I've never been a small bag kind of girl. You can make fun (and people do!) but I'll be the one with the snacks and wipes and extra reusable bags should a situation warrant them. More often than not, my "excess" is just plain necessity being in the city so finding a chic bag to accommodate that has been my mission. Mission: accomplished.
Meet Matt and Nat's Brave Backpack. A sleek, medium size bag that holds a laptop, wallets, snacks, glasses case, scarf and much more in a compact space. It has two side pockets that function perfectly to hold my most used items (phone in one, metro card case in the other) which offer the perfect angle to awkwardly reach my hand into them with the backpack on my back without breaking my arm.
It holds it's structure no matter what you stuff in it, and has faired pretty well after being washed in a washing machine. The waterproof vegan faux leather is easy to wipe down between machine washings (because anything that touches the ground won't be touching my floor) and the straps are padded and adjustable. The top handle is thick enough to hold the bag by itself as well. With daily use this backpack has given a new name to backpacks everywhere- I thought I was rid of the dreaded bag after high school and stubbornly refused a backpack in college choosing to instead hurt my shoulder lugging everything around in a tote. Now here I am, technically an adult, voluntarily choosing to use a backpack. With the weight distributed evenly my shoulders aren't in agony even when I walk around for awhile.
My only complaint is that the zippers don't have a smooth zip, but otherwise I've never had an issue zipping it. This is the sole backpack I feel comfortable wearing with a dress because I know I won't look sloppy. Since it's structured and black, it seamlessly blends into any outfit. Jansport is so 1999- Matt and Nat is where it's at! Although the Brave is sold out on Matt and Nat's website in three colors including the Black I purchased, they still have "Dusk" and "Blush".
I also own a Matt and Nat wallet they no longer sell which has held up beautifully! Their faux leather is durable and buttery smooth, so very fun to constantly feel. They really excel at "utilitarian chic".
To note though- their faux suede feels nothing like real suede. I once purchased a faux-suede wallet from them that was on sale. To my surprise, the "faux-suede" felt more like burlap, and that's being kind. It was so rough you could have sanded your calluses. I sold it on eBay shortly after. So shop Matt and Nat for their simplicity, sustainability and faux leather.
(Side note- these pictures were taken in October, so don't be fooled by the beautiful trees and green grass. New York's weather is currently something eskimos are jealous of. When my igloo melts, at least my backpack is waterproof!)
Edit: This post has gotten a lot of views, so I thought it would be helpful to show you the backpack on myself! Here I am, wearing the Brave in front of the World Trade Center this past winter. I'm only 5' and it's the perfect size. It's not overwhelmed by my puffy coat and holds its structure pretty well.
Second edit: I love this backpack so much I ordered it in gray. So in love, sigh.