One accessory that becomes an integral part of a college Fashionista’s ensemble, out of sheer necessity, is the bag. Be it backpack or purse, every student must find her own way of lugging her life around. It can quite literally feel like your bag contains your entire life, and when it isn’t up to the task, you run the risk of all your valuable contents bursting out the seams! At moments like these, I like to think about how nice it would be to have my own version of Mary Poppin’s bottomless duffel. But for us Fashionistas who can’t pull hat racks out of our bags (yet), we’ll just have to find the next best thing.

Thankfully, we have the tote bag, the monumental carry-all that will bear your computer, textbooks, notebooks, makeup and all the other flotsam and jetsam you could possibly need over the course of the day. It may seem like every time you turn around, totes are the “it” bag of the season, but it is inevitable because their generous proportions are stylishly bold, yet practical. Designers are constantly revamping the tote, elevating it beyond the eco-friendly grocery sack or linen beach bag. This spring, several collections such as kate spade new york or Diane von Furstenberg featured refreshing and formidable tote designs that welcome the season with bright colors and playful patterns.

This Fashionista elegantly exhibits the functional and fashionable benefits of the tote bag. Splayed across it is a graphic houndstooth pattern that would be entirely chic as it is, but there is also a playful image of a scarf tied around the strap, which adds a tinge of personality. It is a good example of how totes can be chic and demur on one hand, and on the other whimsical and charming. A Fashionista should also consider her personal style and the contents of her closet when shopping for bags, keeping in mind the palette and vibe of her clothing in order to select a bag that will blend seamlessly into her wardrobe. This Fashionista hits all the points with her ensemble. The tailored black coat with moto-inspired details in the sleeves and metalware are a complementary mix of preppy and edgy that is also reflected in the bag. Although the outfit as a whole is predominantly black and white, the earthy hues of her dress and the red of her lips pick up the colors in the faux scarf so that the accessory is related to the outfit in an effectual, yet nonobvious way. Altogether, this Fashionista exemplifies how if your bag is going to become an essential part of your student life, you might as well make it an elemental part of your fashion repertory!

What’s Your STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK? “Never underestimate the power of a bold lip and a solid dark color. I’ve found that pairing the two together makes for a fun yet sophisticated look… black and red are my go-to colors.”