It’s a well-known fact that Kendall Jenner has over 400 designer purses stowed away in her closet. Unless you have saved up enough money to live that lavishly, this type of hobby would seem inaccessible for the average fashion enthusiast.
So what exactly should you look for in a designer tote bag? Hold onto your wallet – we’re about to provide you with a selection of couture beauties that are worth checking out.
How to Choose The Best Designer Tote Bag
Lizzo did us a solid by introducing us to the tiny designer purse at the 2020 AMAs, but it’s far from functional compared to the standard tote bag. While it may be “big enough for your f—s to give” (her words, not ours), a miniature purse cannot accommodate your phone, wallet, and other necessities.
Following space, customers should look for three things when choosing a designer tote bag: brand, material, and of course, price. We’ll cover all of them in the following review.
Do you like the elegant, quilted look? Or do you prefer print over color-blocked? Perhaps it’s a sign to opt for a classic Chanel bag or the Louis Vuitton carry-on.
When deciding on the best designer tote bag, the material should never be glossed over, as it’s a signifier of quality. Nobody likes a tote that flakes away after months of use.
Whether it’s leather, jacquard, or canvas, you should make sure that the bag is made out of genuine fabric. Knock-offs are usually constructed out of thin, plastic-feeling material and won’t feel as expensive as the original version.
Shoppers should also look for elements such as patina, color, stitching, and hardware. Counterfeit producers are notorious for spelling certain brand names wrong. Additionally, color can serve as a huge indicator, as some fakes are brighter or darker than authentic versions.
Moreover, the best designer tote bag will last you a lifetime and is worth a pretty penny when resold. If you’re looking to buy a used purse, we highly recommend hiring a professional to assess whether or not it’s a genuine product.
Lastly, budget is another crucial point to consider. Depending on how much you can splurge, what’s the best designer tote bag your money can buy? Is it the standard Coach purse or the ultra-rare Hermes Birkin?
For those looking for a cost-effective way to collect limited edition carry-ons, we suggest opting for brands like Kate Spade, Tory Burch, or even Marc Jacobs. Bags from these companies usually cost between $200 to $500.
Pricier brands, like Hermes, Mouawad, and Chanel, can cost you a staggering $300,000 to $2 million. For the purposes of this review, we’ll only be covering a selection of more affordable purses that fall below the $100,000 mark.
15 Best Designer Tote Bags
Stop worrying about your shoes. It’s time to give the ol’ purse some thoughtful consideration.
No matter the label, the best designer tote bag can act as the cherry-on-top of a put-together ensemble. From Kate Spade to Celine, we cover 15 brands that may pique your interest below.
#1 – RIVE GAUCHE Linen & Leather Designer Tote Bag
Move over, Ikea. The RIVE GAUCHE Designer Tote is an upgrade from the FRAKTA shopping bag. Clean, streamlined, and uncomplicated in style, this carry-on comes with no bells and whistles for those who are into minimalist fashion.
Rectangular in shape, it features snap buttons, thin leather handles, and the label printed in contrasting colors on the front. Offered in black and white, this large designer tote bag can act as your go-to for city excursions, errands, or Sex-in-the-City-type shopping sprees.
The RIVE GAUCHE Leather and Linen carry-on costs $1,250.
#2 – Kate Spade Market Stripe Medium Designer Tote Bag
Sugar, spice, and everything nice – that’s basically what Kate Spade is made of. Offered in a whimsical, candy-stripe print, this designer tote bag will have you channeling your inner child. As a finishing touch, a pink spade is added as a decorative frill to help tie the whole look together.
Carried with a skinny leather handle, the $198 Market Stripe Tote Bag is finished with a pink spade symbol that adds a decorative frill. We suggest pairing it with the matching wallet for an overall cohesive look.
#3 – Marc Jacobs The Mini Designer Tote Bag
The Mini Tote Bag gives off some serious late 2000s Sk8ter Boi vibes, and we’re not mad about it. While Avril herself would scoff at high couture, you can’t deny that this purse has an ‘uncomplicated’ design that leans on the rebellious side.
Made out of cotton, this black satchel comes complete with a zipper enclosure and a chunky webbed shoulder strap. Perfect for rule-breakers and trendsetters alike, dress up with the Marc Jacobs Mini Designer Tote Bag for $162.
#4 – Balenciaga Everyday XS Designer Tote Bag
Every LBD needs an LBB. Designed for errands, shopping trips, or casual walks around the city, the Balenciaga Everyday Designer Bag goes with every outfit. Standard in color and shape, this carry-on comes with removable straps, a zipped leather pouch, and a nifty mirror on the interior for makeup touch-ups.
Made out of genuine calfskin, this black designer tote bag can last for years on end. Ideal with a slim-fit dress, heels, and a pair of sunnies, the Balenciaga XS Everyday purse costs a cool $1,250.
#5 – Celine Medium Cabas Phantom Designer Tote Bag
There are times where simplicity and minimalism can overtake diamonds, chains, and loud patterns. Best known for their elegant and classic designs, Celine offers fashion enthusiasts a subtle medium to express their style.
The Medium Cabas Phantom Designer Tote Bag features an earthy stone gray hue complete with gold hardware and leather handles. Synched together with a hemmed ribbon at the top, this purse transforms into a charming gift-like parcel with a quick tug. Made out of luxurious calfskin leather, it will cost you $1,950.
#6 – Jimmy Choos Macy Designer Tote Bag
Summer: the season of beach bums, fruity cocktails, and basketweave. For those looking to be on-trend for June, July, and August, the Jimmy Choo Macy Designer Tote Bag embodies the lake house aesthetic you’re aiming for.
Handwoven from natural palm leaf raffia, it’s finished with leather straps and gold detailing. Available in either brown or pineapple yellow, make waves with this ice cream cone-shaped bag all summer for $625.
#7 – Salvatore Ferragamo Viva Bow Designer Tote Bag
Close your eyes. Imagine pink summer skies, romantic walks down a French pavilion, and flowers decorating every sidewalk and shopfront. Do not opt for just any carry-on purse to go with this ‘la vie en rose’ aesthetic – the Salvatore Ferragamo Viva Bow Tote Bag exudes the right amount of charming elegance to match it.
Offered in a gorgeous blush hue, this purse comes with matching chains, handkerchief edge stitching, and an adorable bow on the front. Ideal for romantic ensembles, the small version of this handbag costs $1,890.
#8 – Burberry Medium Check Canvas Beach Designer Tote Bag
Burberry is well known for its classic tartan print. Offered in the same iconic design, the Medium Check Canvas Beach Bag is made for city girls (and guys). It features a subdued color palette of beige, cream, blue, and black, which makes it a slightly quirky variation of a plain ol’ black and white purse.
Hemmed with a matching cream rim and handle, the $1,490 Burberry Designer Tote Bag is a dead ringer for a slightly bookish style lover with a touch of Parisian class.
#9 – Small Dior Book Designer Tote Bag
We have a strong feeling that Astrid Leong-Teo from Crazy Rich Asians would fall head over heels for the Small Dior Book Designer Tote Bag. Considered a staple design from the brand, this beauty comes in a fully embroidered raspberry print.
Covered top-to-bottom with a toile de jouy reverse motif, this purse is a one-of-kind collectible. Square and miniature in shape, you can also purchase it in black, lime green, and gray for $3,100.
#10 – Coach Tyler Carryall Designer Tote Bag
The Coach Tyler Carryall Designer Tote Bag teaches us that beauty lies in simplicity. Featuring a slightly curved hem on the main compartment and gold detailing, this carryall is finished with matching straps and a handy tag for name identification.
Constructed out of pebble leather, this designer black leather tote bag acts as your personal assistant when holding laptops, phones, snacks, and other daily necessities. Plus, it rings up to a total of $350.
#11 – Gucci Capri Striped Designer Tote Bag
What is Gucci other than loud prints, bold, juxtaposing colors, and lots of layering? Ideal for those into the camp aesthetic, the Capri Striped Designer Tote Bag comes with all the bells and whistles. Made for the summertime, this purse features a contrasting pattern of blue, pink, and yellow.
Finished with a matching green hem and a logo pattern on the front, it allows you to make it known that you’re a trendsetter who doesn’t mess about. However, it’ll cost you $2,500.
#12 – Fendi Leather Shopping Designer Tote Bag
With the Leather Shopping Designer Tote Bag, Fendi took a briefcase and made it into something that Rihanna or Selena Gomez would rock out on the town. It’s square-shaped and features a subtle, embossed logo on the front.
In case you prefer an over-the-shoulder carrying method, it comes with long, integrated handles. Made out of real leather finished off with a palladium shine, the Fendi Shopping Designer Tote Bag is priced at $2,550.
#13 – Saint Laurent Shopping Designer Tote Bag
The Saint Laurent Shopping Designer Tote Bag offers a simple, minimalistic design if you’re not a fan of prints, loud colors, or patterns. Dyed in a rich red hue, it comes with an interior pocket, a set of skinny leather straps, and an identification tag on the front.
In terms of styling ideas, we recommend opting for a black turtleneck, a pair of cigarette pants, and some matching booties to pair with this carry-on essential. The Saint Laurent Shopping Designer Tote Bag costs $1,150.
#14 – Bottega Veneta Cassette Designer Tote Bag
Fashion is for everyone, meaning tote bags are for men as well. The Bottega Veneta Cassette Tote Bag is a genderless design composed of a basketweave exterior that’s made from calfskin leather.
Held together by matching webbed straps, this satchel is perfect for grocery runs or picnic hangouts. Dyed in a stunning springtime green, the Bottega Veneta Cassette Designer Tote Bag retails for $3,850.
#15 – Stella McCartney Maxi Falabella Designer Tote Bag
Introducing the springtime purse of your dreams: the Stella McCartney Maxi Falabella Designer Tote Bag embodies a child-like charm due to its unique cut and salmon print. Finished with aluminum chain details around the hem, it’s the bag to pair with a Y2K-inspired outfit.
The lining is made out of recycled polyester from water bottles, which scores major points with ethically-inclined shoppers. Also available in bright green if you’re not a fan of pink, the Stella Maxi Falabella Designer Tote Bag costs $1,750.
Tote Bag vs Handbag: What’s the difference?
If you’re one to carry a phone, wallet, keys, and other necessities, it’s likely that you’d opt for a tote bag over a handbag. This type of purse provides more storage space due to its larger size. Moreover, you’ll notice that it comes with two straps instead of one.
On the flip side, handheld purses can only accommodate a few valuables. Handbags are usually worn to adorn an outfit with additional accessories. Take for example, Lizzo’s tiny carry-on from Jacquemus.
What size of tote bag do I need?
The short answer: the larger, the better. It really depends on the number of valuables you carry on a daily basis. Some brands that we covered, like Fendi or Coach, can accommodate a couple of devices, files, or other bulky goods due to their generous size.
On the other hand, tiny options from Stella McCartney and Dior only hold one or two small items, such as a wallet or a phone. So, when it comes down to size, we suggest taking inventory of things you usually have with you on the go.
How should you style designer tote bags?
Trendsetters usually match their carry-on to their outfit or vice versa, creating a cohesive look with ease. For instance, the Small Dior Book Designer Tote Bag would look amazing with a tweed blazer and pencil skirt duo, in addition to matching red heels and a white blouse.
That said, your outfit doesn’t have to be all leather if your bag is made out of 100% calfskin. Mix in different textures such as jacquard or faux fur, and for more help with composing an ensemble around a designer tote bag, hop over to Instagram or Pinterest for styling ideas.
Which designer tote bag is the best?
So, who won the title of Best Designer Tote Bag? We looked for a brand that passed four critical evaluations: seasonality, versatility, style, and price. Out of the 15 purses we featured, the Coach Tyler Carryall Designer Tote Bag came out on top.
This purse can be worn throughout all seasons, making it adaptable and cost-effective. This is partially due to its subtle, clean design and versatile black leather. It can hold a number of valuables and has impressive reviews as a result of its spacious structure.
For a purse that only costs $350, the Coach Tyler Carryall Designer Tote Bag is a steal.