4 Easy Ways To Make The Fanny Pack Look Cool

Whenever I need styling inspiration (usually at the start of a new season), I tend to scroll through the pages of my favorite online shops, searching for ideas. By now, I've found that all it takes is half an hour of examining the models at Zara and Urban Outfitters to walk away with an entire month's worth of ideas for how to dress beyond my usual T-shirt-and-jeans. This time around, one particular accessory seems to be vying for my attention: the fanny pack. And surprisingly, I don't hate it.

I know this is probably the 18th time since 2010 that fashion has tried to make the fanny pack happen — and, let's be honest: most of the time, the trend falls flat. Sure, there are the obvious benefits of a bag you wear around your waist: Your hands are completely free, your belongings are safe and sitting close to your body, and (if you're lucky) it might even hold up a pair of pants that are slightly too big. But, because of how they're being styled on my go-to e-commerce sites, I've started to see fanny packs in a new light.

When you look at the fanny pack beyond something that can only be worn strapped high and tight across the waist with a pair of khaki Bermuda shorts and a polo, you realize that they can actually look cool — especially with this year's obsession with streetwear and vintage-inspired wares. Since I'm always going for some element of the unexpected with my day-to-day looks, wearing a fanny pack strapped crossbody-style over a top that might've felt boring otherwise has proved to be the easiest way to add a splash of surprise (plus, it means I can successfully juggle headphones and a shopping bag in one hand, and a cell phone and coffee in the other). Look at it as that magical third piece that ties your outfit together — just don't forget: It's still a fanny pack, for goodness' sake, so don't take it too seriously, either.

Allow me to show you how to wear 'em, using four of my favorite takes on the market right now. You may just be convinced to leave your heavy shoulder bag at home and travel a bit lighter this summer — I know I will be.

Photographed by Natalia Mantini. Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Outdoorsy Fanny Pack
Let's start with perhaps the toughest kind of fanny pack to style: The one in its truest, purest, most outdoorsy form. The key here is to wear it with anything that's quite the opposite — a contemporary midi dress and a single gold statement earring. To finish things off, I went with an orthopedic-looking pair of sneakers, because I like to play up the whole grandpa effect (and I just like comfortable footwear). Let me live, okay?

Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack, $29, available at Patagonia.

Edit The Brand dress; Mounser earring; Eytys shoes.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini. Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Between the dress pockets and this handy fanny, I've got no need for a clutch or crossbody. Plus, since this frock is a bit more on the voluminous side, a classic fanny pack at the waist helps create definition and dimension. It's a look that doesn't just feel totally appropriate for daytime, but it makes the bag look less like it's for bandaids and a power bar and more for lipstick and a credit card.

Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack, $29, available at Patagonia.

Edit The Brand dress; Mounser earring.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini. Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Saved By The Bell Fanny Pack
Perhaps the one styling tip that's really bringing fanny packs back this time is wearing it high across the chest. I first noticed this look a few months back, so I had to try it for myself. And really, the less effort you put into this ensemble, the better it will look. Since the fanny pack is making enough of a statement on its own, I paired it with more casual pieces.

Vans Denim Belt Bag, $25 $19.99, available at Urban Outfitters.

COS sweater; Levi's pants; Weekday chain; Vans shoes.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini. Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Yes, this whole deal can feel a bit on the nerdy side (in a good way), so I played that up with a striped knit, faded jeans with a wallet chain, and some checkered Vans. All that's missing from this outfit is a skateboard, no?

Vans Denim Belt Bag, $25 $19.99, available at Urban Outfitters.

COS sweater; Levi's pants; Weekday chain.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini. Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Hybrid Fanny Pack
Get this: You don't even have to wear a fanny pack as a fanny pack. In fact, if you're on the search for your first one, look for an option that can be slung over your shoulder just as easily as it can be buckled around your hips. Versatility is always a bonus, even in the world of belt bags.

Clare V. Supreme Fanny Pack, $259, available at Shopbop.

House of Sunny top; Calvin Klein pants.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini. Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Consider this look as your entry into fanny packs — if you're not fully for it yet, this is a great way to ease into the trend. Paired with a summery tank and some high-waisted jeans, it's a weekend look that doesn't feel too out of the box, but is still totally worth a good old #OOTD shot on the 'gram.

Clare V. Supreme Fanny Pack, $259, available at Shopbop.

House of Sunny top; Calvin Klein pants; Laura Lombardi earrings.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini. Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Rule-Breaker Fanny Pack
Leave it to Alexander Wang to take a fanny pack and make it feel badass. Between the slightly pebbled, heavy-duty leather, the little rose detail, and that chunky silver padlock, this one feels tough enough to be worn by even the most rule-defying models in Wang's clan. Talk about an investment piece that's anything but expected.

Alexander Wang Padlock Fanny Pack, $495, available at Shopbop.

Brandy Melville top; & Other Stories pants.
Photographed by Natalia Mantini. Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
We all have a little sexy-goth deep down (No? Just me?), so I front-tied a baby tee and let some fishnets peek out at the waistband of some faded black jeans to make an outfit that's straight out of a '90s nightclub.

See? Fanny packs have so many personalities just waiting to be tapped — which one will you be taking for a spin?

Alexander Wang Padlock Fanny Pack, $495, available at Shopbop.

Brandy Melville top; & Other Stories pants.