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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Paper Doll Finds Fashion-Forward File Totes

Dear Paper Doll:

I admit, I'm a fashionista. My mobile phone has pretty skins so I can make it match my outfits. I try to be digital, but some of my life (OK, a lot of my life), including my family stuff and work stuff, exists on paper and I spend a lot of my time going to meetings in other locations. I need something stronger than a file folder, prettier that those brown accordion files that lawyers use and neater than tossing it all into my bag. Help me be mobile without being a mess!

As a professional organizer, I work with many clients who need their papers organized for maximum mobility.

Work -- Do you travel by plane, train or automobile for your career? Even if you're all about digital documentation and living in the cloud, you'll still have trouble going entirely paperless. And, unless you're selling software (or the concept of software-as-a-service), you're going to need some kind of paperwork (brochures, contracts, specifications, etc.) to share with prospective and actual clients.

Search and Research -- Imagine yourself visiting schools with your college-bound teen. Universities are all super high tech, and application forms whiz through cyberspace, but there are still mountains of brochures, lists, instructions and forms to collect, review, and return. Similarly, if you're thinking of relocating for a new job, as you tour a possible community, you'll be collecting everything from housing applications to fliers telling you which restaurants deliver.

Medical paperwork -- As I've discussed at length in my Vital Signs series (here and here, especially) on medical paperwork, there's so much information and documentation you need to carry with you to appointments, tests and consultations. Although a three-ring binder works wonders, it's not the only option.

Personal projects -- Whether you're a PTA parent or a genealogy guru, when you amble far from home or your office, you're going to need to corral the papers related to committees, projects and tasks.

We've talked at length about all the different ways to keep your paperwork organized when you have to be mobile:

Trapper Keepers® & Diaper Bags--Keys to Organizing Mobile Paperwork (Intro)

Mobile Mavens: Keeping the Personal Paper Portable When You're Out and About

A Culinary Model for Successful Mobile Offices

All of those solutions for carrying papers are valid, but they tend to lean heavily on options for schlepping a whole lot of papers at one time. Beyond that, today's reader wrote in because she wanted something that's not only utilitarian, but fashion-forward as well. Thus, we're looking for some lightweight totes that aren't exactly lightweights in their file toting categories. Well, I've got some doozies for her (and you)!

Die Cuts With A View (DCWV), a standout in the scrapbooking and crafting market, has a sideline in pretty little file totes. While form is given priority over function, the latter hasn't been given short shift. Each 10 1/4" high x 11 3/4" wide tote has seven divided file compartments and a tiny elastic closure at the top that leaves no impediment for one-finger carrying. The DCWV totes are designed to match the rest of their style lines with file folders, clipboards, three-ring binders, note cards and photo albums.

In addition to the Loft style, above, DCWV's design lines include

MiCasa and Safari (above), and each retails for about $13.49.

My favorite tote line is from Galison, based on the stylings of designers and artists as varied as Paula Smail and Andy Warhol, and works from various museum exhibits. Below is Smail's Henry Road tote in all its pretty-in-pink glory.

The durable reinforced paper tote measures 11 1/2" high x 12 1/2" wide x 3 1/2" deep, has eight interior dividers and a fashion-coordinated elastic closure. The Galison file tote retails for about $20.

Although the current Galison File Tote line is lovely, it's worth searching Amazon for their Pretty File Tote line extensions, which includes the William Morris (he of the belief that one ought "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.") Morning Garden design:

Perhaps you like the lines of the above totes but are looking for something a little less sedate? College students and others on the cutting edge might particularly like the very similar file tote at Room It Up.

RIU's slightly more squarish accordion-style File Folder Totes measure 11 5/8" high x 12 7/8" high x 3 1/2" deep and have eight divider slots. Reinforced paper gussets strengthen the totes and increase paper capacity. They come in bold, psychedelic patterns like Bright Bloom, SoHo Swirl and Dream Dot (pictured below):

and are priced at a student-friendly $12/tote.

If all of this color isn't quite your thing, or you prefer to create and show off your own pretty folders and designs, The Container Store's Our Translucent File Tote may suit the minimalist in you.

A bit wider than the other totes, Our Translucent Tote is 15" wide x 13" high x 4" deep and is made of translucent polypropylene side panels bound with reinforced black polypropylene/canvas. Reviewers give this tote high marks, both for its durability and low price of about $6.

If the translucent approach seems vaguely familiar, it may be because Paper Doll previously reviewed the Peter Walsh [In] Place System. Sold separately from the introductory kit, the [In] Place Tote is available at Office Max.
The translucent, water-resistant polypropylene material is durable, and the handles are expandable/collapsible for convenience. This tote can be used with regular files, but is designed to work particularly well with the whole [In] Place System of translucent (and slippery) document envelopes, sleeves and file folders. The tote retails for $10.49.

Designer school and office accessory store Carolina Pad's Hot Chocolate line includes totes that are a little boxier, with reinforced edges and shaping more in line with a traditional portfolio case or oversized lunch box.

The polypropylene Hot Chocolate totes, including the Pixie Sticks pattern displayed above, measure 13" wide x 10" high x 3" deep and have 26 divider pockets. The totes are water-resistant and have flip-over tops with attached briefcase-style handles and plastic twist closures.

Are you seeking refined elegance? We've previously-reviewed the gorgeous and durable JamieRaquel LIFEStyle Totes:

which certainly do make a bold, beautiful statement. However, they are designed for carrying a weighty bulk of paperwork and accessories.

But what if you want Big Time Glamour without big guns (you know, bulky biceps)?

I'd originally planned to share the Audrey five-file and eight-file totes from Russell + Hazel, which came in gloriously chic black and white designs, and which had been patterned after vintage Hollywood pieces.

The Audrey measured 11 1/4" high x 12 3/4" wide x 2 1/2" deep, and came with detachable leather straps, a glossy coated exterior, a stylish interior pattern and tabbed pockets. The luxuriously sleek design was suitable for active use by Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly. It didn't even tip over from a standing position.

Sadly, between the time Paper Doll discovered the Audrey and when there was an opening in the editorial calendar, Russell + Hazel discontinued the line. However, while I am a bit crestfallen, I'm happy to note that upscale style isn't completely absent from the fashion landscape.

The Bella Leather Expandable Totes from See Jane Work are handcrafted from fine Italian leather.

The totes are available in four rich colors (Black, British Tan, a soft Pink and a rich Purple that deserves to be called "aubergine") and have nine sturdily-gusseted pockets:

The Bella totes have detachable leather handles with elegant contrasting stitching detail, making them not only easier to carry than typical expanding file totes, but decidedly more fashionable. Retailing at $96, the Bella line carries a heftier price tag, but you're likely to own it for much longer and be even more inspired to carry it and make a splashy, yet classy, entrance.

Finally, if you live your life such that the aesthetics of class and elegance take a backseat to packing a wallop of a message, To and Fro Totables from Perpetual Kid will help you get that message across loud and clear:

Measuring 11 1/2" high x 13" wide x 3.5" deep, these reinforced accordion sided totes have messages on both sides, which are sometimes contradictory:

The To and Fro tote line offers the take-work-home gal (or guy) an opportunity to show some spunk. (Just remember what Mr. Grant told Mary Richards about employees having spunk!) The To And Fro Totables run about $13 to $16.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, just remember that your own personal style, and not that of a file tote, is what will carry the day. And if anyone disagrees, send 'em to Paper Doll. I'll set them straight for you!

posted on: 8/2/2011 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by Diane N. Quintana, CPO on 8/2/2011 11:02:39 AM:

Excellent review, Julie! I love all these options for fashionably carrying paper to and fro!

by Ellen Delap on 8/2/2011 12:15:11 PM:

Fabulous finds Julie! Keeping it cute counts! Thanks for finding and sharing all these ideas!

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 8/2/2011 1:19:30 PM:

Diane and Ellen, thanks for the kind words. I often lean a bit far toward the side of functionality, but then remember that aesthetics prove to be a great motivator. If something is attractive and appealing, we're more likely to commit to making it part of our system. Win-win!

by Jeri Dansky on 8/4/2011 3:15:14 AM:

Just FYI: See Jane Work doesn't identify the vendor on the Bella file tote, but it seems to be the one from the Italian company Fiorentina. You can see the Fiorentina file tote at www.jennibick.com, www.poeme-online.com, www.inkworksstore.com, www.treasuresworldwide.com and other sites.

by Sarah Portman on 1/19/2012 4:24:27 PM:

These bags look like they would be able to hold a lot of my leather journal that I have. I'm looking for cute bags to tote them all around. I would recommend getting some leather journals from www.rusticoleather.com

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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