#1 The Carry-On Tote
Some days you just need a little more stuff. A roomy tote made from hard-working leather is the smart choice. This is decidedly not a shabby cotton bag to put your lunchbox, spare trainers and laptop in. This bag is sharp and sizeable. It will also be the perfect accompaniment to a smaller bag — in a tonal shade — if you need to double up on your accessories. If you choose a large enough style it works brilliantly as a carry-on bag when you’re travelling, so look for styles that come with ready-made organizational pouches to help simplify your life.
#2 The Cross-Body Satchel
Depending on the finish and colour you choose, this is the ultimate weekend option, and also works brilliantly when you’re in town running errands. The cross-body strap makes it a little more casual in feel, and should allow you to carry the essentials and go hands-free. Cambridge Satchel’s original school-style bags have become modern classics, and thanks to their structured shape they are still smart enough to wear for work and on the occasions when you need to be a little more polished.
#3 The After-Dark Clutch
The smallest item in your essential bag arsenal. Like the party heel, this accessory should be fun, witty, bright and glamorous and make enough of a statement to start conversations. When you’re shopping for this sort of bag, pack everything you are likely to need into a sealed sandwich bag and try it out with the bags on the shop floor. If they’re in a sandwich bag you won’t leave something in the clutch accidentally, and the slippery plastic will make it easy to swirl your belongings around inside it.
#4 The Structured Shoulder Bag
For when you are travelling light, but aren’t as relaxed as the cross-body requires, this is what you need. An elegant dark tone that will look smart for years, one little outside pocket for quick access to a travel card or lip balm, a shoulder strap and perhaps a top handle. If you need to look polished and chic at any time, pick a smart shape that keeps itself together.