Whether you’re embarking on your freshman year of college (eek!) or you’re rocking that post-grad life, the prospect of investing in a new back-to-school wardrobe never gets old. Even if you’re not heading back to the classroom per se, there’s something to be said about starting fresh with a slew of summer style essentials for fall and a stylish backpack that could *totally* double for the office (‘cuz you’re ahead of the sartorial curve like that). Between sleek leather backpacks with major #girlboss appeal and playful school bags that would make any ‘90s kids swoon hard, you won’t have any trouble finding a bookbag that checks all the boxes. Keep the first-day outfit blues away with these 13 schoolgirl-approved backpack and dress pairings that will earn you style MVP status.
How to Style a Bright Backpack
1. Cambridge Satchel Small Portrait Backpack ($235) + J.Crew Quinlan Striped Cotton, Ramie and Linen-Blend Mini Dress ($100): Get the most out of your summer break while you still can with a last-minute getaway to Tulum, Mexico. Not only will this rainbow striped linen dress serve double-duty as a beach coverup, but it’ll make the ultimate first impression once the semester rolls around — and the humidity is nearly unbearable. Pair it with this structured yellow satchel-turned-backpack for hands-free traveling and A+ style in the classroom (or boardroom). The size allows you to carry just the essentials (think: a notebook, pen and tablet) with ease.
How to Style a Color-Block Backpack
2. Topshop Colour Block Backpack ($55) + Zara Denim Off-the-Shoulder Dress ($50): This neon pink and orange color-block backpack is the definition of too cool for school. Kick any first-day jitters to the curb with this statement-making pairing that requires zero effort. Opt for a laid-back denim off-the-shoulder dress and white canvas sneaks for a daytime casual getup. Pro tip: Toss your backpack over one shoulder and slip on some mirrored sunnies for a look that reads less schoolgirl, more cool-girl.
How to Style a Quirky Backpack
3. JumpFromPaper Adventure-Red Backpack ($110) + Madewell Cutout Denim Mini Dress ($130): This two-dimensional backpack with a cartoon aesthetic will make you yearn for your grade school days spent on the blacktop. A backpack with this much kindergarten charm deserves an equally adorable dress and throwback jelly sandals. Enter the denim mini with cutouts that’s nearly identical to the one you had from way back when — just more structured and sophisticated. Use the primary-hued backpack for field trips, out-of-office days and beyond.
How to Style a Boho Backpack
4. Madewell The Transport Rucksack ($198) + H&M Dress With Lacing ($25): Outdoor concert? Swap out your trusty saddle bag for an of-the-moment leather rucksack you’ll reach for time and time again. Carry it with the top handle or tote it by the straps for an easy-breezy festival look that works around the clock. Solidify your inner boho babe with a lace-up floral dress and a fedora for a chic, understated style. Metallic Birkenstocks or riding boots (come fall) are highly encouraged.
How to Style a Sleek Leather Backpack
5. Auxiliary De Bray Backpack ($325) + H&M Shirt Dress ($35): Blasé boardroom style? Not on our watch. From one girl boss to another, take our word for it — you need a crisp white shirt dress and buttery soft leather backpack on standby. While a briefcase reads too corporate, a backpack with this much off-duty appeal demands attention. Throw in a classic timepiece and some free-wheelin’ mules to take on a string of back-to-back-to-back meetings.
How to Style a Patchwork Backpack
6. STATE Liberty Backpack ($65) + Mango Printed Long Dress ($80): You’re too rad for your own good, and you deserve a backpack with all the bells and whistles. We’re talking playful patches, decorative hardware — the works. Going hand-in-hand with your adventurous spirit and penchant for denim jackets, this olive green backpack featuring hot pink accents is guaranteed to wow on all fronts. When styled alongside a flowy printed maxi, the result is nothing short of ‘70s chic.
How to Style a Grade School Backpack
7. Vans Nintendo Game Over Backpack ($57) + Madewell Striped Knit Dress ($98): Before there was Pokémon Go, there was Nintendo (remember Mario Kart?). Calling all ‘90s kids: You have our permission to sport this roomy graphic print backpack to and from work (or when sprinting across campus) with as much panache as you’ve got. In lieu of jeans and a tee, try this wear-everywhere striped dress (and some comfortable huarache sandals) for unlimited It-girl potential.
How to Style a Metallic Backpack
8. ASOS Metallic Mini Backpack ($32) + Topshop Stockholm Tee Dress ($45): Turn down for what? Don’t hesitate to add some much-needed bling to your off-duty wardrobe a la this fierce metallic gold backpack that will make you want to break out the Yeezys. Just think of all the fall sporting events already in your iCal! Style it with this burgundy Stockholm t-shirt dress and throw in some athleisure-inspired slides for a sporty #OOTD with a tough-girl edge.
How to Style a Nylon Backpack
9. Herschel Supply Little America ($90) + Wilfred Trompette Dress ($135): Not just restricted to hiking, camping and glamping, a utilitarian nylon backpack can perform just as well for running errands around campus or commuting into the city. Get ahead of the fall fashion game with this retro suede trapeze dress that’s equal parts feminine and mod. The throw-on-and-go silhouette will be a life saver on those early mornings when you push the snooze button three too many times. Usher in fall by layering this bohemian frock over a bow-neck blouse and tossing on some ankle booties for a look that styles itself.
How to Style a Minimalist Backpack
10. Baggu Backpack in Natural Grid ($38) + & Other Stories Lacing Deep-V Dress ($95): Less is so much more, especially when a grid print backpack this streamlined is in the equation. (Seriously, it’ll pass for day or night — work or play.) For a just-woke-up-like-this look that slays every time, opt for an airy white lace-up dress that’s a shoo-in for those remaining dog days of summer. Round out your all-white-everything uniform with white tennies or rose gold sandals for instant style cred.
How to Style a Graphic Backpack
11. Lulu Guinness Hands Backpack ($202) + Zara Animal Print Dress ($50): Can you say squad #goals? Run with the Gigis and Kendalls of the world by sporting this statement-making animal print dress with combat boots (and maybe even a silk bomber come after-hours) for an #OOTD that won’t go unnoticed. Playing hooky for the day or cutting class a few hours early? This might as well be your unofficial lazy-girl uniform. Show everyone who’s boss with this hands-print backpack that need not be restricted to #ManiMonday.
How to Style a Pastel Backpack
12. Grafea Leather Backpack ($289) + Ganni Clark Dress ($190): Dress to impress with this twirl-worthy drop-waist number, featuring a ruffled hem and flouncy sleeves, that’s prim and proper without entering goody-two-shoes territory. Accomplish best-dressed status on day one by styling it alongside a pastel color-block backpack (check out all those compartments!) and suede mules. Tote your bag swag around by the top handle or effortlessly sling it over your shoulder for major style points.
How to Style a Miniature Backpack
13. Kate Spade Cobble Hill Charley ($348) + J.Crew Classic Short-Sleeve Shirtdress in Gingham ($118): Don’t let the small size fool ya: Pint-sized backpacks are not only double the fun, but they pack twice as much punch. Feast your eyes upon the attention-getting red Kate Spade backpack that will take you from lunch meetings to post-work plans in a jiffy. Strapped for time? Reach for this preppy gingham shirt dress that actually looks ah-mazing with a messy top knot and simple ballerinas. Fashionably late has never looked so good.
Which pairing would you wear to usher in the new school year? Follow us on Pinterest for more BTS style inspo!
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