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Thread: Best Option for a "Man Bag"

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    Junior Member Jyost3's Avatar
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    Best Option for a "Man Bag"

    Hi everyone, I've been struggling to best answer the question of what type of bag I should wear for everyday use and was looking for some opinions.

    I work in a very casual environment (OCBD and dark wash jeans are more than appropriate) so I currently wear a casual messenger bag to work and when I am out an about. Messenger I have now is on the small side and can at most fit an iPad, notebook, and a book in addition to my phone, wallet and keys. Example here. I tend to prefer the small size of the bag I have because it looks odd to me to carry around a 15" messenger bag just for the daily essentials.

    While this bag serves my needs functionally I wonder if I could find a bag that is nicer looking and looks less utilitarian, or if I even should. While I was doing some research I came across an opinion of a style "expert" Ashley Weston, which summed up is,

    "Messenger bags look horrible on their best day and any self-respecting man should avoid them. A modern briefcase is much more versatile and works in nearly all casual and dressy situations because of one simple thing: the removable shoulder strap. That little strap instantly turns a briefcase into a classy shoulder/messenger-type bag."

    This same "expert" suggests a leather backpack is perfect for work in a casual office or need to go to the coffee shop. I wonder what you all think is the best kind of bag for me to carry my everyday items in. What I am looking for right now is a bag I can carry my everyday items in when I go to work, hang out with friends, perhaps a casual party (I am thinking polo and boat shoes type of party), nothing more formal than business casual. My main issue with just buying a briefcase is I don't really like the idea of a large bag for everyday items. I also think the briefcase would be too professional for my everyday needs. In my scenario is a messenger bag or a backpack more appropriate? I am leaning towards a messenger bag because the idea of an outfit with a polo, boat shoes, and a leather backpack strikes me as odd but a leather messenger may look less out of place. I am interested in your thoughts.

    FYI, I plan to also acquire a nice briefcase for more professional situations or occasions when I need to carry my laptop somewhere.

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    Varsity Member Shade's Avatar
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    This all depends on what you call a briefcase. These days that can soft sided leather bags that I would call a leather messenger. I am old school. A briefcase to me is a hard sided rectangle. Take a look at the Gustin horween briefcase. That's a nice grown up carry.


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    What do you need to carry with you when you go out with friends or to a casual party? I only bring my phone, keys, wallet, and a smile.

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    "Briefcase" doesn't need to be as big as history would typically define it to be. There are some nice slim leather briefcase/messenger bags (with strap) that look good during work and small enough to not be cumbersome after work.

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    Junior Member Jyost3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PureAndy View Post
    "Briefcase" doesn't need to be as big as history would typically define it to be. There are some nice slim leather briefcase/messenger bags (with strap) that look good during work and small enough to not be cumbersome after work.
    What bag would you say falls into this category? A lot of bags I found seem to be sized for either a 13" or 15" laptop, I would think that would be too big of a bag for days when carrying the laptop is unnecessary. Wouldn't a 13", unstructured messenger bag look odd if it isn't filled sufficiently?

    @Loafer28 I prefer to use a notebook and pen for my organization and note taking instead of my smartphone, so it is nice to have those handy. I also prefer to not have my pockets full of stuff, especially as pockets stay the same size but the size of phones continues to balloon.

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    It's 2019 - even a non-leather messenger bag is fine in most professional settings these days, so a briefcase or more formal briefcase-style bag is overkill IMO. If you want to split the difference get a leather messenger bag.

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    How about this? If not Waterfield has a bunch of different options.

    https://www.sfbags.com/collections/t...tech-sling-bag

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    https://makr.com/work-carryall-army
    https://makr.com/new-fold-weekender-...english-bridle
    https://makr.com/sling-tote-black-ca...english-bridle
    Shoutout to local brand Makr. I've carried one of their wallets for nearly a decade and it looks better now than when I got it.

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    I would say structured would still make it a "briefcase". But slim & structured can still look good and have a shoulder strap. Something like this on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Leather-Brief.../dp/B01NBLCGPQ

    The 13" laptop is a tricky size, as an 11" one can fit in what's often called a "quiver bag" (albeit tight). Like these from Will Leather Goods - https://www.willleathergoods.com/pro...-archer-quiver

    Ah, the trials and tribulations of being a modern man with laptop in-hand! (I commiserate)

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