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?