Monday Musings- The Perfect Spring Tote Bag

Happy Monday, ladies. Here are a few things on my radar this week. Spring has hit us full-on over the weekend and my old tote bag is feeling too ‘heavy’ for the warm weather. I took this tote to Mexico and it’ll be great to take to the pool etc, but it’s not what I want to carry around town on a daily basis. I’m envisioning that my perfect spring tote bag will be straw, rattan, or raffia.

navy rattan tote bag

I’d prefer it to have a zipper closure for when…not if…it flies off my front seat in the car and spews its contents all over the place.

straw tote bag

I want it large enough to hold my purse, water bottle plus small things I pick up at the store throughout the day. The handles need to be long enough to hold by hand without touching the ground, but long enough to go over my shoulders when I want to have my hands free.

woven spring tote bag

It seems like a tall order so I’ve begun the hunt and will let you know what I decided on.

Outfit of the week

This week’s outfit of the week is one that works for warm or cool spring days with a quick change of shoes. I’ve been on the hunt for a utility jacket that’s not too warm, has an adjustable drawstring to keep it from looking too boxy and that’s long enough to cover my backside.

outfit showing perfect spring tote bag

I love this wicker handbag, and it’s seriously marked down.  I already have a vintage wicker bag this size so I don’t need another plus this isn’t large enough for a tote. I’ll let you know what I buy.

Do you carry a tote bag? I find them incredibly useful and wonder how I used to survive without one.

Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.





  1. Jan Correll says:

    Thank you for turning me on the All Saints Bag. I love it!

  2. I love the look of summer woven bags but I gave them up years ago. I ruined too many outfits–the rough textures of straw, wicker or raffia badly pilled and pulled my lightweight summer sweaters, jackets and blouses and they were trashed. I often wear my bags on my shoulder, tucked securely under my arm. Maybe if you are someone who holds your bag dangling from your hand it would do less damage ( or snag your pant leg, but they are usually a sturdier fabric).
    So although I admire the look, it’s just not for me.

  3. Good luck on your hunt. I haven’t had any luck finding a utility jacket that covers my back side. I am not tall, 5’4”. They all seem to hit at the hip. Love your outfit of the week.

  4. I love totes and carry them frequently. Like you, I cannot imagine not having them as they are useful for a variety of needs. I have totes in categories to meet different needs or settings. For spring and summer casual looks and travel, I have two straw totes – one in a natural color from Sezane (I recommend these and there are some cute styles on their website now) and another in black from Lucky Brand that I got at Marshall’s. I carry these during the summer and for vacations. Both are a bit larger and can hold daily essentials and a book and water. I also have several Longchamp Le Pliage totes that I use a lot for travel as I can throw my crossbody bag into it along with jacket or sweater or wrap and a book and water. I have three luxury totes that I use for work and professional events for when I travel for work – one in black, one in cognac, and one in dark brown. I know I will use these when I retire for travel or for days when I need to carry more than a crossbody bag.

    1. I find totes so useful. You have an impressive collection that all sound great.

  5. I have several tote bags: I have to carry one because my essentials include glasses, sunglasses, and their cases, among other things. Mine run towards really pretty shopping bags (really!), straw totes, and several museum bags. None close at the top — and, yes, I have spilled them in car once or twice! I tend to carry a small handbag in my tote. I saw a great article in the NYT today for string/mesh bags that can be used to segregate items in a tote. I also like leather backpacks but don’t currently own one.

  6. Jennifer, look at the Ralph Lauren tote at Macys. I have the exact same criteria as you, I swallowed a little at the price, and finally just got it. It’s very well made and I think will last a while. It’s an everlasting hunt to try to find ones that are big enough, close, and have a sturdy strap that can go over a shoulder.

    1. Thanks, Linda. I will check it out.

    2. Cathy J Eisslet says:

      I got one of the Ralph Lauren straw bags last year about this time (hubby took me shopping for my bday and bought me two RLL bags that day). The other one is my favorite: a navy shinier canvas-type material and just the right size!

  7. I’d like to know more about the Tan-Luxe products in your Finds. I am still searching for one without “that smell.” Will you be reviewing them?

    1. I will be reviewing them. I just ordered the lotion

  8. I’ve enjoyed wearing the utility jacket I bought at LL Bean a couple of years ago. It has a drawstring at the waist and is a nice weight. They still carry a similar jacket, and it comes in petite, which I needed. Mine is a dark gray with a bit of a blue undertone and goes with everything!

    I, too, am carrying a crossbody bag more and more! I have a couple from Dooney and Bourke that are medium in size and allow me to carry all of my “essentials.” And I also have a thing for striped tops. Stripes are about the only pattern I feel good in!

  9. beth byrd says:

    I carry both a tote and a smaller handbag to the office during the week, and have done so for years. The tote holds my lunch, my book, a journal and pens. I don’t change totes very often, but those shown today are so stylish!

    I am in the market for a new purse, so any ideas would be helpful. I had one in periwinkle that was a favorite, but I’m afraid it has seen better days.

    Love that striped tee!

  10. I am one of those that ditched the tote/oversized purse for a crossbody and have never looked back! I amazed myself that I was able to downsize and leave out some of those items I thought I “had” to carry around. My shoulder appreciates it and the crossbody is so much more practical for shopping, attending grandkids’ sports events, etc.
    I love my striped tee in similar color and style as the one you feature. It goes with everything and I’ll wear it through spring and summer. Time to bring out the white jeans! I know some wear them all seasons, but not here in the Midwest.

    1. Debby,

      I agree with you. I ditched larger purses for cross bodies due to weight on shoulders about five years ago – a very healthy decision.

  11. Mary Ellen Berg says:

    Love the outfit of the day. I realize I need a lightweight utility jacket as my jean jacket is getting too warm when I am running errands. I really like the look of the one you posted from Loft.
    I recently bought these inexpensive hooks for my car and they work great for my purse. When driving with a passenger I had to put my purse on the floor in the back seat and then I couldn’t reach it. These seem to be very sturdy and can be turned to the front or the back of the headrest. I recently used them on a road trip, and I loved the convenience of them.

    1. These look like a fabulous idea

    2. Francesca B. says:

      Love the outfit of the day too. I do like the mini tote but l am not crazy about having to hold my bag with just one hand instead of a crossbody for security reasons. My lovely mum in her seventies had her bag snatched violently while in a major city and so l am now wary of what can happen in a instant. I do have a lovely Raffia straw tote which is a shoulder bag l wear in the summer.Found it on Etsy and it was reasonable and people love it. Happy week Jennifer 🙂

      1. Have a lovely week, Francesca!

  12. Do like what you featured in totes, however gave them up a few years ago namely due to issues with my back and now travel light though I did hold on to a cross-body strap messenger bag plus two of my leather backpacks which on occasion I use. Regarding the ‘outfit of the week’ excellent points Jennifer about keeping stylish and modern. -Brenda-
    Footnote: Our weather is still hovering around 40°F but at least most of the snow is gone.

    1. Wowza, that is still pretty chilly. Stay warm, Brenda

  13. I never dreamed that Walmart had such cute bags. The local store in my area is not managed very well and stopped shopping there years ago. For a woven bag that likely will be worn out after one season, will reconsider or shop online. I’m in the decent size camp for bags and when I size down items seem to be left behind. Something needed like eye drops, lotion, or an allergy pill. High maintenance with my higher age!
    Love the outfit shown.

    1. I always shop Walmart online because they offer a much larger selection.

  14. Due to Covid, I pared down what I was carrying in a purse to the basics, keys, cellphone, mask and wallet and I have been using a crossbody bag. I’m not sure if I will go back to carrying a larger purse. Having a tote is definately useful for trips to the beach and the grocery store instead of using plastic. I have a large tote from LL bean I use for that.
    I like a straw bag for the Summer, I had a straw bag from Le Sac that I felt like I was always digging at the bottom of it, so I prefer something more structured. I think I will check out your suggestion from Walmart!

  15. During the pandemic, I started carrying a clutch versus a hand bag and have not switched back! I have several that I love and Sak offered an option that holds my phone, a lip stick and plenty of space for cards, coins and bills.
    I love the utility jacket and found a huge bargain and great quality at Walmart this spring. I was able to add two jackets to my closet at a fraction of what one may cost at another shop. I love finding some more affordable items so I may feel better when I splurge on a more spendy item. Funny how the brain works! Lol

  16. I have a tote with an inner organizer for planes and long car trips, but anything heavier than a small crossbody leads to a pinched nerve for me. But you bring up some good considerations for anyone looking for a new tote, and thanks for that.

  17. Christi S. says:

    I had to laugh – my purse has slid off the front seat more times than I can count. Yes, a top zipper is mandatory. Having said that, since retiring, I do not lug a tote around – period. Many shops put your purchase into a cute bag and I just put other items in that bag. My shoulders can’t handle the weight of a tote bag. The straw bags are so cute, but won’t survive rain. I stick to leather.

    Really cute outfit of the day. Especially like the jacket. Loft, I’m on my way!

    1. Glad to know I am not alone. Happy Monday, Christi

  18. I really don’t use a tote bag but those are cute. I love the outfit of the week, especially white jeans and striped top. I use my utility jacket quite a bit.

    1. I’ve really warmed up to the style.

  19. carolyn lassonde says:

    Hi Jennifer – I don’t have an opinion about tote bags, but I love the outfit of the week! Every item is great!

    1. I’m glad you like it 🙂

  20. That dark straw tote with interchangeable stripes is sooo! cute along with the sea straw vintage one.
    I believe it is time for me to hunt for a straw Spring bag. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I thought those straps were so interesting.

  21. I really don’t have a need for a tote unless I am flying, going to the beach , food in the car, quilting group,etc. If we travel as tourists , my husband carries a back pack with our water bottles , snacks , sunscreen. Lucky him.
    In town, daily, I carry a small crossbody purse to grocery, gym, shopping , luncheons,etc. I find totes too heavy for my neck and shoulders.
    Cute outfit of the week!

    1. They are heavy. Mine stays on my front car seat most often and gets taken into select places when shopping.

  22. These bags are so pretty.
    When I see the small cross body bags I must be in minority, because I always carry a bigger tote bag. I throw in multiple items such as paperwork for bank, small purchased items not requiring a bag, quickly applied makeup items. I realize some people are liberated from the bigger bag lifestyle, but I doubt I’ll reach that point. Thanks for some summery ideas.

    1. Leslie Greaves Radloff says:

      It’s really hard to get excited about yet another tote when there are already a dozen in various sizes, fabrics and leather already in my closet that I like and use. While the outfit of the week has components that I like, and would wear, pieces are so similar to what own, I don’t feel compelled to shop. What’s there looks good but the model is probably 40 years younger than I am, so that begs the question: do I want to pretend to be that age or accept mine for what it is?

      1. I agree with your comments. I have a closet full of nice purses/totes — no need for more. The outfit works on all ages because the pieces are classic — not trendy. Nothing here seems “too young” to me.

      2. The model is who is the brand used. I find these pieces rather ageless…a striped tee, white jeans, cotton jacket, comfy sneakers or sandals, etc. My goal is not to pretend to look younger than I am but to look modern and stylish.

    2. I need both in my life 🙂

  23. I carry a tote to work with me every Monday through Friday. I own several in all colors and styles. For my needs I find that Vera Bradly works best because of all the organization her tote bags offer. Without that organization I find that my tote bag becomes a “waste basket”. I too always consider if the straps allow me to carry the tote without it dragging on the ground. I’ll look forward to see what you come up with!

    1. Great point on the wastebasket!! Mine always become that so I will put “sections” on my list 🙂

  24. That All Saints tote is gorgeous, but the Walmart bag is fabulous for the price!
    I have a straw tote I got from my mom, i really like it, but it does require some babying. On the other hand I have a tote made out of scuba like material and its indestructible and unbelievably lightweight, total recommend

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