TEAM FANNY PACK! (Oh yes I did just go there)




Fanny packs, Mamas.  I'm totally in.  I tested them out for reader Melissa, and the whole hands-free thing is life-changing.  I forgot how good it was, Mamas.  Hands-free is so, so good. 

It all started with Melissa's email:

I’m a long time reader and huge fan of your blog. I value your opinion in all things fashion, and especially appreciate your high and low price point options. I’ve used the price-per-wear argument many times with my husband! I’m 37 with 3 kids (ages 9, 7 & 4).

Summertime and festival season is fast approaching. Thankfully, our family no longer requires a diaper bag or loads of emergency snacks when we hit the town. But, I always need my keys, phone and some money. I hate stuffing all that in my pockets, so what are my most unobtrusive options? Last weekend, I stuffed it all in my trusty butt pack and was ready to go. However, my ultra-hip 9 year-old strongly disapproved (photo attached—I love how the Despicable Me band-aid reminds us she is not a teenager J). Can you suggest anything for this situation? I’m imagining something like a leather belt with a small purse attached—but not something that looks like the holster the workers at beauty counters wear for their makeup brush collection.

Thanks so much for your input!

– Melissa




Ok so first of all, I need to copy your nine-year-old's exact outfit.  

Secondly….thanks for including a pic.  It helped me narrow down the whole what works/what doesn't pretty quickly.  I think fanny packs can work, but it has to be in one of the two following combinations:

Super chic fanny pack + casual outfit


Casual fanny pack + super chic outfit


For the purposes of testing out the fanny, I picked up Herschel Supply Co's canvas fanny pack because A. it's $25 and B. dressing around a casual fanny pack is the harder of the two. 


Tip 1:  Wear Your Fanny Slung Low on the Hips

I think this goes without saying, but casual fanny packs should be slung low like a tool belt, rather than around your waist like an actual belt.  (If you do opt for the seriously fancy fanny packs, they can be worn higher up, but should still stay an inch or so below the snap on your jeans.)



shirt: Madewell Linen Folktale Blouse

jeans: old AG…try Acquaverde's Patched Skinny Jean

shoes: old Shoemint…similar sandals by Rebels

sunnies: Ray-Ban folding wayfarers

On Raines: Geofox pants and tee, saltwater surf sandals

On Pax: Tribe is Alive tank, FabKids pants, saltwater surf sandals….I like Nordstrom for kid's sunglasses


Tip 2:  Keep The Rest of Your Outfit Chic

The key to making your fanny look ironic rather than sad is to make sure that the rest of your outfit looks intentional.  Wear a pretty shirt, bust out your big girl lipstick, wear glam sunnies.  




Tip 3:  Show Some Skin

Whether it's your arms, boobs, or a little bit of hip….adding some sex appeal really helps to style the fanny.  (And it'll make a believer out of your husband.)





tank: old Sunner…try Bailey 44's Mesh-Back Top (check out the back) or their fully cropped version if you dare

sweater: old Qi Cashmere – they make really cool, unusual cashmere sweaters like this one.

jeans: old AG…try Acquaverde's Patched Skinny Jean

accessories: Ray-Ban folding wayfarers, Chan Luu wrap bracelet


Tip 4 – Use a Fanny Pack to Belt a Dress 

You'll have to play around with this one – depending on the dress, you may need to violate the whole "wear fannys slung low" tip….but it can work.





dress: old DVF…but I'm DYING over this strapless minidress…or try Old Navy's basic strapless mini

shoes: old….but I'm seriously considering these Dolce Vita flat sandals with the cool beading

accessories: Gorjana Taner collar necklaceRay-Ban folding wayfarersChan Luu wrap bracelet

On Raines: Geofox Good Vibes Tee, FabKids shortssaltwater surf sandals

On Pax: Geofox Sunshine and Daydreams tee, Nico Nico dot surf shorts, saltwater surf sandals, old Atomic kid's pack….Osprey's Zip 25 is a similar size




Tip 5:  If Nothing Else, Wear Chic Shoes

This really should be my life mantra.  





shirt: French Connection (sold out)…try this French Connection top

shorts: A&F…try 

shoes: old Shoemint…also love Everlane's simple sandals

accessories: see above

On Raines: see above

On Pax: see above

(Notice that my kids wear the same stuff everyday?  They'd go weeks if I let them.)



Melissa, I suspect that if you swing your fanny pack around, let it ride a little lower on your hips, then swap out your sneaks for chic flat sandals…even your nine year old will approve.  

Ok you guys – let me have it: Are you still hating the fanny pack?  Actually, the new term is "belt bag", which make us Team Belt Bag.  Does that help?









  1. You forgot Tip 6 – be really, really thin. You look great in all these, but if you’re carrying extra weight (like I am,) the fanny pack / belt bag just makes it so much worse. I’ll stick with a backpack or cross body for a hands free option.

  2. My sister in law takes a small crossbody bag, doubles the strap, and wears it around her waist. It’s super cute.

  3. I certainly don’t need any more junk in the vicinity of my trunk, so I will not be getting on the “belt bag” bandwagon anytime soon. Looks great on you though, Shana.

  4. Lisa….I don't love it.  It's not bad, but I totally see the "crossbody-fanny pack" vibe you are concerned about.  Some trends you have to go all the way, or it just ends up looking off.  I think this is one of them.  You could probably find a cuter crossbody OR a cuter fanny pack.  xoxo

  5. OK, this post really makes me torn on the fannypacks. I love the IDEA of fanny packs (just like crocs or socks with sandals) but… they’re fannypacks.
    However, the fannypack – I mean belt bag – looks amazing on you and I LOVE the idea of using it as a belt for a dress.

  6. Let’s stick with “Belt Bag”! It’s hard enough to get over the concept of these carryalls being cool again, but if you were laughed at during their first heyday by any self-respecting Brit who used “fanny” in a completely different way than we do, it’s near impossible.

  7. I have the lulu bag mentioned above and love it. It’s so cute cross body and I love the size of it. I bought it for biking but keep using it everyday.

  8. i have a plain black one from north face and i LOVE it. i agree that it has to be worn lower on the hips. i also have a cute one from lesportsac but i never ever wear it….in fact, i’m not sure where it is!

  9. I might be able to get behind the idea of the chic one, but not the casual one. This is a trend I’m going to skip. I’m a crossbody bag kind of girl.

  10. Actually I think I’m going to get the black one too now that I see it’s on sale. I swear, I don’t work for them! I think any of the “crinkle nylon” bags would be good for moms… The bigger ones might even work as actual diaper bags.

  11. Yup, I’ll stick with my trustee cross-body, though like usual, you’ve managed to pull it off brilliantly S! I think the bright color helps too. Not sure those looks would have worked as well with a black one.

  12. I’ll admit I don’t hate the look on you…but there are a lot of things I’ve seen you pull off that I absolutely could not.. I do struggle with how to carry things around, though, I haven’t found the perfect crossbody style bag; they annoy me when they keep bumping around from front to back and in between. A small backpack has been working OK, but those aren’t exactly “cool” either…

  13. Still on the fence. I think it’s adorbs with the navy tank because skin. And belting the dress is fun too. Ultimately, I think the “belt bag” needs to be a bit smaller to make it really work. But you are too freaking cute! I wonder if the first look would benefit from a half-tuck with a fanny assist?? Also-LOL at the link to the second fancy fanny– that outfit on the model is just AWFUL. No doubt you could teach them a thing or two! Finally, thanks to the shopping enabler reader above who posted a link to the ruffle waist purse on Etsy–now I’m drooling. That seems like an amazing way to add some fun/visual interest to an otherwise minimalist outfit!
    As a mama with a bit of a round tummy still, I think I might have to snap that ruffle bag up and try the half-tuck assist myself! Previous attempts have been most dismal, as they emphasize the parts I like to gloss over. I thought I had it nabbed once (long tank layer, top tucked into the bottom blouson-style), but if the tank isn’t tight enough, it just won’t stay put. This could be the answer. (Oh, and sorry I hijacked this thread with half-tuck talk.)

  14. I do think you need a certain amount of spunk and pizazz to pull off a “belt bag”. I do think the bright red helps with that.
    If you really have just a phone, a few bills, ID, CC, and a house key (but probably not a huge car key), a SPIbelt is pretty unobtrusive. I only use mine for running, but it hides pretty well around my hips with a shirt that is long enough to cover it. If you are funkier than I, get it in a vibrant color and wear it as an actual belt.

  15. Ugh, I can’t get on board with fanny packs – let’s be real, that’s what they are – but have been pondering a crossbody bag for awhile now and this pushed me to get one. I just grabbed a Rebecca Minkoff Dexter bag on sale at OffFifth. It’s still pretty roomy but I’m still toting diapers, snacks and a big wallet that’s next on my chopping block. Hopefully this will alleviate some of my lop-sided shoulder pain!
    PS – As usual, if the hubbs asks, I’m totally blaming you!

  16. Oh dear. Almost 10:30pm here in New Zealand. I’ve just made that mistake if checking your blog before turning off the iPad. Now I’m online searching for fanny packs, or bum bags as we call them here. I was totally against them in the 80s/90s and now I see all their practicalities. So getting one!

  17. THANK YOU. for the spibelt rec. I’d never heard of these but absolutely need one for running and even park-going. MUCH less obtrusive than the fanny pack.

  18. Oh Shana. You *almost* had me. You really did! And then…then I went to Costco, where I saw not one, but two elderly gentlemen wearing “waist bags”. Non fashionably. Non ironic. Just wearing them under their distinctly large bellies. So, nope. I will take a pass on “waist bags” and stick to my cross body purse 🙂 But don’t worry, I still love you!

  19. That’s the first thing I thought, too! Once you learn the alternate (and not very flattering) meaning of “fanny,” you can’t un-learn it.
    The only belt bag I’ve ever come across that I liked is one I’ve had forever from Banana Republic. The bag itself is a front flap style, in black. The strap can be belted around the waist or you can wear it as a shoulder bag. I sometimes use it when I travel so I can also have a backpack on.

  20. What size is your Madewell Linen Folktale Blouse? I bought the small and it feels like it’s short and tight with the stitching across the back/shoulders, would you suggest sizing up?

    • Jen I have the XS and it fits pretty true-to-size…unless I have a strange one. I hate that sometimes the sizing isn’t consistent. But also, I’m pretty short. 5’3″. 🙂

  21. Wait..I used to have that BR butt bag!!!!. I’ve been looking for that on eBay for ages! If you ever want to sell it …name your price & let me know:)

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