Follow us:

Best work bags for women from leather shoulder bags to tote bags

Monday morning just got a little more exciting

The Evening Standard's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Radley
By
23 June 2022
D

epending on where you work, your daily bag might just be the most exciting part of your outfit.

The best work bags for women promise to brighten up your Monday to Friday and come in all shapes and sizes. Even if the rest of your ensemble has to be head to toe black and white or neutral shades, there’s no reason why your bag can’t be vibrant orange or stylish teal.

If you’re carrying around a larger laptop as well as stacks of documents, you’ll probably favour a tote bag or one with more durable straps.

Always find yourself juggling coffees and phone calls? Choose a backpack for seamless, hands-free commutes. Bonus points for accidentally-on-purpose reserving your territory a little easier on the tube during rush hour, too.

Those days when you’re just bringing in the essentials allow for a little more freedom. On those occasions, you’re free to pull out the smaller bags, feeling a little smug that you’ve still got everything organised without carrying around a heavy load.

On the hunt for your next office-friendly bag? Read on for all of our favourite work bags for women.

Radley Baylis Road 2.0

Radley

Radley’s Baylis Road 2.0 is the new and improved version of its ever-popular Baylis Road (the 1.0, if you will). With slightly more refined edges but the same number of always-important inner compartments, it’s an essential work bag for anyone who struggles with organisation.

The sleek and stylish nature of this bag means even on those days when you’re not at the office, you’ll probably find an excuse to bring it out with you anyway. The olive green tone of the bag is muted enough to please even the most conservative of offices.

Mansur Gavriel Mini blue saffiano leather bucket bag

Harvey Nichols

Mansur Gavriel is a work bag for those days when you don't have much to carry but still need to bring the essentials along. This eye-catching bag's bucket style means you'll squeeze much more in than initially anticipated, tied together with its drawstring-esque finish.

The royal blue colour is our top pick, with a rose pink shade just behind. Or, keep it neutral with a black option (with red lining) if you're restricted to a more neutral environment.

Loewe Hammock small textured-leather tote

Loewe

Loewe’s Hammock bag might not be the most spacious bag around but, if you're on the hunt for a new work bag and want something a little more special, it's one of the best bags out there.

With its unique design and unusual silhouette, this Hammock bag is larger than it looks, with innovative expandable sides that pop out to give you a little more space. Made from grained leather and available in a few different shades, it's a work bag for those laptop-free days when all you need to bring along is your water bottle and the few other essentials.

Zara Leather Tote Bag

Zara

Green, blue or red: Zara’s leather tote bag comes in a range of striking shades that definitely promise to brighten up even the rainiest of Monday mornings. These oversized totes feature a few individual side compartments so, while they look like an open abyss of your belongings, there’s actually room to keep things fairly organised.

Made entirely from leather, these silky smooth work bags look somehow delicate and structured at the same time, with contrasting slim handles and a large body. Looking to tone down the colour a bit? You’ll also find this bag available in tan or white.

Aspinal of London Zipped Regent Tote

Aspinal of London

If you’re looking for a premium new bag for work then it’s hard to beat Aspinal of London. Favoured by lawyers and anyone working in the city, these high quality bags are large enough to carry any number of documents and a laptop without struggling.

Handcrafted from full-grain leather, the Zipped Regent Tote comes in four classy colours (black croc, burgundy croc, tan shine or black shine) with differing finishes to match. The semi-structured and lightweight design of this bag comes with a spacious interior, an open slip pocket for your valuables and two mobile slip pockets.

Ganni Medium Tote Bag

Ganni

Ganni's Medium Tote Bag comes in a gorgeous paprika or vibrant orange tone - two colours you may not spot so often but definitely deserve some space in your work wardrobe.

Made from 100 per cent recycled leather, this generously sized bag is a daily staple for work with plenty of room to throw in a laptop, makeup, gym clothes and anything else. Its open top snap closure keeps everything where it should be, with both long and short straps to be thrown over the shoulder or hand-held, if you're pushing its bottomless style to its weight limits.

Saint Laurent Lou teal leather cross-body bag

Harvey Nichols

Saint Laurent's Lou teal leather cross-body bag may not be a traditional work bag but it's the kind of bag you'll fall in love with so quickly that you'll want to carry it around with you everyday.

This buttery soft teal leather bag is a cross-body staple piece, bringing together stylish chevron matelassé, gold-tone hardware and an adjustable shoulder strap. Its medium size may be better suited to those days when you're buying lunch rather than bringing it with you but you'll still easily fit all the essentials in here.

Kate Spade Knott large tote

Kate Spade

Kate Spade’s bags are perfect for throwing everything together in a rush before you leave the house. With one oversized main compartment, you’ll never struggle to squeeze anything in here, with plenty of room to go around.

The Knott large tote is a popular choice from the brand and it’s easy to see why, with its pebbled Italian leather trim,  snap-tab slip pocket and endless space. Classy and stylish, it’s one you’ll display in front of your desk with pride until someone notices and compliments it - which won’t take long.

AND/OR Cheetah Print Canvas Boxy Backpack

John Lewis

Take a backpack to work and you’ll be laughing as you effortlessly hold a coffee in one hand and your phone in the other. Wave goodbye to juggling your belongings as you type out an email with both hands free from bag duties. This cheetah print backpack comes in a slim and structured shape that’s formal enough for the office but fun enough to spice things up a little.

The spacious main compartment has enough room for your laptop while the zipped compartment opposite is perfect for storing cards and a phone in. Its durable canvas fabric can withstand a fair amount of wear and tear, too.

Longchamp Roseau Leather Shoulder Bag, Thistle

John Lewis

Longchamp’s Roseau Leather Shoulder Bag comes with one essential feature that every work bag should have: the ability to make it just a little bit larger when needed.

This shoulder bag may look just like a standard, structured handbag from an initial look but, if gravity’s against you and you need a little more space, it comes with handy poppers on either side which can be opened out when you need more room.

Made from premium quality leather with a subtle emblematic Longchamp racehorse signature, this work bag comes in five differing shades depending on how bright or how reserved you’d prefer to look.

Valentino Bags VMV Pastis Hobo Ld22

House of Fraser

Valentino's Pastis Hobo Bag is perfect for throwing over your shoulder and rushing out the door: the type of bag that doesn't require any difficult mechanisms - just grab it and go.

Better yet, you'll also look suitably stylish while doing so, thanks to this work bag's smooth, soft leather design. Available in three different shades - black, cream and baby pink - there's a colour for every personality with the same subtle gold plated detailing on each.

Ralph Lauren Collection Quilted Calfskin Large RL50 Handbag

Farfetch

Ralph Lauren Collection is the most premium range from the brand and produces deliciously high quality bags that you’ll treasure for years to come. The Quilted Calfskin Large RL50 Handbag is a little brighter than your standard work bag but, if you’re looking to brighten up a standard black and white day to day look, it’s a ray of sunshine in bag form.

This clementine orange investment piece is entirely handcrafted in Italy, with its belted silhouette and timeless quilted construction. Your job may change in the future, but this bag will likely remain consistently next to you.

Lulu Guinness Emerald Medium Textured Leather Ruby Bag

Lulu Guinness

Lulu Guinness comes with a little vintage-inspired edge in the form of this Emerald Medium Textured Leather Ruby Bag. In a teal blue shade that promises to effortlessly complement whatever you're wearing it with, it's a little more fun than the average work bag with a printed scarf wrapped around the handle for good measure.

A modern update on the classic frame, this bag is crafted from top quality textured leather and feels just as premium as you'd expect. Its signature striped interior and Cupid’s bow pocket are the cherry on top.

Dune Dinkydorrie crocodile-embossed faux-leather tote bag

Selfridges

One of the best things about Dune's crocodile-embossed faux-leather tote bag is that it looks far more expensive than it actually is, thanks to its gold-toned metal branding. So, although it's not the cheapest work bag around, it's one that you'll feel comfortable putting on the floor while waiting for the tube without worrying about scuffing its bottom.

The multiple compartments is another of its most winning features - perfect for those who favour organised chaos rather than a neat and tidy work bag. With a sleek grey or black colour and patent finish, it's ideal for accompanying you not only to work but also to the inevitable post-work drinks.

Acne Studios Baker Out mini nylon and leather top handle bag

Harvey Nichols

Acne Studios' minimal Swedish design never goes out of fashion and the brand's Baker Out mini nylon and leather top handle bag is a great choice for all kinds of occasions.

Just the right size for squeezing in your water bottle, notebook and a few other small things, it comes in four stylish shades with both a long strap and short handles. Its zip-fastening front pocket and wide main compartment easily keep everything where it should be.

Verdict

Our favourite work bag for women is Radley's Baylis Road 2.0, with its stylish design, medium size and premium quality fabric. Keep an eye out for the brand's other colours as well as its gorgeous olive green.