When anyone asks me what are 'the standards' to have in an ideal wardrobe, you might be surprised to know that I always include the classic L. L. Bean tote in the repetoire. Function (sometimes!) is just as important as fashion when building the proper wardrobe and heaven knows, it really kills the look to have your gym sweats or a diaper popping out of the top of your Birkin.
This iconic tote has been around since 1944 and was originally designed to haul ice to your home's ice chest back in the day when ice was still purchased outside of the home. The original tote resembled more of a tradional ice carrier, a slight variation of the tote we know today.

It has been a constant in our home for as long as I can remember. It goes everywhere with me, the beach, the grocery store, the dry cleaners and more so since I had children. I have found it to be the perfect alternative to a diaper bag or toddler carry-all, and a very 'green' choice for carting around the older childs belongings as well.

Julia Roberts loves her Bean!

So you can imagine my disappointment when, two weeks ago as I was in the midst of potty training my son, he decided that if he was going to have an accident, it would be somewhere he felt comfortable.
In other words, he spied my favourite tote (mongrammed but of course!) positioned in the corner awaiting a trip to the grocery store. I was upset (to say the least) but brightened up when I realized this was the perfect opportunity to order myself a new one.

Sarah Jessica Parker running errands with her tote in NYC

The L.L. Bean persona has always been associated with the life of the New England Prep (the totes are manufactured in Brunswick, Maine-it doesn't get any more New England than that) but this style essential has been spotted everywhere from the Great White North to the sunny California coast. The sturdy cotton canvas tote is strong enough (I have carried my computer in it to a meeting in lieu of a traditional laptop bag) to stand on its own and is a classic carryall for all seasons.

Reese Witherspoon carting her tote to the gym in Los Angeles

The tote also seems to be the go-to carryall for celebrities and fashion designers as well. Suri Cruise totes around her vast array of toys in a monogrammed, orange trimmed tote while shoe icon Manolo Blahnik is rumoured to only transport all his day to day necessities in his classic navy trimmed carrier.

Katie Holmes, Suri Cruise and their L.L. Bean Tote

The current design was created in the 1960's when the contrasting trim in red or blue was added. The red and blue are my favourites (you just can't go wrong with these choices) but every once in awhile, a new colour is introduced in a shade I just can't resist!


  1. I could not agree more. They are so useful. Nina Garcia also loves them as she says they are an "essential" chic item to have.

  2. I have many of all sizes and use them all the time... but mostly in the summertime. I too have used one to carry my laptop!

  3. Love mine: green trim with my initials from BEFORE I was married!

  4. Oh I haven't heard of them over here!

    Thank you SO much for the comment, made my day.
    xoxo DJ

  5. I have a collection of my own and LOVE them! I need to replace my teaching tote as it's beginning to show some wear. I'm eyeing the pink for spring and summer.

    Have a great weekend~

  6. How is it the knowledge of these marvelous bags has escaped me? Thanks for the info!

  7. I will have to get one of these. So handy, stylish and classic.

  8. I love the boat and totes...I just got another one w/ a gift card from x-mas! xx

  9. I have so many it's ridiculous. I even use them as my purse much of the summer. Have you seen the brand new madras ones at LL Bean. They have a pink madras one with pink handles (they had this last year but with navy handles) it! And only $29.

  10. hi there,

    do you know which size julia roberts is carrying and if it's the regular or long handle. i want to purchase one and that one seems to be the right fit for me. thx!

  11. Goya-I believe the tote Julia Roberts is carrying is the long handled, extra-large in blue. Hope that has helped, I know you will love your bag!

  12. Love this post! I'm currently considering ordering one of LLBeans Create Your Own Tote bags to use as a casual Spring/Summer/purse/toddler bag, and came across this blog. Lovely blog! Now I just have to figure out what colors to choose. Classic blue or red is tempting, but I think I'm going to have to go for something a little more moi.

  13. Hi,
    For everyone who uses these as laptop bags, do you use the medium or the large? I'm petite, and the large one will probably dwarf me, I'm afraid. I have a 13" MBP in a 14" case. Would you think I can carry that in the medium size?

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