’s degree at Istituto Marangoni. Tiffany previously worked as a buyer at Lane Crawford and Selfridges before joining Mytheresa as buying manager for Ready-to-Wear. In October 2017, she was appointed to be Fashion Buying Director. Within this role, Tiffany oversees the different buying departments and drives the fashion direction by developing capsule collections, exclusive products, or special fashion collaborations.
Meet the Author
Kristina Rutkowski is a New York-based freelance writer and editor focusing on fashion. She was previously the Senior Fashion Market Editor at InStyle, covering everything trends and shopping. She has also worked in the fashion departments at Self and Glamour. Her bylines have appeared on Vogue.com, TheZoeReport.com, VanityFair.com, and InStyle.com. Editing fashion throughout her career, she has been able to see, try and research the best brands available today.