One thing you’ll notice when you start improving your style is that you develop a keen eye for when other guys are doing it wrong.
It’s something I’ve noticed in myself and now hardly a day goes by without me seeing some guy committing a style blunder. The more common transgressions include clothing with obnoxious logos, tucked in t-shirts, and black dress shirts to name a few.
And if this list isn’t already tragic enough, I’ll add one more: guys who wear backpacks with their suits.
Yeah, it looks as silly as it sounds:
The problem with wearing a backpack with a suit is that the two items are incongruous with one another. A backpack is something you carry to the gym or when you plan on hiking in the mountains. It is at best a casual wear item but generally something more in line with sportswear. A suit, on the other hand, is something that is worn in professional settings and is considered to be a more formal garment. Simply stated, backpacks and suits simply just don’t go together.
But the whole backpack + suit phenomenon is a symptom of a much larger problem. Since the advent of business casual wear in the 90s there has been a tendency for sportswear items to creep into the realm of everyday business attire.
Don’t believe me?
Look at how many guys wear sports socks with their slacks. Or sporty shades with their suits. And don’t even get me started with the hybrid dress shoes I see men wearing these days. This is all the result of business wear standards eroding over time.
And now we have guys wearing backpacks with their suits. What’s next, wearing your favourite pair of joggers to the office?
Another problem with backpacks is that they are just so…juvenile. It’s something kids in grade school or college carry. At some point in your life you need to carry a grown man’s bag to work and a backpack is certainly not it.
Regardless, I know some guys will still argue, “But I need to carry a backpack for all the stuff I have to lug to the office,” or “Backpacks are a convenient and comfortable way to carry my stuff.”
Nonsense! These are weak excuses.
First of all, if you carry a lot of stuff to the office I recommend eliminating all of the superfluous crap. Seriously, pare things down to just the necessities. I’m willing to bet you are lugging around a lot more stuff than you actually need. Once you reduce the load it will be easier to transition to a much slimmer and more stylish accessory like an attache case (this one is by Samsonsite and comes in a beautiful gun metal grey):
Or a messenger bag (this quality leather option is from Timberland):
Secondly, if you really have to carry a lot of stuff to work then I recommend upgrading to a high quality leather duffle bag or weekender. For instance, I know some of you are like me and hit the gym right after work so you need to carry all of your gym stuff with you. My solution has been to carry a mid-sized weekender and it works like a charm.
Here are some other options you might consider instead of a backpack:
For those of you who really don’t need to bring a ton of stuff with you to work a folio is a great option. It’s a minimalist solution to transporting your goods. I recommend going with a high quality leather product. Folios are designed specifically for carrying documents and notes so don’t have much room for anything beyond that. I also like this option as it forces you to pare down to just the essentials.
I really like this simple black leather folio from Jack Spade. It’s simple and stylish:
A good way to think of a stachel is something in between a briefcase or attache case and a messenger bag. It has qualities of both and I recommend this option if you have more stuff you need to carry for work but not so much that you need a duffle bag or weekender. One of the better satchel bags out there right now is the Medium Gear Bag made by Saddleback Leather:
What to avoid
Tote bags. Forget about these things. They look way too feminine for most guys to pull off well. Tote bags are something I see females carry everywhere and are not a good look for men.
A good way to describe a tote is a large unfastened bag with a central pouch and two parallel handles:
Seriously, if you’re thinking about carrying a tote you might as well carry your wife or girlfriend’s clutch as well. It’s only fitting.
Having a good sense of style is more than just about what you wear. It’s also about what you carry, too. Backpacks are fine if you are heading to the gym or going for a hike, but they are not something you should be carrying to the office. There are plenty of better options out there that will solve your transporting needs and look about a million times better than a crummy old backpack.
Here’s to looking sharp!