The $158 Item That Finally Made Me Feel Like a Grown-Up

As someone in the latter half of their 20s, I'm ashamed to admit that up until recently I never owned a legitimate workbag. I've been working full-time for about six years now but somehow never invested in a designated work tote. Then one day, everything changed: A friend of mine told me she just bought "the best work bag ever," and after a few minutes of hearing her rave about it, I was convinced I needed to place an order too. The bag she was referring to is Madewell's Medium Transport Tote, which comes in a range of color options and rings in at $158. I placed an order before I could think twice. It arrived a few days later, and lo and behold, she was right: It is the best work bag ever.

Let me tell you why. It's big enough to fit everything I need, including my laptop (a MacBook Air, for size reference) without ever feeling bulky. There's a small zipper compartment on the inside that I can keep all my small items in so they don't get lost in the shuffle. It's made of sleek brown leather that looks significantly more expensive than its $158 price tag, and it's clean and minimal enough to come out after work with me. I've only had it a few weeks, and I've already brought it straight out to dinner with me more times than I can count. (I used to bring a smaller, chicer bag inside my workbag to come out with me after 5.)

And you know what the best (and unforeseen) part of this bag is? Having this chic, structured work tote under my arm finally made me feel like a grown-up—like a real adult, you know? Someone who looks like they have their life together to random strangers on the street—basically my most mature self. Don't just take my word for it, though. One look at all the glowing five-star reviews on this bag should solidify its greatness. "I'm pretty much in love with this bag. Very high quality," says one reviewer. "Gorgeous. Spacious. Perfect bag for work," raves another.

So there you have it: the perfect tote bag for work. Check out how I style Madewell's Medium Transport Tote below, and then shop the bag for yourself.

On me: Anine Bing blazer (similar style here, $349); Re/Done + Hanes 1960s Jersey T-Shirt ($75); Re/Done Originals Stovepipe High-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans ($250); Reformation Isabelle Sandal ($198)

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