Banana Republic Wilshire Leather Tote in Mouse (also available in black), $230
While many ascribe their need to buy school supplies in August to years of conditioning, I can simply say that as a teacher, I am forced to do the yearly "back-to-school" shopping stint. One of the usual suspects is a large, durable, and chic tote bag. While I considered purchasing the now ubiquitous Yves Saint Laurent "Downtown" tote (it is beautiful), I ended up buying a white Bottega Veneta tri-compartment tote. (My husband cautioned against buying a white tote bag for work, but I didn't listen.) For those of us tired of the same old same old and sick of rising bag prices, the Banana Republic Wilshire tote is surprisingly chic: the hardware is aesthetically pleasing, the shape is simple but classic, and the color is neutral and perfect for fall. At $230, I can bang up this bag without a shred of guilt, which is what I feel every time I look at my poor, beat-up Bottega.