Also known as a belt bag, and a bum bag in Britain (fanny pack being the American version), a fanny pack is a small pouch that is worn around the hips and waist. It is, surprisingly, a trending accessory and well worth investing into, particularly as a traveler.
The name “fanny” is actually slang for buttocks, since the pouch is often worn over that area, though it is more likely to be slung in front these days. The evolution of the fanny pack has also mandated some rules as to how one may wear them to be both utilitarian and quite fashionable at that.
We’ve put together an interesting article that gives you all the ins and outs of wearing a fanny pack right, as well as the best fanny packs to be looking for during the coming months.
A fanny pack in and of itself is a lightweight waist bag worn mostly for its flexible uses, particularly in allowing you to stuff all your necessary items in there. It has a zipper that you can easily open or close shut, and is often made of leather, though there are cloth, embroidered and even felt fanny packs.
It all depends on who is going to be wearing a fanny pack and for what reason. It is a convenient piece that has many advantages, particularly in allowing your shoulders to relax and your hands to stay free to get what you need to be done.
History of the Fanny Pack
Bags that are worn on belts have long been in use around the world, with multiple photographs from a century ago, as well as painting from a few centuries back showing off the different uses of the rather indispensable accessory. Almost everyone owns a fanny pack of some sort, especially worn when travelling.
A fanny pack can also be worn simply as a fashion accessory. However, the history of the fanny pack dates to long before it was anywhere near fashionable.
One origin of the fanny pack has been found to be in the Native American medicine pouch, which was a buffalo pouch that was used instead of pockets on clothing, made to carry medicine and other necessities. They were often worn around the wrist or strung around the neck, falling against the chest.
The Scottish had the sporran, which has survived to date because it was simply not practical to add pockets to kilts. This piece is generally made of leather or fur and worn every day, other than by soldiers. There were even different types of sporrans to complement each event, from the dressy to the semi-dressy to the daywear.
However, the oldest fanny pack was found on the Otzi Iceman in the Alps in 1991, dating it back to 3,300 BC. The pouch sewn to this man’s belt seemed to contain a drill, scraper, flint, and a few other interesting items, making it officially the oldest fanny pack, or pouch attached to belt, known to mankind.
There are references to Egyptians and even Judas from the Bible sporting a hip or bum bag of some sort, though we do not have hard evidence for this. Later on, from the 16th to 20th centuries, packs on sword belts seemed to be quite popular for soldiers in Europe as well.
Emergence of the Fanny Pack in Modern Fashion
In terms of fashion, the “belted satchels” or “hands-free bags” were brought back into the limelight in 2011 by certain daring designers, who wished to slash at the tourist stereotype, offering stylish version that sold for upwards of $1995. They had originally appeared in this sphere in the 1980s, however, and everyone at that point seemed to be sporting one of these cool pieces.
Kids and adults, joggers or mothers on the go all wore the belt bags around their waist. Major companies were even giving fanny pack out as freebies to fans, while they became a sleek accessory in leather come 1989.
However, it was the fanny packs of the ‘60s and ‘70s that were famous when used by mountaineers to hold their first aid kits slung over their back or above their buttocks. Garish neons and synthetic fabrics were used by skiers and hikers on their waist packs, making for some interesting conversations today.
Nothing beats the ‘80s fanny pack fashions, however. In 2015, it was all the rage on the runways once again, with top fashion magazines highlighting how to wear fanny packs, top fanny packs, best fanny styles, etc.
These days, fanny packs can be used by travelers, but also to carry a concealed weapon, along with first aid, necessities and whatever is needed. Furthermore, there are many ways to address the fanny pack. It is called a belt pack, belly bag, chaos pouch, hip sack, waist pack, or buffalo pouch as well in the US, waist wallet in Canada, belt bag in the Philippines, hip pack, Snatchel, or bum bag in the UK, Kangaroo or Koala in South America and Ireland, and Moon bag in South Africa.
As for the designers bringing it back, we have seen the fannies on both the women’s and men’s fashion runways, meaning we might be staring at the comeback kid of fashion right in the face.
Types of Fanny Packs/ Belt Bags
There are multiple types of fanny packs, made in different shapes and styles, each with its own use in mind. They are lightweight and zipped up for the most part, and so blessedly hands-free. Since we often need to carry things, in our daily lives or during special adventures we take, the waist bag is just what the doctor ordered; sometimes literally.
• The Travel Fanny: This belt bag has a wide strap and a travel document sized pouch to help you carry what’s needed right at your belt.
• The Lumbar Fanny: This fanny pack includes compression straps for increased comfort, as well as a larger pouch made to carry more items.
• The Hydration Fanny: If you need extra water spaces, particularly when hiking or climbing, this one has a great system to add two bottles on your belt.
• The Hunting Fanny: When out hunting, you will need the extra spaces and easily accessible pouches on this particle pack.
There are multiple other types of fanny packs as well, but it is the top designer styles that have upped the fanny craze over the past months. They can add to the chic or the sporty with equal loveliness these days, with many top celebrities sporting them, either in matching colors with their outfits or complementary looks.
The Fanny Pack and You: How to Wear a Fanny Pack
There are many reasons why you should wear a fanny pack. There are even more reasons as to why you should wear that fanny pack right. After all, the last time these not-so-sexy but thoroughly lovable belt bags exploded in popularity, it simply came to a point where they turned into items of ridicule.
So follow our fashion tips, be careful how you wear fanny packs, and ensure you have a few to wear with different outfits, wherever and whenever you go out.
Now, for the younger generations, they simply are not cool the way they were worn a few decades past. And since we keep seeing the trend fall flat on its face the past few times this decade fashion designers have tried to make it the new It accessory, we have found some rather lovely ways to make wearing a belt bag look extra cool.
This is particularly good when combined with how cool vintage looks are this year as well. So how exactly do you wear a fanny pack to look trendy but not out of place?
Slouchy At the Hip
Wear your belt bag at the hip, to the side, slightly slung, in an outdoorsy form, where the dress itself is leggy, sexy and entirely contemporary. Golden accessories made to offset the style of the belt bag help loads.
Furthermore, if you decide to make the dress more on the voluminous side, the pack gives you the right amount of definition at the waist needed to remind the society that you indeed have a smoking figure under there.
It is perfect to add your money, credit cards and makeup solutions for the day as well.
Effortless Across the Chest
Wear it across the chest, high up and with as little effort put into the actual outfit as possible. A simple vintage jeans and shirt look is perfect with this, going quite casual to bring the focus to the embellished fanny pack that can hold a little bit of what you need most.
Definitely a cool and rather young way to wear the dated fanny pack from the hippie days!
Turn Your Fanny Pack Into a Back Bag
Wear it as a back instead of a fanny pack that is on a belt at your waist. Just sling it over your shoulder like any old handbag and enjoy the versatility while expounding on the latest fashion craze.
You can buckle it at the hips if you want, of course, but it does not need to stay there. Wear this with jeans and a crop top for added cool effect. Plus, it really allows you to ease into wearing this pretty awesome trend.
Badass Belt Bag Slung Low At the Hips
Wear your fanny pack low on the hips in Alexander Wang’s badass fashion. Literally! Heavy-duty leather that is slightly textured is just the way we like it, particularly with his signature studded detailing or something more on the strong but feminine side.
This one is for the tough girls of today who are the coolest of the bunch. Wear it with dark jeans, some rather unexpected punk-ish accessories and cropped shirts for a look that is simply unparalleled in street fashion.
Go Fruity With Your Fanny Pack!
Wear it in the shape and colors of something fruity or a piece of desert. Really! While this might come off as pretty corny, it is actually trendy at the moment to have a pineapple at your waist, particularly worn with ripped jeans and a plain cotton tee.
The Sleek Belt Bag Way
Wear your belt bag in black leather, over black ripped jeans and under an oversized shirt that has been tucked to its side. It makes for a great accessory to style things up with. It is the sleek look you are going for.
Boho Meets Cowgirl Fanny Pack
Of course, you can also do a boho fringed fanny for a rather cowgirl-ish effect. Contrasts between the pack and your pants are even more alluring, so go for a light wash on jeans with a deep brown suede or leather pack. You will fall in love with your style all over again.
A Fanny Pack Like a Backpack
Wear your fanny pack like a mini backpack over your shoulder and the pack on your back. You can easily run with this on you as well, while looking pretty good as you cross the finish line. You might want to be careful though, since it is more accessible to thieves.
A Fanny Pack Like a Cross-Body Bag
Wear it cross-body. A belt bag works beautifully when worn thus, no matter what shape, or color it comes in. The size should definitely be smaller than if it is at the waist, but this seems to be the evolution of the messenger bag here. Positively lovely!
Just make sure you pick one that is right for your tastes, going for clean lines and leather if you are more on the sophisticated side, added zippers and hardware if you consider yourself edgy, and a whole lot of color if you are the bolder type. Whatever your style, own your look. It’s coolest on cross-body.
Embrace Your Bold Self With Colorful Fanny Packs!
Wear it in prints. We have the funky colors and cuts to the fanny packs, but we haven’t mentioned prints yet.
Rihanna has been spotted sporting some awesome Dolce & Gabbana leather belted leopard-print fanny packs slung low on the side of the hip. You can certainly take this fierce route as well, bringing the sexiness of the fanny packs up a few notches at least.
Some More Tips for Wearing a Fanny Pack
How you end up wearing the pack is up to you and your personal style. For the common traveler, the fanny will generally be worn under the belly in front, allowing for an easy access and added safety.
Wearing a fanny pack to the side will add some style and a designer flair, while nearly no one wears it over their buttocks anymore, really making the name for the pack perfectly obsolete.
As for adding to the design on your own, without spending an arm and a leg on designer products, you can do it yourself for the concerts you will be attending the rest of the summer and well into the fall. The studded fanny pack will require you to grab some studs from a nearby textile shop and a flat edge screwdriver, have a pattern in mind and push in each stud over the design before securing at the other end.
For a funkier look to wear to the festivals, you can make a watermelon fanny pack, or you can go entirely boho with an embroidered belt bag design. Considering the latest trend for embroidery, it might be cool to have a belt bag handmade by an artisan who specializes in it.
When picking the right waist bag or fanny pack for you, first make sure you know what you will be using it for, and then make sure you have the right size, grabbing something with multiple pockets and that which is lightweight when you plan to travel. A money belt will also come in very handy when you want to hide your cash on you, worn against your body and away from thieving eyes.
Honestly, do not feel ashamed for wearing a fanny pack at all, particularly if you have a bad back or sore shoulder and need to forgo the traditional handbag. Also, while it is infinitely safer than other designs, the waist bag should hold your necessities, but not necessarily incredibly valuable items. It can still be plundered by smart crooks.
Finally, make sure the pack you buy is not made of cheap fabric. For the most lightweight in tear-resistant fabrics, grab one in rip-stop. Otherwise, choose a belt bag in leather.
Best Fanny Packs Available Now
Here are seven of the best fanny packs that you can get your hands on now at varying price points and equally varying styles, made to fit your personal needs.
1. Gucci Marmont Matelassé Leather Belt Bag
Available in five colors, this discreet little belt bag is decidedly good-looking. It can also be worn as a cross-body bag for an extra cool factor.
Made in Italy, it includes a leather lining, an open interior pocket, and some lovely gold-toned lining. Positively beautiful, but with a price to match its allure, it’s available through Gucci.com.
2. Chanel Quilted Waist Bag
High fashion fanny packs meet their match with this one, as Chanel brings us a gorgeous black quilted lambskin piece with gold-toned hardware, maroon leather lining, and a large enough interior to hold everything you may need. It also costs a hefty $1595 for the luxury of owning this rather more eye-catching waist bag, which is available on TheRealReal.com.
3. Wild Leopard-Print Waist Bag
At a much easier price to swallow, the leopard-print fanny pack is made of haircalf, and brought in from Rachel Comey. The buckle belt is not only for style, but also its functionality, turning it into a cross-body bag as well. It’s available on Shopbop.com.
4. Gucci Sylvie Leather Belt Bag
Gucci brings its traditional coloring and golden links to this shoulder bag designed waist bag in white leather and a blue and red strip. It includes a microfiber lining with a suede-like finish and is a good size for both your street fashion and the utilitarian aspect. It will certainly cost you a pretty penny though, available on Gucci.com.
5. Hayward Medium Tan Belt Bag
At Farfetch, we get a gorgeous tan belt bag that features a rounded flap, complete with a satchel style magnetic closure. It is of tan leather and made in the United States. The best part? It will go well with just about any outfit you put on.
6. Prada Velvet Belt Bag
Gorgeous just doesn’t cut it when talking about the sleek beauty that is the velvet waist pack you add to your outfit every day. It can be dressed up and down, worn to work or at a party. Whatever you decide, you can enjoy with this super comfortable, and thoroughly statement-making fanny pack available through MyTheresa.com.
7. ASOS Reclaimed Vintage Belt Bag
The most affordable fanny pack on this list will remind you of the American south and Texas rangers. Its lovely tan leather satchel-like design is more than attractive for the average person. Available at ASOS, one can easily invest in a few of these lovely pieces, to match the day and occasion.
Photos via @weworewhat, @chiaraferragni, @teresaandresgonzalvo, @lisahahnbueck