The tote and the satchel share some common ground, but their differences are equally -- if not more -- evident. A tote bag is generally large in size and rectangular or square in shape. These carryalls can have short or long handles, but more often than not the straps are long for easy slinging over the shoulder. Satchels range in size, but typically are mid- to large-sized with a flat bottom and two short handles on top.
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Totes are a casual style of handbag without a top closure, ideal for everything from travel to a day at the beach. Style editors at "Oprah" magazine recommend looking for a bag about the size of a cereal box to ensure you have enough room. Since you'll likely fill it with everything from makeup to gym clothes to suntan lotion, pick a sturdy fabric like leather, canvas or heavy-duty nylon.
Satchels are dressier purses that easily transition from a day at work to a night on the town. Often adorned with hardware and buckles, these bags boast a structured shape that add to the chicness factor. In contrast to totes, the satchel can be worn closed and many times has a zipper, buckle or drawstring closure. Carry yours with a sleek pantsuit, jeans and a blouse, or even a little black dress.