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Celeb-Inspired: How to Style a Canvas Tote

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Keri Russell, Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Alba have all been spotted carrying one. It’s the canvas tote, a grossly under-rated style accessory that every woman should have on hand. It’s very versatile, practical and oh-so-cool.

A handy canvas bag can hold everything from diapers for the kiddos to your laptop and portable projectors (I’m talking to you, lady road warriors.) And you’d be surprised how well it transitions seamlessly from mom errands to sales presentations to nightlife. Now I know what you’re thinking — a canvas bag in a club? Yep, we’re going there. Because understated is a statement in itself.

5 Occasions to Carry a Canvas Tote

For the Beach

This zippered canvas bag has a modern and classy look that’ll step up your typical beach outfit. Combine this tote with a floral beach dress, flat-heeled sandals and a casual updo for your hair.

To the Office

You can pull off a canvas bag to the office! In this scenario, the choice of bag is important. Skip the natural-toned bag for a black or dark brown piece. And, look for a bag with structure — a flat bottom and four side seams, for example. Lastly, for practical reasons, you’ll want a bag that has interior pockets to keep you organized.

With the right bag in hand, you can add your normal work attire without issue. Heels, tights and a pencil skirt will work as well as trousers, Oxford shirt and loafers.

At the Gym

Swap out the duffel for a motivational canvas bag that holds your gear and provides a pre-workout pep talk. An easy, zipper-free tote with a wide strap and a motivational phrase on the front will get you to your workout in style. It’ll look fabulous with your cross trainers and leggings.

On the Go

Pinkish canvas striped beach bag with rope shoulder strap isolated on white background.

On casual days, sport a colorful or patterned canvas tote to dress an otherwise basic outfit. We all have those days when we only want to wear boyfriend jeans and oversized sweater. That’s a great look for a relaxed weekend afternoon of errand-running. But throw a fun canvas bag over your shoulder, and you elevate the ensemble from casual to quirky.

As with your workday canvas bag, you’ll want a few interior pockets in this bag. You’ll likely reach for it when you’re out renewing your car registration, buying Mother’s Day gifts or dropping off your consignment store finds at the tailor.

In the Club

Karissa Shannon carrying tote bag
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A canvas bag in the club? Karissa Shannon can do it, and so can you. Granted, she can purchase a Louis Vuitton canvas bag — and we regular folk must settle for something more down-to-earth. If you don’t want to invest in the high-style designer bag, look for a compact canvas bag in dark red or black, with a flat bottom and a zippered top.