Packing a Tote

I used a tote for the first year of college and my last semester of my senior year. In between I used a backpack because of all the stuff I had to carry back and forth to classes. I had no choice but to use a backpack (unless I wanted to have back issues for the rest of my life) when I had a heavy (literally) course load. However, I much preferred the look of carrying around a tote. It seemed a little bit more grown up, no?
I used canvas totes for a while, but ultimately switched to the large Longchamp. I loved the way it looked a lot more than the canvas totes and I really liked how it didn’t show as much dirt! (Seriously, someone spilled coffee all over one of mine and the stain never really went away.) The one issue I had was that the Longchamp only has one little pocket. Just big enough for a tin of mints or a cell phone (and maybe a stick of lip balm).
I had my tote packing down to a science:
Start with the big stuff! I have a bunch of laptop totes, but when I’m carrying an actual tote I only use a sleeve. This Kate Spade neoprene sleeve will protect your laptop while simultaneously making it look super chic. It’s really important to cover your laptop with a good sleeve while it’s in your tote. Otherwise you’ll get stuck with ugly scratches everywhere… no thank you!
In high school, I always decorated binders with sheets of scrapbook paper and pretty stickers. And in college, I used the same “Georgetown” binders from the bookstore every year. Pretty standard. These colored binders from Russell + Hazel would make color coding for courses, classes, or subjects a breeze. I mean, really, there are so many pretty colors to choose from. I tried to keep the number of binders I carried at a time down to one! This meant that I only had one binder for my Monday/Wednesday classes and one for my Tuesday/Thursday.
Can’t go anywhere without my planner! I like planners that are pretty thin, especially when I’m carrying around a lot of stuff already. No need to carry around more than twelve months, right? The Sarah Pinto planners are pint sized, but magically have tons of space for all your scheduling needs.
During school, I would always keep my to-do lists and homework in a small notebook. I needed something to carry around that a) would stay together (unlike sheets of scrap paper), b) was small enough and wouldn’t be an extra burden, and c) was cute! I started off with a Lilly Pulitzer mini notebook and then switched to Maybooks
Did you know that cosmetic bags make the BEST pencil cases? Unlike traditional pencil cases, they come in much much much cuter patterns and prints. And, unlike any other kind of bags, they’re lined (to prevent makeup spills) which ends up being perfect for preventing ink spills from getting all over your laptop, notebooks, and tote! Loving this Kate Spade cosmetic bag.
(don’t forget to fill your new pencil case with your favorite pens & pencils!)
One of my biggest issues with carrying a tote is that I’m afraid to let my phone just float around the bag.  These new, amazing Kate Spade iPhone wristlets are just so smart. You can protect your phone and it’s basically like a mini-wallet. This is great for tossing in your bag and you can use it outside of the classroom, like when you’re out at night and don’t want to bring a full handbag.
Grab your eyeglasses and you are good to go!
What do you pack in your tote?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



I love this post !
Actually I love all your blogposts about organisation, school, desks, … so please keep them coming 🙂

Having a good laptop sleeve is so important. If you drop your bag and your laptop is unprotected, your harddisk can crash.

Could you please check out my blog ? I've just started 🙂




I'm coming back to college this semester and all your posts make me feel more confortable and organized about it, thanks, u r great.



Love this post! I probably have to use a backpack for at least some of my classes this year because some of the classes I have to take almost everything for the class (accounting….) but I love using a tote bag! I really want to invest in a longchamp soon

Portuguese Prepster

I use a large lonchamp for class too along with a VV tote on occassion, I feel like by my fourth year I've gotten the packing down to a science too. I try to carry as little possible as to not kill my shoulders!

Cape Cod Prep

This is a cute post! I have a bad back and really need to stop using a back pack! A cute tote that I switch books out between classes would be great! 🙂

Brittany Roelofs

I have a feeling that you would really love the Pilot FriXion Point Erasable Roller Ball Needle-point Gel Pens. I used them all the time for my planner and school work. They come in awesome colors and they use friction to erase!


I used a VV cosmetic case for pencils last year and it worked beautifully! I always have my emergency kit, too!

Katherine Diane

I typically use a backpack for class. Carrying a laptop, books and other stuff is just too heavy. But, I do switch to a tote if I don't need as much stuff. They are way cuter! All love all your picks. They are super cute and preppy. 🙂



I haven't bought anything nice from Old Navy (usually it's just flip flops or a bathing suit) because it's the quality that I typically have a problem with. If you look at the Old Navy versions of the J.Crew sweaters, you can tell the quality is poor by the neckline (it stretches out). I'd definitely say that if you do buy something from Old Navy, dry clean it and take as best care of it as possible because sometimes it is better to spend more money on something you'll get more wear out of if it is a quality product.

Amanda Dover

Found your blog and just bought four of the items, the next to buy will be the wristlet. Your site is really helpful, I have a long champ bag already but I'd just throw everything into it and it was like a messy purse. Anyway, thanks for all the tips.

Phoebe Rose

Uh Oh! I hope I didn't steal your idea! Just posted a What to pack in Your Tote topic! Don't worry though, I see your list all over Pinterest! Darling set up, I hope mine is as efficient as yours! xx