A very glamorous young lady (with more than a passing resemblance to Romy Schneider), who was a classmate of mine at Sotheby’s in London, once observed to me: “The more important you are, the less you personally have to carry.” While there is certainly some truth to that statement, since generally we do not see world leaders carrying their own luggage, the reality is that many of us do have to carry various items to and from work. I do not usually have to bring things to and from home, but would love to have someone carry my briefcases for me when I go to court – though admittedly, Clarence Darrow I am not.
A lady has the option of purses and bags of varying dimensions, whereas a gentleman’s choices are, fortunately, much more limited. We have briefcases, satchel or messenger-type bags, and, for those of us in the legal profession, rather hefty court cases that could house a small pack of dogs. All of these are readily available at any price point from Dunhill to Walmart.
Unfortunately, there is a marked tendency here in the nation’s capital for men of all ages, not just college-aged summer interns on a budget, to carry backpacks strapped over their dress suits. There is something truly bizarre about seeing a man of 30 plus years walking down K Street, wearing a suit and tie, and having a waterproof polyester product designed for outdoor activities strapped to his back, its padded straps digging into the padding of the shoulders and creasing his jacket.
I would never recommend that anyone carry a “man-purse” or “murse” (which is another awful thing I do not like.) However, there are ways for any man whose position requires him to wear business attire to be able to carry his files, laptop, etc. in a manner that does not make him look like he is still in 5th grade and rushing to catch the school bus. If a briefcase is not practical or seems inappropriate to the age of the user, he should consider one of the numerous types of shoulder-strap receptacles on the market made specifically for this purpose. No matter how intelligent or accomplished the carrier, it is hard to take seriously an adult male wearing a suit and tie who continues to lug a backpack to the office.