Style File: Bringing your life with you? It’s in the bag

Gemma McFarland

College is all about the cram. We cram prerequisites, majors, minors, electives and extracurricular activities into four short years. We cram entire wardrobes and office supplies into forced triples. We cram our abilities to socialize into tiny traces of free time. We cram into those jeans after gaining the inevitable freshman 15. And we cram for finals.

Is there a temporary alleviation? To put it simply, yes. It’s all in the bag.

As the weeks until semester’s end begin to dwindle away and long library study sessions begin to loom overhead, there’s no reason to cram both backpacks and brains.

Picture the necessities of a busy day. You’ll need textbooks, notebooks, a laptop, a power cord if you’re using a Dell, an iPod, a water bottle, a snack, more snacks, your cell phone, wallet and chapstick. Queens of Quinnipiac, good luck squeezing all that into your Louis Vuitton.

But does a better bag really make that much of a difference? According to junior media production major, Zach Salsman, it does.

“With my major I’m always carrying around my computer, my external hard drive and all the wires that come with it,” he says. “With always having to carry all this stuff around I look for bags with the most space.”

This is not to say, however, that your suitcase has to be on wheels. There’s absolutely no reason to sacrifice style for utility. Bags that do so are as tragically functional looking as an orthopedic shoe. Luckily, stores like Urban Outfitters and H&M can assist bookbag shoppers with avoiding disaster.

For men, the “Deerfield Weekender,” exclusively at Urban Outfitters, is a faux leather solution to a packing problem. Whether it’s a weekend escape or just a busy school day, at 16 inches wide and 11 inches long this bag is sure to accommodate the needs of any packrat.

If faux leather is too much for the manly man, a more classic duffle or backpack can be found in variation by Adidas, Manhattan Portage and Volcom.

For most college women, comfort and style has a tendency to ride shotgun.

“I look for a small book bag that has to be able to fit many heavy books in it,” junior psychology major Natalia Oliveira said. “Because I’m a tiny person I can’t walk around with an oversized bookbag like many other students can.”

Women who hate the idea of exchanging trendy for bulbous can find inexpensive imitations of designer style accessories at H&M – which has been noted for selling Birkin lookalikes as well as other luxury styles. Choose a neutral color that will match your daily wardrobe.

Or if transitioning to neutral is too difficult, LeSportsac carries a series of nylon tote bags in all shapes and sizes in every multi-colored pattern imaginable. With totes ranging from 10 to 22 inches in height, carrying an art project from Ledges to the College of Liberal Arts on a rainy day seems easy. Check out to choose from a plethora of designs and colors.

L.L. Bean also produces a line of canvas tote bags varying in size and style named “sunwash,” “boat and tote,” “colorburst,” or even a customized design. L.L. Bean customers are also guaranteed lifetime satisfaction upon purchase. Just steer clear of the customized lettering.

To college students, carrying a bag is as routine as breathing – and just as important. However, while the necessary components of daily life are at a constant gasp for air, your bookbag doesn’t have to be. The bag itself can even be traced back to Egyptian hieroglyphics, where pouches were illustrated around the waist. Sure, the Ancient Egyptians managed to get away with fanny packs but it’s only because they didn’t have a variety of colors, patterns, and designer styles to pick from.

Choose wisely. After all, the wrong bag can lead to muscle strain, further mental stress and a serious style roadblock.