The 9 Best Tote Bags of All Time

According to the editors and stylists who use them.

Best Tote Bags 2023
(Image credit: Future)

We love to hone in on the basics here at Marie Claire—the fundamental pieces that make or break your wardrobe, right down to the accessoriesAnd while there are many trendy handbag styles to shop this season, I’m here today to talk to you about tote bags. A fundamental part of the working women's wardrobe, a great tote bag should seamlessly take you from the office to the weekend while holding all of your essentials. I turned to my team of bona fide shopping experts—plus a few very busy celebrity stylists—about what makes the very best tote. 

What to Look For in The Best Tote Bag

Tote bags are the most versatile bag option in your rotation. Or, at least, they should be. They can double as both the perfect laptop bag and the best bag to hold all your groceries on a weeknight. And while some of the options on this list are leather totes, other materials, like canvas or nylon, can be wardrobe workhorses too. A few are also big enough to moonlight as an overnight or weekend bag if you’re a light packer. Some are structured similarly to a bucket bag, while others have a relaxed, slouchy feel. The most important aspect that you should consider when shopping for a tote are:

  • Durability: You want a durable bag. Tote bags should be built to last, with details that guarantee they won’t fall apart after a few months of daily use. This means that straps should be good quality, thick enough to be comfortable, and equipped with design features like padding or metal feet at the bottom to protect them from signs of wear. 
  • A Lightweight Feel: Odds are, you carry a lot of stuff in your tote bags. From computers to makeup bags to books, your tote bag can get heavy by the end of the day. That’s why you want to pick one that’s not too heavy before putting anything in it. 
  • Safety Features: Since you’re carrying all your essentials around, you want to ensure that nothing falls out—or that no one can get in. The options on this list have design features like zippers, lots of interior pockets, or magnetic closures that guarantee your belongings stay in your possession. 

With that in mind, keep scrolling to shop the 11 best tote bags on the market, all of which have been hand-picked by the editorial team at Marie Claire and the stylists we trust. From affordable Amazon finds to a few designer picks worth the investment, this list is the end-all for my favorite bag silhouette. 

  • Pros: Top-rated; Sturdy design; Has a zip-top design; Has interior pockets; Has a crossbody strap
  • Cons: Some customers say the brown shade is different in person.
  • Customer Review: "My only complaint about this purse is that the saddle color is slightly lighter in person than in the photos. Otherwise, I'm OBSESSED with this bag. It's the perfect size, and the long strap is perfect. The leather is nice, and the little zip compartment inside is great for carrying the small things I need to be able to find easily. Honestly, even when I have a ton of stuff in here (and it fits a ton of stuff), I never feel like I'm digging too long to find anything. I'm very happy with my purchase." — Nordstrom.
  • Pros: Costs under $50; Top-rated; Editor-approved; Great quality; Comes in 12 colors.
  • Cons: Some reviewers say it's not structured.
  • Customer Review: "It's much more spacious than it looks. It's very sleek and stylish. I use it as my work bag, and I find that it looks professional and has enough space for all of my stuff. I carry a laptop, pencil case, two books, a makeup bag, water bottle, wallet, lotion, phone and laptop charger, and other small miscellaneous objects—still plenty of space. And when you carry it, it doesn't feel bulky or cumbersome. The bag does sag a bit after use. But has held up to wear and tear. I would recommend." — Amazon
  • Pros: Has a interior laptop sleeve; Has interior pockets; Has a magnetic closure.
  • Cons:: Only comes in one color
  • Customer Review: "With a zipper compartment in the middle and a compartment on each side of the zipper, makes this the perfect tote for business or personal occasions." — Bloomingdale's
  • Pros: Can be customizable; Has a zip-top design; Made from a sturdy canvas material.
  • Cons: Some reviewers thought the straps were too short.
  • Customer Review: "I have had my extra large zippered boat and tote for over 20 years. Definitely worth every penny. It is definitely a classic!" — L.L Bean
  • Pros: Made from durable nylon fabric; Packable design; Has a zip-top design; Has interior pockets; Comes in several colors.
  • Cons:  Doesn't have a structured design.
  • Customer Review: " I've been looking for a lightweight bag for my work commute. This bag holds my laptop, headset, leather binder, mouse and mousepad, lunch, phone, and sunglasses and has room for more. Plus, it's inexpensive and cute, and according to my daughter, this brand is trending, so there's no downside for me. I bought black because it goes with all my work clothes, but the other colors look cool too, especially green. I highly recommend it." — Amazon
  • Pros: Editor-recommended; Holds a laptop; Has a snap closure.
  • Cons: Only has one interior pocket.  
  • Customer Review: "Perfect medium size tote! Leather is grainy and smart-looking! Glad I purchased itLooking forward to wearing it with everything!" — Bloomingdale's
  • Pros: Comes in different colors; Has longer handles; Fits a laptop; Has an interior zipped pocket; Has a clasp closure at the top.
  • Cons: Some reviewers found it too wide.
  • Customer Review: "This bag is huge, beautiful, and soft. The bag is light for its size. I get cold while traveling on a plane and like carrying my neck pillow, small blanket, and personal belongings. This bag will fit all of it; the inner zipper pocket is huge. I would recommend it if anyone is considering it. Also, I love the big Tory Burch emblem in the front." — Nordstrom
  • Pros: Stylist-recommended; Can fit a laptop; Has zipper internal compartments; Has a removable zip pouch; Has metal feet on the bottom; Has a crossbody strap. 
  • Cons:  Has a short top handle. 

Meet The Experts

 Heather Newberger
Heather Newberger

Heather Newberger is a fashion stylist, author, and television commentator. Her mission is to help people find joy and self expression through clothing. An imaginative and discerning creative, Heather’s inspired point of view uniquely reflects her commitment to championing all genders, shapes, and sizes. She is devoted to creating inclusivity within the fashion industry. Heather’s first book "How to Date Your Wardrobe" is available for purchase wherever books are sold.

Zoe Gofman
Zoe Gofman

Zoe ‘Zaz’ Gofman, is a New York and Los Angeles-based fashion stylist, wardrobe stylist, personal shopper and creative consultant. She is known for marrying her bold flair with her love for vintage pieces and the classic crispness of French fashion. 

Growing up spending her summers in France, Zaz was continually immersed in and inspired by international fashion trends at a young age. She curated and refined her stylistic eye throughout young adulthood by sourcing and sewing textiles, working at local clothing stores, and being hired as a personal shopper in her hometown of New York City. 

In addition, her passion for fashion, zaz possess a unique musical talent and went on to college at Tulane University, with the long-term goal of entering the music industry. Graduating from Tulane in 2020, Zaz began to think about ways to merge her creative interests as she sought to lay the foundation for her career path. However, that career path found her. Zaz’s intrepid style and unmatched confidence turned heads when she attended NYFW in September of 2021, catching the eye of big industry names and landing her a job as Shanina Shaik’s wardrobe stylist. since then, Zaz has taken on several additional clients including Adriana Lima, Meredith Duxbury, Elisha Herbert, Charlotte McKinney and more as well as styling for various brand campaigns and contributing her style expertise in articles for InStyle, Harper’s BAZAAR, People, etc. Whether she is styling someone for a night or dressing an entire brand campaign, Zoe is devoted to creating timeless looks that capture not only a moment, but also the people in that moment, and making them feel like they’re the only one in the room. 

Julia Marzovilla
Fashion E-Commerce Editor

Julia Marzovilla is the Fashion E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she reviews the latest launches from fashion and beauty brands, finds the best on-sale items around the internet, and interviews experts to find the best products in any category to share with her readers. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site as an expert in everything from the best laptop bags to the best laser hair removal devices.

In her near decade of experience, Julia has both written for several top outlets in the E-Commerce space and worked at major fashion labels. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and worked as the Trending Fashion and News Writer STYLECASTER. You can find her across the internet at @JuliaMarzovilla. In real life, you can find her creating shopping guides for her friends, cooking or baking in her too-small kitchen, or buying tickets for the next time Harry Styles is in town.

Julia has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Journalism from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in New York City, her hometown.