Style + Work

Summer Bags: A Sleek Backpack

Backpacks: a controversial subject for some, a must-have for others.  While backpacks aren’t for me, I know what I like to see in a backpack.  Something simple, something sleek, something with room for essentials plus a bit more.  And this backpack checks all of those boxes.

This Matt & Nat Alex Backpack ($145) is simple and chic.  It holds a 13″ laptop with room for a bit more, and an external pocket for your smartphone or a small wallet.  The bag comes in this subtle stone color and four other shades.

For those of you who are new to the Matt & Nat brand, they are the best choice for fans of vegan leather.  Their sleek, stylish bags are phenomenal.  Their Kintla and Von satchels are among the best work bags out there.

As for backpacks, this Motile backpack is the favorite of Kendi, from Kendi Everyday.  Many readers also speak highly of the Everlane Snap Backpack and the Rains Backpack.

Do you carry a backpack?  Have a favorite?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

{beach image found here; this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}



  1. CaitliN says:

    I’m moving to a city that’s a lot more bike-to-work friendly soon (DC suburbs to Richmond – I know, most people do the reverse!) so this came at a great time. In general, Richmond is a very casual city, but these options are lovely.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  2. Christine says:

    I’m looking for a cute backpack for a trip to Peru in October – something that I can put a water bottle, sunscreen, snacks, light raincoat, etc. into. I’m typically more of a purse person so I’d like something that is both stylish and functional. Any additional recs (from Abra or others) more along the lines of the Everlane backpacks that can handle some dirt while still looking great?

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  3. Chelle says:

    I swear by the square Kaya from Calpak- it’s my favorite travel backpack by far!

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  4. Liz says:

    I have the Hanover from Lo and Sons and I like it a lot!

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  5. cait says:

    Lily Jade makes great leather bags that convert into backpacks. They tend to market towards the diaper packing crowd but can easily hold laptops and have lots of great pockets.

    I picked up a bag in their clearance sale, it supposedly has a “defect” but I can’t find anything wrong with it.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  6. Debbie says:

    For work I love my Dagne Dover backpack. It’s simple, well made, lightweight, easy to keep clean, and holds all my stuff. I never was a backpack user but commuting via walking and train plus avoiding back problems makes a backpack a necessity for me. I was recently gifted a Dagne Dover work tote as well — it includes a computer sleeve and good pockets for all kind of work essentials. If you aren’t a backpack person, I recommend highly recommend this tote – I use it when I have client meetings and want to look a little more formal.These two items combined with my Dagne Dover cosmetics bags make me a believer in this company!

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  7. Michelle says:

    Abra, have you ever considered reviewing a Senreve bag for Saw It On Social? They are beautiful, but so expensive, and the only people I see carrying them are bloggers who I am sure were gifted them. I have seen one in the wild in DC.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  8. Meg says:

    I have been looking for a new backpack for weeks and have been coming up short. Looking for something that is structured enough for a business formal job, large enough for a long commute, and comfortable. (And isn’t crazy expensive.) Interested to see if other people have ideas on where this mystery backpack can be found.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  9. Andi says:

    Also think about backpacks instead of purses for vacations: I recently carried this Floto backpack through a trip to England in lieu of a handbag. I was there for a dance competition and had a TON of luggage, so carrying a purse would have been chaos. This made airports and train stations so much easier:

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  10. Daisy says:

    Do you have suggestions that won’t be damaged by the sweat accumulating during a DC summer? I walk home with a North Face backpack or canvas tote because they can withstand the humidity and sweat – something leather would be damaged in 5 seconds flat.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
    • sunnyia says:

      The Everlane backpack fits the bill, IMO. I wear it to my professional job and can walk to work with it very easily. It travels well, has a water bottle pocket, it’s lightweight, and very minimal. I get whispered compliments on it from women at conferences and meetings 🙂 It holds my 13 inch laptop plus other work gear. It’s not big enough for a weekender bag, but it works well as my personal item for travel or for long days at work. I have it in charcoal, which is a sleek alternative to black (especially with its black hardware).

      July 5, 2019/Reply
  11. Kate says:

    The Tumi Voyageur Carson backpack is amazing. It’s pricey, but I know it goes on sale often at the outlet if you have access to one. I got one for Christmas and was really hesitant – I thought I wouldn’t be able to justify the cost and wasn’t crazy about the gold and black. I tested it for one day commuting and literally never looked back. I can now carry everything I want every day and no longer have nearly as many shoulder issues! And it looks professional and is holding up very well.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  12. SAmantha says:

    Going out of the country for a few weeks at the end of the year and I’m wanting a backpack instead of a purse. I really like the look of the Dagne Dover Dakota backpack and the fact that it is made out of neoprene. Anyone have an experience/review of this bag?

    July 2, 2019/Reply
    • Eliza says:

      I LOVE my Dakota backpack. I just traveled to Europe with it and it was perfect. Stylish and so functional. We stayed in one location but made several day trips 1-2 hours away from our base, and the Dakota backpack held everything we needed. It also has lots of functional pockets and features that made it feel super secure from pickpockets. LOVE LOVE LOVE this bag.

      July 3, 2019/Reply
      • Samantha says:

        Thank you so much for the reply! This is exactly what I needed to hear/read to pull the trigger. What size did you get? I’m leaning towards the medium for our trip.

        July 3, 2019/Reply
        • Anon says:

          If you’re intending to use the backpack as your “persnal item” for carry=on, check the dimension and weight rules for your airline. They vary, and some have recently changed, plus at least some of the airlines have tightened up on their the last year.

          July 11, 2019/Reply
  13. Rory says:

    It’s not the prettiest backpack but I use one from L.L. Bean, I think it’s called the classic campus bag. I have a 17” laptop and it’s the backpack I’ve found so far that can carry a laptop that big plus other stuff.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  14. Lexi says:

    I carry a Bartaile backpack for work every day. My back & neck just couldn’t do a shoulder bag anymore.

    I like that it’s relatively thin so you have to disciplined about how much stuff to carry. it’s nylon so the bag itself is light and I can wipe it with a Clorox wipe to keep it clean. It’s the bag I take to work every day with a laptop. Not going back to a shoulder bag.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  15. J.j. says:

    I can recommend the Knomo London Beauchamp backpack for work. It looks professional and has great storage but isn’t bulky. If I don’t need to carry a laptop, I love the Rebecca Minkoff Julian. Julian is great for travel, comfortable, and I think it looks more stylish and less sporty than the average pack. It can also fit a lot and doesn’t look bulky.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
    • Ann says:

      I second Knomo! I have one and it is my favorite work bag. It has a similar look to some of the Tumi backpacks but at a lower price point. As for quality, I’ve had mine for about 2 years and use it daily and travel with it and it still looks new.

      July 2, 2019/Reply
  16. jules says:

    I use a full on ugly backpack but it’s got padding, a ton of room, compartments and lots of pockets! It’s big and burly but since I ride a motorcycle to work, it sort of fits the look? Plus I need to carry my lunch and workout gear everyday. So while I love these cute sleek backpacks, big and burly it is for me 🙂

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  17. Rachel says:

    I recently bought the Stella & Dot “Crush It” backpack and I am LOVING it even though it’s more than I usually would spend. I’m not a Stella & Dot seller or anything, I am just this into my new backpack.

    I got it in black even though I love that it comes in blush camo because I need to be honest with myself about how clumsy I am (and that I have a toddler).

    The sneaky up-against-your-back zipper is easy to open and reach into with out taking the backpack off–perfect for phone/keys/metro card. I bike a lot in DC and use the yoga mat straps to carry my mat on my bike.

    I love that it’s nylon because that means it weighs almost nothing by itself and is easy to clean.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  18. Katie says:

    I get tons of compliments on my Eddie Bauer Bygone bag if you’re looking for something sportier with lots of function. I work and go to school and it’d perfect for days when I’m at both. Also can’t say enough good things about the Timbuktu Jetpack for a carry-on. It fits so much and it’s very sleek.

    July 2, 2019/Reply
  19. Sophie says:

    I recently made the switch after YEARS of carrying a tote with my laptop and things for the day. My back and shoulders were just in too much pain. This is the one I have and actually really like it. Trust me, I know the delimia, you want to look cute but also professional and a woman with a backpack just doesn’t always say that.

    July 3, 2019/Reply
  20. Charlotte says:

    Love my Fact + Fiction Charli backpack. I still get compliments about it from strangers.

    July 3, 2019/Reply
  21. Katy says:

    Poppy Barley’s backpack is the best money I’ve ever spent on a bag ever, hands down. It has a laptop sleeve, tons of pockets and comes with a shoulder strap in case you want to convert it. All the women in my professional office have one because it’s been life-changing.

    July 5, 2019/Reply
  22. raq says:

    I love my lululemon backpack!

    July 8, 2019/Reply
  23. Ashley says:

    I work remote, travel for work and split my time between 2 states. I don’t like shoulder bags. I needed a bag that could be sleak enough to talk to a Fortune 500 company, organized enough for travel and easy to unload at TSA. YET something I thought was semi-cute enough to take to my favorite coffee shop.

    My favorite bag was found on the back of a guy in front of me loading a plane. 😂 Let me introduce you to eBags’ Professional Slim Laptop Backpack. Laptop pocket, extra pocket (I use for planners and notebooks), organization pocket, a hardside pocket, a secret pocket, a small front pocket and a water bottle extender. It’s a DREAM to use. My dad bought one for his real estate work and my husband got the carryon version with clothing storage.
    It’s a little expensive, but they regularly have deals. It’s my favorite purchase and I’ve bought to matching rolling carryon.

    August 4, 2019/Reply