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My briefcase looks like it’s designed by Staples. What are some helpful things I should know when shopping for a man bag?

My briefcase looks like it’s designed by Staples. What are some helpful things I should know when shopping for a man bag?


Men don’t carry a lot of accessories, so you have to choose wisely when you do. First off, avoid backpacks and messenger bags made of woven fabric. They’re OK for college and college alone -- for everyone else, they’re outdated and unprofessional. Briefcases, in the strict sense of the word, are also outdated.

So what should you buy? Well, first, ask yourself what the bag is for. If you’re working in fashion or media or a similar industry, you’ll be going to work in more casual clothing, so you don’t need a fancy bag. If you work in a corporate office, you’ll need something that holds up against a suit. Either way, my suggestion is to buy a leather bag, since a) it will hold up over time (you carry your bag with you every day, so you’ll need something tough), and b) because there are so many different types of leather. Depending on what kind of look you’re going for, you can opt for casual, polished or shinier skins.

As for color, you should think in terms of seasons. In fall and winter, men wear heavier jackets in generally darker fabrics -- blacks, browns and grays. So in the cooler months, you want a bag that’s a darker color. In warmer months, colors lighten up into neutrals and earth tones, so you’ll want to lighten up the color of your bag accordingly.

There are some comfort-related factors to keep in mind as well. If you commute to work, you probably want a bag that’s not going to give you shoulder problems. In which case, you may want to consider a nylon bag. Nylon is great for gym rats too, since gyms are breeding grounds for germs, and nylon cleans well. Commuters may also want to consider an across-the-body strap, which tends to balance the weight in the bag more evenly. However, you may want to avoid an across-the-body strap in summer, since it could leave marks on your clothes if you sweat. If you’re at all concerned about this, go with an over-the-shoulder strap on sultry days.


About the Expert

Erika Chloe is the CEO of My Image Expert, an image and fashion consulting firm that works with individuals and corporations.