A briefcase may say as much about you to your coworkers as the cut of your suit or the quality of your shoes. Although a well-organized briefcase can make you more productive and professional, it can also be a fashion statement. In fact, as the only accessory most men carry, your briefcase may well define your style.
Think about what you carry during the day. Will you need a legal or executive briefcase to carry a few folders and a PDA, or a laptop briefcase to carry a computer, documents and peripherals?
Look for a briefcase that will make organization simple. Extra inside or outside pockets are a plus. Even without pockets, a simple divider can help make arranging documents easier.
Briefcases come with hard or soft exteriors. Hard exteriors provide excellent security in a durable form. Soft briefcases project a more casual appearance and provide plenty of flexible storage.
You’ll pay more for quality construction, but you’ll end up with a durable briefcase. Look for tight stitching, a reinforced bottom and closures made from high quality material.
You’ll be more comfortable with a briefcase that matches your commuting needs. Short commute? A handled or handle-less case will work. Long commute? Look for a case with a comfortable shoulder strap. Frequent travelers might consider a wheeled briefcase.
The major types of briefcases are: Executive case—the classic handled briefcase; Laptop case—typically soft and designed for computers; Messenger case—a soft, shoulder strap case for casual use; Portfolio/envelope—a small handle-less case.
Leather is the most popular choice for briefcases. Metal is durable and definitely makes a statement. Nylon and vinyl are common in laptop bags. Suede can be difficult to clean, but makes a nice material for detailing.
Briefcases are available with a number of unique features including expandable pockets, removable shoulder straps and retractable wheels.
Black is by far the most popular choice of briefcase color. Brown and navy can also work in a conservative business setting. Brighter colors should be reserved for casual or creative workplaces.
A briefcase has many roles to play including portable office, mobile safe and fashion statement. Selecting the best briefcase for your needs means evaluating your work and commuting habits and finding a case that will support those needs and reflect your sense of style at the same time. Take your time—a good briefcase can last for years.
Over time, the briefcase has become a specialized business tool. Today, finding the right briefcase means evaluating your day and finding a case that will make that day a little easier. Some things to consider:
Workspace. Do you have a sprawling office or a basic cube? Do you take work home or even work in home office? How you work will determine the capacity you’ll need in a briefcase.
Commute. Do you drive to work or take public transportation? Both? Walk or bike to work? Different commuting routines will require different briefcase carrying strategies.
Travel. Do you travel frequently? If so, do you check bags or use overhead storage? Frequent travelers will require a bag that’s durable and flexible to handle the uncertainties of the road.
Hardware. Do you carry your laptop back and forth or to job sites? What about your cell phone, PDA or other electronic devices? A briefcase designed to handle electronics will make your life easier.
Security. Do you carry sensitive personal or professional documents? A briefcase with a hard shell and a locking closure will give you piece of mind as you travel.
Briefcases come in a number of different types. Here are some of the basics:
Executive. The classic briefcase, available in hard or soft shell. Executive briefcases typically come with short handles, but many models now feature detachable shoulder straps.
Legal. Featuring a wide body and locking fold over flap, legal briefcases are perfect for carrying large numbers of sensitive papers.
Laptop. A soft briefcase with plenty of padding and specialized pockets, the laptop briefcase is perfect for toting your hardware.
Portfolio. If you only need to carry a few documents of items, a small, handle-less portfolio (sometimes called an envelope case) may be all you need.
Messenger. This soft case with padded shoulder strap is becoming more popular in casual workplaces and as a weekend bag.
To get the most value from your briefcase purchase, look for quality construction. The bottom and handles should be reinforced to support extra weight. Stitching should be tight and concealed where possible. A liner will help protect that case and its contents. All clasps and fasteners should be made from quality materials and fixed to the case securely.
When it comes to briefcases, leather is king—consider full-grain or top-grain leather for a smooth, high quality finish. Metal is also a consideration if you’re looking for a hard-shelled case. Laptop and messenger briefcases are typically made with alternative fabrics such as nylon or vinyl.
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