Top 5 Work Bag Recommendations of 2023

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One of the most asked questions that pop in my DMs is for work bag recommendations. A lot of you seem to be after bags that are both aesthetic as they are functional, and we are spoilt for choice because of the variety and availability of bags that tick these boxes. The tote bag is a fixture which I’m sure a lot of you already have in your wardrobes. Then there’s the backpack, which, in many ways, is the kindred spirit of the tote. Both reliably transport your possessions from home to office (and beyond) and if cared for properly, these bags can serve you for many seasons. 

Given the many times I’ve been asked to dish out work bag recommendations, I figured now was as good a time as any to share my top 5 bag styles, which also happen to be the 5 most used work bags in my wardrobe. There’s a mix of luxury and contemporary labels and these options cover all bases when it comes to office dress codes. 

Let’s get straight into it: 

#1 – Bellroy Tokyo Totepack

L: Bellroy backpack (as featured here), Marks & Spencer trench coat* (sz AU 8), Sarah Flint boots* (use ‘SARAHFLINT-CCVIRGINIA1’ for 15% off), Lilysilk skirt* (sz 27), Patagonia cap (attached to my bag – also here and here); R: Bellroy backpack (as featured here), The Curated coat* (sz XS), Arket tee (sz XS), Celine belt, Everlane pants* (sz US 2, Short), Everlane sneakers*, Ray Ban sunglasses, Arms of Eve earrings*, Patagonia cap (attached to my bag – also here and here)

This bag reignited my love for backpacks when I decided to buy it mid-2022. It also signalled a shift in my work style, particularly for the office, as the smart casual dress code became the norm. Taking into account the fact that I like to walk into and home from work when I can, and also the fact that I wrangle the kids to school / day care in the mornings, I wanted something that would align practically with my reality. Given how often I wear this bag (and how frequently it features in my reels), it should come as no surprise that the Bellroy Tokyo Totepack tops this list of recommendations. I opted for the larger 20L size in order to comfortably fit all the things I typically take. It comes in a ton of colours with new ones introduced regularly. 100% recommend. 

#2 – Celine Cabas Tote

L: Celine bag (watch my review here), Frankie Shop trousers (sz S), Bared Sparrow sandalsEverlane blazer* (sz US 0), Sezane striped tank (sz XS), Arms of Eve bangle*; R: Celine bag (watch my review here), Celine beltThe Curated blazer* (sz XXS), Arket tee (sz S – current season colours linked), Nobody Denim jeans (sz 26, petite)Ally Shoes boots* (use ‘VIRGINIA50’ for $50USD off – review here), Ray Ban sunglasses

I appreciate a backpack may be too casual for some work scenarios hence this recommendation of a minimal tote bag. When I need to lean into a more traditional corporate dress code, this is the bag I reach for. Its capacity is great, without looking too oversized on my petite frame. I bought this bag a few years ago and it has been my most used Celine bag this year (you can watch my comprehensive YouTube review here). The tote is made from a quality grained leather, however it’s worthwhile noting that it isn’t very structured. I use a bag liner to keep everything neat and tidy and when not in use, I stuff it lightly with tissue paper so it retains its shape. Like the other bags in this line up, this style comes in other colours – all classic tones that will integrate seamlessly into your wardrobes. 

#3 – Bellroy Venture Ready Pack

L: Bellroy backpack*, The Curated coat* (sz XS – current season version linked), Sezane top (sz XS), Frankie Shop trousers (sz S), Celine belt, Ally shoes* (use ‘VIRGINIA40’ for $40USD off all heels – read my review of a similar, but higher, style, here), Arms of Eve earrings* and ring*; R: Bellroy backpack*, Everlane Mac Coat* (sz XXS), Everlane cashmere crew neck jumper* (sz S – new season version linked), Arket t-shirt (sz S), The Fold trousers* (sz UK 8), adidas Samba OG sneakers, (featured here), Arms of Eve earrings* and ring*

The second Bellroy backpack that joined my bag family is this Venture Ready Pack that has proven to be a versatile style. This bag has more of a rugged appearance and more comfort features embedded into the design. I’ve taken it to work, but I’ve also taken it on day hikes. The straps are padded, there’s a sternum strap, there is also padding along the back which makes this a really comfortable bag to wear for longer periods. If it’s more of a light meeting day in the office and one where I’m just pottering away at advice work, I will typically walk home from work. On those work days, this is the bag I take. The Tokyo Totepack that I referred to earlier is more of a city bag, whereas this bag has more of a dual urban/outdoorsy personality. It fits a 16” laptop in a dedicated (and padded) laptop section which is a plus if you have a hefty device like mine!

#4 – Tory Burch Perry Tote

L: Tory Burch tote (review here), Mango trench (sz XS – US linkAU link), Power Of My People shirt* (sz M – use VIRGINIA10 for 10% off), The Fold London trousers* (sz UK 8 – similar here and here), Celine belt (featured here), Gucci loafers (watch my styling video here), Arms of Eve earrings*, bangle* and beaded bracelets*; R: Tory Burch tote (review here), Marks & Spencer trench coat* (sz AU 8), Power Of My People shirt* (sz M – use VIRGINIA10 for 10% off), The Fold trousers* (sold out – similar here and here), Ally shoes* (use ‘VIRGINIA40’ for $40USD off all heels – read my review of a similar, but higher, style, here), Arms of Eve earrings*

I’ve had this tote bag now for over 4 years and I continue to be so impressed with its wear and tear (or lack thereof). This bag is incredible quality and I can understand why it is one of the most popular tote bag styles out there. The leather is amazing quality and the bag has the ability to stand up on its own. The newer version of this bag comes with metal studs at the base, which my bag doesn’t have. Despite this, and the fact that I do pop it on the floor beside my desk when I’m working – it’s in excellent shape. Hardly any scuffs or signs of wear. The triple compartment configuration also makes for easy organisation. And the price tag? It represents excellent value for money considering the quality is no different from what you would expect of a high end bag. In fact, I would go as far to say that it exceeds many other high end totes that I’ve tried in my travels. 

#5 – Bellroy Tokyo Wonder Tote

L: Bellroy Tokyo Wonder Tote*, Sezane blazer (sz UK 8 / US 4 / FR 36), Arket t-shirt (sz S), Frankie Shop trousers (sz S), Ally Shoes heels* (use ‘VIRGINIA40’ for $40USD off), Ray Ban sunglasses; R: Bellroy Tokyo Wonder Tote*, Everlane blazer* (sz 0), Arket t-shirt (sz S), The Fold trousers* (sz UK 8), Ally Shoes heels* (use ‘VIRGINIA40’ for $40USD off), Ray Ban sunglasses, Arms of Eve earrings*

My final work bag recommendation is another tote bag, but this is a great option for those of you looking for a non-leather option and one that’s more lightweight. This bag has a minimal look with a more casual personality, thanks to the water-resistant fabric that is used. The internal compartment structure makes like so much easier for when you’re packing and unpacking your bag for the day. I have the 12L bag which comfortably fits my 14” work laptop. The larger 15L style will house a larger 16” laptop if that’s what you need to cart with you. Out of all the totes in this line up, this one is the most comfortable to carry, thanks to the non-slip backing on the straps. 

As always, thanks for stopping by!


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