Everyone loves the tote bag!

The “tote” can be traced back to the 17th century, when travelers actually protected their luggage in big bags as they carried it from place to place. But a version of the amazing tote bag, as we know it today, first made an appearance in 1944, when the esteemed L.L. Bean company, of Maine, introduced its Boat & Tote Bag to transport ice from the car to an ice chest. People soon realized they could use that type of bag to carry just about everything, and an iconic handbag was born!

Designer Bonnie Cashin added style to the bag in 1962, when she created a handsome leather version for Coach, called Cashin Carry (get it?). And in 1993, Kate Spade introduced colorful nylon totes to fill a woman’s need for a practical purse in a fun look, and the idea became an overnight sensation.

Later on, totes started taking the place of plastic bags, when we learned those flimsy things were a scourge ruining our planet. Why would you opt to carry your purchases in a plastic bag, with all the really cute totes around? They let us do the right thing, and look good while doing it!

Totes also are great ways to express yourself. They can be extensions of your personal style, whether you’re preppy, edgy or just plain quirky. And you can always carry a tote to show who and what you support. Smart looking and practical totes comes in every color, print and material imaginable, and at every price point.

Here’s my H*O*T list of 11 excellent examples. Which is your favorite? Here's mine.


Quick tote tips.

When you need to carry two bags, pair your tote with a coordinating small bag (cross body or top handle, both on-trend now) in the same color family or shape.

Stick a small evening bag in your tote, and at the end of the work day, stash the tote and you're all set for the evening,

Make sure your tote works with your height and body shape. If you're petite,  don't carry a tote that looks like it could carry you.

If you’re putting valuables in your tote, consider using one that closes with a zipper or a snap.

Robert Gibralter