Canvas Bags and Backpacks – The New Casual-Smart for Men


Coco Chanel once used to say that luxury means comfort first of all. While we can totally see her point, the truth is that for a long time, men’s fashion didn’t keep up with that so much. Somehow, men had to always be dressed up in order to appear elegant, and anything more in the sporty category made them seem under-aged. In any context in which elegance was a pre-requisite, a man couldn’t appear in anything less than a suit and, up until recently, long sleeves on both the shirt and the upper suit. Thankfully, the trend for added comfort has finally caught up with men’s fashion as well, hence the casual-smart fashion movement.

The New Smart-Casual for Men

With the help of a few well-chosen casual-smart accents on a given basic outfit, any man can now up his style and look formal enough for a job interview while also being able to meet a friend for coffee or walk through the park. All this without seeming dressed like a teenager, as the situation was for all casual men’s clothes until recently. Enough to say that the casual-smart style couldn’t have been a better idea, and about time as well.

In the world of casual-smart options, a special place is reserved for canvas bags and backpacks. Again, an item usually associated with kids and teens until not long ago, now these practical items have become not only acceptable with a ‘grown man’ or ‘young professional’ outfit, but some of their accents can actually up the entire look. Such elegant accents can be to wear a bag with a few leather details, or simply one representing the idea of practicality in a professional context (for example, a bag clearly designed to hold a laptop or delicate office papers and so on).

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5 Tips for Sporting Canvas Bags and Backpacks with Semi-Formal Outfits

1. Don’t wear T-Shirts, but shirts.
To keep the outfit more into the casual-elegant area (fit for a semi-formal context, like your office job), because that’s the whole point, you should still stay away from T-shirts most of the time. Yes, casual and comfortable are good, but you shouldn’t compose the entire outfit with nothing but them in mind, otherwise everyone should just be wearing their sweatshirts and sweatpants to work and call it a day.

2. No upper suits unless absolutely necessary
Since we’re on the topic of shirts, you should know that they are enough for most outfits. Don’t go all the way with an entire suit, unless it’s cold outside or the occasion is really a bit more formal than most.

3. If you wear jeans, then sport an upper suit or blazer
The same applies to the lower part of your outfit: you don’t really have to wear suit pants to strike an elegant pose. Jeans are fine, as long as they’re not too stonewashed or sporty, and as long as you have something reminiscent of a suit in the upper part of your outfit.

4. For most outfits, ¾ sleeves are your friend
One of our favorite touches of vague raggedness to an otherwise perfectly respectable formal outfit is wearing ¾ sleeves or, even better, long sleeves tucked up. Nothing brings a little rebellious flair and more comfort to an outfit composed of a shirt and suit pants better. You can even go all the way with it and choose ¾ sleeves for your suit top as well, not just the shirt. The only thing missing from the picture is a smart-casual canvas bag (or backpack) and a pair of careless sunglasses.

5. Experiment with colors
Last on our list is this: don’t be afraid of colors or of mixing more than 2 colors into an outfit. The age when men needed to stay away from colorful clothes is thankfully long gone. Dark brown, navy blue and a small touch of light yellow or green (for the shirt) and black shoes are not frowned upon anymore.


Image sources: 1, 2, 3.

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