Stylish Backpacks for Grown Women

Last week, a dear friend asked me for a recommendation for a backpack.

I sighed, rolled my eyes, and said, “Really? Do you really need a backpack? Why? I guess I just don’t understand why a grown woman would wear a backpack.”

Maybe I have just seen too many instagrams of off-duty 20 year-old models wearing backpacks the size of a ring box. Why in the world would you need a teeny-tiny pouch of a backpack for your lipstick while you are juggling your phone, portfolio, and spare shoes in your hands?  Pure silliness.

After my friend pointed out why she needed a backpack (requirements below) and serious consideration/shopping on my part, I realized I don’t have a problem with women wearing backpacks…if they ride a bike or have a kid in tow.  Or if they are on their way to an audition or writing workshop or farmers market.  In any of these circumstances, a backpack is a very practical option – and I love practical.

My friend asked for a backpack that was stylish, had padded shoulder straps, and was large enough to actually hold the items she needed for her day.  Here are a few options, along with what makes them great and their potential shortcomings.

The black leather version by Rebecca Minkoff (below left) meets all the requirements…and then some.  This bag is the most expensive of the group, but the interior is lined, the bag has an exterior pocket, and the leather is gorgeous.

The Marc by Marc Jacobs bag (below right) is nylon, so it will weigh less than the leather options.  I also like nylon for easy clean ups of spills and muddy splatters from biking.  While this bag isn’t the most visually interesting, it is very practical.

Rebecca Minkoff  | Marc By Marc Jacobs

French Connection  |  Herschel Supply

 I love this backpack from French Connection (above right).  The pebbled faux leather means the bag will be lightweight and the price point is good at $98. That said, the straps are not padded and the interior is on the smaller side, but I think it is a good option for someone who doesn’t necessarily need a backpack – like me!

And the most practical option is from Herschel Supply (above left) – a very traditional backpack silhouette with cool gold accents and easy to clean nylon exterior.  Simple, stylish, and practical – all terms I like.


Although, I now understand the reason a grown woman needs a backpack, I do have some rules.

1.  Unless you are walking to a college class, you should not wear a Jansport in public.

2. Unless you are going on a hike, you do not need a bag covered in outside webbing.

I do realize that sometimes your day includes very diverse activities – maybe you have an early business meeting, rock-climbing class, back to work, then off to dinner with the girls.  And you don’t have time to go home between events and you plan on riding your bike.

You will need a real backpack.

Then I remembered Will Leather Goods.  I first saw the company a few years ago at market and have always loved the styling and of course, the story (which you can check out here).

Here are three of my favorite Will Leather Goods backpacks for those days when you need a real backpack and still want to look like a grown up!

Deliha | Oxaca | Silas