The Tricks to Wearing a Backpack Like an Adult

They're comfortable, practical, and increasingly stylish. But you've got to take care not to look like you grabbed your old school bag.

When it comes to everyday carryalls, you've got a lot of options beyond the old-school briefcase that everyone's dad used to carry, but none quite as cool and convenient as the backpack.

But since they're traditionally favored by kids, the favorite hands-free bag does carry the risk of looking a little young when not done right. So if you're packing one up, put the below into practice to keep your grown-up vibe.

Dress It Up

Whether it’s made of hand-stitched leather or worn-in canvas, a backpack has an inherently casual vibe. And in today's world of dressed-down offices, that's perfectly ok. But you don't want to lean too heavily into the informal vibe, since extra relaxed clothes plus a backpack can be a bit too much.

But when done right, there’s no reason why a good backpack can’t be taken just as seriously as a stodgy briefcase. To keep things grown up, go slightly more formal with your clothes – like dark denim instead of a faded pair, or a trim sweater instead of a hoodie.

Skip the Suit

One of the things we love about ditching the briefcase in favor of the backpack is that the latter is way more functional – you (and all your stuff) can easily go from point A to points B, C, and D without skipping a beat. But that comes with a bit of a tradeoff: a backpack will never be as formal.

So stay away from styling yours with a full-on suit. A blazer and jeans are fair game, but unless it's super structured, tossing a backpack over a crisply cut suit can leave you looking like a college intern heading back to campus.

Pack Light

One of the most common backpack pitfalls is overpacking. Don't let it happen to you.

It’s tempting to toss in your entire life, since you've got plenty of space. But unless you’re going hiking or headed out on a trip, keep your carry limited, since the cool factor is totally lost as soon as the backpack starts to bulge. So rather than keeping a nomad-level stash with you at all times, just keep it to the essentials.

Step Up the Quality

Nothing says junior high like a nine-color nylon pack with extra padded shoulder straps. To keep yourself away from adolescent territory, go for classic fabrics (heavy canvas and leather), constructed with a sturdy shape that won't be too floppy.

Whether you go for the conventional canvas or luxe leather (or both), consider yourself ready to hit the streets for some slick urban exploring.

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