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Can Backpacks Look Good? An Investigation

I fundamentally disagree with carrying a sack on my back

I want to love backpacks—I really do. At any given moment, I am carting around at least one laptop, one sweatshirt, maybe an extra pair of shoes, and a bottle of Perrier, but I tend to carry my stuff in the least convenient way possible. Lately I’ve been carrying my large Chloé Marcie, but using a canvas tote bag to do the grunt work of holding the laptops and assorted power cords I need to have with me at all times. I have many large purses for this express purpose, but there are few that can fit everything, and even fewer I feel comfortable overloading with the chaotic randomness that is my belongings.

There is an easy solution to this problem, of course, and it’s called a backpack. But I hate backpacks. Carrying a backpack always makes me feel like a mule, and I’ve never liked how it looks. However, the canvas tote I got for free from my internet service provider is getting tattered, and I might need to suck it up and get a nice backpack.

Of course Prada makes a wonderful backpack, but the legendary nylon mini backpack that I want won’t hold much either. I’m learning to accept that the backpack I need in my life is going to be more Cheryl Strayed in Wild than Cher Horowitz in Clueless, but I still need to know: is there a way to make a backpack look good? The celebrities I see carrying backpacks are always holding them by the top handle or dangling them precariously off one shoulder like the cool kids in high school used to do. This looks great, but it’s not something I can replicate as I carry my life home from work while walking on a sheet of ice and being pelted by sleet (this is a true story that happened to me today).

Deep in my heart I fundamentally disagree with carrying a sack on my back, but I hope to change this belief by finding a really nice backpack so I can look cool as I walk upon the ice in the sleet. If nothing else, it will cushion my fall if I slip…

Senreve backpacks are great because I don’t need to commit to the idea of a backpack since they can be worn a bunch of different ways.

Senreve Maestra Bag

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This Prada nylon backpack looks like it could fit some stuff. Not a lot of stuff, but some, nonetheless.

Prada Nylon Studded Backpack

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Oh hey it’s Prada again and look how cool this backpack looks because it only has one shoulder strap. Absolutely not practical and absolutely on my wishlist.

Prada One-Shoulder Backpack

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I do love a good Adidas backpack, and this one is a serious contender:

Adidas Originals Backpack

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This Chloé Faye backpack would not cut it for me, but it’s the first backpack I’ve seen that looks great when someone’s actually wearing it.

Chloé Faye Backpack

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Update: I have fallen down an internet hole full of websites dedicated to reviewing backpacks. I landed on the page of an “award-winning” “modular pack system” that you can design yourself. I added a laptop module to the bag and also some sort of silver buckle, but the backpack still looked weird and just really green and waxy. I now owe $443 to something called Mission Workshop. Design your own backpack—I mean modular pack system here.

Ok excuse me this is the most beautiful backpack I have ever seen. After that whole modular pack system debacle this Burberry backpack is an ocean in the desert of laptop modules. This one even looks good when it’s being worn correctly:

Burberry The Rucksack

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We must pay our respects to the classic FJÄLLRÄVEN bags. They are so ugly that they’re actually sort of cool, and they’re now available as mini backpacks because everything in this timeline is shrinking.

FJÄLLRÄVEN Kånken No. 2 Backpack

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Louis Vuitton’s Palm Springs backpack looks like it can hold some laptops:

Louis Vuitton’s Palm Springs Backpack

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It’s all elegance and beauty with this Fendi backpack:

Fendi FF Flap Backpack

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…and then there’s this too, which isn’t elegant but looks quite roomy:

Fendi Bag Bugs Backpack

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But actually this is my favorite Fendi backpack:

Fendi Mania Double F Logo Backpack

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I am loving logos lately, and this MCM bag is pretty:

MCM Visetos Studded Backpack

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I love this Moschino Space Teddy bag for its subtlety and sophistication. But in all seriousness, I’m tempted.

Moschino Space Teddy bag

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To find a single functional backpack at Givenchy I had to search in their men’s section, but when I did, I was rewarded with a treasure trove of functional backpacks. My favorite is this one, which conveniently folds up into a tiny square so you can carry a secret backpack surprise with you everywhere.

Givenchy 4G Packaway Backpack

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Hold up – I just remembered that the Chanel Graffiti backpack exists. The New York Post declared it the “it bag” of the summer in 2014, and it still looks great. This is definitively the coolest backpack I have ever seen, and that concludes my investigation. I am pleased to announce that yes, backpacks can look good

Chanel Graffiti Backpack

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PS: please send me your backpack recommendations in the comments below. I am still looking.

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Katy ;P
Katy ;P
5 years ago

I think a backpack can definitely look great. It just depends on the type of backpack and outfit. I love mine for travelling and casual spring & summer days.

Katie
Katie
5 years ago

the LV Monstouris is a beautiful, hardy backpack. The GM size looks like it can fit a laptop, and you can find them on a whole bunch of resale websites. I have the MM and absolutely love the look, because it holds a bunch but still looks cute.

Christine
Christine
5 years ago

Check out: Dooney & Bourke Miramar or Allie Backpacks, Rough & Tumble Hobo Packs (Lovely leather!), and Knomo Laptop Backpack…

SeeJay
SeeJay
5 years ago

I own the prada, senreve and the LV and can say the Prada is my favorite! It holds a lot.

Jasmin
Jasmin
5 years ago

I have a medium black YSL LouLou backpack, and I love it. I’ve used it nonstop since I got it in November. It’s sleek and holds so much.

Eve
Eve
5 years ago

I like the look of Mansur Gavriel backpacks and I have a golla laptop backpack, though I swear it was 4x cheaper than the bags currently on their site when I got one 15 years ago as a schoolgirl with no income.

But I understand you on a very deep level. I wear backpacks when I absolutely have to, but I don’t like them and they fit with none of my clothing.

I use a crossbody laptop bag for work laptop. ¯_(?)_/¯

Darietta
Darietta
5 years ago

This is so on time! I have to get a backpack soon too and I too absolutely don’t like them. Thanks for the selection!

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
5 years ago

Silly me. I use a Jansport. Mostly because I’m a teacher, and kids can be…unhygienic…at times. I’m ready for something a little more sophisticated so I’m going with a tote. I saw a gorgeous one from Michael Kors that I’m considering.

I do love the Fjallraven and been contemplating the small pink one for field trips. I just can’t seem to mentally prepare myself for the price.

Amazona
Amazona
5 years ago

I recommend you check out the preloved market. It’s full of practically pristine Fjällrävens. So many people have been buying them without thinking and end up never using them.

Jessica Campos
Jessica Campos
5 years ago

I love both my Prada nylon backpack and my Fendi. But kind of prefer my large leather Fendi bag bugs because of its structure. However, the Prada nylon is perfect if you plan on carrying lots of things since the other one can get heavy. I recently purchased a backpack from an online store called Leanelle. The functionality of their bags amazed me when i watch their ad on Instagram. I will make an update once I receive it and test it, but i can tell you it looks promising!

Jerri R
Jerri R
5 years ago

The reason why I hate backpacks so much is that it is always uncomfortable reaching inside it for something while wearing it on one shoulder. It is so easy with a crossbody bag

Vlaibl
Vlaibl
5 years ago

I’ve been morally opposed to backpacks my entire adult life. But then I had to take a small child to Europe for two weeks. I got the LV Damier Azur Sperone backpack. I figured, if I need a backpack, it’s at least going to be cute. I have to say, I love that bag so much now. It is perfect for going hands free. Kid outings, errands, flying; it’s my go to. I put a Fendi fur charm on it. It could not be cuter!

Alexa
Alexa
5 years ago

I felt the same way, but just bought a Marc Jacobs backpack for traveling for work because totes are always killing my shoulder. Once I put my laptop + essentials in it, I was like okay this is cute and functional and now I’m totally on the backpack bandwagon. Hope yours works out for you!

Katerina
Katerina
5 years ago

I think I’ve found the best backpack that works so well for my life style! My Prada Quilted Nylon Backpack has replaced my diaper bag (which I hated having to carry). It’s small, yet it holds so much!

The front pocket is the perfect size to hold two diapers and baby wipes. Inside the main compartment I manage to fit one small toddle outfit change (onesie and pants) my swell bottle, baby bottle and often a small snack. The inside zipper pocket has my compact wallet, sometimes my cell phone goes there, or on the front sleeve! I’m no longer shamed on the amount spent on a backpack!

Lastly, I found most backpacks made my backside look wide. I love how this one is smaller than me, It doesn’t add unnecessary volume 😉

Bryan Lepe
Bryan Lepe
5 years ago

I think that it can be pulled off better in a smaller size and in leather if you’re going for a less sporty/casual vibe. My first designer backpack was a Marc Jacobs mini domo backpack with fur and it was so incredibly cute. I loved it to death. I got so many compliments on it. After that I got a Miu Miu mini backpack in black matelasse leather. I was eyeing the mini Prada one or the Chloé Faye one but settled on the Miu Miu one. I don’t use it as much. I should probably dig it out now that I think about it. I think I’d be happier with the LV Palm Springs Mini. We’ll see.

Sabine Müller
Sabine Müller
5 years ago

Prada Nylon (vintage or new). Looks so cool and does not have any weight.

Eos
Eos
5 years ago

Delvaux makes cute backpacks too.

Sparky
Sparky
5 years ago

I think that can look great but I don’t wear them. Too awkward. Love the Burberry ones.

Kweenhelene
Kweenhelene
5 years ago

Would only wear one if I couldn’t carry a handbag properly, like hiking or traveling. I feel like for everyday use leave it for ther millennials and kids even though everyone carries them.

Amanda Tsang
Amanda Tsang
5 years ago

I never thought that I’d like backpacks either post highschool and university, however I purchased the Mackage Tanner backpack before it got discontinued and love the croc inspired flap top and the hardy pebbled leather. I also continued on this backpack journey by buying the Marc Jacobs Mini Nylon Backpack (can’t bring myself to buy a prada). My most luxe backpack is the mini Chloe Faye backpack, which barely carries anything but makes my heart sing

Amazona
Amazona
5 years ago

I really like the Lumi Saara backpack. It’s made of gorgeous black leather and carries all my workday necessities. For free time I have a large Jansport and a smaller Pacsafe, plus a Delsey travel backpack that I can hang on the handle of my luggage. I don’t think I’d ever pay more than 150 euros for a backpack – I’m thinking about buying a large Pacsafe to replace the Jansport and Pacsafes are expensive.

Anisa Glover
Anisa Glover
5 years ago

I put the fancy-ness on hold and got a Herschel backpack in a pretty teal color

Leslie
Leslie
5 years ago

I bought my husband a Mission Workshop backpack about 5 years ago. It’s still going strong. The velcro that opens up the backpack does make A LOT of noise. I also got him the one that uses the Akriv closure system. I think I paid about $300 back in the day. It’s a little fancier than the plastic buckles. I’m sure you’ll love yours. The make your own version wasn’t available back then. I’ll let my husband know about that! Good luck on searching for your perfect backpack. I’m a fan of them and have a few, but none that can hold a laptop except for my Northface which is probably a decade old.

Sandee
Sandee
5 years ago

I have a Burberry backpack that I only use when I travel overseas. I put my wallet or small handbag inside as well as my purchases. Also, it’s practical on the subway systems and due to warnings about pickpockets I wear it in the front.

Hanh
Hanh
5 years ago

Tumi calais or daniella or any new version of tumi backpack. I got the calais first and loved it but i packed too many things. The daniella is smaller & i have to pick my essentials. Tumi updated their line and there are similar versions I just don’t remember the new names. They look good and function is ?