Leather Briefcase Buying Guide

by Daniele Graziani
February 2, 2011

I normally carry a vertical messenger bag, but when I need to bring my laptop I reach for my briefcase. Over the years, I have experienced many briefcases first-hand and I have heard the feedback of many of our customers. I have come to the conclusion that it is important to choose a briefcase that is right for you and that is why I wrote this guide.

Outside Pockets
Shoulder Strap
Space Needed

Choosing the Right Color

The first thing to consider when picking a color for a briefcase is the recipient's preference. When I was young, for example, I would have only considered black briefcases. Now, I prefer Espresso and Dark Leather bags. So it is a good idea not to make the assumption that preferences do not change. The most popular colors are dark leather and espresso. Black is a distant third. Light leather (cognac) and green also have a small fan base.

Next, consider the settings where the briefcase will be used. For what it's worth, our anecdotal evidence shows that black is significantly more popular in large metropolitan areas than anywhere else. We feel that some people seek a sleek, professional look when buying a briefcase and they have black in mind. Despite what I just said, keep in mind that dark leather and espresso are far more popular than black when it comes to briefcases.

Once you know where the briefcase is likely to go, choose a leather type and a design that seems suitable. Without losing sight of the personality of the user, a more traditional design and leather type may be more appropriate for the corporate boardroom while a creative design in a distressed leather type will turn heads in the coffee shop.

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The Handle

Handles need to be comfortable and strong. Most people prefer a leather handle that is wide enough. If you have large hands, make sure to know that the handle is going to be large enough. As it may be hard to tell the dimensions of the handle, if this is the case, it is always a good idea to call and find out.

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Outside Pockets

I like to have zippered pockets on the outside of my briefcase for easy access of phone and wallet. That's for when I am commuting between home and the office. If I am traveling I have to put my phone and wallet in a more secure place such as my pants pocket or inside the bag. When I am traveling, I might still use those pockets, just for less valuable stuff.

Because outside pockets can be very useful or useless think about how the bag will be used. If the briefcase is going to be a gift it is better to find out first.

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Shoulder Strap

Will you ever need a shoulder strap? Some people do not. If you think about it, most of the time the briefcase is the only thing that you are carrying from home to the office and back. But there are times, especially when traveling or at trade shows, that a shoulder strap would be convenient. Shoulder straps are usually made of leather, nylon, or cotton. I like nylon and cotton, because I believe that they are more versatile and more comfortable. Yet, they are also more casual. If you are looking for a clean, professional look, then you might prefer a leather strap.

Our briefcases all have removable straps. The material is usually matched to the style of the bag. People interested in a traditional leather strap should look at the Bojola bags. Campomaggi rugged briefcases, instead, are usually appropriately matched with cotton straps.

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Choosing the right size briefcase is very subjective and requires knowledge of what will be carried on a regular basis. Space inside a briefcase can be affected by pockets and partitions so, for example, a large laptop might not fit well in a large briefcase with a divider. It is useful to find out the largest items that need to fit in the briefcase and compare different models. Our laptop bag buying guide provides a comparison of all bag sizes and notes regarding their interiors.

Sometimes a briefcase is not the best choice. A large messenger bag like the Urbano is very spacious and might suit the user better.

If you are instead looking for something smaller, perhaps an iPad or an e-reader, please look at our cross body bags.

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Leather Roses Video

Related content:

Daniele's blog post describing why he likes handmade Italian leather bags.