After living, working and schlepping in New York City for the past six years as a fashion editor, I’ve discovered that the perfect tote bag does not exist. Most of the good-sized bags are either too expensive (how am I to put my leak-prone lunch container in a $400 bag?) or too cheap (a fashion editor caught with an Aldo bag? No, no, no.) Others are either far too small or too damn large (yes, they exist). And please, don’t even get me started on strap length.
I was delighted when I discovered that luggage brand Away makes two great bags that, in the words of Goldilocks, are juuust right. I personally have the Latitude, a simple leather bag that’s wider than it is tall. But there’s also the Longitude, which is like a taller, older sister of my tote.
Turns out, I’m hardly the only fashion person lugging this bag around New York. I’ve noted countless colleagues (and even one influencer!) with the same bag at various trendy breakfast spots and weekday cocktail parties, and I even spotted a single Away tote at Christian Siriano’s New York Fashion Week runway show this past February.
So what makes the Away tote so great?
It has a simple—and discreet—design. I love that nothing screams out what brand it is. Modesty aside, it’s made from super sturdy leather with an equally life-ready and rugged unlined interior (no silk lining to ruin here). As for the size? It’s large enough to store my MacBook Pro plus charger, along with my lunch, a book and a Hydro Flask. On days when I need my gym sneakers and leggings, that can all fit inside snugly. However, I can’t fit both a laptop and my sweaty gym gear—but I consider that to be a blessing, because that combo is way too heavy for a 45-minute commute. The straps are great, too, as they’re able to fit over my largest, puffiest winter jacket without a struggle.
As you might have guessed, these Away totes are actually made with travelers in mind. They come equipped with a strap around their middle (like a cute little belt for your bag) that can be slipped over the handle of a roller bag. They’re also sized so that they nestle on top of even the smallest rollie, so they’re never spilling over the sides or threatening to tip over during the boarding process.
What do other bag ladies think?
Abby Hepworth, a fellow PureWow fashion editor, has the Longitude and can similarly attest it has space for almost everything she needs to tote around: “It’s really the perfect size for my laptop and other daily necessities, which sometimes means lunch and other times means sneakers and workout clothes.”
Is it all good news?
Well, here’s the thing. Each Latitude and Longitude comes with a removable pouch that hangs from the inside on two little golden knobs. But now, a few months after using my Away tote on the reg, the pouch hardly stays affixed as it should, slipping from the knobs if I put so much as a cough drop in it. One other downside: There’s no top zipper, leaving your belongings out in the open for gawking or—gasp—stealing. While that might be a deal breaker for some tote seekers, know that there is a magnetic top closure, but it will only work if the bag isn’t filled more than two-thirds of the way.
Should I still get it?
Uh, yeah. I’m the first to admit that this Away tote isn’t perfect. But it’s definitely close enough to perfect to get the job done—whatever your actual day job may be.
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