As the pandemic eases in Australia and many of us are beginning tentative forays back into the office, a familiar issue is reemerging. Who amongst us hasn’t faced the haphazard juggle of a handbag, a laptop bag and a cotton reusable tote because we still haven’t gotten around to investing in a stylish but solidly practical work bag? Never mind the horror of when you realise you’ve sleepily snagged the wrong handbag in the morning commute rush and are now bereft of your daily essentials.
A good work bag should be a number of things, but first and foremost, it should solve the issue of feeling like a packhorse trussed with enough supplies to last a week. While a work bag needn’t necessarily be designer, it should be office-appropriate and chic enough to take to important meetings or slide next to you at the vibey after-work drinks spot.
The ideal work bag’s size will depend on what tools of the trade you’re transporting, but for optimal functionality, we’d suggest making sure it can at least fit your laptop, notebooks or paper documents, phone, wallet and water bottle. Shape-wise, that means your best work bag bets are going to fall in the carryall tote, satchel, backpack and dedicated laptop bag realm.
Another important work bag consideration? Durability. The cost-per-wear on a work bag should be mere dollars or cents by the end of a year and you’ll want to make sure that your choice is not only stylish but savvily-designed to withstand wear and tear. (There’s a reason we’re not suggesting a Loewe suede tote, at least not for your everyday carry.)
Below, the best in stylish and practical work bags to see you through the nine to five.
The Best Work Bags For Women To Shop In Australia For 2021
Yvonne Koné Filippo Tote Bag
Classics are classics for a reason. The Filippo bag from Black-owned handbag brand Yvonne Koné is the first functional and roomy tote bag on our list, and it won’t be the last. This piece is crafted from Italian leather with just the right amount of slouch and includes a slight leather strap to fasten the bag closed. Whether a bow or knot, that minimalist detail is up to you to style how you like.
Large Filippo Bag in black, approx. $1,158 AUD from Yvonne Koné.
Avaliable colours: black, camel, olive green, soft peach, light clay.
Cuyana Classic Structured Leather Tote
For a more budget-friendly work bag tote option that doesn’t compromise on quality, we’re recommending this Cuyana Tote. A structured take on the tote bag, this minimalists dream features LWG Gold certified leather, meaning the leather is tanned responsibly against metrics like traceability and resources consumption. The sturdy construction means the tote can stand on its own and the design includes two interior ties to cinch the bag into a a different silhouette when you feel like changing it up.
Classic Structured Leather Tote, approx. $247 AUD from Cuyana.
Avaliable colours: black, camel, soft rose, taupe, burgundy and other neutral colourways.
A_C Official Tote Modern II
For a vegan and sustainably-minded take on the work bag, the selection at A_C Official should be top of your list. The Tote Modern II is their chic take on the work tote, with a number of subtle functional features. Large enough to house an 11″ laptop and all your essentials, this work bag also features a concealed outer pocket, internal pockets, gunmetal feet for protecting its base, top handles and a detachable strap. Made from the brand’s signature innovative Cactus Leather, this tote will be one you want to keep on top of your desk.
Tote Modern II, $389 from A_C Official.
Avaliable colours: black.
Staud Shirley Leather Shoulder Bag
Perennially in-demand with the fashion set, the LA-based label Staud is generally more known for the innovative shapes and unorthodox colourways of their handbags that their work-appropriateness. Enter: the Shirley Leather Shoulder Bag. While it won’t fit a 15″ graphic designer-sized laptop, this shoulder bag will take you and your essentials from home to office in structured style.
Staud Shirley leather shoulder bag, $369 from MATCHESFASHION.
Avaliable colours: black, brown, camel and cream, various jewel tones.
Stella McCartney Perforated Vegetarian Leather Tote
Consciously made from Stella McCartney’s now-signature vegetarian leather, this different-yet-timeless tote is roomy enough for all your workday essentials. A subtle perforated Stella McCartney logo adorns the bag’s front and the work bag’s interior pocket will keep you organised.
Stella McCartney Perforated Vegetarian Leather Tote, $1,315 from NET-A-PORTER.
Avaliable colours: black.
Baggu Horizontal Duck Bag
From the makers of some of our favourite packable, stuffable reusable totes comes a simple take on the cotton tote with a few more functional features. The Baggu Horizontal Duck Bag is big enough for a 15″ laptop and the recycled cotton canvas material won’t weigh you down.
Horizontal Duck Bag, approx. $43 AUD from Baggu.
Avaliable colours: black, cream, olive green, tan, cow print, grid print.
Khaite Circle Medium Leather Tote
New York label Khaite makes more than just that cashmere bra and sweater set made famous by Katie Holmes. Ideal as a work bag and for overnight jaunts, this circle tote can fit a laptop, a change of clothes and features a detachable internal pouch for items of import.
Khaite Circle Medium Leather Tote, $2,448.23 from NET-A-PORTER.
Avaliable colours: black, light brown.
Dagne Dover Ryan Laptop Bag
From the buzzy handbag brand Dagne Dover comes this organisational dream of a work bag. The neoprene Ryan Laptop Bag features a 15″ laptop sleeve, interior and exterior pockets, a key leash and an adjustable cross-body strap. And for when we’re travelling again? There’s a sleeve on the back to slip over your suitcase handles. Yes, they’ve thought of everything.
Ryan Laptop Bag, approx. $196.68 AUD from Dagne Dover.
Avaliable colours: black, navy, olive, soft blush, heather grey.
Cuyana Leather Backpack
For a truly hands-free work bag, let us make the case for the humble backpack. This leather backpack from Cuyana is more sophisticated than your usual schoolyard offerings and can comfortably fit a 13″ laptop. The detachable top strap offers a chic way to carry it on your arm, though we doubt you’ll want to after feeling the adjustable and padded shoulder straps.
Leather Backpack, approx $463 from Cuyana.
Avaliable colours: black, blush, burgundy, camel, taupe, croc-effect black.
Sans Beast Noir Croco Brief Liason Backpack
A backpack option for those with a lighter load and a penchant for croc embossing comes from Sans Beast. The vegan bag purveyor’s chic backpack features a number of external zip pockets with multiple storage compartments, an interior padded pocket that will fit a 9″ iPad or tablet and a vintage luggage-inspired top handle.
Noir Croco Brief Liason Backpack, $349 from Sans Beast.
Avaliable colours: black.
Lead image via Edward Berthelot/Getty Images.