If you’re someone who heads to the office (even if it’s only a couple days a week), you know the importance of a work bag. It’s been with you through every long commute and is there waiting for you at the end of a rushed morning, and in turn becomes an extension of you. A work bag is like the grown-up version of a comfort blanket.
The contents of your work bag? That’s a whole different story. It requires a bit more forethought than your going-out bag might, as you have a lot you need to pack for. Your office day entails lunch and meetings and hours at a desk, all of which might come with a different need (hello, blue-light glasses). At the end of packing it up, your work bag might feel like it has everything but the kitchen sink inside of it—but we’re here to help you strategize.
From chapstick to headphones to the essentials you haven’t thought of, these 16 items are what you should keep in your work bag to prepare for anything your 9-5 might throw your way.
Obviously, your wallet will always be with you on work days, but which one you choose matters. This Madewell leather wallet is compact enough that it doesn't take up too much space, but substantial enough to contain all your necessities.
3 colors available
A true work tote essential? A smaller bag to keep inside it. Having a pouch that contains smaller items, like lip balm, hand cream, and tampons, will help you be able to access them with ease, and will reduce clutter.
11 colors available
For a quick, one-swipe application that gives you hydration and color, the Summer Fridays lip balm is your best bet. The color is sheer enough that you can apply it on-the-go, but significant enough that it can replace your lipstick if needed.
6 colors available
Not to be dramatic, but this Frenshe hand serum smells like it was sent straight from heaven. Keep it in your tiny bag to apply throughout the work day (we always notice dry hands the most when we're typing).
Rather than a roller ball, Glossier’s You solid perfume is perfect for a work bag. Not only does it last ages, but it’s a perfect office scent, as it literally smells like you—but a whole lot better.
Especially if you take public transportation as a part of your commute, hand sanitizer is a must. This is our editors’ all-time favorite, as it comes in a spray form, and the packaging ensures it won’t leak.
10 scents available
You don’t realize how essential a pen is to keep on you until you’re in a pinch until you need one and don’t have one. Avoid the problem by having one (or two) that you designate specifically to your work bag.
This personalized notebook is perfect for to-do lists, random thoughts that happen throughout the day, or mid-day doodles. Plus, it comes in 10 joy-sparking colors.
Even if you swear you won't, the chances of putting your hair up in the middle of a work day are high. Keep this editor-approved claw clip in your bag so you can throw it up in a chic way for prime focusing time.
9 colors available
For allergy pills, Tylenol, or any of your daily prescriptions, this little pill case will have you prepared for anything—even a pesky afternoon headache.
3 colors available
You heard it here first: The Owala is the new Stanley Cup. This leak-proof bottle is equipped with a locking mechanism and is sleek enough to throw in your tote. No spills here.
8 colors available
Buying lunch too often? Try getting a bento box to take to work. It'll keep you organized, and it's oh-so-satisfying to see your lunch lined up in the little compartments. It's also leak-proof, so you'll be safe popping it in your bag.
5 colors available
Keep your laptop safe (and looking extra-cute) with this puffy laptop sleeve that’s bound to get you watercooler compliments.
7 colors available
For charging on your commute or when you can't find an open outlet, a portable charger is a staple in any bag. Bonus points if it's pink.
Noise-canceling headphones make all the difference in a busy office or if you have a virtual meeting (or if you want to zone out and feel zen on your commute). Lucky for you, they're super stylish, too.
3 colors available
Our favorite work tote