Three Unconventional Bags For The Office

by Giuliano Caracciolo  |  in Accessories

The following is a guest post from Giuliano of Timeless Gent.


Getting from point A to B can be an adventure all on its own. While these adventures can vary considerably, the most common for men has to be a regular trip to the office.

With something so common, it’s only natural to carry your essentials when ready to tackle your day. What better way to accomplish this task than with a sharp, timeless bag?

I can guess what most of you are thinking. You’re probably rolling your eyes, getting ready to read yet another article online on the importance of the briefcase and how it’s a timeless staple for men. You are partially correct.

Yes, the briefcase is definitely a timeless staple for men. I would go as far as saying that every man interested in style working in the corporate world should own a briefcase.

But no, this article is actually not about the briefcase. Would you be surprised to know there are a few alternatives beyond that classic accessory that still allow you to get to work in style?

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, let’s explore three unconventional bags to bring to the office without sacrificing on style.

The Tote Bag


Wow! You can’t get more unconventional than the tote bag, especially in a business setting.

What exactly is the tote bag? In a nutshell the tote bag is a rather large bag with parallel handles that do not have a locking or closing mechanism. The handles are fastened to each side of the bag and usually contain leather trim. Overall, the tote is a very simple bag in construction and design.

When bringing a tote bag in the office, color coordination is key.

You want to stick with foundational colors such as greys and browns as it’s critical it compliments a large variety of your outfits. The tote bag works best in an office environment that encourages a business casual setting. Given its simple design, steer clear of wearing outfits that have too much color or detail.

If you’re on a budget: The Banana Republic Karter Tote

This bag looks more expensive than it actually is. Banana Republic strayed a little from the traditional construction of the tote by adding an enclosure but it still is identifiable. The nylon canvas with leather trim makes this bag aesthetically pleasing and durable.

If you’re looking to splurge: The Hugo Boss “Meson”

Way more than a tote bag should be but I can’t help but be drawn to it. The brown, full grain leather is definitely the color of choice as you want do want the formality of black. This is the tote bag we are talking about after all.

The Messenger Bag


The dawn of the Internet age brought the messenger bag back from the dead. What was once a common accessory synonymous for carrying letters in bulk, transformed into the go to bag for holding your work machine to and from the office.

What makes the messenger bag unique is the optional strap that can be worn diagonally over the shoulder for easy transport of your essentials, leaving your hands free for other important items such as your morning coffee or work documents.

As for style, you can’t go wrong with a messenger bag in either black or brown as they are both versatile and work best with more formal environments.

The messenger bag has become widely acceptable in the office but many men consider it best for more casual office settings. You can fight this stereotype with getting one in calfskin leather with minimal detail.

A really high-end messenger bag can even be pulled off with a suit! Keep it simple.

If you’re on a budget: The Brenthaven “Medina”

This timeless messenger bag in chestnut would go well with many items already in your wardrobe. The foldover makes this bag more casual than formal but does going the extra mile to protect the contents held within, such as your laptop.

If you’re looking to splurge: The Zegna Grained Leather Shoulder Bag

The calfskin leather makes this messenger bag high quality right to the touch. The blue and brown tones of this bag make it easy to use for both a client meeting and happy hour.

The Backpack


The days of lugging around your schoolbooks may be over but that doesn’t mean the backpack is a permanent resident of the back of your closet, especially if you’re fashion-forward.

While the backpack should never be considered an option for an investment banker there are a few professions, such as a digital marketer where a backpack fits nicely.

If you are brave enough to wear a backpack to the office, there are two criteria you have to meet to pull it off.

  1. Have the correct balance. Having one too bulky, especially when wearing slim clothing will set your whole look off. Try to get a backpack that is minimal in detail and size.
  2. Pick an appropriate color. Most backpacks are laced with various colors to attract the younger crowd. Perfect for school or out on a hike. A nightmare in any other environment. Instead get a back in one primary color with various tones. For example: a black backpack with various shades to highlight pockets, zippers, etc.

While the backpack is on this list as a good alternative to the briefcase, please don’t make the mistake of wearing one with anything too formal like a suit. The contrast is just too great to overcome.

If you’re on a budget: Herschel & Co. “Little America” Backpack

A very durable backpack that can hold all sorts of essentials to and from the office. Multiple colors of the Little America product line are available with light grey being a personal favorite.

If you’re looking to splurge: The Burberry Lightweight Backpack

The leather trim makes this subtle but luxurious backpack elegant and sophisticated. Definitely not a backpack to take to school 🙂

Bonus: The Duffel Bag


If you’re in any way active, you no doubt have had to deal with the dilemma of looking professional at work while carrying your gym gear. It’s an issue that has frustrated men for years without a concrete solution. Enter the duffel bag.

Often used to carry luggage or sports equipment, the duffel bag is a practical solution for the active professional that regularly goes to the gym either before or after work. The duffel bag has its origins set in Belgium and gained in popularity by military personnel for safe keeping of their heavy-duty equipment.

Today, menswear brands have put much effort to make these bags fit for city life and the corporate world. Some product lines are so luxurious looking I wouldn’t mind sporting one as my everyday bag.

Duffel bags are widely accepted as a travel companion for the businessman so feel free to pair this with formal or business casual outfits. My personal favorite is a brown leather duffel bag to go with a perfectly tailored navy blue suit. Talk about sharp!

If you’re on a budget: The Zara Bowling Bag

With an adjustable strap and double interior stitching, this bag by Zara offers plenty of bang for your buck.

If you’re looking to splurge: The TUMI “Astor Waldorf”

If you want to make a statement with your duffel bag, this would be it. The combination of light grey canvas with brown leather trim makes this duffel perfect for the active business man.

Which one is your favorite?

While the briefcase will always be the go-to bag for business, don’t let that limit your choices when wanting to spice things up a bit. As they say, the best way to show off your character is in the clothes and accessories you wear.

What do you think? Have you ever brought one of these bags to the office? Which one is your favorite? Let’s hear it in the comments below.