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The case for a briefcase

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Slimline and stylish is the must-have in daily hand luggage.

Slimline and stylish is the must-have in daily hand luggage.

I recently had the pleasure of a two-week sojourn back to Mother England where I was able to stay in the heart of London. Whilst there, amidst visiting family, drinking my body weight in warm beer and convincing everyone that only people who had never been to Australia actually drank Fosters, I noticed the accessory du jour among the men of London was the faithful briefcase.

Not too long ago I wrote an article that suggested getting rid of the backpack and the satchel in favour of a briefcase. I didn't really extrapolate on my reasons why. So, after seeing them in action en masse, I thought I'd briefly revisit that statement.

The whole idea of a briefcase, for many of us, might summon images of the battered, square, bulky box of the travelling salesmen. Or maybe even those faded shots of your dad sporting some serious muttonchops, brown flares and a wide-as-hell tie during the 60s and 70s.

Thankfully, however, things have changed slightly and the modern-day briefcase is now a sleek piece of craftsmanship that can add serious style to your office attire. Brands such as Dunhill, Jack Spade, Z Zegna, Mandarina Duck and even local leather labels such as Hunt Leather have all revisited this classic male staple. They've added their own touches and repurposed it for the modern man with variations ranging from soft, unstructured leather to traditional, yet super-thin, hard-cased versions.

Personally, the biggest drawcard for converting to a well-made briefcase is they are the perfect finishing touch to a well-fitted suit. Or even that vague corporate-casual dress code that matches a stylish shirt with jeans and a blazer. Like a good pair of shoes or a watch, a briefcase can add a touch of prestige and elegance to your final look.

Satchels and backpacks are, I'm sure, comfortable in some way but there is something of a delivery-boy feel about them. In the wise words of 30 Rock boss character Jack Donaghy, you should always dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Unless you're a delivery boy; in that case, satchels are perfect. Backpacks, meanwhile, press your clothes against your back. If wearing a suit in Australian humidity wasn't already tough enough, the last thing you need is something hugging you all the way to work.

Secondly, briefcases are also a great way of minimising what you take to work with you. Unless you've the kind of job that consistently needs a bag of equipment such as a paramedic or a plumber, nearly everything you truly need can be easily placed in the confines of a decently-sized briefcase – a laptop, maybe an iPad, some pens or notebook, your wallet, keys and your phone. Done. Anything else is just a little superfluous.

To be honest, there isn't that much difference between the contemporary laptop bag and the classic briefcase aside from semantics, although laptop bags tend to be slightly larger in size. In saying that, most briefcases are now coming fitted with an internal laptop sleeve so your goods will be safe and sound as you sprint towards the train. And briefcases tend to look a little slicker and sleeker.

If all of this hasn't convinced you to make the switch from the same bag you used in high school, then consider this. Setting aside the blatant racism, sexism, alcoholism, philandering and incessant smoking, the boys of Sterling Cooper and Partners in TV series Mad Men are some of the best-dressed men on television today and you really could do a lot worse than choosing drunk lothario Don Draper as your style icon. He's better than Justin Beiber, anyway.

Do you think briefcases have made a comeback for the modern man?

20 comments

  • Hell yes they've made a comeback. Actually, they've never left.

    Sure, you can reach for one of those man bags (wait, Indiana Jones had one, and he was one swashbuckling bloke), but you'd probably just look like a dweeb, lest you add a beat to the mix, and it screams hipster.

    Real men carry a briefcase.

    (I actually have a popular videogame man-bag, I love it and take it to work to an engineering firm...hmm...)

    Commenter
    Dude
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    October 11, 2013, 1:58PM
    • There's a fine line between a briefcase and a handbag. (BTW, the picture screams manbag)

      Commenter
      soundsgr82me
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 11, 2013, 2:18PM
      • Three words people.....Swaine Adeney Brigg

        Commenter
        Terribly_English
        Date and time
        October 11, 2013, 2:38PM
        • A briefcase has no use at all - they use them in Mad Men as they may have had a function in 1965...A friend of mine used to carry a book in his briefcase just to give it weight. He never opened it. "Oh no, I'm not making the grade because I don't have a briefcase." What are you? Twelve years old? If someone judges you by your briefcase they probably aren't someone you would like to know or do (real) business with. Mandarina Duck? Ok let me drop $500 on yet another useless accoutrement. What a load of pompous, pretentious, nonsense this article is. Yes, let's mimic Mad Men - a fantasy world of smoking, drinking and sexism. Brilliant.

          Commenter
          JT
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          October 11, 2013, 2:42PM
          • Your friend sounds like an idiot. Not for having a briefcase but for having one just for the look of it. Almost as much of an idiot as you for clearly being unable to comprehend the clear disclaimer at the end of the article.

            Commenter
            Heffa
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            October 11, 2013, 5:34PM
        • I carry a bag for a purpose not as a fashion accessory,so people can think of me as they wish,i don`t give a damn.

          Commenter
          Screamer
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          October 11, 2013, 2:54PM
          • Add TUMI to the mix. I rock a Tumi Mcnair, oh so nice and it amazes me what it carries.

            Commenter
            dandandan
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            October 11, 2013, 2:55PM
            • Just don't be tempted to put too much weight in them or you WILL have back and neck problems.

              While the current generation of modern laptops suit a lot of people's needs, unfortunately there are many of us that require laptops with greater computing power that the slim laptops can't handle yet. They necessarily weigh significantly more.

              Commenter
              Mark
              Date and time
              October 11, 2013, 3:04PM
              • most people who care about their appearance go to the gym during the day or after work. so a briefcase doesn't really work.

                Commenter
                greenpea
                Location
                syd
                Date and time
                October 11, 2013, 3:13PM
                • Filson briefcase. Thank you.

                  Commenter
                  Blake
                  Location
                  Sydney
                  Date and time
                  October 11, 2013, 3:56PM

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