The Best North-South Totes for Work –

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Sure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen North-South totes for work, so I thought we’d do a roundup. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, an East/West bag is one that is more horizontal than vertical — e.g., your typical tote. A North/South bag, by contrast, is taller than it is wide.

There are pros and cons to these. I find them to be sleeker bags and tend to have less wasted space inside the bag… but that said, if something has fallen all the way to the bottom of the bag it can feel a bit like you’re digging to find it.

Readers, what are your thoughts — do you like north-south totes for work? Which are your latest favorites?

{related: The Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Women}

The Best North-South Totes for Work in 2024

The Row

North-South tote for work

I always think of The Row as leaders in the trends, so let’s start here — I love this gorgeous, minimal north/south tote. The leather looks fabulous, and at 11″Hx13″Wx6″D it’s not too big, but not too small. It’s $1,690 at Neiman Marcus, available in three colors for preorder.

Nordstrom has a different north/south tote from The Row with a bit more structure and handles at the top if you prefer that, but that one is $4,950.

Other great splurge options include this Givenchy tote, this Mulberry tote (ooh and in pretty colors too!), and this Bottega tote.


North-South tote for work

In the “fancy but only 3 figures” department, I luuuurve this tote from DeMellier. The linear gold details on the magnetic flap really elevate it! This bag has similar dimensions to one above (13.7″Hx12.9″Wx5.1″D) and is $585.


North-South tote for work

Tumi’s North/South tote definitely has a more utilitarian feel than a lot of these bags… I love that it has a trolley strap! The bag is lined, and at 15″Wx15.5″Hx4.5″D this one feels a bit larger than the other bags. It’s $295 at Nordstrom.

Another great option with a trolley strap (AND convertible backpack straps): this laptop tote from Lo & Sons. Cuyana‘s north/south tote is just under $300 as well, with an add-on insert for $98.

(Also around this price range: the Vida collection of bags at Banana Republic, which are $380 for the more structured versions.)

MZ Wallace

The Best North-South Totes for Work –

MZ Wallace’s classic, nylon, quilted look has gone through a few iterations over the years — I like this tighter weave along with a more structured bag. The bag is $285 at Nordstrom — it’s nice that it comes with a detachable strap as well as interior pouch (as well as a zippered top and two exterior zip pockets).


North-South tote for work

Everlane notes that its north/south tote is among the bestsellers — I like that folded detail on the outside pocket. It’s available in four colors for $250.

Amazon Seller Montana West

North-South tote for work

If you’re looking to try the trend, or want a very specific color, Amazon seller Montana West has you covered — this one comes in 25+ colors, including a really saturated kelly green, a delicate light blue, and a Barbie-approved hot pink. The bag is under $35 (with a 30% coupon today!).

Another great option under $100: the BÉIS North/South tote, $98 at Revolve.

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{related: check out our Guide to Comfortable Heels!}