How To Rock A Backpack Without Looking Like a 9 Year Old

I’ve been on the look out for a stylish backpack for years. Ever since I saw this photo on The Sartorialist.


I mean I could try a thousand life times and I will never be as cool as that chick but after seeing this photo I thought I might just be able to pull off a backpack without looking like a tourist or someone who plays Warhammer, which is really the main concern right? The problem was I could never find one that I liked. I wanted a slim line backpack that could fit my laptop and a few essentials and didn’t look like it was filled with Troll Dolls and Beanie Babies.


 I then found the holy grail of backpacks. It’s from a company called Cote&Ciel and this backpack is the stuff dreams are made of. It’s slim, stylish, beautifully made and fits all the essentials that I constantly lug around in heavy leather shoulder bags. The criteria for the perfect non-dorky backpack is simple – it must be streamlined, free from obvious branding, fairly neutral in colour and non-gimicky. Here’s my backpack short list.

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Cote&Ciel Flat Pack 

(…but I actually bought mine on eBay)


The Herschel Survey Backpack

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Baggu Backpack


Soft Leather Backpack

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…and then there’s the Gucci Backpack

Would you ever consider using a backpack?

Or does the very thought of it give you nightmares of mouldy sandwiches and forgotten excursion notes?

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. I totally would. My tip to rock a backpack, only on one shoulder and swagger 🙂 Rachel x

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      So Judd Nelson right now. Hawt.

  2. Liz 3 years ago

    Or you can rock a 6 year old’s backpack with pride:

    (I had the dino one until I wore holes in it, now I have the robot one!)

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      Oh my lord so cute! I’ve actually been eyeing off a few Marrimekko kids backpacks.. so cute. The dino is perfect for you!

  3. Latifah 3 years ago

    ohhh the leather one is sexy as!

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      I know! My only complaint is that the zips are brass – I’m a silver gal!

  4. Nicole 3 years ago

    I used to get so much shit for wearing a backpack everywhere I went. I liked to loosen the straps to be the longest they could be and wear it hanging low. Even in bars, I would just walk around with it on my back. It was like a security blanket. And the only time I took it off was when I went out with work mates once and they whinged till I put it down. Of course I then left it by accident in the bar, just like I told them I would.
    I’m not a handbag kinda person. It just takes way too much effort to constantly make sure I’m holding onto something or positioning it just right on my shoulder. I still carry a backpack as my bag for airplane travel, but mostly I just stick my phone in one jean pocket, and my card in the other.

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      Ah the low hanging back pack… totally Courtney Love. I LOVE my backpack for airport travel. So handy with all the other crap you have to carry around and suitcases. I can’t believe I waited so long to get one.

  5. Nicole 3 years ago

    P.S. if I were to buy a new backpack now, it would most likely resemble this:

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      Fucking rad.

      • Nicole 3 years ago

        Isn’t it amazing? Kate Lanphear is definitely one of my style icons and I can see her rocking it.

  6. Danimezza 3 years ago

    I bought a beautiful black leather backpack from ASOS before my trip to NYC. I use it every single time I’m in Melbourne though 😉

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      I’ve been considering getting a leather one… I’m quite addicted now I thing! And Melbourne is totally the New York of Australia. Everyone knows that.

      • Nicole 3 years ago

        Like You, having been to both, You’re absolutely right. That’s why I blushed every time a Melbourne real estate agent wouldn’t believe I grew up in Sydney. Total compliment. Contrary to what I was told when I was young, Melbourne>>>>>Sydney. Especially when it comes to “all black errrything” chic.

  7. Nadine Armiger 3 years ago

    I’ve always had backpacks (I’m old and I can’t let the 90s go . . ) I simply cannot be arsed with handbags.

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      Ha nice one! Backpacks ARE very 90s aren’t they?

  8. I use a backpack pretty much daily – I have a small brown leather one that I take to and from work everyday – I don’t think it’s toooo daggy! I’ve had shoulder problems for years and after spending a lot of money on the physio it seemed ridiculous to be lugging around a heavy handbag which did more harm than good!

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      My neck just gets ripped up carry a laptop around town in a shoulder bag. This baby has changed my life.

  9. Denver 3 years ago

    I use a backpack regularly, but it’s not really a fashionable item (the day pack off my backpacking bag), but when you carry gym gear around and have to take the bus to work, it just makes more sense than having three bags of stuff.

  10. Ashley Carr 3 years ago

    Thanks for the recommendations! I am hopefully back at uni next year lugging a laptop around so will be needing a backpack.

  11. I recently bought a beautiful tan leather rucksack from ASOS and I have to admit to being slightly obsessed with them now.. I can’t quite bring myself to wear it like a fourth grader though, and still sling it over one shoulder like one of the “cool kids”….lol.


  1. […] every where so I carry a super cool back pack (it actually is very cool) but it’s very small so I can only fit the essentials in there. I recently put my big girl pants […]

  2. […] to a back pack last year, I feel so much better. Back packs don’t have to be daggy – I have this one from Cote et Ciel. It’s beautifully designed, non-offensive and I don’t look like too big a dork carrying it […]

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