We Review Cuyana’s Easy Tote (And Other Elegant Wardrobe Essentials)

This review is not sponsored and contains the author’s personal experience. The Good Trade editors endorse products we’ve personally researched, tested, and genuinely love. Learn more about our methodology and business model here. The editor purchased the dress, all other products were gifted.


As I’m settling into my thirties, I’m surprised at how quickly all the trends from my youth have circled back into style — high-waisted jeans, Doc Martens, even peasant tops. Trends really are cyclical and most of those trends were already recycled before I wore them in high school. (I remember my own mother was shocked by the “new” popularity of the bell-bottom jeans she wore in the 70s.) 🌀

While I’ve grown confident enough to wear clothing for comfort and preference over what’s “in” these days, there’s one trend I strangely miss: Giant bags. We’ve seen them on the periphery of runways and photoshoots, but I long for the days when I’d put all my school books into a giant pink velvet and faux leather bag that had gold chains and charms clamoring on the sides. (Think: Juicy Couture but from the Target discount rack).

“I like big bags and I cannot lie — so when I discovered Cuyana’s spacious Easy Tote, I was immediately smitten.”

Yes — I like big bags and I cannot lie. So when I discovered Cuyana’s spacious Easy Tote, one of the brand’s most classic and popular designs, I was immediately smitten. I found my next big bag! I’ve toted this leather bag now for over a year, and its quality and timeless design convinced me to add even more Cuyana pieces to my wardrobe, including a one-shoulder dress, a packable straw hat, and an *actual* weekender. If you’re on the fence, read on to hear why I love the Easy Tote — and Cuyana in general — so much.

First, is Cuyana sustainable?

First, some background (bag-ground? Sorry, I can’t help myself). Cuyana was founded in 2013 by Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah, who were on a mission to redefine modern luxury with a focus on fewer, better things. The name “Cuyana” itself is derived from a Quechua word meaning “to love” or “to care,” which embodies not only the dedication to quality, but the brand’s commitment to both people and planet.

Cuyana is dedicated to sustainability and responsible sourcing, and focuses on low-impact and ethical production practices. As of this year, 100% of Cuyana’s products carry sustainable certifications, which is something worth celebrating! I’m also excited to see that the brand is dedicated to going fully carbon-neutral with its packaging by 2025, and will continue to watch ways they’re remaining accountable to that pledge.

So here’s the lowdown on Cuyana’s Easy Tote — and some other classics I couldn’t wait to try for myself.

My Cuyana Easy Tote review

The Classic Easy Tote is a minimalist’s dream — this wide tote bag features two lengths of handles for shoulder or hand carrying, a simple inner pocket, and strappy ties on the inside to offer a bit more structure and security. You can select from five core colors, as well as limited seasonal colors like dark coral, biscuit, sage, and terracotta. The Small Easy Tote starts at $248, while the Classic and Tall Easy Totes start at $268.

“The Easy Tote is a minimalist’s dream, and the caramel colorway is a perfect warm neutral.”

For this review, I opted for the Caramel colorway (I’m almost always wearing warm, bright colors, and I wanted to boost the color rather than take away with a dark black bag). This color is so beautiful; warm enough to give a bit of a dopamine boost to a minimal outfit, and neutral enough to pair with more out-of-pocket colors like my current favorite, lime green. 

I’ve now carried the Easy Tote as my primary bag for over a year — most often for commuting to work or coffeeshops (I can easily bring along a laptop, a leakproof Klean Kanteen of coffee, a LARQ water bottle, even a packed lunch!). Beyond that, I’ve used the bag as my personal item on airplanes, a grocery tote, and as a chic way to carry the numerous layers I need for the Los Angeles wintertime.

The caramel easy tote is a dreamy, warm neutral and while it’s super durable, it’s also incredibly soft from day one.

After nearly daily use for a year, I’m happy to report there’s no fraying or wear on the stitching, and only a few barely noticeable nicks here and there on the leather. I’m especially happy to see that the handles are still in great shape — they’ve been bent and flopped around, and have often carried rather heavy items like 12-packs of beer without showing any sign of strain. (When I tell you I’m rough on my bags, I mean it; I fold bags inside of one another for storage, set them on sticky bar floors, and carry leftover queso, praying that the lid won’t come off.)

This bag can fit a full dinner party’s worth of a grocery haul, which is extremely useful since I rarely remember my reusable canvas grocery totes. (But if I’m shopping for the week, I can easily fit 2-3 large totes and several reusable produce bags in my Easy Tote while still having room for plenty more.)

The only drawback here is one that Cuyana has already solved — I could always use a good zipper! Fortunately, the Easy Tote does have the option to add a zipper for $30 more. I’d say if you plan to use this bag for travel, opt for the zip! If you’re just commuting though, it’s nice and accessible without.

Ultimately, for the price, you’re getting a luxurious, versatile bag that will last you much longer than the cheap fake leather totes that start flaking the moment you use them. While $268 is a big investment, this might just be the only work bag you’ll need for years and years making the cost-per-wear quite low.

“After testing The Easy Tote for a year, I’m happy to report there’s no fraying or wear on the stitching, and only a few barely noticeable nicks on the leather. (I’m rough on my bags!)”

Other Cuyana staples I recommend

But wait, there’s more! Cuyana won me over as a customer with The Easy Tote, so the brand was my first thought when I needed to upgrade my travel wardrobe and accessories. Here’s what else I tried — and loved — from Cuyana, and whether I think they’re worth the investment.

Gathered One-Shoulder Dress | $228

Earlier this year, I found myself heading to a formal event without actually having anything formal to wear. I fussed over my closet for a week, trying to figure out if I could make something work. But when my flight started looming, I realized I needed to find something fast. 

Cuyana’s clothing has long been on my wish list, so I headed straight to the site and was greeted with this stunning one-shoulder beauty. Reader, I am a very thrifty person, but I loved the dress so much that I purchased it at full price — and overnighted it to be sure I had it on time.

“I am a very thrifty person, but I loved the dress so much that I purchased it at full price — and overnighted it to be sure I had it on time.”

It was even better than I imagined! I’ve now worn this piece in multiple settings, including a couple of formal ones, with absolute ease. The design is elegant, yet the fabric feels like formal loungewear thanks to its composition (45% Organic Pima Cotton, 45% Modal, 10% Lycra). It’s durable, weighty without being too hot, and super soft with just enough stretch. 

The details are stunning too — I especially love the stretchy slit in the side and how each tier on the full-length skirt is sewn on a diagonal for extra visual movement and intrigue. And if you’re not sold just yet? This dress has pockets. 😍

I will say though, and I will not ever stop saying, that we need more sizes. XS to XL is only the beginning, and would love to see this dress available for more bodies.

The Packable Ecuador Hat | $118

I’ve never been a hat person, but Cuyana’s Ecuador Hat has converted me (it’s technically a “Panama” style hat, but it’s named after the country it’s actually crafted in). I’ve packed it multiple times this year in my travels, and am pleased with its durability and comfort. Coming in at $118, though, I will say it’s a bit pricey for being “packable.” Since the Ecuador Hat relies on its stiff-ish shape for style, scrunching it up in any way will impact the overall look — ultimately I found that the hat noticeably loses some structure each time I fold it for travel.

After a year of wearing my Ecuador Hat, I am finding that the brim is a little more wavy than I’d like — but it’s still cute, and works great for a little extra sun protection! My recommendation would be to stick to a less expensive hat for travel and opt for Cuyana’s wide brim hat to wear at home for just $10 more than the packable one. (Just remember to store it properly, in a hatbox if you have one!)

Recycled Knit Weekender Bag | $348

Finally, I tested out the beautifully spacious weekender bag; I love the structure and the strength of this carry-on, and the zippers are shiny and substantial (no flimsy zips here). I was able to fit two pairs of shoes and four day’s worth of clothing in the bag for a trip over the summer, and didn’t feel at any point that I had to overstuff the bag. Thanks to the two exterior pockets and three interior ones, I was able to keep all my charging cords, cosmetics, and toiletries managed (which is always difficult for me).

But an important note: The weekender size of this bag is too large to be considered a “personal item” on most planes so it will need to be stowed as a carry-on in the overhead compartment. I’d recommend opting for the less expensive recycled knit rather than the leather in case you need to gate-check your bag. If you’re traveling by car or train, though, and prefer leather I say go for it!

Overall, Cuyana has my heart (and likely, some of my wardrobe budget for next year). If you’re looking to invest in just one bag or dress for the long haul, I truly recommend keeping an eye on all of Cuyana’s classics and new releases to come. The only drawbacks I can note are the limited size range and the high price tag. Do watch for sales, which can pop up around holidays! And as always, remember — buy fewer, better items that you truly need.

And when it comes to moving through my 30s and into my 40s? You can bet I’ll be carrying my Easy Tote and wearing my Gathered One-Shoulder dress into the next decade.

The Easy Tote is actually is so soft that my cousin snapped this pic of me napping on it. Look at me, all tuckered out from the sun! I’m glad I had my Ecuador Hat for a little extra protection.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cuyana’s Easy Tote is an easy investment — while pricey at around $268, I found that the quality has surpassed my expectations and the bag looks as elegant today as the day I unwrapped it. I’d love to eventually have a zippered version, which the brand does offer!
  • The quality of the Gathered One Shoulder dress is superb; the weight of the fabric feels and looks luxurious, while still being comfortable and breathable. It’s definitely on the more formal side, but I’m curious about Cuyana’s other dresses for more everyday wear thanks to how high quality this one is.
  • The Packable Ecuador hat is very cute — but it is a little pricey for something you’re supposed to be able to “pack” and not lose shape or integrity. I’ve found the brim is a little tough to smooth out once it’s been scrunched.
  • The Weekender is generously sized and can fit almost a week’s worth of clothing, including shoes (if you’re going to a warm climate). If you’re traveling by plane, though, note that this is a carryon — much larger than the standard personal item — and must be stowed in the overhead bin. Keep that in mind before you drop big money on it, because there’s always the chance it’ll get gate checked too!

Emily Torres is the Editorial Director at The Good Trade. Born and raised in Indiana, she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her in her colorful Los Angeles apartment journaling, caring for her rabbits and cat, or gaming.