Good Looking Work Bags <$200
“Buy nice or buy twice.” Sure. But what if you’re at a point in your professional career where buying a “nice” briefcase means you’re damned to eating Ramen for the next 2 weeks straight? A Saddleback might be the goal, but until then, you gotta find something that looks decent enough, won’t put a serious dent in your rent-money, and won’t make you look like it’s your first day as an intern (even if it is, in fact, your first day as an intern). That’s what these do.
Selection below attempts to keep the bulk down, and steers clear of the pure-messenger style (no top handles, only a shoulder strap). Messengers are highly functional, especially for bike commuters, but they can sometimes, maybe, look a little… youthful(?) when you walk into a room and take the thing off by getting the shoulder strap over your head.
Jack Spade Canvas Leather Darrow Brief – $179.25 w/ TWENTYFIVE (FINAL SALE)
Already on sale, and like all other sale items, now gets another 25% knocked off with TWENTYFIVE. Pretty much nails the balance of professional & casual that many workplaces exist in these days. Black canvas exterior with a good amount of leather accents. 16″ wide with a not too skinny, yet still sleek 2.7″ worth of depth.
Zara “Retro” Brief – $179.00
Waitaminute… is that suede? Maybe it just has a bit of suede-like texture, or it’s nubuck, or… well, lots of potential here. A throwback for sure. No shoulder strap to speak of. Ships & returns free through Zara. 15″ wide, so might be a squeeze on some laptops, and unusable for the bigger machines.
Ernest Alexander “Andy” Laptop Case – $160
REAL slim. For the guy who’s got his must-carry stripped down to a bare minimum. Does have two compartments inside with some pen slots, and then there’s the exterior pocket… but it’s just .5″ deep. Simple as all get out. Meanwhile, if you’re the type who thinks “well that’s so simple, I COULD make it“… okay, go ahead. Not to say that you can’t, but that’s fine if you think you can/actually do. Made in the USA. Available in Navy, Grey, or Olive.
Fossil Estate Leather Portfolio Briefcase – $173.99 ($248)
Lots of retro looks here. Currently the dark brown as well as a cognac is available through Macy’s, so you might want to sit tight and wait for an applicable code. Black is full price, and pushing it at $248, over at Nordstrom.
Zero Halliburton: Used – $80 – $150
Prepare yourself for a few “whataya got in there, nuclear launch codes?” comments due to their ubiquitous use in action flicks, but it’s hard to beat that style. And it’s also hard to beat them. Literally. They can take a pounding. Price is going to depend quite a bit on the condition of the interior. You might have to replace the lining with some egg-crate or standard foam. But once you get it setup to your needs, they can be a great, long lasting business-case.
“8” Briefcase – $78.20 w/ LASTCALL15 ($159)
Via YOOX. Real small and simple. Just 14″ wide. “Printed” patterned leather (pretty sure that means embossed) exterior. Part of their extra 15% off LASTCALL code selection. No shoulder strap here.
Jack Spade Waxed Twill Profile Briefcase – $111.75 w/ TWENTYFIVE (FINAL SALE)
Another Jack Spade offering that’s an extra 25% off. Nicely affordable at just north of $100. Navy waxed twill that’ll go nicely with business casual outfits. Final sale here.
Jack + Mulligan Fitzgerald Made in the USA Briefcase – $109.98 ($130)
Totally casual, but the all-black option keeps it relatively professional for less dressed-up environments. Canvas, leather reinforced grips, and made in the good ol’ USA. On sale via Huckberry.
Boconi Leather Briefcase – $198.00
All grained-leather exterior. Dual top grab handles and a removable shoulder strap. Also available in a medium brown. Simple.
Buxton Leather DOPP Briefcase – $119.99 w/ SUMMER ($149)
Weirdly nice leather for $120 with that code. Was going for a little less last winter when it appeared on some flash sale sites. Only appears to be available through the manufacturer now? It’s obviously treated leather, but it’s not stiff or too shined up. Extremely pliable, and it’s taken on some character since we rang in 2014 (about when it was purchased). Two individual, separated, interior compartments. Dual top zippers. Unpadded handles keep it streamlined. Darker grey hardware. Code SUMMER is good for 30% off orders of $50+. No word on when that expires. Also available in black.
Your turn guys: What do you carry, or what did you carry as a sub $200/kinda entry level briefcase? Leave any other suggestions on affordable work bags in the comments below.