Image: Showbit

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 mini leather backpack in light pink, $275, 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.


A version of this story was originally published in The Straits Times on March 17, 2016. For more stories like this, head to

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