Have you seen that guy on the station platform every morning with his smart messenger bag slung across his shoulder, pulling his once-smart suit and shirt completely askew?
Not a good look!
Not a good way to treat an expensive suit, either. In time the delicate wool fibres will be showing unsightly signs of stress. And his jacket, however well-made, will be permanently pulled out of shape.
So what does the way you choose to carry your technology, paperwork and the day’s essentials to work say about you?
Just like the clothes you wear, your briefcase or ‘work bag’, for want of a better term, is a big part of your professional image. The chances are new acquaintances have (possibly unconsciously) judged you on it even before they shake your hand!
But how do you choose the right work bag?
Whilst a slim document bag will suffice for some, many men now have so much to carry that their bags are a bit like mobile offices.
And there’s so much choice out there – from briefcases to backpacks. In leather, in canvas and in canvas with leather trim. In black, brown and, dare we say it, shades of grey. But what looks impeccable with your formal suit looks incongruous on days when you go to work more casually dressed. And vice versa!
Ever eager to help you present yourself in a way that sends out all the right messages about you, your personality, your status and your professionalism, we’ve analysed the work bag challenge this week.
The biggest challenge
It seems that the biggest challenge, for many men, is choosing something that feels right in work environments where a traditional briefcase is too formal and a backpack too casual and unprofessional.
So here are the things we think will help you make that choice – with ease and confidence.
Sheer practicality: what do you need from your work bag?
If ever there was a case (pardon the pun!) for practicality and style having to go hand in hand, it’s here …
Because your bag doesn’t just have to carry your possessions and look right. Like your desk and your office, it also sends out a strong and important message about how you organise yourself.
What works best for you? Separate compartments? Or the flexibility of space where everything can go in together? Do you need slots for things like pens and phones? Zipped internal pockets for easy-to-lose things like keys?
Carrying: how are you going to ‘wear’ your work bag?
This has to start with what you’re wearing clothes-wise. As women have known since time immemorial, the best bag is one that complements your outfit!
If you’re wearing a suit, it’s easy. It has to be a smart briefcase or document bag that you carry by hand.
Shoulder straps, worn either on one shoulder or across the body, free your hands and make carrying heavy bags much easier. So, whilst they’re no good for formal suit-wearing days, they’re invaluable for occasions when you’re wearing something relaxed like a casual jacket or robust like a sports jacket.
Some briefcases and satchels have ‘hand’ handles plus detachable shoulder straps. Whilst these give you the option to switch handle according to what you’re wearing, you’d be better advised to invest in a separate, more informal, bag for dressed-down days. (A dual handle may still be very useful – it’s up to you.)
The idea is to marry the level of formality of your satchel or messenger bag with the formality of your outfit. A soft leather satchel is much smarter and more formal than a canvas messenger bag. The former works brilliantly with your Oxford shirt and cords or chinos, the latter with a check shirt, cords and chinos.
Are backpacks ever acceptable for work?
Backpacks can be extremely convenient! High quality chunky leather backpacks are fine for the most casual of dress-down days. But they’re never going to be right with more formal workwear.
The size of your bag isn’t just about what you need to carry in it and whether you prefer to travel light. It’s also about what looks best on you – given how big and how tall you are.
Security: what closing mechanism do you prefer?
Do you want something that closes with a zip, a flap, a buckle or a clasp? Does it need to be lockable? It’s worth bearing in mind that you can use use a small padlock on most zip-closing bags.
Colour: does it have to match?
The old rule that all your leathers have to match – briefcase, shoes, belt – still holds if you go for a traditional leather briefcase.
And black will always be more formal than brown – or green, grey, navy and any other shade that takes your fancy when you’re choosing a bag to wear with your ‘business casual’ outfits. Because no, your leathers don’t have to match when you’re more casually dressed – but they do need to look well put together. Pick colours that you like together, in the same way as you would when selecting other accessories, like ties and pocket squares, and you won’t go wrong.
Every smart professional man who has to transport work and personal effects to and from his place of work now has a whole lot more choice than in years gone by when the good old black attaché ruled supreme.
Yes, it’s another thing to think about, but it’s also a great opportunity to express your personal aesthetic. Having the right bag will give you confidence – and speak volumes about you and your approach to business before you utter a single word.
To see the full range of Savile Row Company document bags, briefcases, satchels, messenger bags and other small leathers, go to leather goods and don’t hesitate to give us a call if you’d like to know more about any of them.
*Not all of these items are now in stock*