The Most Stylish Office Bags For Men

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The Most Stylish Office Bags For Men

Words by Mr Mark Edwards and Ms Sophie Hardcastle

22 February 2018

A brief case for investing in a smart new backpack, tote or pouch for work – plus what to pack in it.

Being properly prepared for the day means thinking a few steps ahead; it’s like chess. Who are you meeting today? What will you be doing after work? Is it a gym-at-lunch day, a 5.30pm-pint day, an entirely office-bound day or an out-and-about day? The answers to these questions are rarely the same two days in a row. But if there’s one morning decision that can ready you for every daytime eventuality, it’s arming yourself with the right work bag, be it something classic – such a briefcase or pouch – or one of the more modern designer backpacks that professional style now, thankfully, allows.

Function and form are, as you are undoubtedly aware, somewhat interwoven. But when it comes to the world of men’s bags, this truism is perhaps truer than ever. From the holdall that contains your entire life during a weekend away, to the messenger pack that you sling on and off while cycling, or, indeed, the backpack that carries your laptop, gym gear, snacks and all the other stuff that you need during any given day, the way a bag looks is chiefly governed by the role it’s designed to fulfil. Each one makes a clear statement to the world about what you are up to. Choosing one is not something to be undertaken lightly.

But making a statement is just fine with us, provided it’s the right one. Here’s our rundown of the most useful bags to have in your arsenal.

THE BRIEFCASE

Picture the scene. You’re heading into that pitch presentation. It’s the big one. You’re well-rehearsed and ready. But, as you stride through the doors, what’s in your hand? We’re betting you’re not imagining a plastic carrier bag. No, it’s much more likely that you’re thinking of an expertly crafted briefcase, like this one from Bottega Veneta. The real genius of a briefcase is that you can be carrying literally anything inside – it can even be empty – and yet the simple fact that you’re carrying it lets you immediately command the room. Nothing says “I’m the man” like a good briefcase.

Perfect for:

The pitch-winning presenter. A man that can coax millions of pounds out of giant corporations without breaking a sweat. And well before lunch.

How to pack it:

• Use the separate compartments inside to house your laptop, documents and notebook.• The patch pockets are ideal for storing chargers and leads and for keeping a pen to hand.• Don’t forget a business card holder – people are going to want to know you, after all.

What to pack:

THE POUCH

If you’re like us, your laptop is one of your most well-used possessions, crucial to the organisation of both your personal and professional lives. So it makes sense to give yours a protective case befitting its importance (particularly if you’re taking it out and about). This pebble-grain leather pouch from Thom Browne is immaculately crafted for just such a purpose – and will keep your documents nice and organised, too. Tuck it under your arm and keep your laptop safe on your travels.

Perfect for:

Creative directors, architectsphotographers and other such tastefully minimal types.

How to pack it:

• Less is more with a portfolio. In order to not disrupt the clean lines, just take the bare essentials.• Condense the contents of your wallet into a card holder.

What to pack:

THE MESSENGER

A messenger bag is the perfect mid-point between a backpack and a briefcase: it combines the stylish, professional air projected by the latter with the comfort and practicality offered by the former. Messenger bags are particularly good if you need quick, easy access to anything you’re carrying. This Monolithe MM polished-leather messenger bag from Berluti fits the bill perfectly and will also last a lifetime: take good care of it and it’ll form a rich patina.

Perfect for:

Well, messengers, one should hope. But also men about town in general – a messenger bag comes into its own when you’re to-ing and fro-ing between meetings in multiple locations.

How to pack it:

• Take advantage of the interior and exterior pockets and in-built accessories to streamline and simplify your everyday routine.• Resist over-packing a messenger bag – it can put an extra strain on your back and shoulders.

What to pack:

The Backpack

Society and its mores have been in endless flux of late. So, in among the turmoil, you may have missed that it’s now more than permissible to wear a backpack anytime, anywhere. When you look at, for example, this leather-trimmed nylon backpack from Prada, it’s easy to see why. Austere, ultra-functional, and built to last a lifetime of commuting, it’s simultaneously an object of total utility and design nirvana. Forget the days when backpacks were solely for your school textbooks: pack this one with your daily essentials and it’ll never let you down.

Perfect for:

The flexible freelancer – someone whose office is a laptop and a café, or one of those trendy co-working places.

How to pack it:

• Put your heaviest items at the bottom and roll any clothes to maximise space and minimise creasing.• Use the exterior pockets for on-the-go essentials like your walletkeys and mobile phone.• A nifty way to avoid losing all your bits down the side is to put them into a separate pouch, placed at the top of the pack.

For more backpack packing tips, check out our video guide

What to pack:

THE HOLDALL

Some men just seem to have more time in the day than others. Where some seem to continually be chasing a spare half-an-hour in which to squeeze that after-work run, others make life seem effortless, creating time as and when they need to. We’ll let you in on the secret of the latter: organisation. And there’s no better tool for staying organised than a holdall, like this dark green twill duffle bag from Filson. With plenty of room for everything from a lunchtime gym session to a weekend in the sticks, it’s about as versatile as it gets. Now all you need to do is fill it with the right stuff.

Perfect for:

Those mad people that manage to go to the gym at lunch instead of the nearest sandwich-vendor. How do you do it, by the way?

How to pack it:

• It’s perfect for storing your gym kit, as well as any just-in-case items. This roomy holdall can be compartmentalised with packing cubes to keep work and play separate.• Make sure you stow any shoes and your washbag at the bottom to evenly distribute weight.

What to pack:

THE BIKE BAG

There are people who cycle, and there are cyclists. The distinction between those who slog sweatily around the city and those who breeze past on their fixie is usually defined by the extent to which they have invested in gear to make the experience easier. A good cycling bag is integral to this. You need something capable of carrying a lock, as well as a waterproof outer shell, gloves, lights, puncture repair kit… you get the idea. A waterproof canvas model like this Brooks England Pickwick small leather-trimmed canvas backpack should do the trick nicely.

Perfect for:

Stylish, ecologically minded commuters, who prefer two wheels and manpower to the horrors of public transport.

How to pack it:

• Function is the key here. This has a compartment to carry a laptop, but room for those cycling essentials. Remember: always keep a spare light and tools to hand.• The secret pocket in the back of the bag is ideal for stashing wallets and keys for easy access.

What to pack:

THE TOTE

“Keys, wallet, phone” may (pretty much) suffice if you’re leaving the house for a bite to eat on Saturday morning. But on weekdays, the list is often a little longer. In recent years, it seems that men have wised up to the fact that it’s useful to be armed with a variety of implements that make their day easier – and also that if you carry them in a bag, the lines of your outfit remain squeaky clean. This tote bag from Dries Van Noten is the perfect way to carry everything from your travel card to your passport in style. Chuck everything in and off you trot.

Perfect for:

The ever-prepared project manager. You can fit a lot of contingency options in these things.

How to pack it:

• Use the back of the bag to support books, magazines and your laptop/tablet.• This tote has a handy internal slot for a travel card or security pass, saving you the hassle of rooting around for it.

What to pack: