A black tote bag is like the little black dress of handbags. You can choose a more structured black tote purse for professional environments, or opt for a slinky little black tote handbag for when you’re going out. It transitions easily from a professional environment to a party environment, just like your favorite LBD. However, unlike your LBD, you won’t feel odd rocking it on your way to the gym or on your way back home in the morning following a particularly wild night out.
We’ve selected some incredible designer black tote bags that will work beautifully in any number of settings. To help you get the most out of your LBT (Little Black Tote) we included some suggestions to help you choose and style the black tote bags of your dreams.
Black Tote Bag Guide: Contents
These are the best black tote bags you can find in stores right now!
1. Macramé Trimmed Large Black Tote
This textured, oversized black tote bag is the ideal size for an overnight bag but it’s more than elegant enough for carrying around in the daytime. It is made of textured black calf leather with a macramé trim along the top giving it a personalizing touch. It has a small toggle fastening at the top and macramé handles that are just large enough for you to hoist it over the shoulder. Buy this Saint Laurent bag from Net-a-Porter!
2. Vegan Perforated Black Tote Bag
This black tote handbag is made from eco alter nappa, an exquisite faux leather that is more sustainable than many other alternatives. It’s a swanky, larger bag with the Stella McCartney logo in its center in a perforated design. The large handles help give the bag a unique shape when it is carried. It comes with a sizable snap-top pouch in which you can carry your valuables. Get it at Forward!
3. Heritage Chain Handle Black Tote
This vintage black tote purse from Chanel is an item you buy for life. It is a large, solid tote with a rectangular shape. The interlocking CC logo shows up in raised writing on the front of the bag, but the gold chain and leather handles also hint that it’s a luxury fashion item. The handles are long enough for comfy over-the-shoulder carrying, and though there is no closure it does have an inner zipped pocked for valuables. It is available online through Shopbop.
4. Minimalist Market Black Tote Handbag
Balenciaga has made quite a splash with their recent releases of luxury designer bags designed to look like simple shoppers. This minimalist bag is made of smooth black leather and is emblazoned with the brand name in stark white lettering. This tote has an inner pocket and shorter handles for hand carrying. Order it from My Theresa!
5. Small Folded Black Tote
Open black tote handbags don’t have to be massive. In fact, when they’re a little smaller they make for wonderful day bags. This convenient design from Mansur Gavriel features a folded design that allows for two compartments, with a separating zipped pocket in between them. It comes with a removable buckled strap for when you need to carry it hands-free. It is sold through Moda Operandi.
6. Butterfly Black Tote Handbag
The folded side design of this tote gives a distant idea of a butterfly, while pink accents pair well with the feminine appeal without taking away from the signature darkness of Alexander McQueen. The bag is made of textured black leather with pink side panels and handles. It is a single-compartment black tote bag that can expand to hold a lot, and has a little zipped side pocket for safekeeping small, precious items. Find it at Farfetch!
7. Mini Black Shopping Tote
This micro bag is designed to remind of the little shopping bags one receives when purchasing jewelry and other small luxuries. It is teeny-tiny but it will definitely get noticed, since it is made of soft black leather with the Medea logo gracing the front in small silver lettering. It will work beautifully as a unique clutch, but it also has a removable strap for crossbody carrying. Pick it up from Net-a-Porter!
8. Slouchy Medium Black Tote
A medium-sized black tote purse is a versatile and useful bag to own, so it’s definitely good to opt for a timeless, high-quality one. This slouchy design from Valentino has its front totally covered in a white print of its circular V logo. The handles are secured with gold hardware in a way that lightly pinches the bag to give it an interesting shape. It comes with a gorgeous interior pouch made of bright red leather. Purchase it from Forward!
9. Urban Nylon Black Tote
If you’d rather carry a more casual, open-topped black tote bag, this Off-White one is a prime choice. Its front is printed with “GOODS” (quotation marks included), a tongue-in-cheek statement that represents the streetwear brand’s attitude perfectly. It is large enough to be a weekend bag, with a removable strap that is long enough for comfortable crossbody carrying. You can get it from My Theresa.
10. Sports Luxury Black Tote Handbag
It’s glossy enough to look like patent leather, but this black tote is actually made of coated canvas. It is Fendi through and through with the main logo as well as the subtle all-over F logo print, but its design is also inspired by sportswear brand FILA to a certain extent, especially in the way the main Fendi logo was colored. It’s a medium-sized bag that will easily bring you from the office to the gym. It is available on Net-a-Porter.
11. Croc Embossed Small Black Tote Purse
This is one of those classy black tote bags that could definitely work in both professional and upscale settings. This Staud bag is made of croc-embossed cowhide, with a square design that makes up for the open top by adding some depth. The white, square handles add a unique contrast to the bag, as does a removable white pouch. Buy it through Shopbop!
12. Denim and Leather Black Tote Bag
This multi-textured tote bag is made of a T-shaped base of black leather, with two black denim panels along the sides. Tom Ford’s symmetrical design is sophisticated and mature, making this a great work bag contender. The interior includes one zipped compartment and two slip pockets, to make up for the open topped design. This medium-large black tote bag has longer handles that allow you to sling it over your shoulder. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
13. Textured Laptop Black Tote Handbag
This rectangular tote from Tory Burch was crafted with function in mind. It has a minimalist, multi-panel design and is constructed out of textured leather, which gives it an organic feel. A little red logo charm gives it an exciting touch. It has a large, zipped inner pocket made to fit 13-inch laptops in particular. This inner pocket is actually a separator that splits the bag into two open topped compartments. It has long, over-the-shoulder handles that make daily use a breeze. It is sold at Nordstrom.
14. Small Structured Black Tote
This little black tote bag from Gucci is actually one of the most solidly structured and traditional-looking bags on this list. Whereas most totes skew minimalist, this one is decorated with Gucci’s silver and gold horsebit hardware, which is all kinds of ostentatious. Its design is slightly reminiscent of a doctor’s bag, with predominantly silver hardware decorating the handles and making up for the flip lock fastening at the top. This bag even has little silver legs should you have to place it on the floor. It comes with a removable strap and has an interior with multiple compartments. Find it on Net-a-Porter!
15. Tulle-Covered Black Tote
This is one of the most unique black tote bags on this list, from the eccentric Maison Margiela. There is no way to go unnoticed with this bag, which has a sporty design with one heck of a twist. It’s essentially a simple, boho bag-inspired tote overlaid with transparent tulle that gives it a glamorous touch. This design focuses on branding, with the MM6 logo printed in white on the front. Pick it up from Farfetch!
16. Structured Bucket Black Tote
This is one of those black tote bags that combine styles. It has a bucket-esque top made of smooth lambskin, which gets pinched when the bag is held by the handles. The bottom is all about structure, with a solid, square base made of snake-embossed lambskin. When you place it down, the bag opens up to show a lean, square shape. It’s a medium-large black tote bag that’ll work for daily use. You can purchase it from Shopbop.
17. Small and Simple Black Tote Purse
This little black tote purse is simple and delicate in a way that is very fitting for Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s brand. This design is whimsically reminiscent of a bigger shopper, just miniature. It is made of supple textured leather, with a suede interior. It is mostly free of decorations, except for a subtle ‘The Row’ logo in silver lettering printed near the top. Buy it from Net-a-Porter!
A black tote is one of the most diverse accessories you can own, and it’ll be a fitting addition to nearly every outfit. With that in mind, we’ve got some inspiring suggestions to help you choose the right black tote bag for any occasion, as well as how you can make it a ubiquitous part of your look!
• When choosing your signature black tote bag, consider the size. The bigger the tote, the likelier it is that you’ll fill it up to the brim and potentially hurt yourself by overcarrying.
• For most of us, however, a medium-sized tote will be ideal as it’ll hold everything you need for a single day out and about.
• If you can really minimize your daily must-haves, opt for a small tote. A small tote can also work for upscale events like weddings or cocktail hours, though it might not be a good fit for a wilder night out since it is not as secure as a traditional bag.
• An oversized black tote bag is going to be safer than a small one if you’re going out at night, and it’ll be a life saver if you spend the night away from home.
• A large back tote purse will also be great as a weekend bag or vacation bag, or it can be a work-appropriate option that can carry your gym clothes should you decide to work out on your lunch break.
• It’s almost impossible to misstyle an outfit with a black tote bag, although it’s probably going to be the best fit to a wardrobe that already features other dark signature items or black accessories.
• It is generally best to carry a black tote bag when you have at least one other item that is also black. This item can be anything: a pair of shoes, belt, a top, a jacket, trousers, or even a collection of smaller accessories like your jewelry.
• If your wardrobe as a whole skews light, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t carry a black tote bag, but it might not work as your signature bag. That being said, the black tote can add an exciting contrast to a light-colored outfit, should you feel daring.
• There are some great sporty black totes on the market these days. These can look just as good with a cool street style outfit as they do at the gym, but they might not be professional enough for the office.
• Black totes made of leather, at any size, are going to be sufficiently elegant to go with any work outfit, while fabric totes will usually be more casual.
• If you’re finding that your black tote is looking a little too austere, you can jazz it up by tying a colorful scarf around one of the handles. It’ll make it a little brighter without taking away from its classiness.
Photos via @_hollyt, @emmahill, @bartabacmode