Whether you're toting your laptop, textbooks or groceries, canvas totes are perfect for carting around all your crap—and a light jacket for later on.
They appear in just about every band's merchandise line (I'm guilty of a few of those myself—the checkers at Trader Joe's love Sonic Youth, apparently), and even high-end designers such as Marc Jacobs and Yohji Yamamoto have churned out their own somewhat affordable versions (even if they're slightly overpriced).
And although every other girl has resorted to using a tote as a purse now and then (especially if you're the type who needs to carry her life around in her bag), sometimes it's not always the most presentable option, especially if you're heading somewhere after work.
Enter Longchamp's Le Pliage line.
Founded in Paris in 1948, Longchamp still thrives in the city today. I'm really not exaggerating when I say that I spotted a couple of these totes last week dangling from the (really incredibly freakishly skinny) shoulders and wrists of Parisiennes on every block and Metro station, from all walks of life. Businesswomen carried files, laptops and blueprints in the largest sizes; students used them for schoolwork; young adults carried the mini sizes as handbags.
Though Longchamp is advertised as a luxury leather-goods company, the brand has really come to be known for these Le Pliage bags, probably due to their convenient sizes, reasonable prices and ability to hold your 8 pounds of "essentials" while managing to still look classy as hell without trying too hard—they're pure, understated elegance. The Le Pliage line consists of thick nylon bags with durable leather trim and handles, available in a wide range of colors (12 classic colors that are renewed each season, plus the occasional limited-edition shades) in 20 different models. There's an L size (14 inches by 17 inches) for that weekend getaway, a tiny XS (about 6 by 4) for that cute wrist-dangling thing, and the M is perfect for the everyday. Straps can be long (to wear on your shoulder) or short, and the best part is that the bag is able to be folded into a tiny square for storage or as an extra bag to bring on vacation, just in case.
Longchamp's only U.S. storefront is in SoHo (of course), but the bags are also available at your local Bloomingdales, Saks or Nordstrom, and are priced between $78 and $143—more than your average canvas tote, but discreet sophistication comes at a price. You can even design your own Le Pliage on Longchamp's official website, choosing between three color panels, a short or long strap, zipper pull colors, and you even have the option of adding a monogram.
Designer to the stars (and LA hipster scum) Jeremy Scott even has added his own stamp of approval on Longchamp by creating a tote exclusively for the trendy-as-fuck Paris storefront Colette, for a totally affordable $115—probably the cheapest thing that shop has to offer.