Last year, I swore off totes.
As some background, up until about August of 2018 I’d been using my Madewell Canvas Transport Tote as my main bag for every day. But then I started to get some serious shoulder pain. It eventually got so bad that I had to go to the doctor because even just sitting upright and doing nothing was super painful (AGING amiright??).
The doctor basically told me that I was fine, but that constantly carrying so much weight on one shoulder wasn’t doing me any good. I made some changes – getting rid of most of the things that I carried in my bag every day and reducing the weight of it as much as possible. I got a much smaller bag – my little vintage Dooney & Bourke – and the shoulder pain went away.
I never thought I’d go for another tote again until I saw that Everlane was coming out with a smaller version of their popular Day Market Tote, and then all of a sudden I really, really wanted a tote.
I actually asked Everlane if I could try out the new bag before I even got to see what the whole thing looked like (you know how the “Coming Soon” page only ever shows a partial image as a teaser? Affiliates didn’t even have access to pictures of this one!). I didn’t even know it was going to be called the Day Square Tote until it showed up on my doorstep. After about a month of use, I can say definitively that it is the perfect tote for minimalists (and if you read on, I’ll give you some tips for avoiding a shoulder injury).
The Day Square Tote is Everlane’s newest addition to the Day handbag family. It costs $165, and it comes in black, cognac, and saddle. It is 100% Italian leather, made in a family-owned factory in Prato, Italy. The bag is unlined, so it has a suede-like interior, and there is one small pocket on the inside to hold items like chapstick and a cell phone.
And that’s it. No hardware, no colorful lining or patterns, nothing. Just a simple, symmetrical leather tote bag that makes my little minimalist heart sing.
When first I got this bag, the leather was very stiff and had a flat, almost matte look to it. Now that I’ve been using it for a month or so, the leather is softening up a bit. The bag still stands up by itself, one of my favorite features, but I’m less worried now about getting a smudge on its pristine surface.
I’ve heard some other people say that they treated this with a leather conditioner after getting a mark on it, but I would actually caution against that. I’ve gotten a few oily spots on it from my hands, like after using a lotion or a salve, and while it looks sort of bad right after it happens, it will actually absorb and disperse into the leather on its own with a little bit of time. All those smudges I put in mine are completely gone now, and I didn’t have to use any kind of treatment.
How I keep It Minimalist
One habit I’ve taken up that I highly recommend is to completely empty your bag every single day. I make it part of my morning routine. Before I leave for work, I just dump it out onto my bed and sort items into categories: things I am going to need today, things I don’t need today, and garbage. Only the things I will actually need that day go into my bag, and the rest gets put away or thrown away as appropriate. I’ve never lost a chapstick. This method works.
Despite being a smaller version of the Market tote, the Day Square Tote still fits basically everything you could possibly need to put in it. Laptop, water bottle, lunch, extra sweater, you name it. It’s sturdy and can take a decent amount of weight inside, but I don’t recommend filling it to the brim with heavy objects unless you absolutely need to (see above re: shoulder injury).
The bag itself is super light, especially in comparison to my canvas tote. I really hate when bags are heavy before you even put anything in them. To keep weight to an absolute minimum, here’s what I carry in the Day Square Tote every day:
- credit card, ID, CVS & Safeway cards (no wallet – I just keep them loose in the inner pocket, and I’m a millennial so I never have cash unless I’m going to the nail salon)
- Chapstick and lipstick (1 tube each)
- Small compact mirror
- Metro card/office ID
- Mechanical Pencil
- Small notebook
- Small pouch for feminine supplies
- collapsible shopping bag (in case I hit the drug store or grocery store on my way home)
I usually don’t ever end up needing more than this. I used to carry so much crap in my bag every day, but needing to get the weight down really helped me curate my daily assortment of stuff, and I like it so much better. Sometimes the straps of the bag will slip off my shoulder if it’s extra light that day, but that’s a better problem to have than a sore back.
One thing I will say about this bag is that it’s not great for airplanes or travel where it might get jostled. Because it is large and the leather is stiff, there’s really no way to keep things from spilling out if the bag tips over. I had considered bringing it with me on my recent trip to Florida, but then I realized it wouldn’t do well to be shoved under the seat in front of me on the plane, and so I decided to use my zippable Longchamp Le Pliage tote instead.
In short, I like this tote a lot. I love how simple and streamlined the design is – the square shape feels like a really modern, stylish update – and I appreciate that the bag itself doesn’t weigh a lot. I use this at the office, for errands, and just about everything in between. As with most high-quality leather pieces, I think that this bag will only get better with age, and you can expect to see it feature here frequently for the foreseeable future.
Questions? Let me know below! (Please don’t leave a comment to tell me that my mirror is dirty. I know. My dog sneezed on it.)
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