Christian Davis is a 24-year-old Los Angeles based writer who up until now has focused mainly on writing about video games. Really. He recently began wanting to dress better, and he’ll be cataloging his process for us here on Dappered. He might be new, but he’s learning quick. For more, you can follow him via his tumblr.
The man bag is something that I feel is a great accessory for anyone to have. There’s a bit of sophistication associated with it that’s lightly doused in a coating of class. The strap, strap color, the fabric, large logo or subtle one, color of the bag, etc… All of these elements come into play when selecting a man bag. It’s a fun experience when selecting one and it’s going to be a standout in your group of friends. Generally, for all the wrong reasons.
When I bought my man bag (Rogue Territory’s Denim Tote Bag), I knew what I was getting into; a couple months of not so funny jokes and slanted stares from random people. It’s almost unavoidable really. No matter how masculine the bag itself is, someone (everyone) will call it a man purse (“murse” for those who get real creative) at least four times, per person, per day. Even the title of this article doesn’t bode too well with me;
Keep it minimal and simple.
But I’ve got stuff I have to carry. Stuff that won’t always fit in a briefcase. I could’ve gotten a higher end backpack, but those still have that schoolboy element to them that I personally feel is engraved into the creation of any type of backpack; no matter the price, make, or material. The backpack doesn’t have the maturity of a man bag that I was trying to achieve. Not saying they can’t achieve this, it’s just harder.
Is it impossible to keep hold of your masculinity while carrying a man bag? Absolutely not. You just have to put a bit more thought into it.
When utilizing a man bag, or tote as many menswear brands use, you need to ensure that the addition of the bag is still cohesive with the outfit. It’s not something I would bring to a county fair while I’m wearing some old jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt; it’s out of place. Perhaps some nice trousers, solid button down, blazer or cardigan and some great shoes to wrap it up. Yes, the bag is there to carry your belongings, but it’s also an accessory; much like a watch or a bracelet. It has to have some sort of flow.
Something I’ve noticed in my research about man bags is the amount of detail that they have. Meaning, there’s jus not a whole lot. In fact, they’re the complete opposite of ornate. Most of these that are intended for men don’t have a bunch of frills or tassels. Maybe you’ll get some external pockets with some buttons, combination of fabrics or the company’s logo . Doesn’t get to be much more than that. Keeping things simple and clean provides a great aesthetic to these bags (and your outfit) and stops them from crossing over into the purse-domain.
The Rogue Territory bag I carry is made from a dark blue, 15oz Japanese selvedge denim, with some natural veg-tanned leather straps. There’s some text on the outside and that’s it. It’s rugged, clean, goes with just about every outfit I wear and I love the hell out of it.
Other options include the Market Bag City Tote from Apolis that will rep the city you’re from. Asos has a very simple and inexpensive tote that looks durable enough to withstand the test of time and could go with most of your outfits. J. Crew and J. Crew Factory have similar totes, with the J. Crew option being a made in the USA color block tote from Steele Canvas Basket Co, and the J. Crew Factory version being much cheaper (but perhaps much less durable). So you’ve got options and there’s dozens more that I haven’t mentioned or even know about. Do some research and find what’s best for you and your individual style.
Notice that all of these bags, though diverse, have the traits that I spoke of earlier. Yet, with all that, it still doesn’t matter. You’ll be the guy in a group with a man purse for a while. The struggle is real my friends.
Here’s the process of how introducing your bag into your circle of friends will go (yes, this is scientifically proven):
- Poor jokes will get thrown around.
- You’ll accept those jokes and get over them rather quickly.
- You’ll then create a phenomenal outfit with the so called “man purse”.
- Finally, everyone will shut the hell up after seeing what you’ve created.
Are you a believer in the Man Bag? If so, what do you carry? Has the threat of being accused of carrying a “murse” left you using crappy old shopping bags? Are there certain keys/situations where a man bag is universally acceptable? Let the debate begin in the comments.