The Big Purchase I Finally Made in Italy

And why I've completely changed my approach to the 'work tote.'
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About a year ago, I was in a big meeting and one of the female executives walked in with an incredible work tote. It was both structured and sophisticated, but also had playful patches all over it; a nod to the fact that she founded a major fashion house. To say it made an impact is an understatement—I clearly haven't stopped thinking about it ever since. 

Until recently, my work bag had always been an after-thought, something I casually tossed next to my desk as soon as I arrived at the office, but any time I had an important meeting, I felt self-conscious of my Zara tote which was literally coming apart at the seams. As much fun as I have with other bags and accessories, I hadn't realized until seeing the executive's fantastic bag that I was being narrow-minded in my assumption that a work bag had to be tan or black to look professional, at least in my line of work (maybe it's a different story if you're in a more corporate role). 

When I finally looked up the executive's Gucci tote, I couldn't quite bite the bullet and resigned myself to searching for something similar at a lower price point. To my absolute surprise, when we visited the Gucci outlets in Italy, I came across a bag that was a near-exact replica of the one I'd seen, but better—and at outlet pricing. On one side, there are red and blue stripes down the middle, but the other side has a roaring technicolor cat. It actually puts a pep in my step each day I load my computer, charger, notebook, and pens into it for work. I have yet to bring it to an important meeting, but I have one scheduled for later this week and I can't wait to show it off. Here are a few of my favorite playful work bags available now: 

This tote from Clare V. ($535) is an understated version of the one I purchased. 

Nothing's quite as classic as the Madewell Transport Tote, but this version ($168) has a touch of rainbow to add some interest. 

This bright red croc bag from Zara ($49) makes a statement through its color alone.

This transparent Loeffler Randall bag ($295) would look great holding just a wallet, computer case, and lipstick (i.e., it would never work for me, but I love the idea of it!). 

Is it too late in summer for this Pamela Munson woven tote ($285)?

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