Choosing the Perfect Work Bag for You

Hi everyone, and welcome back!

Today I want to talk about choosing the perfect work tote to fit your lifestyle. As much as I love experimenting with all kinds of looks, as a student, most of the time my outfit and handbag choices are governed by practicality. I need something that will fit my books, laptop, snacks, makeup, and all the other odds and ends I might need. I also need a bag that isn’t going to destroy my shoulder as I lug it across campus.

I have three main bags in my collection that I tend use on busy days – first off, the ever-classic tote bag. Mine is the Goyard St. Louis PM in the black goyardine canvas with black leather trim. I also had my initials painted on, which I absolutely adore!

goyard closeup

What I love about this bag:

  • It has a huge open compartment to carry lots of items.
  • It is very easily accessible with the open top. (This will come up again later in the cons)
  • It is lightweight, and I mean really lightweight. If you carry this bag with very few items in it, you might forget you even have it on your shoulder.

What I don’t love about this bag:

  • The open top doesn’t always feel very secure. However, I get around this by using a Purse-to-go organizer that has a zipper, and it also doubles as a way to organize all my items. (Click this link to purchase your own!)
  • Goyard canvas isn’t the most durable material – if you research the brand, you’ll see a lot of bag reviews note that the corners will inevitably wear down. I plan on having leather patches added on by Goyard in the future.

The Goyard tote was the first school bag I purchased and I used it every single day, but when I noticed it getting a bit more wear on the corners than I liked, I decided to throw another bag into the rotation. Enter the Givenchy Pandora. Mine is the large size in the black pepe leather with gold hardware. It’s labeled as a messenger bag, hence the long strap, but I really only wear it with the shoulder strap.

givenchy closeup

What I love about this bag:

  • The leather is so, so durable. It feels extremely sturdy and the washed pepe leather in particular will hide any scratches or wear. I clean and condition mine with Meltonian leather conditioner.
  • It has three secure zippered compartments. The first is the huge main compartment whose box shape allows it to hold a ton, the second smaller, outer compartment is great for holding keys and small leather goods, while the last tiny compartment is perfect for lip products.

What I don’t love about this bag:

  • Between the sturdy leather and the huge amount of stuff you can fit in this bag, it gets really heavy! The short shoulder strap is comfortable, but with enough weight it will start to dig into your shoulder.
  • At 5’2” (and forever wishing just to be 5’4”) the long strap is way too long for me, even crossbody. However, I’ve been looking into the guitar strap trend to see if I can find some adjustable ones to switch up the look of this bag. (Check the links to see my picks!)  Rebecca Minkoff studded strapASOS star strapNylon star strap at ebay

Finally, what I consider to be a true messenger bag, is the Proenza Schouler PS1. I really didn’t need this one since I already have the Givenchy…but I saw it for such a steal on poshmark that I couldn’t pass it up – I’m an addict, I know. Mine is the large size in midnight blue with gold hardware.

proenza closeup.jpg

What I love about this bag:

  • It has lots of nicely laid out compartments. There’s a back compartment perfect for keys and a card holder, a large main compartment with a zipped pocket, then two smaller compartments in front. The rectangular shape of the bag keeps your laptop and books straight and lined up for quick access while the flat shape lays well against your body.
  • The shoulder strap is adjustable and I find that the second setting is perfect for wearing both over the shoulder or crossbody.

What I don’t love about this bag:

  • This bag is also heavy – there’s a lot of leather on this bag and lots of hardware, so even when carrying fewer things than in the Givenchy it will end up feeling heavier.
  • This point isn’t so much about function as much as aesthetics – just a forewarning that the colors from Proenza Schouler might fade. It didn’t bother me as I bought mine pre-loved and ended up conditioning it with some black polish, but something to keep in mind.

So, the final verdict?

Although I love all three bags and rotate them for my daily use, if I had to only keep one, it would be the tried and true tote bag. On a day when I’m running late with a million things to do, there’s something so nice about not having to deal with zippers and being able to chuck whatever I want in my bag while I’m on the go. In situations when I want a bit more security, I find that the zip top Purse-to-go organizer is the perfect solution. I’ll definitely be sending this bag to Goyard for leather patches in the future so I can get many more years of use out of it. I’ve linked these bags below, along with some other great tote bags I like. When it comes to choosing a work bag, it all boils down to your lifestyle and personal preference. Hopefully this post has given you some helpful tips to think about. Thanks so much for stopping by!

xoxo, Emm


Goyard St. Louis: Order by phone at Saks, purchase at the RealReal, browse at Goyard

Givenchy Pandora: Purchase at the RealRealpurchase at Tradesy, purchase medium size at Farfetch

Proenza Schouler PS1: Purchase at Vestiaire Collective, purchase at Farfetch

Louis Vuitton Neverfull: Order online at Louis Vuitton, purchase at Fashionphile  

Tory Burch Perry Tote: Order at Saks, purchase at Tradesy


5 thoughts on “Choosing the Perfect Work Bag for You

  1. Thanks a lot!
    It is really help me to know about the difference and benefits of each
    And definitely agree with you about the Goyard.

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