It doesn’t matter if your office has a pretty wide concept of “business casual” or even if you own your own home office and can get away with pajama-wear on most days. There are certain pieces that are non-negotiable in the professional world, even if just for the days when you have to meet a new client or impress an inspector.
Watches and fancy ties are undoubtedly part of this narrow list, although they are still limited by whatever else you are wearing. A proper briefcase, on the other hand, is mandatory every time you leave the house on a money-making mission – even if you are just grabbing coffee with a new collaborator. Carrying your laptop in a schoolbag stops being acceptable around senior year, or even before if you have managed to land a good internship.
And while any professional leather-looking briefcase will be enough for an entry-level position, at some point, it will be time to start dressing for the next step in the power ladder. A great way to show you are ready is to invest in an elegant and durable briefcase, the kind that shows that you have an eye for quality and long-term investments.
Naturally, quality doesn’t need to mean “designer” or “worth several car payments.” The internet is full of new, lesser-known or cult brands and opportunities to get handmade or premium-material products without paying several thousand dollars’ worth of advertising and branding. Here are the Best Men’s Briefcases
Banuce is a specialized Italian leather crafter with one of the widest ranges of men’s accessories on the artisanal side of the spectrum. Their full-grain leather briefcase is a small gem of efficient design: full grain, painstakingly treated cowhide has been used for a minimalist but spacious design, which places a very affordable product that works perfectly as the new professional’s starter briefcase.
The edges are bound by hand and reinforced with a rustproof zinc alloy. The cotton-polyester blend inside is soft to the touch, yet durable and light. There are two main compartments: the largest one is big enough to fit a 15-inch laptop, while the second one offers a stiff protective structure to hold documents, folders, portfolios, pens, and other accessories without the risk of damaging them.
This briefcase also has a nice set of padded leather handles and a padded leather strap that can be adjusted between 12 and 23 inches. Finally, the cleverly hidden back strap has been specifically designed to fit a carry-on handle. This will allow you to stroll through the airport’s business lounge like you know exactly what you’re doing.
Bull hide leather offers a sturdier and more durable experience than most other full-grain leathers, without sacrificing softness. This lawyer’s briefcase is a great example of it. Firm but light, this is a great briefcase for those who still need to carry paper documents and to ensure they reach their destination completely unharmed and unwrinkled.
The extra protection for paper doesn’t mean that they have forgotten about newer technologies: the hidden capacity of this briefcase will allow you to carry a 17-inch laptop and a cable without having to stuff everything inside like a clown car.
Style-wise, the model is endearingly old school and has a distinctive timeless appeal. The clasp can be locked with a key, not just for extra security but for a little bit of extra flair whenever reaching a meeting full of expectant eyes. The hinges are smooth and squeak-free, though. The interior pockets are ideal for the uber-organized and those who need to pretend they are: two pen holders, business and credit card holders, stationary organizers, and a couple of extra key pouches will keep everything in place.
Finally, the briefcase is equipped with the expected handhold, plus a detachable padded shoulder strap – all made from the same top-grain bull hide.
Skagen specializes in merging Scandinavian minimalism with American versatility. Their latest iteration of their document bag brings a unisex, practical, and fresh outtake on the traditional business briefcase. The classical leather is replaced by hand-washable fabric. However, this doesn’t really detract from its elegance or its ability to keep your important documents safe.
The exterior is firm without being stiff, and the reinforced bottom will ensure the bag will not lose its shape or accidentally look too laid back. The padded computer pocket will fit a laptop as big as 15 inches wide. In addition, there are two smaller “media pockets” for a tablet, phablet, or smartphone, a patch pocket, and three pen holders – just enough to keep everything in place without looking like you take yourself too seriously.
Ernest Alexander does not do cheap, but they also stay clear from anything that could be remotely considered as low-quality. The result? If you are ready to invest in a statement briefcase, they offer the perfect platform to jump onto the luxury side of the spectrum.
The Walker Wax model is ideal for this: clear lines, a light net weight, and the kind of leather that will last a lifetime are designed as elegantly as possible, Keep a brown belt around, and you will be able to make this briefcase match with anything on your closet.
This case is available in both navy blue leather and chocolate brown. Either way, the internal lining is soft and will feel luxurious to the touch. The two main pockets are firm enough to keep everything in place. In addition, the slim outer pocket is just big enough to store your keys, coins, and wallet discreetly.
Finally, the adjustable shoulder strap skips on any bulky padding but instead offers a sliding sleeve that will prevent any accidental “pressure” wrinkle on your new suit.
Not all briefcases are meant for the glitzy boardroom. If your career takes you on the road very often, then your best investment will be one that doubles as traveling gear without looking excessively casual.
Topo Designs has hit that very elusive bullseye with their Charcoal Commuter Briefcase. Made from quality nylon – the kind that doesn’t look plasticky – and reinforced with fine leather trim, this bag will fit any 15-inch laptop easily, without stressing the edges.
Not that you should be worried about overstressing this resilient bag: thanks to its leather base and 1,000-denier Cordura outer lining, this briefcase will resist a few bumps and drops along the road.
Two large inner pockets, a set of well-concealed smaller holders for your passport, keys, and small items, and storable padded backpack straps round out the package.
Billykirk excels when provided the chance to develop their own iterations of vintage classics. Their “Schoolboy Satchel” is a great example of this. While they are reminiscent of a British schoolboy’s mandatory bag in a period film, they are turned into a practical minimalist choice for the contemporary executive.
The firm casing and adjustable strap are buckled, which is more than just a style choice; they will ensure your strap keeps to the length you have chosen for it, instead of sliding down and making your bag accidentally hit your own buttocks while trying to catch the next train. Each hole is also discreetly reinforced with white bronze or raw brass.
Urban and light, the Schoolboy Bag will fit any laptop or MacBook under 13 inches wide. Although this may seem rather small, the 4 inches of depth hiding near the bottom means that you can carry a lot more than just a laptop.
Jack Spade may have started out as Kate Spade’s heartthrob brother brand, but they have quickly evolved their own concept of elegance and practicality.
This Oxford briefcase is the conclusive proof that leather is not the only option for male accessories. The woolen exterior is warm, soft, and snugly, and yet it still looks sleek and worthy of an haute couture occasion. It is also easy to dry-clean, should you accidentally spill coffee on it.
The bag itself is firm and evokes presence from every angle of its steel-gray edges. The internal divider is spacious, lined with polyester, and complemented with hidden internal pockets to store any smaller items or protect business cards. The zipper is discreet, yet thick enough that it won’t constantly be sticking at the most inconvenient of moments.
The 25-inch inch shoulder strap is fully adjustable and has just the right amount of ruggedness to prevent it from sliding wide open, without risking the smoothness of the fancy blazer beneath it. The handles are also made of well-treated, handstitched leather, and feel like butter to the touch.
Light, baggy, and flexible, the Original Briefcase by Filson was clearly meant to be their ultimate business accessory. At 16 inches wide, it will allow you to carry a small laptop, netbook, or tablet, alongside a good chunk of documents, personal items, and multi tools.
By combining leather, cotton, and canvas in the design, Filson has achieved a comfortable case that seems more than eager to resist a trip to the field. Add that to the impressive amount of space, and you get a great combination of the elegance of a briefcase and the comfort of an adult backpack. It’s an ideal compromise for architects, engineers, or anyone who frequently needs to do site visits but still needs to look sharp.
This cotton and leather option is available in three different colors, and each one feels like it brings its own mood to the meeting. We would hate to sound excessively traditional, but the black one truly will be the most versatile of them all. If your job allows you to rock an otter green, tan, or navy blue briefcase instead – we envy you and wish you the best of success.
Simple, raw, and solid, this leather briefcase by Jack Georges is a great way to announced that you have arrived in town and have nothing more to prove.
This briefcase offers all the basics with superb attention to detail, as would be expected from Jack Georges. The Easy Access Organizer, subtle unique texture of the outer leather, and hidden drop-down handles are all hard to spot at first but still remain easy to operate and to understand.
Just because the design does away with most decorations and unnecessary logos doesn’t mean that there is no variety in the model, as it comes in three different colors: black, cherry, and cognac, as well as customization options.
Some meetings require an unabashed display of power and ruggedness – and this Slim Zip-Top briefcase does not pull any punches when chasing that effect. Full-grain oiled leather is always a bold move, but the unique texture variations covering Johnston and Murphy’s latest creation add an extra notch of assertiveness to the final ensemble.
The antique brass hardware and reinforcement pins will add just as much durability as the impression of it. This is the kind of briefcase designed to age with you and become as reliable as your brand; the vegetable tanning used will make the leather become richer and softer as it ages without breaking apart or disintegrating.
The inner lining is made from cotton, which better preserved the naturally enticing scent of leather. The inner padding is kept light in order to avoid sacrificing space, so despite weighing less than three pounds and measuring just 16 x 3 x 11 inches, this briefcase will easily fit an iPad, tablet, and a couple of document holders or zipped portfolios.
A product that heads straight for the moniker of “formal” in the model name is one that is clear about what it aims to accomplish. This briefcase, designed by Rhode Island’s up-and-coming LOTUFF, is meant to be your faithful companion for that day when you have a career-making meeting on the upper floors of your corporate HQ.
The elegance of its deep navy body does not detract from its personality; shaped slightly like a tote bag, but with a bright tan handle, there won’t be many opportunities for anyone to confuse this briefcase for a nameless prop.
The main pocket will fit any laptop up to 14 inches wide. Inside, the polyester lining hides two perfectly symmetrical internal pockets and two pen holders. Meanwhile, the secondary pocket offers enough room to slide in a wallet or watch without revealing any unsightly bulkiness. Finally, the shoulder strap is light, adjustable, and easily removable.
You may also be interested in these reliable work backpacks from our list. Check them out.
Equally classic and classy, this attaché briefcase by Cole Haan is practical enough to adapt to any occasion but will also be capable of meeting the strictest dress codes. The outer casing is fully made from rugged leather, reinforced with nickel hardware. This may seem like a small safety detail, but it actually rounds out the visual effect as much as it ensures the briefcase will last through years of impromptu trips.
Cole Haan has not skimped on any detail, not even on the hidden ones; the jacquard lining provides a much softer experience than standard polyester linings. It also breathes better and will prevent any accidental scratches on your tablet, documents, or the occasional fragile valuable you may need to transport.
The main compartment can fit a 13-inch laptop alongside its accessories without feeling bulky. And thanks to the thick and high-quality zipper, it will continue to close quickly even when filled to the brim.
Ralph Lauren is synonymous with discreet male elegance for a reason: their clean designs have redefined what it means to look polished, and their tried-and-true formula includes the kind of high-quality craftsmanship that can easily be recognized at a glance.
Their Thompson Messenger Briefcase meets all these requirements while still remaining firmly within the casual spirit expected from their Polo line. The technical nylon fabric makes it ideal for rainy days or the occasional time spent outdoors, and yet there is not a single angle of this briefcase that feels like a gym bag. By adding leather trim and cured leather handles and by carefully supervising the fabric’s uniform color, they have ensured that this bag still manages to look appropriate for a serious Monday.
The cross-body strap will quickly bring it back to its weekend mode, but naturally, it can be removed with just a couple of clicks. It is also easy to adjust and provides a drop of up to 18 inches. This bag will fit a laptop up to 14 inches and is equipped with two slip pockets, an inner zip pocket, and extra inner padding to protect your electronics. Finally, the enameled plaque displays the logo at the center front without any semblance of ostentation.
While nobody would ever question this briefcase’s status as an elegant office accessory, there is very little stopping it from doubling as a carry-on your next business trip – and if you are adventurous enough, as your only luggage for a very impromptu weekend caprice.
This design by Augus can spread into a thickness of well over 5 inches and is equipped with a secret zippered pocket in the middle, plus three zippered compartments on top and two more in the front. The result? A lot of space: more than enough for a 16-inch laptop or for a full beach kit that includes your sunglasses, bathing suit, and a couple of days’ worth of clothes. As it is crafted from 100% real leather, and evenly died in elegant, glossy black, it will hide its secrets faithfully until the workday is done.
Samsonite is a well-known brand for frequent travelers thanks to their utilitarian models. That makes their Openroad Laptop briefcase a very pleasant surprise; despite being made from very resilient, easy-to-clean materials, the overall impression is that of a very office-worthy briefcase.
For business travelers, especially those who must take short trips for specific meetings, this bag is a great investment. It will allow you to cross one thing off your grooming list on those days where your plane is running late and threatening to keep your prospective clients waiting.
It is also remarkably roomy; it has separate tablet and laptop compartments, which are large enough to allow you to fit a 16.6-inch laptop screen and a 10.1-inch tablet simultaneously, alongside your paperwork and documents. The inner foam lining will keep everything safe, even if somebody accidentally tosses the bag into the overhead compartment.
Finally, there are three separate slash pockets and one side pocket with a key fob, which will keep all the essentials exactly where you need them to be.
Genuine bridle cowhide leather, a vintage storm flap, and smooth golden buckles are all you need if you are trying to imbue your outfit with a sophisticated old-school air. However, this Field satchel by Filson will prevent you from spending hours looking for the perfect piece at a flea market; you can get it brand new, smooth, and ready to wear instead.
The leather on the outer casing has a glossy finish to it, which, without being scandalously shiny, still manages to look well-kept. This case is ideal for attorneys and paralegals who need to transport legal-sized files (the kind that almost nobody else uses anymore) without having to bend them over. Naturally, this means that there is more than enough room for a 15-inch laptop and its corresponding cables.
The inner pocket has just enough structure to allow the back to stand upright, which provides a nice effect during a heated meeting.
If your career has risen to the point where you can comfortably afford a fashion statement, then it’s probably high time that you invest in a truly premium briefcase. TUMI has been providing well-designed, yet functional wear and accessories for over a decade, and their CFX Indianapolis briefcase if a beautiful statement of the brand’s accomplishments.
High tech lovers are often the first to be impressed by this model’s Carbitex carbon weave, which looks and feels as elegant as genuine leather but is much lighter and green-friendly. Slim enough to be carried on one shoulder without any neck pain, the case’s main pocket is fully lined with silky, soft fabric. It also offers enough space for a laptop or tablet of up to 13 inches, plus an inner zip pocket, two pen holders, and a key holder. Choose between rolled top handles or an adjustable shoulder strap.
Maxwell Scott’s The Alanzo Professional Briefcase
Italian leather has a few centuries of tradition behind it, which would normally be considered enough to justify a great amount of pride in any craft. Upon admiring the end result of this high-end professional briefcase, it is very easy to fall into unabashed praise without fearing overconfidence.
Maxwell Scott certainly does not fear it, which is why they offer a 25-year warranty on all their leather products. Available in black, chocolate, and tan, The Alanzo briefcase was made following traditional Tuscan tanning methods. The construction was 100% done by hand and has included every possible detail – from the removable pen, smartphone, and tablet holders to removable shoulder straps and an exterior phone and umbrella holder.