You remember this
handbag: it sat in the car between the driver and passenger seat, always by your mom’s side as she chauffeured you to school on her way to work, or made the pilgrimage to the pizzeria after soccer practice with you and your three best friends in the backseat. It wasn’t huge, but it was big enough to hold a wealth of necessities for everyone in your family, and it was equipped with seemingly endless pockets and dividers to keep everything organized. Tissues, bandages, peanut butter crackers, a bottle of water, extra socks, Chapstick, sunglasses, disinfectant, Mad Libs — the solution to every problem was contained in that (roughly) 11" x 14" vessel. Your mom set the bar high for this item: it had to be easy to clean, in a color that complemented everything in her wardrobe, with a strap long enough to sling over her shoulder with ease. It also had to have a secure closure to keep all of her precious essentials safely in place.
Now, years later, your mom is still rocking that
multi-purpose purse, and you’re starting to understand why. A medium-sized shopper replete with compartments for all of the things you lug — laptop, phone charger, change of shoes, dry shampoo, hot sauce — and a construction sturdy enough to withstand being shoved under things — desks, airplane seats, cubicles, and barstools — is the holy grail of handbags, and you find yourself eyeing your mom’s carryall and wondering where you can score one for yourself. So if you’re looking to cop your own “mom bag” this spring — or if you’re planning on helping your mom upgrade hers in the next few months — look no further, because we’ve rounded up the ones that are totes the best. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Dooney & Bourke brings its classic styling to a sturdy nylon and leather-accented satchel. A zippered compartment keeps valuables out of sight, while a segmented pocket will keep frequently used items close at hand. A key leash and snap closure add a final flourish of convenience to this timeless tote. (Bonus: the price keeps dropping! It’s currently 40% off the original cost.)
Dooney & Bourke
Nylon Shopper, $83.4, available at
We were initially drawn to the vibrant color of this zippered leather tote, but what really hooked us was the roomy laptop sleeve and partitioned pocket for a phone and wallet.
Tall Structured Leather Zipper Tote, $215, available at
This slouchy-but-roomy satchel (with laptop capacity) hides a lot of storage behind its stylish exterior. A zippered top, two interior slip pockets, a size zippered pocket big enough for an iPad, a detachable cross-body strap, and adjustable shoulder straps make this genuine leather bag feel extremely functional. There’s also a slim outside pocket for documents that you need easy access to. It’s available in a number of
go-with-everything colors, including the classic brown shown here. S-Zone
Genuine Leather Satchel, $59.99, available at
Slim-but-sturdy (and adjustable!) handles adorned with petite buckles give this super-streamlined handbag a dose of extra-subtle chic. A secure zippered top keep the contents of the two inner compartments safe and sound, and the faux-leather exterior wipes clean with ease. At $35, this might be the best fall investment you can make.
Slim Strap Handbag, $34.99, available at
Our moms taught us to favor anything multi-functional, and we love that this messenger-style bag has an adjustable strap for shoulder or cross-body wear. A roomy interior pocket keeps things organized, and a firm magnetic closure makes sure that your purse’s contents remain sealed up tight.
The Form Bag, $235, available at
A super-luxe leather and suede construction warrants the originally-$200 price tag on this sleek bucket bag — but it’s now half off and a steal at $99. We love the bag’s simple, tonal design and roomy interior (with two slip pockets and zippered inner pocket) for toting anything and everything around town.
Treasure & Bond
Campbell Leather & Suede Bucket Bag, $99.49, available at
This sturdy faux-leather tote has a roomy exterior slip pocket for all those things you need to keep at the ready, and plenty of interior pockets (guarded by a zippered top) for everything you’d rather keep tucked away. The long strap is adjustable, so you can wear it as a cross-body or a shoulder bag.
Bucket Hobo Handbag, $29.99, available at
A lived-in, patchworked exterior gives this boho satchel a vintage air that belies its super-modern functionality. With a shoulder strap
and a detachable cross-body strap, it also boasts a secure zippered top and a total of six interior pockets for squirreling away the essentials. Anthropologie
Louisa Tote Bag, $88, available at
A doctor-bag inspired tote with multiple zippered compartments makes a chic accompaniment to any office-ready outfit. Take advantage of the roomy sections to tote all of your essentials for work and play.
Time and Tru
Albina Satchel, $22.97, available at
For anyone in search of a simpler, lower-maintenance option, this canvas tote boasts plenty of storage functionality — including a keychain strap and interior zippered pocket — along with a premium quality, fair-trade construction.
Canvas Tote, $78, available at
One of the coolest thing about this pared-down, streamlined tote is that it’s
compatible with additional “shells”, so you can switch up the texture and color of your bag’s exterior on a whim. Other bells and whistles include the scratch-resistant all-leather exterior, a wide, laptop-friendly interior pocket, a keyring, and numerous additional pockets for notebooks, phones, tablets, and trinkets. Lo & Sons
Seville Tote, $199, available at
Lo & Sons More
This streamlined, surprisingly spacious bag has more organizational bells and whistles than we’ve ever seen. A neoprene laptop sleeve, segmented inner pocket, beverage ring, and a keychain leash will ensure that everything — and we mean everything — is kept in its place.
Allyn Tote, $325, available at
Dagne Dover More
This workhorse bag is worth the high price tag. It contains six “slip” pockets for — you guessed it — slipping in small items, meaning you can keep all of those small objects from cluttering up your purse. There’s also a larger zippered compartment
and a laptop sleeve, and you can protect the entire contents of your purse thanks to a full zippered closure. If that wasn’t enough, the whole shebang is made in Italy from scratch- and water-resistant Italian leather. Senreve
Voya Tote, $895, available at
A long crossbody strap gives this luxury-feeling satchel plenty of carry-anywhere functionality. A zippered center compartment keep essentials safe and out of sight, while open side pockets are suitable for the items you need quick and easy access to.
Charles & Keith
Structured Tote Bag, $86, available at
Charles & Keith More
This cool, slouchy tote has a hefty capacity and smooth exterior that hides a surprising amount of functionality, including an interior zip pocket and two slim slip pockets for keeping all the goods organized.
Soho Hobo Bag, $298, available at
We love the sunny yellow of this quilted nylon tote, but if it’s a little too seasonal for you, MZ Wallace offer its medium-sized satchel in 18 really appealing colorways. Also appealing about this sturdy, compressible bag are its reinforced shoulder straps, six interior pockets, detachable pouch, keyring strap, and zippered top. In a review on the brand’s website, an actual mom vouched for its family-friendly construction: “I have no problem taking this one to work, and it works great with all of the activities for my daughter, from swim lessons, to the zoo and the park.”
MZ Wallace New York
Medium Sutton, $225, available at
MZ Wallace More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? Tote Your Computer In Style With One Of These Sleek Laptop Bags The Best Under-$150 Buys Of The Month 19 White Pieces To Wear After Labor Day, Because Nobody Tells Us What To Do