Your Perfect School Book Bag

Don’t you miss the good old days of back-to-school shopping? Shiny Lisa Frank folders, packs of Crayola washable markers, and utterly useless contraptions like protractors? At least there’s one back-to-school item you never grow out of: the book bag. But gone are the days of JanSport and L.L. Bean behemoths and those terrible wheelie-bags— here are some adorable and affordable options for your perfect school book bag. It’s time to carry your books like a grown-up.

Campus Chic
A satchel or large handbag is the best option for girls on the go. A chic carry-all can take you from the discussion table to the dinner table, fitting all your books just as well as an extra pair of heels for a night out. School doesn’t have to cramp your impeccable style— check out these bags from Urban Outfitters ($68) and Aldo ($50).

Go Collegiate
Nothing says “college” more proudly than the messenger bag. Seen most often on guys (it is, after all, one of the only acceptable “man bags”), this rectangular carrier is meant expressly for books and laptops and usually has extra pockets for pens, computer chargers and other easily lost items. Most are made of that super tough “ballistic” nylon, like the utilitarian Tumi bag ($195) and styles from the iconic Manhattan Portage ($49-99). For an alternative, hipster-meets-Ivy League look, try one in leather from (which boasts an seriously endless variety, starting at $68.)

Tote it All
For versatility, the best option is the tote. More about function than fashion, these oversized bags are nonetheless stylish and are the biggest bags around. With an open top for easy access, a tote will fit your laptop, notebooks, an extra cardigan and all the Chapstick in the world, all without cramping your style— and they can be found super cheap. Hollister does herringbone ($49.50), Gap uses corduroy ($45) and Abercrombie & Fitch sports— what else?— plaid ($78).

Go Green
Last year’s “I am Not a Plastic Bag” by Anya Hindmarch was a sign of things to come. Eco-friendly bags are all the rage, and now there are dozens of cute options to be found in a range of stores. Both Old Navy and Gap (in stores only) sells their canvas bags for $10 or less, and for upscale choices, try Anya Hindmarch’s new lines of canvas bags with cheeky drawings and sayings (around $90). For a truly “green” bag, check out ChicoBag, made from recycled materials and compactable in its own little stuff pouch, so you have it on hand for that impromptu grocery run ($5). Lastly, for a bag that not only recycles but also feeds, check out FEED bags ($60): sold to benefit Lauren Bush’s FEED organization, the purchase of each organic cotton/burlap tote feeds one hungry child in school for a whole year.

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