Lifestyle

Bag Spotlight: The Splurge-worthy Leather Briefcase

Like it or not, the bag you carry says a lot about you. Especially at the office. Show up at work carrying your laptop and a sandwich in a reusable grocery bag from Trader Joe’s and you make an entirely different impression than the coworker who has her stuff organized in a leather briefcase. And … Continued

Like it or not, the bag you carry says a lot about you. Especially at the office. Show up at work carrying your laptop and a sandwich in a reusable grocery bag from Trader Joe’s and you make an entirely different impression than the coworker who has her stuff organized in a leather briefcase.

And yes, you are the same person, whether you reach for the leather briefcase or the grocery bag in the morning — but you and I both know that people think what they think. It’s a game we all play, telling people who we are with our clothes.

You choose that briefcase over the grocery bag because it’s a better representation of who you are: stylish, chic, and on point. This is the same reason you spend time putting together your outfit, rather than slipping into whatever happens to be at the top of your clean laundry.

Close-up of woman holding brown leather briefcase with gold details.
Close-up of woman holding brown leather briefcase with gold details.

The thing is, a well-made leather (or faux leather) briefcase is rarely a budget purchase. You’ll spend $200 or more unless you have a gift card and you find the bag you want on clearance. But I’ll argue that the leather case falls into the category of splurge-worthy. The right bag will be worth every penny you spend on it. Here are five reasons why.

A leather briefcase tells people you mean business 

Climbing your way up the corporate ladder? Or building your own empire? Either way, the impressions you make on coworkers, clients, or prospects mean everything.

The right bag sets the tone when you walk in a room. But it doesn’t stop there. You can fumble around in an unstructured tote, looking for a pen and a pad of paper, for example. Boom, your audience now thinks you’re unorganized. Or you can reach cleanly into the right compartments of your case to pull out your laptop, pen, notepad, and handouts for your presentation.

Think of it this way. Your professional style involves everything being in the right place. That applies equally to your outfit, your hair, and your supplies.

If you now have visions of the ultra-masculine case with hinges and a safety lock — something you might see handcuffed to a secret agent in a movie — put that out of your mind. There are other, more feminine choices. For example, you can find a briefcase from Vonbaer.com that’s both elegant and professional.

A leather briefcase is easy to carry (without messing up your outfit)

Woman wearing white button down top and black pants, carrying green leather briefcase.
Woman wearing white button down top and black pants, carrying green leather briefcase.

Briefcases are typically designed with a handle rather than a shoulder or cross-body strap. They’re not hands-free — but hold the handle in your hand and your briefcase doesn’t wrinkle your outfit. Some styles do come with a shoulder strap, too, so you have the choice. I like to lean on the shoulder strap when I still have my coat on. Once I’m in the office and the coat is set aside, switch to the handle to shuttle to meetings.

A leather briefcase protects your tech

Women’s briefcases are as functional as they are stylish. If you’re going to invest in one, make sure it has the compartments, pockets, and zippers you need.

From personal experience, I know that the right briefcase style for me has a slip-in laptop compartment with no zipper. (I’ve spent way too much of my life zipping and unzipping my bag in the security line at the airport.) I also need a second open pocket for a notepad and paperwork, a zippered area for pens, and another one for charging cables. And a “nice-to-have” briefcase feature is enough space to slide in a small clutch where I’d keep my wallet, phone, and tinted lip balm.

Those are my requirements. Yours might be quite different. The good news is that no matter what arrangement of features you need, it’s probably not hard to find a briefcase that fits the bill.

A leather briefcase goes with anything

So you probably wouldn’t carry a briefcase while wearing running shorts and cross-trainers. But between fitness wear and formal wear, your leather briefcase is a lovely, fitting accessory for nearly any outfit. If you work in a creative field, you could easily carry a briefcase with slightly distressed jeans and loafers, for example. Even a summer dress can pair well with your work bag, as long as you’re not also wearing flipflops.

Close up of woman sitting down with a black leather briefcase at her feet.
Close up of woman sitting down with a black leather briefcase at her feet.

To increase the versatility of your briefcase, choose one in a neutral color like black, brown, navy, or even brownish-red. You can always add a pop of color by tying a fun scarf at the handle. Also avoid big metallic details and logos, as these can compete with other accessories, like your belt or jewelry.

A leather briefcase has a low cost-per-wear

Fortunately, the rules of fashion say it’s acceptable to carry the same bag every day. That means you can get tons of use from a durable briefcase, which keeps your cost-per-wear low.

Genuine leather is extremely durable, especially when you care for it properly. You could keep using it for years and even pass it along to a younger relative (or sell it on Poshmark) when you’re ready to move on. To get the most from that durabililty, pick a bag with classic styling. Anything trendy or flashy will have a shorter useful life.

If you prefer faux leather, know that you’ll be giving up some on the durability front — but then the price tag will be lower, too.

When you’re ready to retire the backpack

A backpack or even a tote doesn’t have the same polish as a briefcase. If you’re looking for a way to up your style game at the office and show your boss (or clients) what you’re made of, a leather briefcase might fit as your signature piece. Pair that briefcase with your pulled-together corporate ensemble and the result is show-stopping, stylish professionalism.

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