When it comes to bags, men aren’t solely limited to a backpack or a messenger back, oh no. A whole world of bag options awaits the stylishly savvy gent, with numerous styles and colours to choose from to suit different occasions.
Men’s bags represent a multi-billion dollar industry, with guys purchasing more bags than ever before and wearing all types. And, the favouring of the man-bag (yes, we said it) – be it crossbody bag, sling bag, weekender bag, or even a toiletry bag.
Take a firm hold of the bag trend, anyway which way you can. But please, just don’t call it a ‘murse’.
Breaking It Down
A more casual workplace and the melange between function and fashion are driving the men’s bag furore. But with several bag types on offer today and infinite styles to choose from, which bag is the right one for you? We break down the five key bags for men, before running through points to consider before purchasing your next carry thing. Problem is, you’re gonna want more than just one.
The Tote Bag
Worn by fashion types today, the tote is all grown up from library days; serving an important role in the casual accessories cannon. Ideal for storing everything while on the go (think tablet, books, keys, phone, wallet and whatever else), the tote is very practical. Factor in its boxy streamline shape, as it hangs off your shoulder or dangles from the clasp of your hand, which packs a style punch.
The way to treat the tote is as a played-down version to the briefcase; perfect for the casual office bag or weekend day-out – somewhere that requires a bit of gear to tag along for the ride too.
Choose from cotton, canvas and leather, and an assortment of patterns (from geometrics to polkadots) – in a mass of colourways. As totes are unisex, stay away from excessive bling – like metallic chains or fluffy toy-things designed to dangle from the handles. Keep the tote clean – sans baggage, and you’ll totes be winning.
The Duffel Bag
The urban traveller and gym junkie cannot afford not to invest in the duffel bag. Despite the ruggedness of a gym session, a spacious yet well-shaped duffel is the only way to escort your goods to the locker room.
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Going for leather is a style no-brainer. But satiny, nylons offer a sportsluxe aesthetic, especially with mixed in with trims of canvas of cotton. Wool is a great city-break duffel bag fabric; working with a unstructured blazer or a more casual, street chic look while on holiday.
The final thing is size. It matters. Keeping it under 55cm wide will ensure you can carry the hefty bag at full capacity, opting to detach the strap as a personal taste thing. And for travel, the half-a-metre size means it’s lightweight and the right size as carry-on luggage enough to be carried with ease.
The Messenger Bag
Made famous by the retro postie on his bicycle, the messenger bag is recognised for its cross-body capabilities and satchel-esque aesthetic. While the flappy, buckled designs have their place, their is a surge in the zipped-up varieties, which are more rectangular in shape – almost like a large camera case.
Leather works best in this style for a more dressy look, as the bag’s shoulder-flung wearing is quite casual, which is why wearing it with a suit may not work for those of you in super corporate roles.
Select a medium-sized messenger bag to pair with weekend or work attire, and don’t succumb to the biggest faux pas of them all – having the strap so long that it slouches past your waistline. It’s juvenile and sloppy.
The folio is today’s briefcase. As the hardcopy, daily planner turns streamline and digital (think tablet or smartphone), the bulkiness of the briefcase (and its role in carrying notepads, pens and files) is no longer so necessary for all at work.
Most suiting brands have ventured into folio territory, as men look to the leaner pouch to lug their work stuff about in. If you’re more old-school, the folio does come in a more zipped, wider silhouette for times when carrying paperwork cannot be avoided.
Like a document, stick to a comfortable, hand-held size and opt for leather if you’re after something more chic. And, the polished hide will match your lace-up shoes nicely.
Another bag which is all grown up, is the backpack. Every brand from the budget right through to some of the biggest names in luxury constantly vie to reinvent the school boy carry thing with sleek designs and buttery leathers.
As well as the fabric – from sport nylons, to organic cottons – metallic hardware adds a touch of luxe to the backpack, with statement zips, pins and clips ramping up the detail.
While the backpack does work with a smart look (maybe not a suit – use your discretion in the workplace), its perfect place is with an athleisure-inspired melange of tailoring and active wear, especially in monochromatic hues. Très chic.
Stay true to your personal style and favourite colours or patterns. Buying a bag may already be a bold move so don’t complicate things by going for a statement ponyskin folio or fluoro pink tote. Instead, approach bag shopping as you would browsing for a winter coat; sticking to muted hues (navy, black, olive, charcoal, or brown) and timeless fabrics (cotton, leather or wool). To begin with, anyway.
Don’t stuff the bag to full capacity. This goes for the weekender and backpack, as this type will most likely be used for city breaks or full days out of the house. Carrying all the essentials, an over-filled bag can look clumsy and bulky, and is a good way to tear the bag fabric or break the zip. And, it will weigh a tonne, leaving you hunched under the weight or switching regularly between hands to spread out the burden. It’s not a good look, so carry the bare essentials.
Consider the shoulder straps. Though they are designed to alleviate burdens, the straps – be it leather or canvas, have the potential to rough-up a nicely ironed work shirt or streamed suit jacket. If your prone to dishevelment, look for bags that offer both hand straps and a shoulder strap so you can switch around to keep your suits looking their best. And if you’re lugging stuff around for long periods of time, opt for a padded strap; your shoulder will thank you for it.
Avoid female tendencies. Certain styles, particularly folios and totes fall into this beware-of-women’s-wear -stereotypes category. It’s all in the design. Buy a folio in A4 size to avoid any ‘clutch’ confusion, and opt for masculine colours for the tote, sans bling.
Know your purpose. If you’re a hand-sy person (always on your phone or drinking coffee on the go) then the folio or weekender – where the bag is hand-held – may not be the most practical option for you. The messenger bag or backpack, in this case, is far better suited for your daily needs. Don’t let your bag be a labour of love.