The best tote bags for every occasion

We've rounded up the best tote bags for every occasion and budget, to help you shop without scrolling.

Best tote bags, including Marc Jacobs, Aspinal of London, Mulberry, Kate Spade, Hill & Friends, Longchamp
(Image credit: Future / Marc Jacobs / Aspinal of London / Mulberry / Kate Spade / Hill & Friends / Longchamp)

Tote bags have really stood the test of time. The perfect combination of style and practicality, the best tote bags are roomy enough for your essentials and ergonomic enough that you can carry them comfortably all day long. 

A wardrobe essential, the tote bag is a style that never goes out of fashion. Constantly reinvented, the latest handbag trends 2022 introduced us to both supersize and micro editions of fashion's most useful bag. Identifiable by its often, medium to large size, with two handles, long enough to sling over your shoulder, tote bags are usually without a fastening, or with a simple clasp for easy access. 

"Our continued love affair with the tote bag begins with it simply doing what it says on the tin, with its name routed in the North American terminology for 'carrying around’," says Emma Hill, Creative Director of Hill & Friends (opens in new tab). "Totes obviously play a huge part in our working lives, serving as both mobile office and the all-important day to night transformer carry-all, but they also are pivotal in our leisure time, acting as the star player in trips to the beach and picnics."

So whether you're splashing out on one of the best designer bags or looking for a budget-friendly version, much like your best jeans, a tote bag is a capsule wardrobe necessity for busy women. 

The best tote bags—shopping links

The best tote bags hand-picked by our fashion team

Whatever the occasion, we’ve found the best tote bags for you

best tote bags by marc jacobs brown leather The Tote Bag

(Image credit: Marc Jacobs)
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1. Marc Jacobs

Reasons to buy

Statement styles 
Good price range 

We couldn’t compile our best tote bags without a shout-out to American clothing brand Marc Jacobs. The canvas tote became a great marketing asset for brands who could add their logo to the fabric and allow people to experience the brand at a more affordable price. Marc Jacobs has had fun with it, giving each bag its own title. Buy into this cult trend, or opt for one of their leather options for longevity. 

Marc Jacobs Tote Bags–Fashion Editor's Picks

Best tote bags from Kate Spade include this heart printed bag

(Image credit: Kate Spade)
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2. Kate Spade

Reasons to buy

Eye-catching designs 
Wide choice of vibrant colours 

Looking for a tote bag that puts the fun into functionality? We’ve found it. US brand Kate Spade became synonymous with quirky accessories, bold prints and colorful clothing after it launched in 1993. Let your bag do the talking and keep the rest of your outfit muted or tonal to allow the Kate Spade prints and colors to really sing.

Kate Spade Tote Bags—Fashion Editor's Picks

best tote bags from Radley, turquoise blue tote bag

(Image credit: Radley)
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3. Radley

Reasons to buy

Playful designs 
Good choice of shapes and shades

Instantly recognizable thanks to their iconic Scottie dog logo, Radley offer a range of shapes and sizes in classic colors as well as quirky prints. Expect smooth, quality leather too. 

Zizi Hill, Director of Design at Radley, says: “On your busiest day, when you need to carry everything from a spare pair of shoes to your laptop, you deserve a handbag that is chic, spacious, and designed to last.”

Radley Tote Bags—Fashion Editor's Picks

Mailbox Longchamp tote bag in black

(Image credit: Longchamp)
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4. Longchamp

Reasons to buy

Made to last
Classic designs 

Luxury accessories and French clothing brand Longchamp have been making bags since 1948. Although they make some of the best backpacks for working women, their most iconic style is the Longchamp Le Pliage Original. 

The bag has been around for 28 years and, reportedly, 30 million have been sold during that time. Durable and spacious with a minimalist style, it folds away to a smaller size making it one of the best weekend bags or great to pack away in a suitcase and pull out for a day of sightseeing.

Longchamp Tote Bags—Fashion Editor's Picks

Lily tote bag, one of the best Mulberry tote bags

(Image credit: Mulberry)
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5. Mulberry

Reasons to buy

Heritage brand
High quality materials

Mulberry bags have been spotted on the arms of some of the world's most influential tastemakers, including the Duchess of Cambridge, Alexa Chung and Kate Moss. One of the most recognizable British clothing brands, their iconic Mulberry Bayswater bag achieved cult status in the early noughties, and its popularity continues today. We're also fans of the newer Lily and Portobello too. The best thing about a Mulberry tote bag? They look better with age as the leather toughens up so you can rest assured you’ll be using yours for years to come. 

Mulberry Tote Bags—Fashion Editor's Picks

marmalade tote bag from Aspinal of london

(Image credit: Aspinal of London)
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6. Aspinal of London

Reasons to buy

High attention to detail 
Will last forever

If you’re looking for a bag smart enough for work, in a classic shape, or a tote with a pop of color to brighten up your outfit, then the search is over. British brand Aspinal of London prides itself on quality leather products that are so durable they will last a lifetime. Plus, you can even get your tote personalized with your initials to ensure no one ‘borrows’ your best tote bag.

Aspinal of London Tote Bags—Fashion Editor's Picks

scalloped edged pink pastel tote bag Accessorize

(Image credit: Accessorize)
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7. Accessorize

Reasons to buy

Fashion-forward designs 
Affordable prices 

Want to grab yourself a new season tote bag without a hefty price tag? Accessorize's affordable collection lets you dip your toe into this bag shape, and the trends that come with it, without too much financial commitment. Shop here for could-be-designer totes and on-trend designs at prices that won't make your eyes water. As you'd expect for the price, most aren't made from leather, making this a good choice for those searching for vegan tote bags. 

Accessorize Tote Bags—Fashion Editor's Picks

midi tan tote bag from Strathberry

(Image credit: Strathberry)

8. Strathberry

Reasons to buy

Investment styles
Royal fans
Excellent quality

An Edinburgh-based brand, Strathberry is known globally for their luxury leather goods. Founded in 2013, the brand was started by husband-and-wife team Guy and Leeanne Hundleby. 

With a penchant for elegance, Strathberry bags fuse together timeless style with modern detailing, for pieces that feel fresh and contemporary. Handcrafted in Spain from the finest Spanish leathers, Strathberry has cultivated a reputation for excellence. 

Loved the world over, their bags have been spotted on the arms of Kate Middleton, Kate Hudson, Meghan Markle, Katie Holmes and Lady Gaga, to name just a few.

Strathberry Tote Bags—Fashion Editor's Picks

best tote bags from Hill & Friends feature image: hobo black tote bag

(Image credit: Hill & Friends)

9. Hill & Friends

Reasons to buy

Practical silhouettes
Great colors

Founded in 2015 by Emma Hill, former Creative Director of Mulberry, Hill & Friends has craftmanship, luxury and fun as part of its core DNA. Made in their 'Happy Factory', in the rolling hills of Somerset, the brand are doing their bit to keep leather goods skills alive. Emma takes top-quality fabrications, classic silhouettes and sprinkles them with a little Hill magic to make bags that will, like their logo, truly make you smile. 

"My current go-to Tote (I like to call it Totes-tastic!) is our Hill and Friends Happy Puffy Zip Top (opens in new tab) one in red smooth leather. It’s made in England, is super versatile with shape-shifting side snaps and a detachable skinny shoulder strap, secure top zip when you need it, and an innovative blind latex logo. 

I especially love graphic totes for putting a bit of much-needed fun into grocery shopping and so I also always have our H&F NHS Hero Rainbow Tote (opens in new tab) folded up inside my bag, for those impromptu supermarket trips!" 

Those are Emma's favorite tote bags from her collection and here are ours...

Hill & Friends Tote Bags—Fashion Editor's Picks

Are tote bags still in fashion?

In a nutshell... yes. Tote bags are most definitely still in fashion, although they've had several updates over the past few seasons. For 2022, it's all about the XL tote bag, which we're obviously thrilled about, because it means we can carry more.

“We’re seeing a lot of roomy designs with minimalist hardware details and luxe finishes that are both beautiful and practical, and are perfect for the return to a more hectic pace of life. Functionality, quality, craftsmanship and attention to detail are definitely the first things to look for when shopping for an investment handbag that will stand the test of time”—says owner and co-founder of Strathberry, Leeanne Hundleby.

Tote bags have never really gone out of fashion and although you may see the runways littered with new bag silhouettes such as micro bags and backpacks, the tote bag endures as one of the key components of any handbag collection. 

And stylist Leigh Williams is a fan too. “Every woman should have a tote bag in her wardrobe. It will be your greatest fashion companion through all stages of your life and there will be so many occasions when you’ll be thankful you own the spacious style”, says fashion stylist Leigh Williams. “I’d recommend a classic leather and a fun printed canvas so you can mix it up depending on the scenario.” 

Tote bags are by far the most loved and most practical handbag style and while you might also want to invest in a small crossbody bag for your to-hand items, the tote bag always have a place in your wardrobe, making it one of the best investment styles. 

And remember, it isn't all about leather bags either, as Emma Hill tells us, "I love that totes are one of the few bag shapes that can be just as fabulous in fabric as they are in leather, and in fact, one of the few bags that I own that I did not design is my beloved 20-year-old classic oversize LL Bean canvas tote with my nickname, Mrs Peel, embroidered on the front."

A quick history of the tote bag proves it will endure

The word ‘tote’, meaning ‘to carry’, is thought to have been around since the 17th century, but the bags as we have come to know as totes were first noted in the 1940s in the USA.  LL Bean introduced a large box bag to carry ice from the freezer to the car, and the tote bag was born.

Making the transition into fashion in the 1960s, perhaps the most famous of all tote bags is the Hermès Birkin.

The story goes that actress Jane Birkin was sat next to the executive chairman of luxury fashion house Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas, on a flight in 1981 when the contents of her straw bag spilled out onto the aisle. The pair spent the rest of the journey discussing and designing a roomier bag perfect for a busy, professional woman and mother.

The iconic accessory has since gone on to be one of the most expensive bags in the world and a smart one to invest in thanks to holding its value. 

Now, the timeless Hermes tote comes in a range of fabrics including utilitarian canvas, summer straw or luxury leather—and, thankfully, in much more affordable prices. And it has, of course, inspired thousands of other tote bags since.

w&h thanks the following contributors for their time and expertise:

Joely Chilcott

Joely Chilcott is an experienced fashion and features editor having spent over ten years writing, styling and editing for a number of women's lifestyle publications, including Woman & Home, Woman and Woman's Own. 

A certified shopping expert, Joely is always on the lookout for new and exciting brands that she can champion, while holding the high street close to her heart. She has had work published in Drapers, Women's Health, Fabulous, YOU, The Sun and the Metro, as well as being a regular fashion contributor to TalkRadio.