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Why Did Women Ditch Purses For Backpacks?

Back in July, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article that got people up in arms. Titled, Hey, grownups, it’s time to lose the backpack,” the piece roused those grownups — especially women — to say a few things in response.

First, and most obvious, was that since we’re adults, we’ll wear or carry whatever we want. But the arguments went beyond that; backpacks are practical and stylish now, and these days many professional women regard them as a wardrobe staple.

So what became of purses? And why are women toting backpacks now? Here’s what today’s fashionable, professional women believe about the posh, practical backpack. 

Backpacks for Back Health

One major reason that women have said goodbye to their purses in favor of backpacks is to minimize the discomfort associated with the single-shoulder sac. Because they mostly carried their possessions on one side, many women were putting themselves in odd postures, which led to back and shoulder pain. In order to keep their bags in place, women held one shoulder higher than the other, which created a hunch.

Another problem with purses is that, depending on the bag, some caused women to adopt an abnormal walking style, because the swinging of the bag affected their gait. Ditching the purse for a backpack largely eliminates this problem, because you don’t have a loose weight colliding with your hip or thigh at every step.

A Stylish Alternative

Just because women are carrying backpacks instead of purses, this doesn’t mean they all look like college students with too many textbooks. As purse sales have decreased, women have been investing in fashion backpacks.

These include sleek and practical leather backpacks, as well as mini-packs made by top designers. Some aren’t much bigger than purses, but they let women move hands-free during their commute, and make it much easier to juggle that vital cup of coffee, even on the train.

Besides, you can’t fit a laptop in a purse, nor would you want to, if you prefer to keep your pain level to a minimum.

Status Shifts

In some ways, the rise of backpacks isn’t so much about their functionality as it is about how we read status through our various consumer goods. High-end bags used to be key markers of social class, and women were constantly replacing them.

Today’s woman, even if she has plenty of disposable income, would rather spend that money on technology, travel, or even shoes rather than a bag. For avid travelers, a backpack just makes more sense.

Purses can’t hold very much, but when you’re boarding a plane, the messages always say you can have a purse or backpack as your personal item. Given the cost of checking a bag now, why would you ever choose a purse?

The fact is, backpacks don’t have to be casual or childish, and many of today’s designs are fashionable and mature; more mature, even, than some of the “It Bags” of the recent past.

Between the health and comfort benefits, practicality, and emerging stylishness that marks the modern backpack, purses may largely become a thing of the past.