To zip-top tote or open tote?
During my college years and early law school years, I would usually carry all my school stuff with a zip-top tote. However, when I started working while in law school, my everyday load increased.
That’s when I started considering open totes.
But mind you, it wasn’t that easy at first.
As I live in Manila, I had so many apprehensions. The thought of pick-pockets or thieves haunted me like crazy.
Nonetheless, being the “adventurous” that I am, I still gave it a try. And I couldn’t be happier that I did!
Carrying a large open tote turned out to be more practical for me than using a zippered tote. I can be carefree with whatever I put in it. I’ll dump in my books, folders, binders, water or coffee tumblers, watermelon (Joke!), clothes — you name it!
How to Wear Your Open Tote Safely
Others are in awe that I can carry an open tote in my daily Metro Manila commute.
“Where do you put your wallet?”
“How do you keep all your belongings secure?”
These questions inspired me to make this post.
Contrary to what my friends think, using an open tote is not as hard and risky as it seems. You just have to use the right materials to keep all your belongings intact and safe.
If you are someone who considers buying an open tote, or already have one, but is too afraid that you’ll loose everything to thieves or pick-pockets, then keep reading.
You may find the following tips helpful.
(1) Invest in good, open tote
In choosing my open tote, I make sure to look for one that has inside pockets or compartments, and freebie wrislet-style pouches. These extras allow you to keep your valuables (e.g. mobile phones, credit/cards, or wallet) concealed and secure.
Some of my suggestions are:
Tory Burch Ella Tote
I love its enormous and deep zippered pocket. This is where I’d usually put all of my valuables.
The Coach Reversible Tote
It has a pouch that comes with it where you can put some of your important belongings. What’s cool about this pouch is you can tie it on any of the tote’s straps to keep it secure.
So, if someone tries to snatch it away from you, you’ll be alerted in no time and he won’t get away with the pouch easily.
I also use this pouch as my wrislet. It makes it easier for me to move around with my valuables without having to carry the tote with me.
The Coach Metro Tote
I have this tote in the signature monogram print in brown, with cute dark pink leather trimmings. But apart from being chic and fashionable, this tote offers an extra layer of security for your belongings even though it doesn’t have any form of closure.
See that inside pocket? That’s where I’d put all of my belongings.
This tote may also be shrunk using its dog-chain clasp. This way, the opening becomes smaller, making it difficult for others to peek through inside this tote.
Also, I use the clasp’s metal rings as an attachment for my Coach wallet wrislet. In a way, they may be used like the Louis Vuitton Neverfulls’ D-ring.
Vela Manila Tote
This vegan leather tote is one of the best gifts I got from Jumel, my boyfriend.
View this post on Instagram
There's nothing a bag can't cure! Lately, I've been a little under the weather, which made juggling law school and work a little more challenging than before. Good thing, I have a very supportive boyfriend, who's willing to join me in my "BAG-o-holism"! He bought me something, a DALISAY BAYONG BAG, from @velamanila ! Now, I'm cured and hooked! #dalisaybayongbag #gawangpinoy #marikinabag #velamanila
This tote has so many useful compartments, making it as functional as it is stylish!
Apart from its substantial inside pocket, it also has pockets for cards and pens!
Louis Vuitton Neverfulls
Of course, who would forget the iconic LV Neverfull!
This classic comes in three sizes (PM, MM, and GM), each with large inside zippered pockets that can hold even a long wallet and a small tablet. No wonder, this has been a cult favorite by many.
(2) Use an organizer with zippered compartments
The usual open bucket organizers are pretty, but unfortunately, I don’t find them secure enough for my essentials.
Using zippered organizers is another great way to protect your valuables and tote essentials while giving you the same degree of organization that you want. Plus, they are so lightweight; they don’t add up to the bag’s weight at all.
PERSONALLY, I prefer the more affordable ones with zipper compartments. I actually have two in my collection and I love them to bits!
With zippered organizers, I can keep my money or wallet in their most remote zippered pockets.
Here’s a video of me explaining how my zippered organizer works. Good thing I was able to talk about it in my short Coach Metro Tote Review video.
(3) Use bag chains
Bag chains can be used to attach your wallet, or any pouch containing your valuables, to your bag’s straps or D-rings. This way, they are not easily taken away in the event of pick-pockets.
What I’d normally do is to hook one end of the chain to my pouch’s zipper pull hole, with the other end attached to my tote’s D-ring or straps.
(3) Bring your shoal or scarf with you
I know this is self explanatory. However, for those who still haven’t realized it yet, this is another good way to pickpocket-proof your tote.
You can re-purpose your shoal and/or scarf as a “cover up” for your tote. By putting it on top of your belongings, you’ll be able to conceal your tote’s contents and shun others from seeing them.
(5) Put your essentials underneath or on the side of the tote closest to your view
Before having my zippered bag organizers, this is the method I used to safeguard my tote from thieves, even from mere onlookers.
I would normally put my wallet and other valuables (usually in a pouch) underneath my books, water bottle or tumbler, and other crap I put in my bag. This is so, especially when I’m walking through crowded places.
By doing this, I can keep my important items away from peeking eyes and feel whether or not someone’s digging his way through them.
I also put my valuables on the side of my tote closest to my body. This way, I can keep them within my range of view.
No one should be tormented just because of the thought of using an open tote.
If you have a beautiful tote you want to show the world, then GO! But if you’re still having reservations, you are free to disregard these tips. After all, at the end of the day, you’re the one calling the shots on matters like this.
Do you love using totes like I do?
If so, feel free to comment your suggestions or thoughts down below.
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