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Few shopping-related things are more annoying than buying something you think is going to serve a specific purpose, and it fails. One of our editors recently shelled out a lot of money for a bag she thought would be her carry-all: something that, based off the product photos, would fit her laptop, lunch, and gym clothes. It doesn’t.
Last month, we made a list of some of the best well-made large leather totes out there, and this month, we put a few of those and some new ones to the test by stuffing them with a ton of stuff and seeing what they could handle. Below are the results.
Michael Kors Jet Set Travel Medium Saffiano Leather Top-Zip Tote ($298)
The Michael Kors Jet Set Travel bag comes in so many colors and a few sizes and iterations. The one pictured here is the Medium, which fits a lot.
One thing to consider is that it’s very structured, which means that even if it’s empty it’s still going to hold its shape. This is good, but also means that it’ll take up a decent amount of space under your arm no matter what’s in it. As far as size goes, this one's great for work — you can fit a laptop, book, makeup case, wallet, and a few other things.
Everlane Petra Market Tote ($365)
The Everlane Petra Market tote is less structured than the Michael Kors, so while it can fit a lot — you can see here we’ve got a laptop, large sunglasses case, a makeup bag, and a book — it’ll mold a bit more to what’s inside. This makes it a little easier to carry around.
The Petra comes in neutrals only — black, gray, navy, white, and olive — and there's also a taller version (the Petra Magazine) that's a tiny bit cheaper and most similar to the Madewell Transport Tote below.
Mansur Gavriel Large Tote ($535)
The most expensive tote on our list is from Mansur Gavriel, and it costs over $500. Is it worth it? That kind of depends. Yes — you can fit a ton in here (that’s a pretty big book, and also a pretty big bottle of dry shampoo). But again, because of how structured this one is, it’ll be a lot under your arm when it’s empty, and it’s the kind of bag that looks a little weird when it’s not full.
Neely & Chloe Large Soft Tote ($298)
This is the least structured bag on this list, and it can fit the most stuff (we’ve got two books, a big makeup case, a laptop, and some magazines floating around in here). Because of its size, this is a great overnight bag, or as a carry-all if you’re planning to transport your laptop and gym clothes (with room for sneakers).
Cuyana Classic Leather Tote ($175)
Someone recently asked me if Cuyana was worth the hype, and I think it is. This is one of the least expensive totes on our list, and my personal favorite because of how soft the leather is. You can fill it up with a ton of stuff, or keep it on the lighter side, and either way it serves its purpose well.
Madewell Transport Tote ($168)
Everyone has this Madewell tote, and that’s because it’s a really good bag for a relatively good price. The height on the Transport tote makes it a solid laptop bag without taking up a ton of room horizontally. But that height means it sits snuggly under your arm, which can be a little annoying if you’re wearing a big coat.
Creative director: Brenda Milis. Photographer: Will Anderson. Shopping director: Tiffany Yannetta. Prop stylist: Sophie Leng. Market intern: Robyn Mowatt.