The days of the precious clutch purses are over. This season's fashionista is far too mobile to leave a purse dangling from her wrist, which is why a wave of designers are offering chic, updated versions of a utilitarian classic.
Backpacks have been around in one form or another since the 1920s, but for a long time they were anything but glamorous. Students used them to lug books, and they were a necessity for soldiers beginning with WWI, but the fashion set still preferred purses. By the 1960s, with the introduction of nylon fabric and the roll-out of the Jansport/L.L. Bean backpack, you saw them cropping up all over college campuses—especially in the rainy Northwest where L.L. Bean got its start. Prada changed the game in the 1980s when their elegant, branded version became a favorite item of the club-hopping set in New York, and the high-fashion backpack has been on the scene in one form or another ever since.
The working-class chic aesthetic which has been all over menswear collections for the past couple of seasons has seen the backpack creeping back to the forefront in womenswear as well, and the Fall season will see them coming back hard given that there is a globe-trotting vibe we feel in the air. There are a lot of places you can take this trend. The Alexander Wang leather pack, in a pretty shade of jewel green, is perfect for the beach but elegant enough for a business meeting. The Fendi Monster bag offers a more playful take, with a grouchy face on the back that will scare away anyone trying to take it off your shoulders—or invade your space on the subway. If you're really feeling the military-utilitarian look, check out the Marc Jacobs Domo Arigato, which boasts a tasteful brush stroke camouflage print and an ergonomic pyramid shape, and for something more decadent, The Row has a drawstring bag with ostrich trim.
You may not be in school any more, but whether you're going on an urban hike or just trudging to the office, you really can't beat a roomy two-strap accessory for ease and comfort. So toss your books and your laptop inside and get to packing—your shoulders will definitely thank you.