It’s not easy being a dude. Although we’ve so far avoided the curse of childbearing and still manage to pull in a higher annual salary than the average skirt, we are nevertheless doomed to pay cover charges, suffer humiliation every time we cry at a RomCom and only leave the house with whatever we can fit in our tiny pockets. Years of such inhumane persecution (along with the unfortunate rise of the ‘skinny jean’) have resulted in overstuffed pants that weigh us down and make us look like misshapen kangaroos, and this, comrades, is unacceptable. If you’ve been pushed to the brink of coveting your girlfriend’s Mary Poppins purse, then it’s time (somewhat ironically) to man up and buy yourself a purse. Whether you play it safe with a briefcase or go all-out and score yourself a lovely little pocketbook, there are a number of worthy purveyors eager to sell you the dudebag of your dreams.
Piet Breinholm “The Last Bag,” pietbreinholm.dk
With the image of Dad’s monogrammed leather briefcase burned into your mind as a symbol of the oppressive and unforgiving 90-hour workweek, it’s no wonder you balk at the idea of actually storing your own belongings in such a tyrannical piece of luggage. But there’s something nice and retro about the briefcase, which in recent years has gotten a mini chic-over from the likes of Coach and Ralph Lauren that has brought it back into style with an effortless vengeance. If you’re hesitant about taking the man-bag plunge, scoring a nice leather brief with a shoulder strap is a good way to get your feet wet.
The Messenger Bag
Jack Spade Grain Leather Market Messenger Bag, jackspade.com
Easier to carry than a briefcase but more grown-up than a backpack, the messenger bag made popular by daredevil bike couriers and faux-hip college students now comes in grown-up materials like leather and PVC for your carrying pleasure. Jack Spade has some sleek and stylish options (when looking for a man purse that’s more “man” and less “purse,” you’re usually safe with a company named after an actual dude), but you can’t go wrong with a bag by Tumi, whose Townhouse collection has a nice assortment of guy-appropriate carry-alls that you can match to your luggage if you feel so inclined. (Tumi bags also come with a trackable barcode, which might not be useful at all, but will make for excellent conversation fodder should you awkwardly run into your ex and her new fiancé at the grocery store.)
Chromebags Utility Bags and Victorinox/Swiss Army Messenger Bags are a little sportier than the designer-esque bags you might take with you to a job interview, and if you’re looking for something more rugged, the Tom Bihn Imago or Spire Endo are fit for a mountain biking trip in even the muddiest of weather. Sport outfitter Timbuk2 even lets you build your own messenger bag, which should help you avoid any unfortunate incidents of mistaken dudebag identity.And if you prefer a touch of whimsy in your messenger baggery, check out the fools at Crumpler; in the very least, their website is quite entertaining.
The Day Bag
Waterfield Personal-Sized Muzzetto Bag, sfbags.com
So, let’s say you’re going out for an afternoon of drinking and hanging, but you’re thinking you’ll also have some down time in which you might want to read a book or catch up on some work (it sounds insane, but this is just hypothetical). Instead of lugging all of your business through the streets, why not stow everything in a nice, compact carrying case? Though it teeters dangerously close to the edge of actual-purse territory, a day bag can aid your overstuffed pockets while still giving you some style cred (and not robbing you of your guypoints in the process). At just $25, the man-n-bag is a decent alternative to pricier purses, but if you’re willing to throw down marginally more cheddar, something like the Lacoste City Casual Vertical Shoulder Bag is a good mid-range option. For the backwoods adventurers among you, Maxpedition’s Jumbo Versi-Pack boasts a whole lot of pockets and a spot for an optional walkie-talkie attachment (because no manbag is complete without requisite manly communication device). And InCase’s Vertical Sling has a special spot for your special laptop, but if you’re not inclined to whip out your MacBook every time you’re stopped in traffic, then it’s perfectly suitable for carrying other important items like Transformers and flasks.
The Gender-Neutral Eco Bag
Slainte Hip Bag in “Stripes” Eco-Cotton, slaintebags.com
To channel the days of free love for all, just outfit yourself with a sustainably-manufactured ‘green’ bag made out of hemp, bamboo or recycled materials. They’re smaller than your other manbag options, which is either a good thing (if you’re downsizing) or a bad thing (if you can’t go to the drugstore without taking a change of clothes), and they do have a certain androgynous flair to them, but you will have the added bonus of increased attention from all of the cute earthy girls at Burning Man. And if you buy Green Feet’s Hemp Stealth Pouch, you can also pretend you’re a ninja, which remains among the manliest of professions.