A Bag For Every Man

Just when you think you’ve got everything sorted in this menswear game, something comes along and throws a right old spanner in the works. You have nailed your fit, curated the perfect capsule wardrobe, and even developed a vast and glorious shoe collection – only to find one day that you’re still missing that little bit extra. That tiny corner you’d forgotten to check for boring, unstylish mice. The sartorial monster under your bed.

For me, and I’m sure most men out there, that monster is the ever elusive ‘right bag’. Or rather the right bag for both my lifestyle and personal style. Because no matter what I do or how hard I dress – my bag game always seems to let me down.

Let’s face it, choosing the right bag can often be confusing and intimidating. There are plenty of options to choose from out there that come in a myriad of colours, materials and sizes all at varying price points. With so much to consider, it can be hard to know where to start. Or even when to finish. Which leaves most of us still bag-less – or settling for something we didn’t really want.

Furthermore, as with other aspects of men’s style, practicality, functionality and masculinity are contributing factors to selecting the perfect bag. As a friend of mine said to me last week: “The trouble with a bag is that I can’t help thinking I look really feminine carrying it around.”

I explained to him that he felt like that for two reasons. The first was that all the bags we’d looked at were a bit too ‘fancy’ for his style (student/tramp) – what he needed was something made from a rugged and durable material such as suede or canvas. Secondly, he was selecting bags that looked cool and quite fashion-forward but had no chance of ever holding half the stuff he carried around on a daily basis, such as books, notepads and stationary.

If this sounds like you, then remember what I said above – practicality, functionality and masculinity. It’s a lot easier to carry around a bag once you feel it’s actually serving a practical purpose in your day.

Top 5 Bags For Men

So, without any more of my babbling, here are five different types of bag that are both fool-proof and extremely suitable for any aspiring stylish gentleman.

1. The Duffel Bag/Holdall

Men's Duffle Bag and Holdall Lookbook

If in doubt, this should really be your go-to. It’s the default option because it can perform multiple functions on a daily basis while still retaining an element of style.

It’s ideal for the gym goer who likes to keep their gear close to hand. The perfect companion for the weekenders who exclusively carry-on. And for anyone who tries to live anything resembling an interesting life outside of work, it’s basically your portable wardrobe.

Pick one that is a medium size (i.e. not too small nor too big) and if possible opt for a leather version in brown. Leather is more versatile than canvas, especially when it comes to selecting an all-purpose bag, and will go with most looks you put together:

  • Mulberry Henry Textured Nylon BagMulberry Henry Textured Nylon Bag
  • Asos Canvas And Leather Look HoldallAsos Canvas And Leather Look Holdall
  • Reiss Filo Small HoldallReiss Filo Small Holdall
  • River Island Varsity HoldallRiver Island Varsity Holdall
  • Allsaints Turner Gym BagAllsaints Turner Gym Bag
  • Barbour Olive Waxed Cotton Twill Overnight BagBarbour Olive Waxed Cotton Twill Overnight Bag
  • Burton Stone HoldallBurton Stone Holdall
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Padded Packables Duffle BagMarc By Marc Jacobs Padded Packables Duffle Bag
  • Topman Brown Leather HoldallTopman Brown Leather Holdall
2. The Briefcase

Men's Briefcase Lookbook

Ah, a word that strikes fear into most men born in and around the 90s – the dreaded briefcase! But don’t worry, a new breed has arrived that shakes off the dusty cobwebs of suited and booted fathers gone by. They are sleeker, slimmer and less boxy, which makes them ideal for the modern gentleman who only ever needs to carry around his laptop and a hand full of papers.

If you work in an environment that requires you to wear a suit, I’d suggest purchasing one in black leather. Anywhere else, try one in canvas for a more casual yet completely non-feminine look. A canvas briefcase is also ideal for anyone looking to make the jump from a messenger bag (which is less practical and more feminine if you ask me):

  • Dunhill Chassis Leather BriefcaseDunhill Chassis Leather Briefcase
  • Topman Brown Leather Look BriefcaseTopman Brown Leather Look Briefcase
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Tan Smooth Leather Class Act BriefcaseMarc By Marc Jacobs Tan Smooth Leather Class Act Briefcase
  • Topman Tan Leather Zip BriefcaseTopman Tan Leather Zip Briefcase
  • Brics Life BriefcaseBrics Life Briefcase
  • Porter Grid Brief CasePorter Grid Brief Case
3. The Backpack

Men's Backpack Lookbooks

As we all know, fashion is about cycles. What goes around comes around guys and, right now, that is very true for the backpack. Hands free, minimal fuss and surprisingly capable of holding a fair amount of stuff, it’s the ideal choice for a sartorial student, casual man or every day bike rider.

Why not try out one in a quirky colour like cobalt blue or canary yellow to really add a bit of life into your look?

For a full report on the current backpack trend, read Jonathan’s article here: Key Accessory Trend: Men’s Backpacks.

  • Herschel Desert Little America BagHerschel Desert Little America Bag
  • Asos Contrast Canvas BackpackAsos Contrast Canvas Backpack
  • Ben Sherman Plectrum Canvas BackpackBen Sherman Plectrum Canvas Backpack
  • Topman Red Printed Hertiage RucksackTopman Red Printed Hertiage Rucksack
  • Sandqvist Stone Canvas Leather Roald BackpackSandqvist Stone Canvas Leather Roald Backpack
  • Asos Quilted BackpackAsos Quilted Backpack
  • Seil Marschall Red Half Dome Canvas PackSeil Marschall Red Half Dome Canvas Pack
  • American Apparel Denim School BagAmerican Apparel Denim School Bag
  • A.p.c. Hiking BackpackA.p.c. Hiking Backpack
4. The Tote

Men's Tote Bag Lookbook

Probably my personal favourite and the most underrated of the bunch. It’s great because it can carry a huge amount of supplies – laptop, camera, magazines, notepads, spare shoes, spare shirt, accessories – and all in what is essential a giant portable pocket! What’s not to like about that? Us guys do love stuffing things into our pockets after all.

However, I do understand that it is the most feminine on this list, so in order to avoid any embarrassment or bullying go for something in rugged, durable rough-and-ready material like canvas or suede. Another way to counteract this is to opt for a version where the handles are long enough to be carried over your shoulder rather than in your hand.

  • Allsaints Thetford Tote BagAllsaints Thetford Tote Bag
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Black Smooth Leather Class Act ToteMarc By Marc Jacobs Black Smooth Leather Class Act Tote
  • Herschel Market Tote BagHerschel Market Tote Bag
  • Shore Leave Burgundy & Navy Canvas ToteShore Leave Burgundy & Navy Canvas Tote
  • Seil Marschall Yellow Classic Canvas ToteSeil Marschall Yellow Classic Canvas Tote
  • Topman Brown Canvas Tote BagTopman Brown Canvas Tote Bag
  • Ohare Leather-trimmed Cotton-canvas Tote BagOhare Leather-trimmed Cotton-canvas Tote Bag
  • Veja Cabas Soleta Leather Tote BagVeja Cabas Soleta Leather Tote Bag
  • Topman Brown Leather ShopperTopman Brown Leather Shopper
5. The Actual Luggage

Hopefully we all have this bag in some shape or form at the ready. But for regular usage it really is for the travellers who need to take more than just the bare minimum with them. The guys who spend more than 2-3 days in a city a month.

Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of types out there, so it really is about finding the style that suits you. I would suggest to go for something with wheels from a practical standpoint and always opt for a neutral colour like navy, grey or black. All you guys who buy pink suitcases so you can tell it’s yours – grow up! You will just end up picking up plenty of girl’s suitcases instead before you get yours off the conveyor belt.

  • Mulberry Henry Compact Wheeled SuitcaseMulberry Henry Compact Wheeled Suitcase
  • Eastpak Camouflage 78l SuitcaseEastpak Camouflage 78l Suitcase
  • Paul Smith Woven Large Spinner Suitcase 58cmPaul Smith Woven Large Spinner Suitcase 58cm
  • Herschel Parcel Upright Suitcase 63cmHerschel Parcel Upright Suitcase 63cm
  • Eastpak Spin Black 34l SuitcaseEastpak Spin Black 34l Suitcase
  • Victorinox Ch-97 Ch 25 Wheeled SuitcaseVictorinox Ch-97 Ch 25 Wheeled Suitcase
Final Word

So there you have it guys, five bags I think should be considered as a choice for each and every one of you out there. But as always, this is more a discourse than a lecturer so why not tell me what you think in the comments section below?