For millions of women across the world, commuting is an integral part of the daily routine. Whether that means driving yourself to work, hopping between buses and tubes or walking enough to get your step-counter smiling, there is one thing all commuters have in common: we need a bag that is practical and dependable but that also looks professional and smart.
I feel that the best designer handbags for commuting can be different from person to person. The design and shape of your bag will likely depend on how long your journey will take and how much you regularly carry, but, since most women use the same handbag for work every day, it is worth investing in a designer bag which will make the commute far more enjoyable.
Enjoying Both Function & Fashion
With so many stunning styles to choose from, finding the right designer bag for your daily commute is as much a pleasure as a necessity. There are however a few things to think about before reaching for your purse.
Firstly, you need a handbag that will store all your essentials safely without risk of spilling out its contents as you set foot on the escalator. The best commuting bags should offer the ability to hold everything you need, including your laptop and charger if necessary.
You don’t want to have to leave your bag at home most days if some of your main equipment just won’t fit, and a commute with lots of different bags can soon become a headache.
Related: Designer Handbag Buying Guide
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, you need a bag you that you know you will love for quite some time to come. The material you choose might vary according to taste and practicality but whether you prefer classy leather or modern canvas, you are sure to find a design that resonates.
Finally, the style you choose needs to make you feel feminine but professional and it also helps to think about colours that will go with your favourite clothes and coats, since you might use this handbag more often than any other in your wardrobe.
What Are The Best Handbag Styles For Commuting?
Ultimately, there are three main types of designer handbag style that could all make for a perfect bag for commuting. These include shoulder bags, tote bags, and backpacks.
Any bag with a strap that can be worn over your shoulder could be classed as a shoulder bag. They are a great choice for women who commute as they leave your hands free to open doors, hand over tickets, or check your phone.
Some designer shoulder bags have detachable straps to allow you to change which handle you prefer to use as there may be times when you prefer to carry your shoulder bag on your arm. You might also be able to vary whether you allow the strap to go over one shoulder or across your body.
This versatility means you can wear your work bag differently if you are heading for an evening out or to a family function without going home in between. Another benefit of this type of bag while commuting is that it becomes very difficult to accidentally leave your bag on a train or a taxi when you are wearing it across your body.
Shoulder bags also come with straps of different lengths or even adjustable straps so you can choose exactly where you prefer your bag to hang freely. For example, you could choose to wear your bag at a length which is close enough to your hands for quick and easy access or close enough to your body for extra security when walking through crowds.
A tote bag is a classic bag for work as they come in different sizes and are often large enough to hold an impressive variety of items. Most tote bags remain unfastened at the top and have handles each side which can either be held over your arm, in your hand or come could even be long enough to reach up to your shoulders.
However, some designer tote bags can include internal zips or fastening to keep your belongings safe and many have a detachable strap if you want to turn them into a shoulder bag. They can be great bags for commuting as, not only do they hold everything you need, you can easily pop in extra items including a coffee flask, book or umbrella even if they don’t fully fit.
If you are late to work or find yourself rushing to collect your items in time to get off the train at the right stop, you can quickly gather everything up in your tote bag and head for the door.
Another classic bag for travelers of all types, a backpack is incredibly easy to carry and leaves your hands free for other uses. Backpacks have two identical straps, often with padding, that are designed to be worn over your shoulders so that the bag is carried entirely on your back.
They usually come with many pockets and sturdy zips which means you can store all your items carefully and you might be surprised how much a little back-pack with carefully designed compartments can actually hold. A gorgeous designer backpack can also bring health benefits if you have to carry heavier items since a backpack will distribute the weight evenly across your back and shoulders.
15 Best Designer Handbags For Commuting
After some extensive research both online and in-store, I can now present my list of 15 of the best designer handbags for commuting. As everyone’s commute can be slightly different, I have included a beautiful selection of shoulder bags, tote bags, and backpacks.
1. FENDI Flip Leather And Suede Shoulder Bag
This versatile bag by Fendi is a sort of crossover between a classic shoulder bag and a tote. The neutral brown shades of suede and leather give it an authentic and elegant style in neutral tones that are able to set off almost any colour of coat or shoes.
The long handle is detachable and there are two smaller handles which are folded down when the bag is flipped which makes for an attractive feature while allowing you to carry the bag as a tote if you prefer. The shoulder strap is thick enough to spread out the weight without digging into your shoulder and the chunky block writing brings Fendi’s recognisable “F” to the fore.
The top of the bag when flipped reveals an elegantly styled contrast between leather and suede with delicate gold embellishment on each side for an extra dash of sophistication.
2. Salvador Ferragamo Studio Shoulder Bag
The Ferragamo Studio bag exudes Italian style and craftsmanship that is built to last as well as look chic. Its superior elegance is conveyed in every feature from the gold clasps and buckles to the contrasting frame and studs on the bottom of the bag.
Made from camel leather with a fashionable mahogany frame, this bag not only looks sophisticated but it also feels smooth and expensive. It has a detachable shoulder strap and concealed zips beneath an attractive flap design.
There is even a hidden clutch bag that can be used on its own or gives you the chance to slip out of the office with only a few necessities while running a quick errand.
3. COACH Turnlock Edie Leather Shoulder Bag
This beautifully crafted bag combines the best features of a tote bag with dual handles that are long enough to wear over your shoulders, giving you a gorgeous bag that is as versatile as it is attractive.
In classic black and made from textured leather. The bag includes a combination of open sections and a central zipped pocket large enough to hold your most important valuables.
The cleverly designed “turnlock” that gives the bag its name is also an attractive feature as well as offering increased security for anything stored in the zipped pocket. The handles also feature an intricate chain design that adds a touch of femininity and style.
4. MULBERRY Bayswater Grain Veg Shoulder Bag
The rich oak colour of this stunning handbag with its crisp lines and smooth handles means it will blend well with most colours while its striking features help you stand out from the crowd.
With a detachable strap or two small handles, it can be versatile and there are plenty of different pockets and compartments for you to store all your belongings safely. The front panel includes a smart gold clasp with a signature “Postmans Lock” and a flip design that looks both business-like and chic.
Behind this, a much larger compartment will hold the bulk of your professional and personal items with internal pockets and zips to keep everything separate and easy to reach. Made from high-quality leather, this is a bag that exudes effortless style that will stand the test of time.
5. BURBERRY Soft Leather Belt Shoulder Bag
This striking bag is named after its main feature: a narrow, trench-style best that adorns the upper part of the bag. In a rich cream which goes with almost anything, the Burberry belt bag breaks away from classic brown colours to offer a shoulder bag that really stands out from the rest.
Made from soft leather, this smart bag includes a detachable shoulder strap as well as over-long, tote-style handles to give you even more flexibility. There are a number of different pockets and even a detachable zip pouch to help you keep your most important valuables safe and easy to find.
6. SAINT LAURENT Manhattan Tote
This striking tote bag comes in classic black with smart gold clasps that will offset any professional wardrobe with effortless style. It is made from smoothly textured black leather with sleek lines and expandable sides which means it is capable of holding extra items when needed without looking bulky.
The fittings are made from brushed gold-tone hardware which has a timeless energy and the Saint Laurent plaque is looks both elegant and understated to create a sense of refinement and class.
7. BURBERRY The Medium Leather Belt Tote
Similar to the Burberry shoulder bag described above, the Medium Leather Belt Bag is again based on the central theme of the classic trench. The bag itself is made from soft leather in a smooth and sleek design rising to two robust handles made from elegant rolled leather.
The top of the bag features a horizontal belt design beneath minimalist gold embossed writing. It also features a handy, detachable, cross-body strap which could be useful for longer journeys when you need to use different modes of transport or if you need to walk any distance.
One of the most interesting features of the Burberry bag is that it comes in a range of colours from regency blue to soft pink or ash grey meaning you can choose a colour you love that will either complement or contrast your usual colours.
8. PRADA Leather Tote
Stunning in its simplicity, the Prada tote bag comes in a minimalist design in rich, soft leather with a double handle and smart metal lettering on the front.
It is large enough to hold most of the items you need in a regular commute and comes with a detachable shoulder strap to help you carry the bag differently if you find it becomes heavy or cumbersome on longer journeys.
There are sturdy zips on the inside to keep all your items secure as well as zipped compartments on the inside which can help you to keep key valuables easily accessible. The dusky grey colour is modestly refreshing and likely to work well with any professional outfit.
9. ASPINAL OF LONDON London Tote
This stylish tote bag comes in polished leather with a smart crocodile design that gives it a character of its very own. Embellished with hanging charms shaped like shields and the designer plaque, it is a dramatically beautiful bag that will definitely turn heads.
Aside from its fashion features, this bag also includes a number of practical treats that can make it even more functional. The main pocket is open-topped for ease of access but for security, there is an additional flap which folds over the top between the two smart, rolled leather handles and closes with an easy magnet feature.
Internal features also include zipped compartments and pockets for your mobile phone or purse.
10. FURLA Furla Diva L Tote
This handsome Furla tote bag is designed with sophistication and style at heart. Its sleek lines and grained black leather give it a timelessly elegant quality and the front is adorned with a traditionally grand golden squared clasp in a pyramid design that adds a classic touch.
The rich leather is subtly textured to give a solid and luxurious feel which looks both stylish and professional. The rolled leather handles are opulent and long enough to allow you to push the bag up to your shoulders if you want to keep your hands and arms free.
It is a smart, functional and attractive bag that would work just as well as a handbag for work as for an evening out.
11. PRADA Leather Backpack
If the word “backpack” makes you think of a heavy hiking rucksack, one look at the Prada leather backpack will instantly change your mind.
This slim and subtle backpack includes all the features of a traditional backpack with shoulder straps, fold over flap and front compartment but in pale calfskin leather, it looks fashionable and refined.
The top flap includes the signature Prada logo in embossed writing and the main compartment includes leather drawstring laces for safety and security. There are also internal pockets as well as the outer compartment so you can store your valuables inside with complete peace of mind.
12. MICHAEL KORS Rhea Studded Backpack
This medium-sized backpack comes in a range of colours including smart ebony leather or contrasting brown and cream with fabric details. The Michael Kors logo is displayed in metal lettering at the bottom of the bag and some colours include a repeated MK pattern throughout the central panel.
With zip fastening at the top, this bag offers ultimate security for your possessions and long back straps mean you can easily sling it casually over your shoulder as you make for the door of your bus.
All the handles are carefully stitched for added security and the carry handle means you have a number of options if you prefer to keep your bag in your hands. The pebbled leather looks stylish and chic while the gold fastening gives it a sense of quality and charm.
13. JOHN LEWIS Alina Leather Slim Backpack
Another bag that is beautiful in its simplicity, the Alina backpack is something of a crossover between a traditional backpack and a messenger bag.
It’s large, almost square frame is kept secure by a large flap that almost covers the front panel entirely and two straps allow it to be worn over the shoulder in backpack fashion.
Despite its simple design, brushed-gold hardware adds a touch of luxury and the soft leather makes it feels indulgent and elegant.
Available in either dramatic orange or soothing olive, this bag is spacious enough to carry anything you might need and includes handy zipped compartments at the back and internally to help you keep everything separate.
14. RADLEY Arlington Court Leather Backpack
The Radley Arlington is a sleek design that is both robust and elegant. In sophisticated black, it has an individual style and the textured leather makes it look exclusively clean and luxurious.
With a myriad of cleverly designed zipped pockets and compartments, the Radley Arlington is perfect for carrying any manner of items on all types of journeys.
Solid handles with a detachable backpack strap give it a contemporary but practical feel and the gold fittings add a touch of elegance with a range of zips, buckles and fastenings on the front as well as the signature Radley dog charm.
15. MICHAEL KORS Viv Large Leather Backpack
Subtly chic and elegant, this backpack includes detachable shoulder straps made from fine leather which afford centre stage to the handle which includes artistic stitching for an individual touch.
The innovative design also features double zips each side of the front panel which allow access to the separate compartment without disturbing the main part of the bag.
Internally, pockets for mobile phones and zipped panels mean you can store personal items away from your professional equipment. The smart tan colour also looks professional and is versatile enough to go with most colours you might like to wear for work.
As you can see, there are so many fashionable and stylish designer handbags to choose from. These 15 on my list of ‘best designer handbags for commuting’ should make your commute easier as well as more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
A great designer handbag can put us in a positive mindset whether we are heading to a difficult meeting, battling the elements or trying to look wide awake when inside we are stifling the desire to yawn.
A classy designer handbag yells to the world that you have everything in hand making you feel confident and effective no matter what the journey throws your way. The right bag can give off its own aura of professionalism and style that has the power to suggest you are a successful and capable woman, fully in control and with impeccable taste.
Since you will use your work handbag more often than most of the handbags you own, it is worth splashing out on something that gives you that extra feeling of confidence as well as keeping all of your valuables secure while you make your way to and from work. Who knows, that extra confidence may boost your progress and mean your designer bag could soon pay for itself?
Before you go, I have put together a review of the most elegant designer handbags in a collection that I think you will enjoy.
Discover Your Perfect Designer Handbag
Please take a moment to browse through my hand-picked collection of elegant designer handbags.
There may just be the perfect bag waiting there for you!
Ingrid is an avid perfume collector, experienced Youtube fragrance reviewer and prolific writer who has been working in the fashion industry for over 30 years. I love nothing more than losing myself in the Harrods fragrance department to discover something enticing. Ingrid’s Full Bio.