The Man Bag De-Mystified

Forget that middle school, monogrammed, L.L Bean backpack; you’re a grown-up now, and it’s time your mancessories started reflecting that. “Murses” were once relegated to the über-confident, European male and seemed to only come in styles that too closely mimicked your girlfriend’s favorite handbag. However, over the past decade or so, the male population has slowly come around, finally realizing what us women have known all along: pockets as your sole carryall just don’t cut it. But fear not, because, in the 21st century, man bags come in every shape and style imaginable: briefcase, messenger, tote, duffle, you name it, they make it. But this also means that choosing the right one can feel like a task too monumental for even the Dos Equis man to handle. Your choice in satchel, like any good accessory, should be a statement about who you are and how you want to be perceived by the world. So how do you make sure your man bag isn’t mistaken for a purse, confused with a dweeby high schooler’s knapsack, or worst of all, marking you as an unredeemable hipster? Here are four rules of thumb that will, hopefully, help you avoid the pitfalls of becoming a hyper-trendy metrosexual or a total sloppy mess.

Choose Your Material Wisely:

Nylon and plastic are out. You should have ditched those synthetic fibers the day you got that diploma. Stick with durable fabrics instead, like canvas, wool and especially leather, all of which are going to age well and even get better with time. You want something that’s going to see you through many seasons and handle wear and tear like a champ, a feat traditional nylon backpacks simply can’t handle. Not to mention, adding a bag in a more luxurious fabric to your outfit can immediately up the sophistication factor and make everything you’re wearing look more expensive.

 We Recommend: Hudson British Tan Wax Twill Messenger 

Size Matters:

First off, you need to make sure you’re choosing a bag that’s going to be big enough to hold everything you need it to. If it’s a work bag, that means your laptop and paperwork need to fit in there alongside all your other day to day essentials. Our suggestion is bring everything you’ll need in your bag with you when you go shopping and then test them out to make sure it all fits. After all, you wouldn’t buy an expensive suit without trying it on, would you? (If you just said yes to that, we have a whole other set of issues to discuss.) Secondly, size matters because if you buy a bag too small, girls will be stopping you in the street to ask where you picked up that cute clutch (not sexy). But buy one too big and it will end up dwarfing you and driving you insane trying to fill all that extra space.

We Recommend: Roomy, multi-compartment Marni Leather Backpack:  

Seek Structure:

Even the most fashionable of men tend to make this mistake, and it’s why we advise, in general, to stay away from tote bags until you really know what you’re doing style-wise. Choosing a stiffer fabric that will help the bag hold its shape, even with prolonged use, is going to eliminate any concerns that your bag will get mixed up with your girlfriend’s. Look for bags with strong silhouettes, supported by sturdy fabrics and more rigid frames. This will keep bags from becoming dainty or floppy, and help you project a tougher, more grown-up masculine air.

We Recommend: Wall Street Briefcase by Frank Clegg:

Stick With the Basics:

Your bag is not the place to go overboard on trends or details. Simple and timeless is the way to go. This is a staple you want to make sure you love for years to come, not a rhinestoned, Ed Hardy nightmare purchased in a moment of supreme weakness. Go for clean lines, minimal hardware and classic bag shapes that will never go out of style. Remember, a bag should be an investment piece, something that you can both build your wardrobe around and helps tie it all together.

We Recommend: Sleek and simple David Spade Messenger: 

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