I talk a lot about what clothes are trendy, but I don’t talk too often about the accessories, or as in the case of today: what bags are trendy. Bags actually have quite the spotlight in fashion right now, with lots of different distinct bags trending. One of them is the baguette bag, a superb statement of the 90s! Another trendy bag is the waist bag, which is both awkward and functional at the same time. The bag I’m going to talk about today is a timeless wardrobe staple, but also a bag that has been overlooked for some time but has found its way back to the spotlight! Folks? Here’s a trend alert on the oversized tote bags.

Tote Bags

So the tote bags are not the standard tote bag, but slightly oversized. They’re a bit chunky in their appearance, but still pretty neat. The tote bags are commonly done in black, green, brown, but also popular in patterns such as leopard, glen check or classic stripes. The tote bags might not be the best ones for your shoulders as oversized tote bags are easy to overpack, but they’re also functional from that perspective, as you can carry a lot of things with you. What I also like about the tote bags is that they’re a big part of one’s outfit, due to the visibility of the size, which is a fun pop of statement! Tote bags in statement materials such as (faux) leather, fur, suede, or patent leather are stylish and a chic detail to any outfit. 

How To Style Tote Bags

If you don’t own a tote bag, I think investing in a timeless one is a must! A classic one in black is a reliable staple, but a brown one could also do. I have a white tote bag in teddy faux fur with black details. It’s a fun compromise of statement (the material) and timelessness (the colors). If you own a black, brown or white tote bag, there’s a high likability that it will match with the rest of your outfit – especially your boots! If you go for a tote bag in a fun color or pattern, make sure to make the most out of it by matching it with your outfit. For instance, if you work a tote bag in stripes, how about a striped top or a classic houndstooth jacket? It’s all about embracing the print mix!

Street Style Inspiration

And some street style looks! I love the classic look in the first outfit of doing red and black. The tote bag is a great casual detail to the outfit. The pop of orange in the second outfit is a nice complement to the blue shades of the outfit. Way to go if you want to give the spotlight to your tote bag! I love the more calm wine red in the third look. Such a nice way of embracing maximalism with the oversized maxi dress! The fourth look is really stylish with the orange statement. See how the bag is matching the top? Great styling hack! Adore the blue tote bag in the fifth outfit too. Really interesting to pair it with a suit! 

Even by regular manbag standards the tote has some baggage. For the longest time, it was a woman’s bag. A purse. Not something many men would happily carry their laptop or gym kit in, despite its Tardis-like dimensions. The handbag hang-up passed, but even then, this was a type of bag that few could get excited about.

It’s the crappy freebie handed out in conference halls and farmer’s markets, seemingly made out of recycled tea towels. Or at the other end of the scale, it’s Balenciaga’s gigantic blue tote, “inspired” by Ikea’s polypropylene shopper

But those extremes don’t do the tote bag justice, says James Doidge, head of menswear design at Marks & Spencer. “The tote bag is the ultimate easy accessory, versatile both in style and practicality and can be worn with everything from casual to formal looks,” he says.

We’d have to agree. Maybe not quite as versatile as a backpack or as utilitarian as a cross-body bag, the best tote bags are, nevertheless, more stylish than either and probably pack away more of your everyday cargo to boot. Pick the right one and it can be you work bag, your gym bag and your grocery bag all in one, though we don’t recommend you stow sweat-sodden shorts and post-gym pack of chicken at the same time.

There are degrees of formality to choose from. At one end there’s the simple canvas shopper, durable, useful and easy to throw in a cupboard. At the other end are fine leather totes with satin-lined compartments that deserve better than your overflowing leftover pasta. You can spend a tenner or your can spend 100 times that.

Whatever your budget, it’s a style that works with a range of outfits. “They’re perfect dressed down with jeans, a jumper and trainers at the weekend, or as an everyday bag for the working week, paired with tailored trousers, monk straps and a shirt,” says Doidge.

So which one to shoulder? First, check what bags you already have in your rotation. If you have a trusty gym bag, perhaps go formal. Or there’s already a fine briefcase in your 9-5 wardrobe, get something better suited to the weekend. Whatever your cargo, one of the styles below will work.

The Everyday Shopper

Cheap and spacious but also tough enough to handle the big weekly shop, this is the most versatile kind of tote bag. Because, as well as its practicality, it can also be a style statement. Buy one with a big logo and it will advertise your favourite brands or political affiliations, get a patterned one and you can lean into a trend without breaking the bank.

Look for a thick twill or canvas to ensure it doesn’t get battered but be aware that most shopper styles won’t have a zipper or magnetic closure at the top. You’ll have to pay more attention to keep out rain drops or light-fingered crooks.