Totes

15 Work Bags That Will Pass Muster in Even the Most Conservative of Offices

I’m currently sitting in the PurseBlog office in a backless tank top and a pair of Nikes, but I haven’t always worked in fashion, so I’m well aware that most women don’t get the same latitude when it comes to what they wear (and carry) to work. Every office is different on the details and every woman is different when it comes to work bag preferences, but there are enough commonalities for us to make some suggestions.

First: if you’re in a corporate environment, it’s probably a good idea to keep your color scheme neutral. Black, grey, tan, navy, burgundy, beige and very dark green will all work fine, and that gives you enough options to find something good. Second: it’s best to be discreet when it comes to designer names. Thankfully, many designers save their biggest logos for removable hangtags, and those can be tossed back into the dustbag from whence they came before you take your bag to work.

The third point is harder. We tried to choose bags that were roomy enough for a small laptop or a couple of files, but not everyone has to carry that kind of stuff, and some women prefer to do it with a dedicated tote bag to avoid stretching out their designer bags more than necessary. For women with a heavy load, shoulder-carry options are important, but some with lighter daily obligations might prefer the polish of a bag that’s carried in the crook of the arm. Variety is the spice of life.

With all that in mind, a seasonal change is a great time to update your work bag, and we’ve picked over a dozen bags that fit the bill in a variety of price ranges.

Alice.D Medium Tote
$410 via Shopbop

Alice-D-Medium-Tote

Bottega Veneta Marco Polo Textured Tote
$980 via Neiman Marcus

Bottega-Veneta-Textured-Tote

Lauren Ralph Lauren Tate City Tote
$201 via Macy’s

Lauren-Ralph-Lauren-Tate-City-Tote

Longchamp Penelope Tote
$935 via Neiman Marcus

Longchamp-Penelope-Tote

MCM Shopper Project Reversible leather Tote
$965 via Neiman Marcus

MCM-Shopper-Project-Reversible-Leather-Tote

MICHAEL Michael Kors Campbell Embossed Snake Bag
$448 via Neiman Marcus

MICHAEL-Michael-Kors-Campbell-Embossed-Snake-Bag

Mulberry Tessie Tote
$945 via Net-a-Porter

Mulberry-Tessie-Tote

Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Cabas Tote
$2,650 via Bergdorf Goodman

Saint-Laurent-Rive-Gauche-Cabas-Tote

Salvatore Ferragamo Fill-Up Tote
$1,250 via Nordstrom

Salvatore-Ferragamo-Fill-Up-Tote

The Row Leather Shoulder Bag
$2,950 via Net-a-Porter

The-Row-Leather-Shoulder-Bag

Tom Ford Jennifer Tote
$2,300 via Net-a-Porter

Tom-Ford-Jennifer-Tote

Vasic Collection Urbant Tote
$210 via Shopbop

Vasic-Collection-Urbant-Tote

Victoria Beckham Simple Python Tote
$2,795 via Net-a-Porter

Victoria-Beckham-Simple-Python-Tote

Vince Camuto Riley Tote
$278 via Macy’s

Vince-Camuto-Riley-Tote

Vince Signature V Tote
$595 via Neiman Marcus

Vince-Signature-V-Tote

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AAAA
AAAA
8 years ago

Vince bags seem like they have been gaining traction. I’ve even seen some celebs carrying those. You don’t see that too much anymore with a contemporary bag.

Kate
Kate
8 years ago

Just ordered The Row bag. Very interested in the MCM tote as well

Sandy
Sandy
8 years ago

Most of the above are just plain and boring. I do not understand why your bag must be “under the radar”. Who is worried about other people’s bags?

MM
MM
8 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

Because some people like to be discreet and conservative at work, especially in an environment that can be political and prone of judgement and office gossip. Especially younger professionals don’t want to be seen as ungrateful and spoilt.

Jerri R
Jerri R
8 years ago
Reply to  MM

I am sure, in some instances, it is totally about the purse owner’s self consciousness.

Katrina
Katrina
8 years ago
Reply to  MM

And sometimes, even if no one in your office cares (which is at it should be), clients/vendors will. While it’s not ideal since my handbag has no bearing whatsoever on how well I do my job, our company advises that we dress more formally and conservatively when meeting with people from outside our company, especially for the first time. In the office, however, anything goes.

Grace Reeves
Grace Reeves
8 years ago
Reply to  Katrina

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Edna Davis
Edna Davis
8 years ago
Reply to  Katrina

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Sparkletastic
Sparkletastic
8 years ago
Reply to  MM

I know this happens but it’s pathetic. Any “older” professional who judges a “younger” one based on their accessories and not their performance is an insecure, judgemental idiot.

Gia
Gia
8 years ago
Reply to  Sparkletastic

I have never worked for a company that bases on performance. It’s all about how the company feels about you. You can be a F- up but if man agent likes you, it’s all good. But if you are a top producer and the managers do not like you, then your life will be hell and very likely out of a job. That’s reality. Life never stops being a popularity contest.

MM
MM
8 years ago
Reply to  Sparkletastic

LOL unfortunately politics still exist in big corporates, and bags is at the bottom of the list of things being judged. But in general, being flashy isn’t my style. I think it is tacky. 🙂

Sparkletastic
Sparkletastic
8 years ago
Reply to  MM

Yes. You are right! It absolutely still exists! And I feel bad for those who work under those pressures. But, I think that you with your more conservative, classic bag and “Myrtle” with her wild, flashy bag should coexist happily. She may think your bag lacks creativity. Both of you are likely wrong with your tacky and uninspired evaluations and what they could say about the person. Unless you are client facing and have to consider external styles, mores and traditions, what you wear – as long as it isn’t offensive, dangerous or disruptive – should be a non issue.

In any case, the environments I work hard create for my folks is merit based. Not appearance, background, or style based. That is how I get the best work and the happiest people.

MM
MM
8 years ago
Reply to  Sparkletastic

I am client facing

K_Elizabeth
K_Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  MM

This! I brought a Louis Vuitton bag to work exactly one time- couldn’t stand all the comments! The funny thing is that I switched to a Givenchy bag that was significantly more expensive, yet less prone to comments…

Passerine
Passerine
8 years ago
Reply to  K_Elizabeth

That’s too bad! Lots of people where I work carry LV bags and no one comments other than to give a compliment about liking the bag.

Gia
Gia
8 years ago
Reply to  Passerine

I need to work there!

Audrey Hayes
Audrey Hayes
8 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

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lola
lola
8 years ago

Most of the bags i carry at work are by Tom Ford. I have the classic Jennifer, the Sedgwick and the Charlotte. They are classic with a twist but they doesn’t scream ‘I spend a lot of money on bags” like Chanel, Dior, Hermes…etc.
Michael Kors and others are also popular so i’m a bit bored.
I enjoy not seeing my “work bags” everywhere actually.

Amazona
Amazona
8 years ago

Woooow Mulberry AND Longchamp in the same post! Two of my fave brands. My biggest love, Longchamp’s Roseau range – especially the classic black line – is also very well suited for any occasion and environment. The shiny leather and very subtle logo is such a stylish combo.
I also like the SF and MCM, very nice and sleek. It’s good to see something else from MCM than those hideous logo-covered bags…they just aren’t at home anywhere IMO. But the tote looks very practical, durable and fit for any occasion. Thumbs up!

Bridget
Bridget
8 years ago

Can we have a post for work bags for people that do *not* work in conservative offices? Most work bags are quite boring, but trendy bags are often too tiny to carry things like laptops and files!

Suzanne
Suzanne
8 years ago

These are definitely all lovely options for the conservative approach. I second the request for a post on fun work bags! 🙂

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
8 years ago

Boring. The only one that caught my interest was the MK. How about a post for those of us that don’t want boring work bags? That could be fun.

L.O.
L.O.
8 years ago

It’s called, the rest of the bags on this website

Giselle
Giselle
8 years ago

I think Fendi bags are great not boring alternatives, which don’t scream expensive.

Sparkletastic
Sparkletastic
8 years ago

Pb, thanks for this post. It provides a range of “under the radar” bags with various styles and price points. Kudos.

BUT! I am beyond tired of this in the workplace. I’m saying this as someone who has worked in a number of environments and at senior levels. Yes, some people care. But, I refuse to bend to this petty silliness. My performance including my hard results and interpersonal skills are what you need to evaluate. Not my accessories. There’s a difference between dressing appropriately for a role and being a drone.

Passerine
Passerine
8 years ago

Valentino makes a bag similar to The Row’s bag and I actually like it better — the Valentino bag is more elegant and structured. It’s branded a My Rockstud bag but there’s nothing “rockstud-ish” about it. Priced about the same.
http://www.barneys.com/valentino-%22my-rockstud%22-single-handle-satchel-504010497.html#prefn1=brand&srule=price-high-to-low&sz=48&start=16&prefv1=Valentino&pagetype=brand

Although I work for a life sciences company, people do like to dress fairly stylishly and many women carry designer bags — conservative and more fashion-forward are equally popular.

Tinsley Proust
Tinsley Proust
8 years ago
Reply to  Passerine

That bag reminds me of a knockoff Hermes Kelly

QueenPosh .
QueenPosh .
8 years ago

Agghh i don’t like any of these bags, they’re not conservative, jsut boring. The only one i like is the Mulberry Tessie Tote bag, looks elegant and can be worn casually or professionally. The Michael Kors one is a clear replica of the Givenchy Antigona bag, MK copies every other designer, ridiculous. The Alice D bag looks like a Celine cabas knock off and charging $400 for a copy cat bag is absurd.

Jerri R
Jerri R
8 years ago

The things women have to worry about at their workplaces these days…

Gia
Gia
8 years ago

Really? Everyone. I work in a corporate environment at a Fortune 500 company. If you have a luxe designer bag, management thinks they pay you too much, all the women get jeleous and make up stories about how your getting the $ to buy it, and the guys even comment on isn’t that a $ bag! Then other co works say snarky comments behind and in front of your back.
So no it’s in your best interest to carry a bag, no logo, basic bag. Regardless if your a VP or a receptionist.

Ashleigh Taylor
Ashleigh Taylor
8 years ago

I work at a “white shoe” law firm and found that my Givenchy Shark Tooth was appropriate. There is no obvious insignia on it, but its a beautiful conservative bag with a little edge. I bought it specifically to bring to work and I have not been disappointed.

Available here: http://www.barneys.com/givenchy-shark-tooth-medium-shoulder-bag-503819351.html

Merry Hanlon Closson
Merry Hanlon Closson
8 years ago

Goodness, save hundreds of dollars and check out our Briarly, Vienna satchel, Dabney prima, or Celine line on http://www.merry.miche.com
Two FREE scarves ($60 value) with any $100 order. Thanks! Ps..Celine laptop carrier is amazing, and 44.99.

Jdii Mughal
Jdii Mughal
8 years ago

you have nicecollections please chekout our Handbag collections.

lalit kumar
lalit kumar
8 years ago

Your collection is superb and Most of design is very creative and comfortable…

great work..

http://www.cyankart.com/collections/tote-bags