Work bags and briefcases for men come in a range of sizes, styles and prices, which should all be important considerations when buying a leather bag for work. Questions that should be at the fore of a buyer’s mind are: will the case be large enough for the amount of paper or other contents I need to carry? Will it provide adequate protection for my laptop and other electronic equipment? Is the style suited to my professional attire and corporate image? Does it have enough compartments, and of the types that suit my needs? A quality men’s work bag will cost more up front but, unlike an inexpensive one that will need replacing after a short period, will last for many years. It is therefore advisable to buy the highest quality that can be afforded.
Let’s consider the main types of briefcases and leather work bags for men.
Rigid briefcases, also known as hard-sided briefcases, are often made of leather that has been moulded around a rigid frame, which provide shape to the case as well as hardness. If the case is made from bridle leather it can weigh a few kilograms, especially if thick bridle leather is used. Rigid briefcases can also have their entire outer structure made from rigid, lightweight materials such as plastic, aluminium or cardboard. Hard-sided briefcases come with a handle, but no shoulder straps. The bottom of the case has two hinges along its length. At the opposite end the case opens, like a clam, on its side. At the top of the case is a clasp, which is often attached to a lock mechanism.
One of the advantages of a hard-sided case is its robustness. It can be stowed away in the overhead compartment of an aircraft and withstand bumps and collisions with other luggage without getting squashed, thereby providing protection to its contents. Owing to its bulkiness and rigidity this case is unlikely to be able to fit in to your luggage. Additionally, its internal volume is fixed, and it will not expand to hold extra contents. An attaché case is a slimmer, more compact version of a traditional rigid briefcase.
This type of document case is usually made from a stiff material such as bridle leather, and either has no frame or a partial frame in the upper part of the bag. The waxes and tallow used in finishing bridle leather confer a good amount of rigidity to leather 2.5 mm in thickness and above. Folding the leather on itself along the width of a semi-rigid case during construction allows for expansion when contents are added. These same side folds are usually used to compartmentalise a bridle leather briefcase. Outward expansion of the outer side panels that make up the length of a semi-rigid document case is restricted by the thickness and stiffness of the leather.
Such document cases for men will typically open from the top so that papers can be stored and retrieved while the case is in an upright position. Some models come with a protective flap across the top, while others are zipped or snapped at the top to protect a case’s contents. Meanwhile, others come with a lock mechanism.
At 3 mm in thickness, a bridle leather document case will provide its contents good, but not perfect protection from bumps. Thus, the case, if dropped, would need to have cushioned walls in order to provide adequate protection to a laptop and other electronic equipment, while the case itself and other contents are likely to remain unaffected by the fall.
A semi-rigid men’s leather work bag often comes with a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap. The look of the case can be made more formal or less so, depending on the owner’s requirement, by removing the strap or leaving it in place. It is more versatile in style than the rigid briefcase, and will be equally apropos in the hand of a 21 year old professional as it will in that of a middle-aged lawyer. A leather semi-rigid briefcase that you carry in your hand is generally regarded as an elegant option for the professional man.
A soft-sided briefcase is made using soft, malleable leather. As a consequence, outward expansion along the length of the case is possible so that extra load can be accommodated. It can also expand along its width, more so if the leather in the width area is folded upon itself during construction.
Its advantage is its flexibility in that its size conforms to the amount of load being carried. Thus, a soft-sided case is collapsible and can be carried within luggage. Its disadvantages are that it will offer virtually no protection to a laptop or other electronic equipment if dropped, unless if lined with a cushion; and it does not lend itself well to having a lock since someone who is determined to get access to the contents of the bag can do so quite easily by cutting through the soft leather.
A leather portfolio is slimmer than a full-sized briefcase, and is often no more than a few centimetres wide. Men’s leather portfolios can be quite simple, with just a single storage compartment, or have several storage spaces for documents, a writing pad, business cards, pens and a telephone. Many models have no handles and are intended to be carried in the hand as a clutch. Some models have retractable handles that can be pulled out from the wall of the case, or be pushed in so that the leather document portfolio can be carried as a clutch. Where there is a fixed handle it usually takes the form of a simple arch or loop sewn on to the top of the case. A leather portfolio case is convenient for transporting documents to meetings, for example across a city or within an office building, when a full-sized briefcase means carrying around more luggage than is necessary or convenient so to do. A leather portfolio gift is worth considering for a man at Christmas, for a birthday anniversary, or for graduation from university.
Laptop cases are briefcases with padded walls to cushion electronic equipment from impact the case might sustain. Laptop cases usually have several compartments to allow for carrying a laptop or notebook as well as associated accessories, documents, a telephone, pens and so on. Shoulder straps are almost always to be found on laptop cases as they provide greater security while the case’s fragile contents are being transported.
Whether you intend it to or not, your briefcase will make a style statement about you so try to choose a style and colour that is in keeping with your business attire and the dress code of your work place. The most versatile colours are black and dark brown. A briefcase that complements your business suits will signal your good taste, professionalism and make you feel confident while carrying it.
"The briefcase I purchased is an excellent product. It is very nicely made and the epitome of stylish simplicity."