The Best Work Tote

I've been on the hunt for the best work tote for years. I've analyzed the Longchamp Le Pliage. I've written posts about the Louis Vuitton Neverfull. I've even done a dedicated post all about the best handbags for work.

But honestly none of those bags compare to my new Cuyana Structured Leather Tote.

I'm not a full time blogger and work a full time 8-5 office job. This means I'm carting around loads of garbage on the daily (laptop, planner, lunch, other handbag essentials - you name it, I'm carrying it). I hate having to compromise when it comes to space in my bag. I hate leaving items behind and then getting to the office wishing I had said items. 

The Longchamp may fit everything, but it's super casual. The Neverfull is not casual, but believe me mine is almost always full (see what I did there?). I did a solid amount of Google research before purchasing my Cuyana tote and couldn't find any comprehensive articles about the bag. I wanted to break down for ya'll the ins and outs of this bag.

Let's get into the facts, pros, and cons of the Cuyana Structured Leather Tote and why I believe it's the best tote for work - ever.


The facts.

I want to first start by breaking down all the specifications for the Cuyana Structured Leather Tote.

The Structured Tote is designed in San Francisco, but made in Turkey with Italian leather. The bag is also fully lined with a beautiful, soft micro suede material. Why does all this matter? Because the materials are premium. I'll definitely give Cuyana props on this one - these are more luxurious materials than even some pricier luxury bags (like the Neverfull, for example). 

So that brings us to price! The Structured Leather Tote rings in at $195, which honestly feels about right to me for a premium leather bag. I don't think Cuyana overpriced themselves on this one. The Neverfull (which is made out of PVC and not leather) comes in at nearly $1400 for a similar size. You do the math.

Size wise, this tote is definitely large. This tote is larger than a Neverfull MM and probably on par with a Large Le Pliage. The Structured Leather tote is 13 1/4" tall, 19.5" wide, and 6 inches deep at the base. The bag also has an awesome handle drop at over 8 inches (meaning you can wear your puffiest coat and you'll still be able to fit it over your shoulder). 



Obviously based on the title of this post, you know I'm a fan of the bag. 

The biggest pro of the Structured Leather Tote is the size. This tote can fit everything but the kitchen sink - and I love that. I was dying to get my hands on a GM size of the Neverfull because my MM is always stuffed to the brim - but why spend $1400 on a bag when you can spend less than $200?

Which brings me to my next pro - the price for the quality. I love that this is an all leather, well made bag and a reasonable price. Cuyana doesn't suffer from the same luxury brand name markup as Louis Vuitton and other designer brands. This means you can snag amazing quality at a solid price point. 


The biggest con of this bag is the color I chose (so really - I did it to myself). I picked this beautiful light taupe color because I felt I had too many black bags. My intentions were good, but sheesh is this leather delicate. I've already created a giant stain on my bag just from the friction of my jeans. Yep. I have a giant indigo stain. My #1 recommendation to you if you're planning to purchase the Cuyana Structured Leather Tote is to avoid a light colored leather.

I do think price can be a con for some - by no means is $200 "affordable." Although I personally feel this bag is a great value for the money, dropping $200 in a single shopping trip isn't something I do casually. 

Cuyana Structured Leather Tote vs Madewell Transport Tote

The Cuyana Structured Leather Tote is often compared to the Madewell Transport Tote. When I was trying to decide between the two bags, I found very few helpful comparisons online to help me make my choice. So let's quickly break down the major differences.

Price: There isn't a huge jump in price between these two bags. The Madewell Transport Tote rings in at $168 and the Cuyana comes in slightly more expensive at $195. But honestly, at these price points I would pick the bag you love best because that $27 difference isn't big.

Size: There are some big size differences between the Cuyana tote and the Madewell tote. The Madewell Transport Tote is 1/2" taller than the Cuyana, but the Cuyana is a full 5.5" wider. This means the Cuyana tote is shorter and wider while the Madewell is taller and slimmer. If you're looking to fit ALL THE THINGS - opt for Cuyana. If you want something a little more streamlined (or maybe you're on the petite side of life) - opt for the Madewell.

Materials: Both the Cuyana and Madewell totes are made of real leather. I can't seem to dig up the details, but from the looks of it they utilize different leathers and treatments. The Madewell is a smooth vegetable tanned leather where as the Cuyana is more of a pebbled texture. This leads me to believe the Cuyana is more scratch resistant, but in all honesty it's hard to verify.

Shop the tote.


All in all, I've been LOVING this bag. I can fit all my necessities, my lunch, and a sweater - and there's still room for snacks.

Totally digging it.

Other handbag blog posts I've written:

Why The Neverfull GM Might Be My Favorite Designer Bag - a Fashionphile Review

The Best Neverfull Dupes

How to Buy Designer Handbags on Ebay

The Perfect Everyday Handbag

How to Choose Your First Designer Handbag

What's your favorite bag for work?