Tote-ally Practical

For someone who has been telling you to forgo your handbag and instead settle on a tiny feckless clutch, this is going to sound hypocritical. Like, damn gurl, are you kidding me, I just spent all my dollars on a seashell shaped box that couldn’t even harbor a ticket stub if it wanted to hypocritical. Why? Because next up in The Unusual Hankerings of One Leandra Medine: I tote-ally want to carry totes-only.

It all began when I started bringing my laptop to and from work daily. I would use linen tote bags handed out as shopping bags at stores like Blk Dnm and Isabel Marant. They were comfortable and roomy and large and unassuming and I suppose what transpired next is what happens with all gateway drugs. I wanted a bigger one. A better one. Made from leather. I suppose it could be regarded as a point of victory that I was simply jonesing for leather as opposed to, say, heroin but whatever.

So, I’ve been combing the Internets looking for a neat tote that will probably make me look just a little bit like my Jewish Bible teacher from high school (for a more accurate visual reference, I will just say that she drank hot coffee from a straw and carried around graded papers for days before she would give them back to us, presumably because they kept her bag fuller) because I am back in the state of mind that suggests you should always have ALL your belongings on you.

I want it to be quiet but elegant and not at all emblematic of any one fashion house. I want to know that if ever a fire should erupt in my home, or I should go into early labor when I am pregnant and shit, the bag will be ready for me, belongings in tow, to flee.


As of right now, I have found love in a place called Rochas but that love comes at no small cost, so, it’s back to the drawing board. Unless, of course, you have a suggestion.

[Rochas Tote via Shopbop]

  • Anon

    I need help finding a tote to use as a backpack for school! I start the spring semester in just a few days!! Any ideas?
    I LOVE the Rochas ones but they are too expensive for me to use just as a school bag.

    • DTrain

      I know they aren’t leather, but Marc Jacobs Nylon ‘Tate’ totes saw me through all four years of college, lugging laptops and art supplies twenty-minutes across campus. Good luck!

  • monkeyshines
  • Grace Cottrell

    Always best to be prepared!

  • pemora
    • Leandra Medine

      Ooooh, that’s good

      • um…. are you considering getting knocked up in the near future??
        I used to be a large bag addict. Still drawn to large bags, but they get too heavy. I now opt for just large enough that I can carry essentials.

  • Mallory

    Love this post 🙂 Check out Wood Wood, there’s a chic and simple leather tote in a couple neutral colors-menswear inspired, looks great upright & folded over.

  • CDJ

    pardon my feet during this under my desk photo shoot a few months ago (couldn’t find another picture), but I got this bag at Old Navy for about $20 this summer. It holds everything, even my dog. AND! you can clean it with a mr. clean magic eraser.

    • pemora

      where are those shoes from??? LOVE!

      • CDJ

        thanks! i got them at old navy’s cooler older sister, the gap, for $7…. they were just giving stuff away that day i guess!

        • pemora

          you, officially, have VERY cool style. do you post somewhere else? i LOVE that you just rocked ON and gap and it looks so freaking cool!

          • CDJ

            oh wow thanks! it’s really not that cool (i’m wearing mostly ann taylor LOFT right now), i’m just very frugal. I do have a blog, ( but you’ll find more sarcasm than fashion on it though.

  • Andrea

    Mansur Gavriel, baby!

  • Alex
  • Nico

    Love this post!

    New post on lowbudget-lowcost Fashion Blog

  • Laura Mitchell

    I’m looking for the same thing. Givenchy has a nice sized plain leather one, but it is around the same price as the Rochas ones. Mansur Gavriel might be the way to go! In college I used a big black leather Fendi tote that amazingly had no discernible label on it. Let us know what you choose!

  • I myself forgo my usual handbag for a tote when I fly. It gives me room enough to pack essentials but allows me to skip the carry-on bin chaos when boarding. I currently use a canvas tote because it zips at the top; I’m too paranoid of bad guys reaching into my bag for my wallet, as the airport recording kindly reminds me every 5 minutes. Anyway, if you know of a leather tote with a zip top, let me know!

  • Erika

    Honestly, Lo & Sons bags are AMAZING. I’ve got the same addiction where I need to have everything with me at all times and they even have COMPARTMENTS and STRAPS. I.just.can’t.

  • DTrain

    Gotta go with Mansur Gavriel: sexier than a Louboutin and infinitely comfier:

  • anonymouslyhere
  • Para

    Baggu east west leather tote