Fanny Packs Are Back — Here’s How to Style Them

We tapped the minds of fashion experts.

by Tess Garcia
Originally Published: 
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Raise your hand if a fanny pack revival wasn’t on your 2022 bingo card. Me either — but TikTok trends have proven me wrong. Every time I open my For You Page, I’m presented with another Cool Teen wearing Lululemon’s Mini Belt Bag over their shoulder. Though I don’t understand the trend’s origins, it’s a movement I can get behind.

“Here’s the thing about fanny packs: They were never meant to be cool,” says Ebony Brown, a costume designer and celebrity stylist who counts Nike among her clients. “They came out in the ‘80s, and they were made for dads who just needed something more than a wallet but would never dare carry a purse.”

Decades later, fanny packs — sometimes referred to as belt bags — have become a practical fashion statement popularized by legendary filmmaker Spike Lee, who has worn them for years and never fails to make it fashion. Later, young celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Rihanna embraced the accessory. Somewhere along the line, it made its way to the music festival crowd. The rest, as they say, is history.

“There was the boom of the Coachella fanny pack [in the 2010s],” says digital artist and content creator Atiya Walcott. “In my eyes, that’s when there was a fanny pack renaissance at the top of my Instagram feed.”

With large-scale events reemerging in the mainstream, it seems we’re ripe for another revival. Below, Brown and Walcott contextualize the fanny pack trend and give advice for making it your own.

Fanny Packs Vs. Traditional Purses & Bags

A music festival is no place for sore arms. According to Brown, that’s where the fanny pack comes in. “A bag strap over your shoulder for hours and hours really does hurt,” she explains. “Everyone is going to use a fanny pack because you need your hands free, you need to move around.”

Walcott points to safety as another reason to turn to a fanny pack in a crowded setting. “With a standard over-the-shoulder purse, your stuff can fall out so easily, but that fanny pack is sealed, usually, with a really nice zipper,” she says. “It’s still cute, and it’s something that’s secure and safe.”

It might sound obvious, but the fanny pack is also a great alternative for those who just want to carry less stuff. “I’ve noticed, post-pandemic, that a lot of people who used to carry huge handbags have pared it all the way down,” says Brown. Put simply? It’s hard to leave the house after two years of periodic quarantining. It becomes easier when you narrow your must-haves to essentials — say, your wallet, mask, and hand sanitizer.

How To Style A Fanny Pack

It’s one thing to buy a fanny pack. It’s another to wear it in public. Not sure where to start? “I’d wear some baggy jeans with a fitted shirt and an oversized jacket or crewneck sweatshirt,” Walcot recommends. “Then I’d put the fanny pack on across your body with the bag in front, right in the middle of your chest.”

Brown agrees that the crossbody look is a safe bet. “You’re always going to look cool, it’s very much on-trend, and if you’re not really sure of the fanny pack moment, it’s still going to be super cute,” she says, noting that she also likes to go old-school, “where it’s right in the front or to the side of your hip.”

It may seem sporty, but don’t overlook its potential for a night out, especially considering its security level. “It doesn’t have to be something that’s only thought about when you’re wearing sneakers and sweats,” Brown says. “I style my fanny packs and belt bags with skirts and heels and it looks super cute. Because your outfit is going to be more elevated, I’d [wear the fanny pack] to the front or side of the hip.”

Walcott adds that she’d gladly wear a fanny pack to the club alongside “a low-rise maxi skirt and a multicolored patterned shirt. Then I’d leave the house with my fanny pack on my shoulder, but eventually I’d wrap it around my wrist or my leg.”

Iconic Fanny Pack Fashion Moments

If you prefer to take your fanny pack inspiration from high fashion, Brown has you covered. “One that really stands out to me is Louis Vuitton’s mink fanny pack,” she says. The rainbow monogram style was designed by Marc Jacobs in 2006, and it has since graced the waists of Kylie Jenner and Amber Rose.

More recently, streetwear interpretations of the fanny pack have given it new life. “Supreme made the fanny pack street,” Brown declares. For a more affordable, equally androgynous look, check out the Carhartt Waist Pack.

Some of us would rather use our personal style to look camp right in the eye, and the fanny pack’s goofy origins present that opportunity, too. Brown cites The Rock’s fanny pack throwback photo as the perfect example of weird fashion gone right — because you know we’d all copy that outfit if Bella Hadid wore it first.

Celebrities and influencers may claim to set trends, but those trends only matter once they’ve caught on in the real world. Judging by Walcott’s experiences, the fanny pack movement is here to stay. “Today at work, I saw someone with a fanny pack,” she says. “ It was super cute; it was from Free People. This was a young 20-something, on TikTok, just graduated from college, dresses well. I was thinking, ‘Hey, she has a fanny pack, so they’re clearly back in everyday life if they ever left.’”

For her part, Brown says she’s turned to fanny packs for years because she prefers to keep her belongings off her shoulders (“Being a stylist, I have to do a lot of pulls, so I’m literally sifting through racks for hours and hours.”) She cites Brandon Blackwood’s waist bags as her favorites for day-to-day wear. Meanwhile, Walcott dreams of a fanny pack rendition of Coperni’s viral glass bag collaboration.

Do you have to wear a fanny pack now? No. Do you want to? Maybe! If you retain anything from this article, make it this wisdom from Brown: “The one thing I would say about styling a fanny pack: Don’t overthink it. It’s really not that serious.”

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