Fashion Experts Reveal the Best Designer Tote Bags That Live Up to Their Hype

From The Row's Margaux bag to Prada's Re-Nylon Tote, these are the styles everyone in the fashion crowd invests in.

woman wearing designer tote bag
(Image credit: Launchmetrics, Getty)

Ask any fashion insider about their favorite hard-working accessory, and they’ll likely wax poetic about their best designer tote bag. “A versatile designer tote can serve as a laptop bag for the office, a travel purse for your carry-on essentials, and even a gym bag if you want to elevate your athleisure look,” says Will Cooper, SVP of GMM Women’s Designer RTW, Shoes, and Handbags at Saks. Simply put, a great designer tote is pretty much guaranteed to clock overtime.

You could also opt for a range of bag styles to get the job done, but personal shopper Gab Waller, who frequently sources coveted bags for her clients, notes totes are one of the best investments in the handbag category, “and if you’re reaching for a multi-use tote bag regularly, you might as well buy a high-quality bag that's built to last." She says designer totes are often cut from quality fabrics—like sturdy leathers and unfussy coated canvas— that will stand the test of time.

If anyone can attest to cost-per-wear and the longevity of an investment bag, it's luxury content creator Cassie Thorpe, who has been collecting high-end accessories since age 16. “You can carry a well-made tote bag by your side forever. My first designer tote was the Louis Vuitton Neverfull, which I still have over a decade later,” she says. “Even after all this time, this workhorse of a bag is in perfect condition, and it’s seen me through many eras in my life.

We've curated an edit of the best designer totes with input from Thorpe, Waller, and Cooper, with the 20 best options for first-time buyers, seasoned collectors, and everyone in between. Keep scrolling, and you'll also discover a quick hit guide for what to look for when purchasing a designer tote, alongside a range of expert-approved styling tips so you can wear your bag with every outfit.

The Designer Tote Bag We're Loving

Other Designer Tote Bags We'd Invest In

Shopping for a Designer Tote Bag? Here’s What To Look Out For.

  • Fabric

Waller's tip: If you plan to use your designer tote bag daily, choose durable materials like leather and tightly woven canvases instead of suede for easy maintenance.

  • Color

"I recommend choosing a neutral color that can effortlessly complement your wardrobe, particularly if you’re making your first designer tote bag purchase," says Cooper. The fashion expert says that a neutral tote can be styled daily, driving down the cost per wear, which will make you feel satisfied with your big investment.

  • Function

"It’s definitely important to consider your lifestyle and specific needs when buying a designer tote bag," notes Cooper. Thorpe always makes sure that the bag's functionality works for her before buying it. Ask yourself, how many compartments does this bag have? What type of closure is it equipped with? And is it large enough to fit your bulkier items?

You Bought a Great Bag! Now, Style Your Designer Tote Bag for Every Day Use.

woman wearing white blouse, black skirt, and beige Saint Laurent designer tote bag

Allow your designer tote bag to take center stage while wearing a more subdued, casual outfit.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

You don't have to save your nice pieces for dressy occasions. If you're running errands or meeting up with friends for lunch in an airy button-down shirt and a flowy pair of bottoms with loafers, grab your designer tote bag that can store plenty of on-the-go items like your wallet, water bottle, or even a book to read while you're en route.

woman wearing white t shirt, leggings, and designer tote bag

A day of travel calls for a roomy designer tote bag and a comfortable outfit to match.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Slip on a cozy airport outfit, like a white T-shirt and leggings, and "use your versatile tote that doubles as your go-to travel bag,” suggests Cooper. If you’re jetting off on vacation, use your designer tote bag for your passport, TSA-approved cosmetics, and a pair of noise-canceling headphones to relax on the plane. Minimalists can forgo a carry-on and use a roomy designer tote bag as their luggage.

woman wearing brown suit set and a Christian Dior designer tote bag

For days in the office, trade your laptop bag for a fresh designer tote, and throw on a tailored suit set.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

Heading into the office? Carry a laptop-friendly designer tote bag that screams Shiv Roy (in a good way) paired with a range of summer work outfits, like a great tailored suit set.

Meet the Experts

Will Cooper
Will Cooper

In his current role, Cooper oversees the holistic vision and strategy for Saks Fifth Avenue's shoes and accessories category. Cooper, who has more than eighteen years of experience in luxury retail, has a diverse background across categories including women’s RTW, men's RTW, and women’s shoes and handbags.

Gab Waller
Gab Wller

Gab Waller is a professional personal shopper, whose fashion sourcing service has fast positioned her on speed dial for celebrity clients and fashion fanatics around the world.

Cassie Thorpe
Cassie Thorpe

Cassie Thorpe is a luxury fashion influencer who creates content across a range of platforms including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Thorpe's content varies from styling videos to trend coverage, and even shopping vlogs.

Lauren Tappan
Fashion Editor

Lauren is the Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes trend reports, shopping pieces, and celebrity news stories. Prior to Marie Claire, Lauren worked for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE as a freelance editor with a specific focus on seasonal styles and coveted products. She also worked for Town & Country, where she developed a robust portfolio of fashion roundups and designer profiles.

Lauren graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in journalism. While attending Penn, Lauren contributed to the university's fashion magazine, The Walk, while also interning for Philadelphia Style Magazine and EveryStylishGirl.

When she’s not exploring the world of fashion, you can find Lauren sharpening her skills as DJ, discovering new restaurants in New York City (she’s a foodie), and spending quality time with friends and family. Follow her along at @laurenktappan.