If you’re like me, you often find yourself carrying a George Costanza-sized wallet, overflowing with receipts, dollar bills and business cards. Or, you’re constantly finding excuses to wear cargo pants just for the pocket space. If you’ve forgotten your keys, cell phone or iPad more often than you’d like to admit, do what I did and get yourself a man bag.
The stigma once attached to man bags is gone, thanks to guys like Tom Brady, David Beckham and LeBron James, who have all been seen carrying them. And if you’re still skeptical, you can’t deny the manliness of Chewbacca, everyone’s favorite Wookie, who was ahead of his time with his personal man bag. Ready to try it? Just be selective and choose a bag that suits your personality and style.
It needs to be functional; after all, we guys have a lot of stuff to carry. Why not start with a style you’re already familiar with? Backpacks, duffels, messenger bags and briefcases are considered the manliest of bags. And no elaborate designs, patterns, or too much color. If you’re looking to take it to the next level, you can explore tote bags or a flight bag. Whatever the bag, fabrics and styles run the gamut from casual to sporty to sophisticated, so you’re bound to find something that suits you.
Whether for school, work, weekend or on the go, backpacks offer hands-free convenience. They’ve come a long way since the nylon backpacks that you crammed 30 lbs of books into during high school. You can choose from sleek designs or ones with lots of pockets to stash your gear. Leather and canvas fabrics can complement dress or casual attire.
Duffel bags are great for short trips and they’re the perfect carry-on size. Your current gym bag looking a little ratty? A duffel bag makes a great upgrade. Duffels also come in a variety of fabrics, like leather, canvas, twill or nylon and often include leather accents and straps. Carry it by hand or sling it over your shoulder, whatever feels more comfortable.
Messenger bags make a great everyday option and, for the more fashion-conscious, can complete an outfit. They’re great for storing your iPad, laptop and other everyday essentials. Like backpacks, you can find styles with multiple pockets. Perfect for guys like me, who lack organizing skills.
You don’t have to dress like Don Draper to carry a briefcase. It’s still the classic choice for laptops and files (for those of you who still insist on paper files) and the most widely accepted choice for the workplace. But these aren’t your granddad’s briefcases. Most have been updated with soft sides and pockets, making them much more functional than they used to be. To make a good first impression, pair a leather style with your everyday suits. You can also find casual styles in fabrics like canvas that are just right for a more casual work environment.
Totes and Flight Bags
If you’re a more fashionable guy, you might consider a tote bag. Ideal for carrying books, tablets, or your lunch, many tote bags are designed with an open top, but you can also find styles that zip so all your important stuff doesn’t fall out when someone bumps into you on the subway. If you’re worried about finding something masculine enough, try a durable fabric like canvas for a rugged look. Also, we big guys should stick to bigger bags. Definitely avoid smaller totes worn over the shoulder.
Flight bags are recommended for experienced man bag carriers only. If you’re worried about someone asking about your “murse” (man purse), these bags are not for you. Originally designed for carrying sundries aboard an airplane, a flight bag is a lightweight shoulder bag usually designed with zippered outside pockets. Again, if you choose this style, you need to own it or risk looking like Alan from The Hangover, insisting his man purse is a “satchel”.
One last word of advice, fanny packs are out (and have been since…well, forever). So tell me, is this a trend you’d try and, if so, what man bag do you think you could pull off?