For many, Friday usually means unwinding after work with drinks or just going home to chill after a long week at work. But more than that, TGIF also means a break from stiff business wear into something looser and more casual. However, this brings an immediate shudder when we see someone (seems like even Mr Cooper takes some style days off too) on the train in dark brown loafers, ill-fitting jeans and a branded outsized logo polo, along with the proverbial sports backpack.
Well, we're not strictly against the sports backpack especially if you're headed to the gym instead of drinks - we certainly tip our hat to the man who doesn't skip legs day for drinks. Yet, there are definitely sleeker options for your casual bag, even if you're headed to the gym.
While we believe function triumphs form, these days, it's not difficult to find a functional and good-looking casual bag. Whether you need a roomy duffle for your gym gear, a versatile tote that transitions into a weekend bag or a sharp backpack that's not too "out there" in a corporate setting, we're here to help you find the right bag.
1. The Casual Briefcase
Sticking with a briefcase is always a safe bet; you really can't go wrong with another briefcase. Here's a bonus for all those looking for a bang for your buck as well as maximising utility - you can actually use the same briefcase for the entire week.
Here's an all-leather option from Bonastre that looks great whether with business wear or something casual. The genius of it is due to the extremely pared-down exterior - no leather strap, extra zips or slots to speak of. There's a certain je ne sais quoi that could probably be attributed to its French design origins. If you like to go to work with only the basics, perhaps just a laptop and a notebook, this is the bag for you.
Mismo's M/S Office Black/Black also works very well as the black lends a formal air from Monday to Thursday without looking too stodgy yet pairs well with an outfit of nearly any colour on Friday. It doesn't hurt to have lightweight nylon that's extremely durable for those who want to be able to abuse their bag or to guard against the wet local weather.
Perfect for: The work minimalist or the guy who likes to play it safe
2. The Grown-up Backpack
Remember the days when kids carried backpacks - in a riot of colours - to school? While it might sit well with streetwear and the resurgence of vintage products, I think we can all agree it has no place in the office.
However, the backpack has all grown up and the staid, squarish horrors are (mostly) a thing of the past. Fashion mores have now made backpacks permissible and brands have caught on to the classic backpack. Now wearing 'new clothes', quality top-grain or full-grain leather is de rigeur. For example, this particular piece from La Portegna is modestly luxurious and uber-functional. The full-grain cowhide is a polished upgrade from your standard polyester or nylon while the laptop and interior pockets make organising your belongings a breeze. I think some of you also appreciate being hands-free during the morning rush, instead of swinging your bag around in your hand as you make a dash for the train.
Perfect for: The guy who bike-shares to work or digital freelancer
3. The Fashion-forward Tote Bag
There is endless discussion surrounding the oft-maligned tote mainly due to worries that it looks effeminate. Case in point - a user on Styleforum - the go-to for any men's fashion discussion/advice - wondered if "it looks gay". The post might have been from nearly a decade ago, but if you're a tote-carrying guy it's not unlikely to hear such questions even today.
Here's our advice: if you're actually wondering, then the tote is probably not for you. Suffice to say, the lines of gender in fashion have become increasingly blurred. While there are a plethora of 'manly' totes out there, sWe get the beauty of the tote. It's so easy to just toss your belongings into it and you can also easily slide into the weekend with it. There are a plethora of 'manly' totes out there for those who want to err on the side of caution.
This tote from Mismo is a wonderful option for instance; it doesn't hurt that it's in classic olive green. Capacious enough to carry a laptop, it also has lines clean enough not to detract from your sharp outfit. In a Swiss Army knife-esque way, it has a series of D-rings that allow the tote to transform into a shoulder-carried tote or a backpack. Brilliant design we think.
Perfect for: The fashion-forward man about town or creative types
4. The Capacious Gym Bag
Everyone knows someone who heads straight to the gym during lunch or even after work on Friday night. Perhaps you might be one.
The aptly named navy M/S Utility is a briefcase-cum-weekender that will be your perfect buddy. There is plenty of room for your gym gear and more, with cleverly placed D-rings and clasps making it look like a soft briefcase. If you need more space, simply unbuckle the clasps and voila - a spacious weekender. For the more meticulous, packing cubes or bags help organise this roomy bag and prevent things from getting 'lost'.
Perfect for: The guy who makes a mad dash for the gym during lunch or business travellers