You may think of a bag or case as just something that helps you get your stuff from here to there.
But looking good is about more than how you take care of yourself or what you wear; it’s also about what you carry along with you.
Here are seven of the most common kinds of men’s bags – and what you need to know to take yours from simple, to stylish:
1. The backpack
In some ways, backpacks are the ultimate men’s bag.
They distribute weight well, and let you have your hands free. But they aren’t always very stylish. And if you’re wearing a suit or going out to a formal or sophisticated event, they’re almost always a resounding “NO”.
Still, if you won’t set aside your backpack when you’re dressed up, there are some sleeker models out there. Start by choosing a neutral color like black, brown, or slate gray. Upgrade from the usual backpack materials and opt for leather. This will elevate your backpack game.
2. The messenger bag
Messenger bags are less efficient at distributing weight than backpacks, but they often look more sophisticated, especially if you get them in a muted color that subtly complements what you’re wearing.
Sticking with neutrals is always a way to elevate your bag sophistication level, so think black, tan, brown, dark green or blue, gray. Another thing to keep in mind with messenger bags is the shoulder strap.
Make sure it’s comfortable – ideally, the model you choose should have one that’s reinforced with a padded or leather section that sits on your shoulder.
3. The briefcase
The briefcase is the iconic business accessory. There are two basic kinds. The ones made of soft materials are actually what the term “briefcase” refers to, while the hard, square variety are actually attaché cases.
Either way, if you choose and carry it right, a briefcase or attaché case can make you look professional and put-together. As I’ve suggested for the other cases on this list, choose a neutral color.
If you can, try to get one made of actual leather, especially full grain leather, which is more water-resistant and generally better quality.
If your case has metal parts – for example, the lock or buckles on an attaché case – think about the accessories you usually wear. If you have a silver watch or belt buckle, try to have silver on your case, too, instead of gold or copper. This will make your overall look more uniform and streamlined.
4. The suitcase
There are all kinds of trips and all kinds of suitcases, so it may seem hard to choose the right one.
But don’t get overwhelmed.
Remember that to be a stylish traveler, you need to focus on two main things: functionality and appearance, in that order.
After all, you could have a gorgeous-looking bag but if it’s falling apart or too heavy, you’re probably not going to look or feel very confident as you lug it along.
One of the first things you should consider when you’re buying a suitcase is making sure it gives you as much space as possible, and its frame is lightweight; why have your suitcase responsible for a lot of the weight of your bag?
Another thing to keep in mind is how you’re going to carry it. Many men’s fashion guides consider wheeled bags a travesty, but they do have their advantages, especially if your bag is full of heavy documents.
And anyway, if you’re ever confronted by naysayers, refer them to the movie “Up in the Air,” where men’s style icon George Clooney himself travels with a sleek, wheeled carry-on.
Whatever you choose to do regarding wheels, when it comes to your luggage’s overall look, try for a stylish, neutral color, and never sacrifice when it comes to quality. A sturdy, reliable bag will keep your stuff safe and give you peace of mind.
Never buy a suitcase that looks frayed, pilled, or whose zippers seem hard to open or close. If you have a wheeled model, make sure the slide of the handle bar is made of actual, sturdy metal, not flimsy plastic that will snap off. Lastly, if your bag is checked, opt for luggage tags.
You can find classy leather or faux-leather ones just about anywhere.
5. The Dopp kit (aka toiletry bag)
Whether you call it a Dopp kit (the old name-brand of its inventor), or simply a toiletry bag, if you’re traveling, nothing beats this soft little zippered bag for holding your toiletries, razor, and so on.
They’ll be safe from leaking onto your clothes, not to mention easy to find. If you really want to be stylish, a leather Dopp kit is the way to go. Make sure it has a waterproof lining, and, ideally, that it matches the rest of your luggage. For example, if your suitcase or weekender is brown, your Dopp kit should be, too.
6. The garment bag
Garment bags are the ultimate way to travel with a suit.
But they can also be heavy and cumbersome. Luckily, there’s hope – there are roll-up models.
These are much easier to handle or to stick inside your checked bag. Another garment bag pro-tip: If you’re flying somewhere, check with your airline to see if you can hang yours in a designated spot in the cabin.
Sometimes this won’t even count as one of your allowed carry-ons. If you can’t or don’t want to invest in one, here are some tips for traveling with a suit and keeping it looking good, sans garment bag.
7. The weekender
It probably won’t surprise you that, as the co-founder of Meqnes, the weekender is my favorite kind of bag.
Named for its function – it’s a smallish bag that gives you enough space to fit everything you need for the perfect weekend away from home – the ideal weekender bag will have tons of room, but still be compact enough to be easily carried around and used as a carry-on bag.
A weekender should be spacious, sturdy, easy to hold onto (with soft handles and a comfortable shoulder strap). It should also be stylish. The Meqnes weekender bag covers all of these. Made of wholegrain leather, it’s water resistant and weatherproofed.
All bags should be reliable and Meqnes is no exception; we’re so confident in our craftsmanship that we offer a lifetime guarantee for any workmanship-related issues.
As for style, the Meqnes weekender is inspired by old-school travel bags and modern-day sophistication. Its high-quality, vegetable-stained leather will gain a unique patina over the course of your travels, like a personal map you carry with you.
You can also make your mark by personalizing the lining color and adding a nameplate. Whatever look you go with, your Meqnes bag will turn heads. I always marvel at how many conversations I’ve had about this bag.
A bag should fit your needs and lifestyle – and fit your stuff inside it. But it should also be so much more. Pick the right one and your stylishness will only be more noticeable, boosting your confidence wherever you go, making the load you carry that much lighter.