The Virtues of Tote Bags

 
 
 
I began my career working as an assistant to the head of an NGO. She wore many hats as our leader — running the organization’s programs, administration and fundraising — and she carried three bags to and from work each day: a handbag (for personal items), a small satchel (for fact sheets, handouts, and her notes), and a tote bag (for newspapers and whatever else). She was a role model to me in a dozen distinct ways: she was brilliant, relentless, courageous, and always immaculately turned out — but in one way, I vowed to be different: I was never going to carry a zillion bags like a pack-horse.
Not this

Future plans at one time were: Not This; but things change

Got stuff? Indeed I do.

Got stuff? Indeed, I do.

 
 
 
At forty-five, I find I am more encumbered than I was at 22. I have a couple of large leather bags that can carry personal items and files, and even a laptop — but leather can be heavy and when all of those belongings are dumped inside, the total weight can be considerable. So more recently, I have been carrying a smaller bag — a handbag or satchel — and using a tote bag as an adjunct. Occasionally – on a rainy day or casual Friday – I carry a tote bag instead of a proper bag.
 
A tote bag is light, generally machine washable, sometimes made of waterproof fabric, and almost always capacious.

But I still like to look pulled together, so I have a few to choose from. Here are a few ideas for you.

The COLORS:

Les Toiles du Soleil Tote in Ste Colombe

Les Toiles du Soleil Tote in Ste Colombe

Hable Construction Tote No. 5 in Clementine Beads

Hable Construction Tote No. 5 in Clementine Beads

Les Toiles du Soleil Tote Bag in Tom

Les Toiles du Soleil Tote Bag in Tom

The NEUTRALS:

Book Hou at Home Zip Tote in Lines

Book Hou at Home Zip Tote in Lines

Whitney Jude Tote in gray flannel

Whitney Jude Tote in gray flannel

Burlap Bag by Brew Me A Bag on etsy.com

Burlap Bag by Brew Me A Bag

I am a huge fan of Les Toiles du Soleil; in addition to tote bags (in various sizes), they make iPad covers, toiletry bags, and espadrilles. Sadly, they discontinued Kindle covers after I lost mine on the Metro. I’m not sure what the scale of their operation is, but when I visited their store on W. 19th Street in NYC a few years ago, a sewing machine was plainly in view at the far end of the shop floor. Charmante!

On an even smaller scale, great finds abound on Etsy — so this is an excellent opportunity to support small businesses and craftspeople. Since many of the stores on Etsy welcome custom orders, consider having a tote made in a menswear fabric, like grey or navy pinstripes.

Les Toiles du Soleil Tote Bag in Ste Colombe; Tote No. 5 by Hable Construction in Clementine Beads; Les Toiles du Soleil Tote Bag in Tom; bookhouathome Zip Tote in Lines on etsy.com; Whitney Jude Gray Flannel Tote on etsy.com; Brew Me A Bag Burlap Tote on etsy.com

One thought on “The Virtues of Tote Bags

  1. I have three Amrita Singh totes in quilted faux leather with chain handles–black, goldenrod, and pewter. They’re the perfect size and hit the right balance between businesslike, feminine, and casual. I want to get some duplicates of them to hoard. The Perfect Tote is a rare thing!

But what do you think?