The issue of men carrying bags may be one of the most highly debated topics in menswear. Some find the addition of a bag to be the ideal accessory, while some think bags are feminine and should be avoided at all costs.
For me, bags are not only very useful, but also a nice, fashionable addition to an everyday ensemble. The confusion sets in when deciding which bag to carry from among the many styles offered by designers: briefcases, messenger bags, totes, satchels, roll tops, backpacks, weekenders – just to name a few.
The key to picking the right one is looking at your routine and deciding what the bag will be used for, and then matching a bag to fit those needs.
Here are my top picks:
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If you are in doubt, it is always better to go the more conservative route and choose something that will never go out of style. I love to point people toward the Filson Original Briefcase ( nando.com/nj) in this situation. It is about as classic as you can get, looks good in formal and casual situations, and can haul your computer and a few notebooks around with ease. This is best suited for someone looking for a nice work-week and travel option.
The messenger bag
For the guy wanting to sling a bag over his shoulder – perhaps carrying his sketch book and a few other necessities for his day – I recommend looking at the messenger bag category. J. Crew’s Abingdon ( nando.com/nk) pays homage to the original postal bags, which spawned the messenger bag style, so you can’t go wrong with a bag so classically inspired.
The backpack hybrid
While active – especially when riding a bike or walking to work – choose something that will be easy to carry, but still look good. Topo Designs has a Mountain Briefcase ( nando.com/nl) with a pair of shoulder straps that tuck into the back. Pull them out and throw it on when you are on the move, and then tuck the straps back in as you walk into a meeting. Topo also has a nice selection of similarly designed larger packs, including their Travel Bag ( nando.com/nm).
Generally speaking, it is better to pick a larger bag that can carry all your stuff (stay away from purse-sized bags), but at the same time, don’t go too large for day-to-day use. Select a nice weekender bag or duffel bag for travel.
The bottom line is to pick a bag that you feel comfortable and confident carrying, because that is what will make the most difference in your appearance.
Barton Strawn is the creative director of Lumina Clothing in Raleigh. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.