Fashion-forward ideas for this year's book bag

Jul 30, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. ET
Image: Hero Images / Getty Images

Backpacks are useful, yes, but they are also a perfect way to show off your personality. Here are the coolest bags — for guys and girls — to help you lug textbooks around in style.

1. Quirky print

Hers:

Quirky print

Who says your outfit gets to have all the fun? A printed backpack, like this owl patterned one, lends instant pizzazz to whatever you're wearing, even on days when you roll out of bed and toss on whatever dirty T-shirt and jeans are already laying around. Never underestimate the power of the perfect book bag when it comes to making you seem put-together in no time. (Asos.com, $38)

His:

Quirky print

Okay, so maybe polka dots and houndstooth are a bit more, well, posh than your average teenage boy is used to wearing. But don't you want to be the teenage boy with the best style? Thought so. This Hershel Supply Co. backpack will give you a leg up on the competition, even if it won't score you a place on the football team — that one's up to you. (Urban Outfitters, $69)

2. Leather

Hers:

Leather

You can't go wrong with black leather, which literally never goes out of fashion. If you're not the type to bring home every textbook in your locker each night, the size and shape of the Clean Smart Backpack is perfect. The sleek bag is roomy enough to hold plenty of essentials and lightweight enough not to weigh you down. (Topshop, $68)

His:

Leather

This hearty leather-look pack has trendy buckle detailing and extra pockets for you to stash pens and electronics. Plus it's classy, which is more than can be said for those cotton Jansports everyone else will be rocking. (Topman, $55)

3. Canvas

Hers:

Canvas

You want your backpack to go with everything since you'll likely be sporting the same one Monday through Friday from September until June. The Mi Pac Spot Print Backpack does the trick with a mostly navy surface decorated only by a white polka-dotted pocket. Only downside? That cute faux-suede trim won't hold up too well in rain or snow. (Asos.com, $42)

His:

Canvas

Camouflage is so old-school, but it gets some new life with the red buckles and navy blue contrast on the Hershel Little America Backpack. Whatever you do, don't wear this with camo patterned shorts, though. That's taking the theme a bit too seriously. (RevolveClothing.com, $100)

4. Messenger bag

Hers:

Messenger bag

The messenger bag or satchel is like the backpack's painfully cool older cousin who just doesn't have time for two straps. This floral over-the-shoulder bag is still roomy but has a more casual vibe than other backpack options. Plus, how cute is that floral print? This bag will let you move freely from math class to chorus practice without skipping a beat. (Asos.com, $38)

His:

Messenger bag

A simple grey canvas satchel will take you through your day with ease. Unlike clunkier backpack styles, this look is totally effortless and won't get in your way as you bounce from homeroom to AP English to the after-school meeting of the newspaper editorial staff. (Asos.com, $34)

Head back to school in fashion with these related links

Shoes that dress up a school uniform
Making a comeback: Retro back-to-school clothes

Tips for staying upbeat for back-to-school shopping

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