Ask Style

Stylish grown-up backpacks

Choose premium materials and pair them with maxi dresses for that trendy look

What options are there for stylish, grown-up-looking backpacks? The latest fashion trend is not about what hangs on your arm, but what is on your back - the practical backpack is back in vogue.

No longer limited to just students and travellers, this season's backpacks are classy, work-appropriate and go with any outfit. Look to the supermodels: Karlie Kloss paired a tan leather backpack with a casual maxi dress and flat sandals, while Cara Delevingne matched her chic namesake backpack (with British fashion brand Mulberry) with a leather jacket and sneakers.

Ms Bella Dan, chief designer for Hong Kong fashion handbag brand Rabeanco, says: "The best way is to pair a backpack with a maxi dress instead of denim jeans, as the latter can look too preppy."

Here are some tips on what kind of backpacks to look for:

  • Opt for premium materials such as leather and suede, or leather- looking bags. Canvas bags are hardy and practical, but not as stylish.
  • Avoid bags that have too many embellishments or zippers as they can make the bag look cluttered and complicated.
  • Choose a backpack that is structured.
  • Backpacks with thin straps are more elegant than those with thick straps as the straps will not interfere with your outfit.

Here are some picks:

1. Waterfall X leather backpack in light beige, $450, Rabeanco

This leather backpack with a drawstring closure has the perfect neutral hue that goes well with anything. Try matching this with a grey dress or top.

2. Black leather backpack with shearling flap, $179, Topshop

This structured backpack with just the right amount of slouch may have a slightly more casual feel, but it is still appropriate for the office. The navy blue shearling flap adds a fancy touch to an otherwise plain bag.

3. Black pebbled backpack, $69.90, Mango

This polyurethane bag may be in a fail-safe colour, but it is far from boring, thanks to its interesting pebbled texture.

4. Yellow backpack with foldover flap, $55.90, Zara

Get away with a loud and brightly coloured backpack by making sure it is structured and with zero embellishment, such as this one. Make it pop even further by wearing it with an all-black outfit.


Correction note: An earlier version of this article said that the Waterfall X leather backpack in light beige by Rabeanco was $275. The correct value is $450.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Classy backpacks AskStyle'. Print Edition | Subscribe