No Minimum | Free Shipping over $300

(888)TOTE-BAG Call Now!

Quick ship from our CA & GA warehouses.

What Should a Work Tote Bag Contain

Ali Civlak |

A work tote bag should be roomy, sturdy and upscale-ish enough for the office to not scream cheap when you walk through that door every morning. Working women usually look for a bag that can carry them through work, impromptu shopping sessions, meeting with friends, gym, and everything the day might throw at them in between.

We have listened to several women and the essentials that they can go without during a workday and have compiled our own list of the must-haves that no industrious woman should leave home without. We want to keep things simple and practical so that you don’t overpack your carry-all and accidentally turn it into a so-called ‘black hole’ bag. That can immensely impact your productivity and peace of mind in the long run. So, here are our favorites.

For the working woman in an office:


  1. The laptop/ MacBook (+charger) – Make sure that your work tote bag has a coushiny compartment for your trustworthy laptop – as you want to keep things organized and secured.
  2. The water bottle – We can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting the proper hydration throughout the day. Beside a clear and glowing skin, your internal organs will thank you for it. A water bottle is a permanent reminder for drinking those two liters per day.
  3. Earbuds – These can be a life saver during a long commute or in a noisy office. You can use them to listen to podcasts, music, or just reduce ambient noise while working or commuting.
  4. Smartphone (+charger), wallet, subway pass, and house/car keys – These are the can’t-go-without’s for obvious reasons. Just ensure that you keep them in a zipped and easy-to-reach compartment and that the wallet is compact enough to transition from your work tote bag to your purse or pockets and back without too much drama.
  5. Paper planner – According to productivity pros, a planner can boost productivity dramatically if used correctly. With a planner, you can break down overwhelming tasks and goals into smaller chunks which you’ll be able to handle with a lot of ease and clarity. Forget about the planner’s digital counterparts – they’re not the real deal.
  6. Pen – Get a quality pen, or if you tend to misplace or lose your pens a lot get a set. A stylus doesn’t count.
  7. Lipstick/ Chapstick – because you want those lips looking their best just like your outfit.
  8. Breath mint or gum – for those days when you order something with lots of onion or garlic for lunch and you have to attend a lengthy office meeting later in the day or you just worry too much about your co-workers’ sinuses.
  9. Touch-up makeup – Pressed powder, foundation, nail polish, mascara, you name it as you know best what you and your skin needs.
  10. Deodorant/Antiperspirant – because nobody in their right mind feels confident with a pair of smelly armpits. If you sweat a lot or plan to go to the gym after work, this is a must-have.
  11. Small brush – for those bad hair days or when your hair seems to gain self-awareness and refuses to obey your commands.
  12. Hand cream – The AC unit tends to make offices dry and oftentimes freezing places to be in especially for those pairs of industrious hands trying to earn a living. So, always carry a quality hand cream with you regardless of the weather forecast.
  13. Medication – The pain reliever brand that works for you is your best friend especially when a sudden headache or your period strikes.
  14. Tampons – Talking about periods, you can never be too prepared.
  15. Snacks – You’ll need these before your lunch break. We recommend getting a healthy snack like an apple or a granola bar to keep you going. Chocolate, cookies, and crackers will just make you feel hungrier shortly after eating them because of their negative impact on your insulin levels. Eat smart!
  16. Plasters – For those nasty paper cuts or blisters when trying to break in new shoes.
  17. Foldable flats – because high heels can sometimes be a real killer for a lady’s delicate feet.
  18. Sunglasses – You can leave these in your car but if a car is not in the picture, don’t forget to place them in your work tote.
  19. Business cards – These are essentials for an aspiring career woman as you don’t know who you might meet next.
  20. Compact umbrella – because the predicted forecast is often wrong and staying soaking wet in the rain is only cool in the movies.
  21. E-reader/ magazine or book – for the (long) commute, unless the smartphone is all you need.

For the working mom:


    The working woman and mother should tick all the boxes above and some more. You’ll need a work tote bag that is roomy enough to accommodate all the above items plus your kids’ toys, snacks for the little ones, a change of clothes, and more. We recommend replacing the tote with a backpack or supplementing it with a burlap jute tote bag or an organic cotton bag. As a fulltime working mom there’s never too much space in your work bag.

    If you’re a nursing mom, things can get even more complicated. We won’t delve into the controversy around many moms’ decision to continue to nurse their kids after returning to work as things are very personal. We’ll just recommend finding a work tote roomy enough to fit some extra bottles, a mini cooler, and a pump. Some moms leave an extra pump at the office and carry with them only the parts.

    For the working woman and fitness buff:


    If you are routinely hitting the gym after clocking out, make sure to get a multitasking tote that can fit your gym gear, protein shaker, towel, and, why not, sneakers, too. We recommend a tote bag with enough depth to fit all said stuff, a combination of a work tote and a gym bag, or a backpack that can be seamlessly turned into a classy messenger bag (but that is the least affordable option). It’s your call.