Something remarkable has happened in the last few decades. Something utterly unique in the world of men’s wear, a division of fashion usually known for its static nature and reluctance to change.
Men started carrying bags.
At some point during the 1990s, the ‘man-bag’ started to gain respectability and currency in mainstream culture. Men from far and wide adopted the bag as a means of expressing their worldliness and sartorial savvy. However, not all men have the same sense of style necessary to pull off this look.
For these men unsure or uncertain of what qualifies as a manly bag, and what doesn’t, StyleGuyed has assembled this Men’s Guide to Bags. From the humblest briefcase, to the most gaudy Zegna tote, the staff has put together some rules, advice, tips, and definitions to help you add that perfect combination of style and practicality to your look.
It’s the classic man’s bag. So classic, and so imprinted in our collective consciousness, that it’s almost impossible to really make any kind of fashion statement with a simple backpack.
There are generally two types of backpacks, framed, and frameless. A frameless backpack is your classic schoolboy bag. It’s best paired with your casual best, and usually looks its best at the gym, or on a day-trip to the park.
A framed backpack is a larger, more complicated affair used for hiking, outdoorsing, and backpacking. Because a frameless backpack is only made for carrying loads of no greater than 5 kg, larger weights are best kept in a framed backpack, which uses its frame to better distribute weight across your back.
You should own at least one good, frameless bag for practical use, that will lend you plenty of support for your back. Make sure it’s roomy enough to carry what you need, and rests comfortably on your back.
The backpack however, is strictly a utility bag. It’s easily the least fashion conscious, and most functional of all bags on this list, so keep that in mind if you’re planning a day trip, or building an outfit.
It’s soft-sided. It’s middling in size. It has a sling for you to wear it over your shoulder. It rests around your hip. It’s a satchel, or purse, if you like. And it has the potential to be the most embarrassing item you own.
‘It’s not a purse. It’s called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one’ Zach Galifianakis protests in The Hangover, though his words fall on deaf ears. Put as manly a name as you like on it, you’re still running the risk of getting flack for carrying around a man-bag.
Only a step up from a fanny pack, the trick with the satchel is to have a real practical use for it. Think of it as your camera bag, your laptop bag, your work bag, just endeavor not to think of it as your man bag. Make sure the size is large enough to keep important items in, and try not to hit anybody when you swing that thing around.
The Messenger Bag
Though there’s a lot of confusion between messengers and satchels, it’s pretty easy to differentiate the two once you learn about them. A satchel is made of softer material, while a messenger is made of tougher stuff.
They’re made of tough materials, like canvas and kevlar and lined with tarp to keep the insides dry. Resting on the lower back when slung over one shoulder, they’re meant to stay unobtrusive while bike messengers dodge cars and pedestrians, and still keep the interiors dry. All told, it’s a great bag for commuters, students, and of course, cyclists.
It’s the bag of choice for the uptown fashionistos and donors to PBS. Though tote bags have traditionally been a staple of your mom’s closet, runway staples like Gucci, Versace and Ferragamo have started to add them to their men’s lines.
The disturbing aftereffect is that it has men like you thinking you can pull this sort of look off everyday. While it’s not our place to say you can’t, it is our place to warn you that it takes a lot of forethought and a lot of chutzpah.
Avoid large, slouchy formless bags, which look way too much like your girlfriend’s Prada, and avoid odd colors or patterns. Stick with traditional leathers and structured designs
The working man’s bag of choice for decades, the briefcase looks good, whether it’s carrying something as mundane as your lunch, or nuclear secrets while handcuffed to your wrist.
Derived from bags used by Italians in the 14th century to carry money and valuables, the briefcase is the go-to bag for the 9-to-5er, and private school student alike. Every man should own at least one, with no exceptions.
There are three types of briefcases: the portfolio, the folio case and the attaché. Finding the right one for you is just a matter of focusing on what your needs are.
The portfolio isn’t a very commonly seen briefcase, but is the most portable, easily handled of all briefcases. An informal, soft sided case without a handle, the portfolio is popular in creative jobs, and can be easily shoved into a backpack or shoulder bag without trouble.
A great choice for creative designers and writers who don’t want their friends to feel as though they’ve sold out. Think of it as the briefcase that isn’t a briefcase. Even the most staunch opponents of the suit-and-tie lifestyle probably own one.
The Folio Case
The most commonly seen briefcase, the folio is a soft sided leather case with a handle. Seen everyday, nearly everywhere, this briefcase is not the sole property of the financial district. Everybody from disaffected journalists to over-earnest business students have use for this case.
There’s little to be said for the folio – buy it in black or brown, it’s a versatile choice that’s difficult to do wrong. Think of it as the white dress shirt or little black dress of the bag world. It goes with everything, and rarely looks out of place.
The Attaché Case
Less commonly seen is the attaché case. As the name implies, this lockable, hard sided briefcase was originally most often seen in diplomatic work. Usually finished in leather, the attaché case is easily the most formal of all briefcases, and also most cumbersome.
You can’t carry it in a backpack, you can’t easily hide it, it’s pretty much a free admission that you work in an office. Though once extremely popular, many people are unattracted to the stigma associated with ownership of the attaché case.
Generally speaking, the boxier the briefcase, the more formal it appears. A soft-sided folio case goes well with a cardigan and jeans at a design firm’s Monday meeting, but a boxy attaché case looks its best when carried to a court hearing, or stuffed full of ransom money.
Ready to escape for that long-weekend? Or, ready to escape period? As its title suggests, the holdall is a perfect alternative to the backpack, minus the imposing bulkiness of its big brother. Inspired by the duffel bag, but made predominantly with a leather exterior for a more appealing look, the holdall is a sleek, stylish way for you to travel.
Don’t worry, if you’re still embarrassed by the idea of carrying a bag, this beauty only needs to make an appearance when you’re traveling. Trust us, it’s far less embarrassing than a satchel, and you’re bound to get compliments and bonus points for the way you travel in style.
The Duffel Bag
The universal and utilitarian duffel bag is the ultimate man’s bag. The oversized version of the holdall, you throw your gym clothes in it, your shoes and maybe even use it for the occasional weekend getaway. Hailing from the Belgium town of Duffel where the thick cloth used to make the bag originated, the duffel bag has transformed and been developed into a more luxurious product over many years. Because this bag is so multi-purpose, what you put it in is purely up to you. Throwing that hockey equipment or designer gym outfit in your over-sized bag never looked so good.
The Camera Bag
No, this isn’t the camera bag that came with your Canon. A smaller version of the messenger bag, the camera bag is a longer, rectangular bag that is made to go over your shoulder. Originally made for tourists, this sleek and discreetly stylish bag is now a great way to lug your belongings around. It’s definitely a far cry from the age-old fanny pack your dad used to carry around.
You don’t have to worry about this camera bag coming in flashy colors or out-there patterns, the camera bag is designed to add a touch of masculinity to any outfit, so expect lots of neutral colors that will flatter any thing you decide to wear that day.
And yes, you can still put a camera in it.
Remember that newspaper route you took up as a kid because your parents made you get a job? No, we’re not leading into a subscription for the New York Times but the newsboy bag might remind you of your glory days. Synonymous with casual wear, the newsboy bag is a great every day, on-the-go messenger bag. Perfect for the student, the traditional canvas exterior makes it a little less formal than the messenger bag. Its unstructured form is perfect for anything you can think of stuffing in it: laptop, wallet, books or even that pair of sneakers. If you’re still trying to decide on whether or not you can take the criticism from your friends about carrying a satchel, start with the newsboy bag. It exudes masculinity not only because of its fabric but also because of its name. Hear that? That’s the sound of all the ladies flocking to you right now, wanting to know more about your bag. And you.
The Roller Bag
We all know how hard swinging that messenger bag over your shoulder or picking up that heavy carry-on can actually be. So why not take a load off your poor aching back and put your mind at ease with a roller bag? Though mostly used for longer vacations, the rolling bag is a great alternative to that heavy suitcase or holdall you wanted to bring this weekend for that business trip. More durable than most, the rolling bag is designed for the man on the go, for whatever situation you may find yourself in. Easy to transport and versatile, the rolling bag is certainly the most adaptable bag on this list.
Whatever bag you choose to go with, the most important thing is to consider your needs and options.
The most fashion forward of you would be more comfortable with a tote, but if you’re looking for a no-frills gym bag, then perhaps a duffel or backpack is best.
Most men have more than three or four bags, so start with what you need and build from there.
Ah the wallet. Since the dawn of time when a form of currency was used in exchange for goods, wallets have always been the trusty sidekick in a man’s pant pocket. From the earlier simple sack wallet created to hold coins and other essentials to the classic American billfold, wallets have evolved greatly over time.
To help you decide just which wallet is most suited to your needs and lifestyle, The Carry has put together this list, containing the six wallet styles that all men need to know.
The Tri-Fold Wallet
Just as the name suggests, this wallet has three folds, perfect for those extra credits, gift cards and pictures of the girlfriend. Although it only differentiates from the bi-fold by one fold, yes guys, that one fold does make a massive difference. The tri-fold also contains pockets and even a zipper compartment in some models. Let’s consider the amount of times you’ve tried stuffing that last business card into your bi-fold and it just won’t close. That’s the beauty of this baby. One extra fold makes all the difference. However, just don’t overdo it. Trust us, you’ll be thanking us in the future.
The Bi-Fold Wallet
The tri-fold’s distant cousin, the bi-fold is the all-American wallet. The simplest of all the wallets, the bi-fold has a massive advantage of not causing a weird bulge in your pocket. That being said, this makes them the perfect wallet to carry around. With a variety of different designs including no pockets, multiple pockets and even zippers, you can find almost any design that’s perfect for you.
The Money Clip
For those of you who aren’t feeling the wallet, and would rather just stuff your bills and cards into your pockets, consider the sleek and small money clip. Allowing for quick and easier access, the money clip is a great and flashy alternative. Coming in a variety of colors and ranging from the ever so popular gold and silver to the more elaborate like onyx or engraving, consider which money clip would be appropriate for you and your lifestyle.
The Checkbook / Travel Wallet
Yes, you should have a separate wallet when you travel. You can’t just roll up and stuff your checkbook into your back pocket. The checkbook or travel wallet is perfect for that getaway to Barbados, having everything you could possibly need right there at your fingertips. With a compartment for, well, your checkbook, there are also multiple other compartments for storing pens, cash, credit cards and even a long vertical section for storing your passport and other important documents. With many styles to choose from, you don’t have an excuse to not travel in style.
The Zip-Closure Wallet
Just as it sounds, this zip-closure wallet ensures that all those pictures, credit cards, bills and coins don’t slide around in your messenger bag or pant pocket. Perfect for the man that carries everything in his wallet, the zip-closure is versatile and easy. It’ll make you want to carry it, not because of its ease but because of its clean and simple style.
Just like a bag, a good wallet will last you many years. When picking a wallet, make sure you consider your lifestyle, needs and the amount of stuff you have bulging out of your current bi-fold. Remember, if you’re really struggling to find a wallet that’s best for you, go for the most basic and work your way up from there.
Burning bag questions? Wallet woes? Leave us a comment or question about your most serious satchel inquiries.
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