Practical and stylish?

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We are students. We carry textbooks, laptops, phones, stationery – a whole lot of stuff. Bags are therefore a necessity, and when all else fails on a rainy Monday morning a great bag can also be your fashion saviour. There are two main options when practicality and style have to work together: rucksack or satchel? Thankfully, this winter fashion has blurred the lines, making it almost impossible to get it wrong.

First the rucksack. Choosing one of these used to align your style with hikers, 12 year old school children, and the uber-practical office worker (my Dad). There are those who can pull off the sports style rucksack well, in an ultra-cool practical way. For someone scared of getting it wrong, the standard rucksack is not to be laughed at. However, fashion has decided to get in on the act and, for those desiring a little more style, the rucksack just got exciting.

This season we have black or tan leather rucksacks with a drawstring style top and flap, the canvas look in neutral tones, and even felt has made a surprising appearance, although staying away from the velvet is a good idea if you don’t want to be gimmicky. Urban Outfitters have some particularly striking and reasonably affordable ‘tribal’ printed versions, or you can always check out the old stalwart, Topshop.

However, if the rucksack is a little too practical for your tastes, you can opt for the satchel. Popular with students (and tutors) for years it has in most recent years been striking out in the fashion arena, and it can’t be beaten for its touch of class. Girls you can be dainty and pick up a lady-like satchel from Urban Outfitters which has a great range of different satchel styles. I particularly love the jewel-toned suede offerings – a great option for something a little less safe. Looking local, try the Covered Market for an outlet selling great quality Leather Satchel Company gems. Their classic shapes are the perfect base for playing with colour from neon to two-tone. You can play it safe with blacks and tans, but shades of red from tomato to raspberry really brighten up a dreary winter outfit.

You could go all out and sport a massive briefcase style satchel which should last you forever, and after months of bashing it about it’ll look even better. It needs to look as if you just stole it from your last tutorial, but instead try charity shops, eBay or the vintage section on Etsy for the real deal.

Rucksack or satchel is by no means the only choice. You can attempt, as some do, the oversized handbag, mixing Oxford life and home, but this ignores the great olive branch fashion has offered us this winter. For once, practicality and fashion are mixing – use it wisely!

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