About a week ago, I had a realization that no sartorially savvy gentleman wants to have… I looked absurd. I was walking to work in a neatly pressed suit with a crisply folded pocket square and an impeccable tie when I looked into one of the reflective windows and couldn’t believe my eyes. I was wearing a blue JanSport backpack. All of the hard work I had done (and blogged about for a few months in my Suiting Up columns) to perfect suiting outfits was completely ruined by a backpack I had been using since the days I was stuffing it into my locker. Ever since that revelatory moment, I have been on a quest to find a new bag.
I have yet to arrive at the point in my career where I would want to carry a briefcase. Instead, a messenger bag seems like a good alternative. It’s smart and clean enough that it can be worn over the shoulder with a suit, but it’s still rather casual so that I can schlep it to class for my last two years of law school.
My online research produced three different styles of messenger bags that I think would work well for my purposes. I imagine that many young gentlemen are facing a similar challenge, so leave a comment letting me know which you think works best for this kind of student/semi-professional situation!
Photo Credit: Jack Spade
One of my good friends in New York has this bag from Jack Spade. It’s made of nylon and canvas. I like its sleek, clean, modern look. My friend is in the arts and wears the bag very well, and while I think that it would be professional enough in a law environment, but it might be a bit too modern for my taste.
Photo Credit: J.Crew
J.Crew has a cotton/canvas messenger bag priced under one hundred dollars. I like the buckles on it much more than the zipper on the Jack Spade bag. It’s got a nice weathered look but might be a bit too casual to bring to the office or even to class. I think that if I were a few years younger and an undergraduate, I’d go for this, but I really can’t see myself slinging this over the shoulder of my suit.
Photo Credit: J.Crew
When I saw this bag, advertised as J.Crew’s Leather Artisan bag, I fell in love with it. The color and the weathering are perfect; the only problem is the $225 price tag (despite the fact that it’s one of their first fall catalog items to go on sale). J.Crew has a 15% discount for students who show their college IDs, which would bring the bag to under $200. This may have to be a splurge purchase this fall.
As you may have noticed, an old fashioned leather messenger bag is definitely what I’m searching for. Leather is classy enough to be worn with a suit but has a great rugged quality so that it doesn’t look too formal at school. You can even use it as a travel carry-on bag! If $225 is too much for you (or me, for that matter), there are a couple of options. Kenneth Cole sells a similar leather messenger bag for under $100. It doesn’t have all the antique details of the J.Crew bag, but has a similar overall look.
Photo Credit: Kenneth Cole Reaction
Another option would be to find an actual vintage messenger bag on Ebay or Etsy. I sort of like this idea. I’ve always found something a bit blatantly commercial and fake about buying clothing and accessories that are “faux vintage.” Buying an old, roughed-up leather messenger bag, applying some polish to it and taking it on some new adventures sounds kind of romantic to me. Perhaps this will be the route that I will take. I’ll be sure to write another post in a few weeks about whatever I chose.
Next week: the Gentleman previews some of his favorite stores’ autumn collections…