Every year, my mother insisted on the classic first day of school photo—uniform on, hair bow in place, plus frilly socks and Mary Janes, of course. But no photo opp was complete without my Kipling backpack that was about as big as I was (at least until 2nd grade or so).
From grade school on, your backpack is the accessory that defines you: preppy girls with their Hello Kitty, skaters sport black and white Volcom and Zooey Deschanel-wannabes carry cat-printed novelties. And if you are a private school kid, forced into wearing the same plaid kilts and sweater sets as everyone else, your backpack could be the only accessory chosen by you, and not by the school’s dress code.
Fortunately for those of us not prepping for back-to-school, backpacks don’t have to be relegated to just the classroom. Whether you’re heading back to school, or just need a hand’s-free accessory, click through the slideshow above to shop 50 backpacks—all for under $50!