What If Your Commuter Bag Was Also Just a Great Bag?

commuter bag man repeller commuting work

Other than my underwear, there are few things that I’m sure to have on my body every day. I rotate my shoes most of the time. My sunglasses switch around. My jewelry likes to take breaks, too. But my bag? I lug the exact same one around every single day. It’s pretty simple: When you find something utilitarian that pleases your eye and does what you need it to do, there’s no need to change it.

I’d go so far as to say the following: The same bag every day is cool! As long as you like it! I’m a true commuter who uses every damn form of transportation (subway, bus, uber, my own two feet, etc.) and I think of my commuter bag as a tool to get me to and from work with as much ease as possible. However! I’m not willing to compromise the overall look. Call me vain, but that’s how I am. (And vanity is last month‘s theme anyway). Luckily, there are plenty of bags that can do both—and I’ve compiled them below. In neat little categories, since organization is part of the deal here.

Shoulder & Tote Bags

A shoulder bag is the most frequently used style of commuter bag here at Man Repeller. They’re maneuverable on crowded subway cars and it’s easy to grab things out of them. I’ve personally used this MZ Wallace bag for both commuting and photo-shoot schlepping and I love it because 1.) It doesn’t slip off the shoulder and 2.) The bag itself is super light, so it doesn’t add any additional weight. I recently (by recently, I mean just this morning) saw this Clare V carryall at an appointment. It felt very sturdy and looks so cool. For practical, durable bags, I love this one from Madewell, this one from Everlane or this one from Cuyana (the latter of which has a zipper on the top for extra security). And look at this W Concept gold mine! How sweet and summery is this one from Inne Studios or this awesome accordion from Joseph & Stacey? I’d even use this one as a purse, tbh.


I personally haven’t used a backpack since elementary school, but I’m reconsidering it because sometimes my back hurts so much I start to feel the pain in my feet. (Is that normal?) I really love this one‘s creamy vanilla bean color and would 100% wear it every day. This one is perfect if you’re a laptop-lugger (and comes in a really cool mod print). This is probably the most professional minimal backpack and word on the street is that it’s really sturdy and has tons of room. If you still want to make a statement and have some fun with your backpack, might I suggest this Yves Klein Blue quilted one? It’s a version of the shoulder bag I swear by.

Crossbody & Messenger Bags

The crossbody and the messenger make the biggest statement of all the commuter bags. So, naturally, as soon as I start searching, the mind reels. I love, love, love this nylon Prada messenger from The RealReal. But this convertible one may be the most awesome—it can be a messenger bag or a backpack. When I found this one, I immediately thought of an architect toting around their blueprints. (Maybe it’s just the model’s glasses, but it happens to be the perfect size for a small portfolio.) I think this one is ideal if you want to look studious but not tenured. And who else wants this two-tone style just because it’ll look great with that Canadian Tuxedo ensemble you sometimes sport?

Packable Bags

There are some days when I don’t leave the house with much but am suspicious that my circumstances will change by the day’s end. Things come up! You grocery shop on your way home. You buy a change of pants because the ones you wore to work got too tight midday. You decide to get a pedicure after work and need a place to tuck the boots you’d been wearing. Rather than grabbing a plastic bag from the bodega, stock one of these packable bags in your purse. I always have one from the brand Baggu with me. This way, I’m never unprepared when there’s something new for me to schlep—might that be bananas, oat milk, or the small set of speakers a coworker no longer wants 🙂

So, there you have it, my hard working friends. Let me know if you’ve found anything else that works especially well for your nine-to-five. (And by the way, if I see you on my commute wearing any of the above bags, I will say hi… or ask for a snack because I know you have enough room to pack them.)

More from Shopping