Do you have a problem with that?
Well, not a handbag. Not a hobo, or a clutch. A man-hand-bag. Manbag. Manpurse. Murse…whatever.
I have always liked bags, from my prep-approved suede-bottomed Jansport, to my world-traveling Louis Vuitton courier bag. They’re like mini living spaces. Designed outside and inside, with dimensions, ergonomics, treatments, linings, and trims…and a utility value for an intended function – beach, work, gym.
I drew back in the last couple of years, since men’s bag offerings have expanded and become far more mainstream. Now every Details spread shows a Bottega Veneta duffel, or an Hermès messenger. $4,000. NBD. Forget the ubiquitous Tumi briefcase…
I couldn’t stay away though. Bags are too much fun, and so convenient. Throw all your flotsam in there, and you’re on your way. I am sometimes asked: but what do you carry in there? You can’t need that much on a daily basis. Oh, how wrong you are. Bags are like insurance – you never know when you’ll need that umbrella…or face wipes.
Right now in my bag, I have: keys, phone, wallet, business card case, second larger wallet with all manner of gift and insurance cards, pen(s), one medium notebook, one mini notebook, lotion, eyeglasses in case, sunglasses in case, iPad, a small bag containing eye drops and two different lip balms, earbuds, a lint roller, and my water bottle.
In other words, a small pharmacy.
I wouldn’t carry around such a load if I had to lug it more than the few steps home to car and car to work, but even truer urbanites have found the value in stylish matchels (man-satchels).
This post sprung forth from a recent purchase that I’m enjoying very much. A Jack Spade canvas tote to be precise (pictured above). Not one of his typical industrial ‘dipped’ bags, this example has an ombré effect, in a bright summer hue.
I like it because (1) it is very big, but not to the point where I look like I’m spending the night at work, (2) it is bright and cheerful, not muted man-drab, and (3) it has two handles with a modest drop, as well as a thick shoulder strap, so it can be held by your side, across your chest like a messenger, or as I do, to draw curious glances, carried on the crook of my arm à la Carla Bruni.
Since flashing my first designer manbag, I have learned a thing or two about how to make the best use of bags (and how to buy them), especially for males…
- Generally, go with dark colors (do as I say, not as I do here people). Dark colors disguise marks, scuffs, smudges, and dirt. And your bag will get dirty.
- Leather is beautiful, but delicate.* Suede is essentially the worst thing a bag could be made of. Nylon and canvas are durable and masculine.
- *Not all leather is equal. Smooth calfskin scuffs easily (think Coach), pebbled leather easily looks cheap, and untreated leather stains easily (think Louis Vuitton vachetta). I’d go with a sturdy, stiff saffiano, which is cross-hatched and glossier than normal leather.
- Don’t wear a bag while you’re shopping. It’ll just get in the way.
- You get what you pay for. A $1,000 bag will last longer than a $100 bag.
- Caveat to #3…not every $1,000 bag is priced according to quality and careful construction: buyer beware of label inflation. Coach is now selling $800 men’s bags. Think about that one.
- Be comfortable with what you buy. Otherwise, you will feel self-conscious walking into a room with a gigantic white and orange tote on your arm. Me, unfazed!
- Don’t ever set your bag down on a bathroom floor (use a hook on a wall or door). This is why women’s handbags are covered in microscopic bits of fecal matter.
- Trade bags out every so often. This will extend their useful life, and keep you entertained with what you’re carrying.
And, since I can’t go out and buy them all myself, a few ideas for the manly bag shopper:
*I do not recommend matching bags to other accessories
Serapian Evolution Portfolio, $300 (great color)
Makr Zip Carryall, $325 (understated and durable)
Prada Saffiano Messenger, $1700 (polished)
Bally Perforated Messenger, $1150 (supple, more niche brand)
Bottega Veneta Marcopolo Tote, $900 (durable, timeless)
Côte&Ciel coated canvas Flat Carrier, $220 (I have a C&C phone sleeve and it has held up very well)
I’ve got my eyes peeled and my poor bank account ready for this little one. It is treated to function as a chalkboard, and easily erases with water! WHAT?!
So…boys…don’t be afraid to express your inner bag lady. There’s much to enjoy about carrying a carryall. Take your time, choose wisely, and get creative. It’s just another avenue to express your individuality and discerning taste.