The Differences Between a Tote and a Handbag

The Differences Between a Tote and a Handbag


Whether your outfit doesn’t have enough pockets for all your items, or you simply want to add an extra adornment to your fit, there are tons of accessories to choose from to solve your dilemma. Two of the most popular accessory items that make carrying around a variety of materials possible are totes and handbags. If you’re trying to decide which one is fitting for you or whether you could use both of them, explore the differences between a tote and a handbag we list below.


While many handbags have evolved to don two straps, a standard variety will only have one. Totes are designed with two, enabling them to open more freely and widely than most purses or handbags.

Because straps influence how easy it is to access the contents of your bag, it’s vital to consider your preference and the bag’s intended function when deciding between a tote and a handbag. Regardless of whether you prefer one or two straps, you always want to ensure that each strap is a comfortable length for resting over your shoulder or in your arm’s crook. You should also make sure they’re short enough so that the bag doesn’t drag around if you carry it in your hand.


While you can usually find either bag in materials like nylon and waxed canvas, the differences between a tote and a handbag and their materials come down to flexibility and machine washability. The majority of tote bags are made with durable yet flexible materials, such as cloth or canvas.

Handbags are also made of durable materials. But these materials are often more costly than cloth or canvas. Faux or real leather are common in handbags, for instance. Consequently, you can toss most totes in the washing machine when they need some sprucing. But handbags and purses require more meticulous cleaning methods to avoid damaging their pricey material composition.

Storage Compartments

When you peek inside a handbag, you’ll see a range of storage compartments that you just won’t get with totes. Purses contain zippers, buckles, buttons that help create a separation of storage in your bag.

Though you could see the lack of storage separation as a flaw, it’s also one of the reasons why tote bags are so versatile. Learn how to make the most of your tote bag, so when you add one to your wardrobe, you can apply its flexibility to your everyday lifestyle.

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