Practical vs aesthetics


I’ve been reading a lot of good articles and many I meant to post here. So sorry if you’ve already seen them:

The High Cost of Ethical Fashion is a Barrier to Entry – by Leah Wise -She said outright what I’ve always thought.

The Hidden Air Pollution in Our Homes – found via Reading My Tea Leaves (I now want even more plants in my house to clean the air, or to open all windows as much as I can, and look into getting our oven vent fixed.)

Let’s Talk Influencers – by Adina – Another right on the nose post. I feel like I’m seeing my thoughts echoed online a lot lately.

I got back from a 24 hour whirlwind trip to a client last week. Because the bulk of the trip focused on the day I landed, I managed to fit everything I’d need for that trip into an HP laptop bag I borrow from work. It had my laptop, notebook, one change of underwear, one night shirt, one change of socks, one day shirt, minimal toiletries (no makeup) and that was it. It wan’t even a backpack, but those slim messenger style laptop bags. I even put the essentials from my purse in there, so I wouldn’t have to carry that as well. Every item in one laptop bag for a 24 hour trip.

The trip itself utterly drained me. Up at 4 am for the flight out. A full 14 hour day with two long meetings in different buildings, barely having enough time to stuff half a Panera sandwich down my throat and spent a 30 minutes at the hotel late afternoon. I checked in and put my bag down to only grab a credit card and ID before rushing back out again for a 4.5 hour long drinks/dinner session. Back up again at 4:30 am the next day for the flight home. The only saving grace was how minimally I packed. No choices to make because it was all laid out there: take it or…. take it because it was all I had. I wore comfortable pants I knew would work for both days on the flights and look smart enough for the meetings (Uniqlo elastic pull-up ankle pant to the rescue). I did the same with my shoes (the navy Jil Sander leather sneakers). That trip really drove home how little I need – even for a quick client visit. It wasn’t formal – just business casual. That being said, the likelihood of this sort of trip happening on a regular basis isn’t high and I should be better prepared.

One thing I did learn from that experience: a backpack would’ve been better than the messenger bag. Unfortunately, it was more a case of necessity than choice. Z had a three day business trip at the exact same time, so he was better off taking the only multi-purpose backpack we own since he had more changes of clothes to pack, plus more work items to keep with him. While I was pleased I could fit everything into the little messenger laptop bag, trudging through airports and dragging the bag around all day did a number on my shoulders and back since I carried the weight on one side or the other. It wasn’t a lot of weight, but being that tired and constantly moving it around did wear me down.

Now I’m on the hunt for a backpack in the event that Z and I have trips scheduled at the same time again, which I found out today looks likely and very soon. I spent the whole weekend looking at reviews I’d seen on other sustainable blogger/fashion sites and then ones on Amazon. However, I was disappointed by the minimalist/sustainable options. Not only are they insanely expensive, they have very little amenities and are only made for someone taking a few items and not a few day’s worth, let alone seem to have the durability to be lugged around for hours and days on end with heavy items. Most of them have low capacity weights, which means they would fall apart inside of a year with the way I use them – especially the shoulder straps. Part of the minimalist aesthetic is how small the backpack looks, which means they use less padding and that means less weight capacity. The Everlane ones only have a 19 liter capacity, which isn’t practical at all for my needs. The backpack I would need must have at least 30L capacity.  I think the one we have from Swiss Gear is in the 35L range and it’s been a workhorse for us for over ten years. Also, there are little to no amenities with the sustainable packs. I’ve got a LOT more to fit in my pack than a fashion magazine, a hipster pencil case, headphones, and a Mac Air*. Do most minimalist backpacks have charger options? Do they have several zippered compartment areas with smaller pockets -that also zipper or have mesh – inside to perfectly fit a cell phone or a wallet or pens? Do they have some sort of luggage strap? Most of them don’t. It’s usually just one big space with the padding for the token small Mac. I’ve not seen any that show the inside of the smaller compartment being divided much either.

While I would like to have a nice looking backpack, practicality must take precedence, so we’ll see what I come up with.

*Let’s be real, most of us are lugging heavy HPs or Dells or some sort of PC laptop unless the company you work for lets you use your own computer or has the money to buy you a Mac. Also, for some reason all minimalism sites like touting their bags fit Macs, which sounds sickeningly elitist/classist. Why differentiate? Why not just say a 13″ or 15″ laptop in general?

7 thoughts on “Practical vs aesthetics”

  1. I would advise against the everlane large backpacks.. they are not ergonomic. The large backpacks with tons of straps from sporting goods stores are much better albeit pretty ugly.


  2. Those Swiss Gear backpacks are the best though. My husband has one and I notice them on people all the time. I think some of them are quite good looking and, yes, they are practical and well-designed to their purposes. They might not be sustainable, but how sustainable is it to buy something that you’re unhappy with and that will break or drive you insane until you replace it in a too short time.


    1. That is true. It’s a shame though that the minimalist styles don’t take a more practical stance with these, but I guess the idea is that one is so minimalist that one doesn’t need the possibility of extra compartments or space.


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