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Back to School Shopping Guide: 36 Cute & Affordable Fall Bags

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Back to School Shopping Guide Fall Bags
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Whether you’re already back on campus or are still packing up all your stuff, there’s one thing that every college student needs before heading to class: the perfect bag! Between all of the textbooks, school supplies and other random things required throughout the day, every college girl needs a practical, stylish and not-too-expensive bag to carry all of her essentials.

Still looking for that perfect bag to carry your textbooks in style? Scroll on down to check out our round-up of cute and affordable backpacks, totes and messenger bags for back-to-school:

Not-So Basic Backpacks

Believe it or not, backpacks are actually going to be super-trendy this season! However, we’re not talking your basic, run-of-the-mill backpacks here. Ever since Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s fashion line The Row debuted a $39,000 crocodile skin backpack, luxe knapsacks have been having a major fashion moment.

Aside from being stylish, a backpack is also perfect for lugging lots of heavy items across campus. Plus, with all of the adorable backpacks in stores now, it’s never been easier to find a style that fits your personal aesthetic.

Does a backpack sound like the perfect school bag for you? Stand out in a sea of JanSport and L.L. Bean with one of these stylish picks below:

Cute and Affordable Backpacks Fall 2011

Top: Zip-Front Canvas Backpack – YesStyle, Plaid Backpack – Target, Hitchhiker Convertible Bag – Nasty Gal, Baja Blanket Backpack – Urban Outfitters

Middle: Floral Canvas Backpack – ASOS, Canvassing Backpack in Uptown – ModCloth, Striped Deux Lux Backpack – Urban Outfitters, Canvas Rucksack – Urban Outfitters

Bottom: Polka Dot Backpack – VS Pink, Aztec Print Backpack – ASOS, Volcom Fright Night Backpack – Buckle, American Living Logan Backpack – JCPenney

Trendy Totes

Tote bags are always popular among college-aged girls because they’re both cute and functional. The perfect tote can instantly make any outfit look über-chic and can be a great way to show off your personal style.

The only downside is that these bags aren’t extremely roomy and can’t handle heavy loads the same way a backpack can. On the plus side, though, a tote can work double duty as a go-to bag to carry around when you aren’t in class, so you’re likely to get a lot of bang for your buck!

There are tons of options out there when it comes to size, material, color and pattern, so hopefully you’ll find a tote that fits your personal style below:

Cute and Affordable Tote Bags Fall 2011

Top: Madeline Tote – JCPenney, Rope Print Tote – Urban Outfitters, Wisdom by Winston Tote – ModCloth,  Linea Pelle Purple Tote – Target

Middle: Dark Elm Takeaway Tote – J. Crew, Black Floral Antique Shopper – Topshop, Hey Jute Leopard Tote – Nine West, Rachel Roy Japan Tote – Zappos Couture

Bottom: Utility Canvas Bag – Forever 21, Raspberry Shopper Tote – American Eagle Outfitters, Tribal Tote Bag – PacSun, Pocket-Front Tote – ASOS

Must-Have Messenger Bags

Messenger bags represent the middle-ground between the first two styles: they have all the practicality of a roomy backpack, with a similar style to a tote. These bags are also a classic, meaning they’ll never go out of style. So, invest in a good messenger bag and you’ll have a durable and stylish choice for years to come.

Looking for a cool messenger bag to carry around campus? Here are some of our favorites:

Cute and Affordable Messenger Bags Fall 2011

Top: Two-Tone Messenger Bag – Zara, Teal Flap Satchel – American Eagle Outfitters, Harajuku Lovers Fluorescent Black Bag – Zappos, Ossington Greene Messenger Bag – Endless

Middle: Vintage Canvas Medic Bag – Amazon, Edith Messenger Bag – Macy’s, Buckled Messenger Bag – Zara, Berkeley Messenger Bag – Macy’s

Bottom: Red Leather Messenger Bag – Zara, Black Poppy Messenger Bag – PacSun, Canvas Messenger Bag – H&M, Natural Linen Messenger Bag – Debenhams

Your thoughts?

What kind of bag do you carry to class? Would you ever wear a backpack? What do you think of the bags featured here? Which one is your favorite? Remember to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Posted on on August 21, 2011 / Filed Under: Shopping / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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35 Responses to “Back to School Shopping Guide: 36 Cute & Affordable Fall Bags”

  1. 1
  2. 2
    August 21st, 2011 at 10:30 am

    A lot of these bags are cute, but I’ll be sticking with my jansport from last year. Trying to stick to my budget :p

  3. 3
    August 21st, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Cute bags! I just went into TJ Maxx the other day and they had some really cute designer totes for really cheap! I bought a really nice Tommy Hilfiger bag that has a built in laptop sleeve and other compartments for books and things. If you are looking to save some money, I’d definitely check it out.

  4. 4
    August 21st, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I just bought this bag from Urban Outfitters!
    http://i52.tinypic.com/mu94w7.jpg

    It’s HUGE and awesome and comfy to carry around. I can fit three notebooks, a textbook, my planner and my pencil case in there, and still have room for more stuff. It was a bit pricey, but it’s definitely worth it and it’s one of the highest rated items on UO’s website.

  5. 5
    August 21st, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    i would buy almost all!

  6. 6
    August 21st, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I would love to have the floral backpack. It is so cute and roomy.

  7. 7
    August 21st, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    All these choices are so cute! Personally for school I like using a messenger bag that can hold my laptop as well as heavy bookloads. I have a simple red one that does the trick, and even though it’s not super chic, it does add a cute pop of colour to my outfit :)

  8. 8
    August 21st, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I love the purple tote from Target, it would be great to wear that around campus! :) I’m still on the search for the perfect school bag, and with only a little over a week to find… I’m getting stressed haha!

  9. 9
    August 21st, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I’ve been obsessed with the whole satchel trend ever since Proenza Schouler came out with their PS1. And with that, this is what I got: https://www.handbagheaven.com/tn_images–W–2059-Tan—jpg_w381_h381.jpg So adorable!

  10. 10
    August 21st, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I have been eyeing the Canvas Rucksack from Urban Outfitters for a while now. Cool, that you guys added it here. Hoping to pick one up for school this semester!

  11. 11
    August 21st, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    i love printed bags but they’re hard to match to my outfits and are quite small. this year, i’m sticking to my green backpack (a logical choice but not a “stylish” option) or my big beige bag which hold almost everything! if not those two options, i might spring for a sturdy, black swiss army backpack since i have a lot of binders and books.

  12. 12
    August 21st, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    How much was that urban outfitters tote it looks amazing Shanna???

  13. 13
    August 21st, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I tried so hard to find a nice looking but also practical bag for school, and after two years of breaking my back carrying my laptop around and dealing with broken zippers etc I broke down and bought a backpack.

  14. 14
    August 21st, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    i loooove this post! super helpful. I’m totally going to look through the majority of these to find my favorite.

  15. 15
    August 21st, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I trolled this internet for a three whole days to see if I could find and article, hell, pictures of some trendy backpack and messenger bags. Finally, I just got off my butt and went to Target. I found a backpack($25.00) and a messenger bag ($20.00) for pretty reasonable prices but I do want to embellish them to give them some personality though. Awesome post!

  16. 16
    August 22nd, 2011 at 10:14 am

    These are all super cute options, but for some reason they all look really flimsy to me. My backpack may not be stylish, but it sure can hold my laptop as well as several thick books. Function over fashion, in this case.

  17. 17
    August 22nd, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I was looking for an affordable backpack in Spring and I found this one for $25 in the Tilly’s catalogue that my little sister gets in the mail: http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=32134421

    I love it! But I can’t find it on the website :(

  18. 18
    August 22nd, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    As an English major, I carried a heavy duty backpack. With all the books I had to carry, it was necessary. Plus, I like A LOT of pockets. :)

  19. 19
    August 25th, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I’m a bag addict… I’m always on the lookout for the perfect bag for school. So far, I have 3 messengers and 4 totes (I’m just not a backpack fan). Currently, I’m using a Levenger Bomber Jacket leather tote (that’s now discontinued)… If you’ve ever been to their website, you know ANY of their bags are pricey, but I got mine from eBay for less than $20 including shipping! I can carry my books (for once class only, unfortunately… but that’s due to the massive size of all my books, would probably do find for two classes worth of normal books) for school OR throw my laptop in it for work. Either way, I always keep the essentials (pens, index cards, planner, etc) in there, and it all fits great. If I do need to carry more than one class worth of books (usually to work to study in my downtime), I just pack them in my large Dakine messenger.

  20. 20
    August 30th, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Coryn, the bag was $58, but I had a discount code so it was $52.50, plus $10 shipping.

  21. 21
    September 1st, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Almost all of my bags have come from either ebay or TK maxx. I got a badgley mischka “linen fringe” bag on sale for £40

    And a Coccinelle one for £14! http://www.yoox.com/item.asp?cod10=45135408&tp=11227&tskay=3FD17CD7
    My favourite shop! Love the article too

  22. 22
    October 20th, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Tote bags – only!!! I just got a large leopard one from Accessorize for £35. It ‘s large enough so I can carry my books and turns every casual outfit to super hot ;)
    Everything else makes you look like you’ re in high school….
    Greece loves collegefashion !!!

  23. 23
    October 29th, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I either want the tote bag or the messenger bag depending on how much stuff I have to carry.

  24. 24
    November 20th, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I carry a backpack (Jansport Air cure in purple and white- I think the colour got discontinued though: http://s2.thisnext.com/img/shop/512895.jpg) and a small purse I’ve had for ages for most days.
    Of course, for the days when I have basically nothing but one binder to carry, I use a large black tote.

  25. 25
    January 15th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    i bought the raspberry tote awhile back, and it wasnt wide enough to fit my three thin binders./: so i couldnt use it for school.
    but its still a super cute bag!

  26. 26
    July 9th, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I love these bags they are so cute and stylish. I have 2 bags for school though i have a Black plain Jansport backpack which i wear when im feeling cool and collective and i have a brown leather over the shoulder which is the cutest bag i have ever seen and i usually wear when i want to dress fancy LOL!!!!

  27. 27
    July 15th, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    they dont have the vs pink bag :(

  28. 28
    July 28th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I’m using the same one I used last semester, it gray slouchy and big and I love it. Pac sun has an awesome selection and when they have their sales its amazingly cheap o.o

  29. 29
    August 8th, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    One thing I noticed when shopping for back to school stuff is that there were many sports stores that had some nice backpacks and totes. I noticed last year, that comfort and quality play a key role in decided which school bag to choose- especially when carrying large textbooks, a laptop, and a lunch bag all day.

  30. 30
    June 18th, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Um yeah I love book bags but I need a place to buy a harajuku bookbag !

  31. 31
    August 2nd, 2013 at 1:12 am

    All of this bag are addorable and cute BUT they are not dry cheap

  32. 32
    August 3rd, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    I prefer backpack

  33. 33
    May 14th, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I love it or you know what I love them all.

  34. 34
    October 22nd, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    No Mexican blanket backpack? Hippies love them right now!

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