The tote bag – for every budget

How fabulous is the tote bag? Many years ago, while I was traveling through Europe, I decided to treat myself to a French designer tote bag. It was a high-end luxury brand, bought from their store just off Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris.

I was excited, but it was an expensive investment. I was working full time then and I justified the expense by averaging the cost over 10 years. It made the price appear almost reasonable!

On my return to Australia, I met up with a close friend for lunch. I noted that she had the same bag, so, of course, I complimented her on her good taste. She then proceeded to tell me it had cost her $30 from a market in Bangkok. I promise you the quality and the look was amazing. I would never have known it was a copy if she hadn’t told me.

However, six years later, and my tote bag still looks new, and my friend’s bag has gone to landfill.

My tote has been worth its weight in gold, as it has been used as a shopping bag at the supermarket, and even more so now that single use plastic bags have been banned.

It has been used as a beach bag, to ferry the towels, the books, the SPF50, the hats and the drinks.

It has been used to carry the wine home from the bottle shop, when one bottle is not enough and a six-pack is too many!

And on a daily basis, it travels with me and carries my mini umbrella, a large scarf in case I am cold, my Uniqlo puffer jacket in its storage bag, my cosmetic purse, sunglass case and, of course, my credit and myki cards.

The latest look in totes is neoprene, which is the fabric that wetsuits are made from, so that means they are tough and waterproof.

Take a look at this lovely neoprene tote from DECJUBA, or this reversible tote from Witchery or, if you’re happy to splurge, this leather tote called the Portsea, which is available in four fabulous colours.


I also like the look of this classic tote from Target, which is very well priced at $30, available in black or tan, and comes with an internal zip pocket and a snap closure.

As this tote bag is to be a useful and practical addition to your wardrobe in terms of its many and varied roles, I suggest that when refining your search, it’s important that the bag is wider across the top, and not as deep as it is wide. The perfect dimensions would be something like this: 48cm wide by 34cm high. And, of course, the handles will need to be strong, and at the same time long enough to put on your shoulder.

Have you ever spent up big on a wardrobe ‘investment’? Or does a budget copy make more sense?

Related articles:
Yes or no to white jeans?
How to spring-clean the wardrobe
Choosing the right hat for you

Written by petaro


Choosing the right white jeans for spring and summer

The answer is in the selection process. Stylist Peta Rooney tells us how to choose.

Reorganising the wardrobe can put a spring in your step

When the seasons change, it's the perfect time to fine-tune and reorganise.

The right hat can make any outfit sing

Stylist Peta Rooney explains why your face shape should determine what hat you buy.