You remember the bag. 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 time for Mother’s Day — look no further, because we’ve rounded up the ones that are totes the best.
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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.
Dooney & Bourke Dooney & Bourke Nylon Shopper, $97.99, available at Zappos
An inner and outer pocket, along with a removable pouch, make the storage potential of this faux-leather bag practically endless.
Anthropologie Mandy Tote Bag, $88, available at Anthropologie
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.
Cuyana Tall Structured Leather Zipper Tote, $215, available at Cuyana
This mega-chic option doesn’t skimp on functionality — its multiple zippered compartments will help preserve order among your essentials, and magnetic closures will keep those essentials safe.
Charles & Keith Double Handle Tote Bag, $89, available at Charles & Keith
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.
Everlane The Form Bag, $235, available at Everlane
With a segmented interior pocket to keep small items organized and tucked away, this deep teal tote is rendered in a durable nylon that will withstand wear and tear. Despite a soft fabrication, it maintains its structure thanks to a reinforced bottom.
Herschel Supply Co. Mica Tote Bag in Deep Teal, $50, available at Need Supply
With a firm snap closure, zippered interior pocket, and sizable exterior pocket, we bet this sturdy military-inspired bag will stay on active duty in your wardrobe rotation.
Time and Tru Time and Tru Emiko Tote, $18.88, available at Wal-Mart
This roomy purse comes equipped with a removable clutch for keeping smaller items separate from big ones. Choose to carry the bag from its sculptural metal handles, or use longer straps to hang it from your shoulder. “This is a great purse and a great bargain,” praised a customer. Mom would approve.
Sondra Roberts Faux Leather Satchel, $102, available at Nordstrom
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.
Dagne Dover Allyn Tote, $325, available at Dagne Dover
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 Senreve
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