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The Messenger Bag: Style Matched with Utility

Ally Nelson |

The messenger bag has quite a long and exciting history. Known as a courier bag or a satchel these days, messenger bags seem to be as old as time itself. We know that soldiers in the Roman legions were wearing them. The bags, featuring a long strap going over the shoulder or across the body, became very popular among postal carriers, who toted around letters, governmental documents, or parcels in a very comfortable way.

The Pony Express, Buffalo Bill, and Jack Keetley are names that tie together the messenger bag with the middle of the 19th century, the American West, and the benefits of having a portable, lightweight, and practical bag to attach on the horse’s saddle or carry across the body when the rider had to walk.

The Modern Messenger Bag – Still Standing as a Fashion Icon

The messenger bag never went out of fashion. In fact, it never went away. It was always among us, enjoying upgrades and facelifts from time to time. From the vintage workmen’ heavy-utility messenger bags from the 50s to the rise of the cross-body as school/college fashion bags of the 80s, this type of accessory matches any function and any style.

University students are very fond of these bags. For them, the messenger bag is the ideal hybrid between a classic backpack and a traditional briefcase. These bags make it easy to carry textbooks and personal items while offering full freedom of movement.

Generally, the traditional school bags are quite dull, all looking the same and having nothing unique about them. In this day and age, they are not even spacious enough to carry all the stuff that students might need during the day, from books to lunch to their assignments, water bottles, phones, and other gadgets.

The school bags are generally so small that the corners of books and papers might get curled up by the time students have to submit them in the class. In other words, these older bags were not very practical at all.

With the rise of laptops, tablets, and other tech devices, both college students and young professionals everywhere started to look for different accessories to match their needs and styles.

And since the traditional briefcase would not cut it with the young generation of urban professionals, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, everybody turned their eyes towards the old (but forever new) cross-body messenger bag.

So, since the briefcase remains a staple of seasoned Wall Street wolves and similar professionals, while the classic school bag is the symbol of school children, the messenger bag closes the gap between them. It is now more than a piece of accessory, but a statement for both men and women. From college students to working moms and from young corporate men to young women who want to express their style, the messenger bag is universal.

Different Types of Messenger Bags to Wear to Meet Your Needs and Match Your Style


If beloved character Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams) in the Suits series taught us anything, he taught us that a young urban professional man could rock a messenger bag and a designer suit as long as he wears both correctly and does the right matching. There is no point in talking about women, as these cross-body bags (of different sizes) are a staple of the modern casual-chic woman of our times.

So let’s see what types of messenger bags you can wear – and how – to match your needs of function with your style. Remember, no matter if you pick canvas or leather, a well-designed, high quality, a modern-looking messenger bag will always make you stand out of the crowd!

1. The Deluxe Messenger Briefcase Bag for Office-Smart People

A classic among the fashionable messenger bags, this unisex deluxe cross-body bag is something Mike Ross would wear along with other young urban professionals. Here are some situations when this messenger bag is times better than a briefcase, a shoulder purse, or anything in between:

  • You want to achieve a professional look with the benefit of having your hands free;
  • You are the modern chic type of urban dweller who uses a bike to move around town;
  • The workbag must fit in documents, a laptop, personal belongings, and other items and gadgets.

The styling rules here when it comes to wearing a professional messenger bag are the following:

  • If you are wearing such a bag with a suit, make sure you match the bag with other accessories (belt, shoes, etc.);
  • Use dark colors for a more composed, pro ensemble: black, brown, leatherette charcoal gray, deep green, navy blue, etc.;
  • Make sure the bag has a more austere, neat design without unnecessary trimmings;
  • The most elegant way to wear such a bag is on your shoulder, with the body of the bag aligned to your belt line;
  • For a more rebel-yet-corporate look, wear the bag on one side or your back. Just make sure the shoulder strap is short and comfortable.

 2. The Cyber Messenger Bag for Urban Cool Wearing

Urban cool looks, including sneakers, maxi dresses, jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, or sporty jackets, require a more toned-down messenger bag. A cyber cross-body in a dark color and no patterns fits the bill perfectly. Make sure it can host your laptop, gadgets, reusable water bottle, chargers, phone, books, papers, and other items you use for work or school.

Wear this type of bag vertically on your shoulder, across your body, or slung back.

3. The Clear Cross-Body Bag for Event Goers

As of late, organizers recommend we use clear bags whenever we attend festivals, stadium concerts, and generally crowded events. A transparent messenger bag comes in handy in the following situations:

  • You need to comply with an event’s security requirements and wear a clear bag;
  • You want your hands and body as free as possible to enjoy the concert/festival;
  • The container must be large and versatile enough to fit in a host of necessary items, from wallet and phone to a raincoat or water bottle.

Before you get a clear messenger bag for events or urban outings, make sure you know what to pack and how to pack it.

4. Small Messenger Canvas Bags for Casual Outings

The little messenger canvas tote bags are the new trend this year. Their long straps help women of any age carry them comfortably on their shoulder or across the body. These bags are made of canvas cloth and are very strong, so you can stuff them up without worrying about their being damaged or ripping. Also, these bags are incredibly comfortable and lightweight in comparison to the types of school bags or purses you have been using so far. And, above all, these bags are very stylish.

They come in different colors from red, blue, purple, white, and black and weigh only 12 oz. You can also customize them by personalizing them with an inspirational message or picture. These bags are not only practical but also very trendy at the same time and are highly recommended to anyone who is looking for both style and utility as well as affordability.

5. The Casual Messenger Bag for Sporty People

Some days, your stylish Mike Ross-style cross-body has to fit in papers, a smartphone, and a notebook laptop. Other days, it has also to carry your sports clothes so you can hit the gym immediately after work. For such situations, when you need a sporty look and a useful shoulder or cross-body bag, you can always go for the urban-sporty messenger bag.

Bottom Line

Either you are looking for an urban professional’s messenger briefcase bag to go with your style and position or you want a sturdy & trendy college bag, your choices are limited only by your imagination. Other than that, you can wear anything from the tiny cross-body colorful messenger bag to match your dresses this summer to the new oversized canvas tote bag you can wear as a cross-body or shoulder bag due to its long straps.

No matter what designs, colors, and models you choose, keep in mind that messenger bags are the happy result of classic backpacks blended in with traditional briefcases. You cannot find anything that is more versatile, modern, useful, and gorgeous.