The Art of the Tote

A blog about totes

Deep Tote Thoughts: What Is a Tote Bag?

with one comment defines a tote bag as “an open handbag or shopping bag used esp. for carrying packages or small items.” Here are the elements that define a tote for me: It’s a casual, open-top bag, often made of canvas or leather, meant for carrying things. It is defined by its utility.

There are two main types: the wider, flat-bottom tote and the thinner, no-bottom tote. The first kind, when made of heavy fabric or leather, can stand up on its own. In shape, it resembles a paper grocery bag. The second type is constructed like a pillowcase with handles on the open end—there’s no bottom except for a seam. The first kind are handy because of their large capacity; the second kind are great because they pack flat, and when made of lighter weight fabric can be rolled up and stowed in a small space.

So are totes purses? No. They can be used instead of purses, but purses are defined by two things: 1) they’re exclusively used by women and 2) they’re meant for carrying money and personal effects. Totes are gender neutral and are meant to carry things like books, beach towels, or groceries. Totes can be decorated in feminine or masculine ways, but as a category they are gender neutral.

Next time on Deep Tote Thoughts? My tote manifesto.


Written by elizatruitt

August 10, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Posted in Deep Tote Thoughts

Tagged with , , , ,

One Response

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  1. Just discovered your cool site 🙂 Have browsed all of your posts and fallen in love with several totes… The older, worn, leather/canvas totes… Oh my.

    What a fabolous blog you have. I have immediately put you on my blog roll and will come back 🙂

    La fille vanille

    August 16, 2009 at 12:16 pm

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