Whether you finally landed that big promotion or you are soon to graduate from a university and take on the world, finding the perfect leather briefcase is essential. Stepping off the metro with a fine leather briefcase in hand seems to radiate maturity, trust and devotion; it says, “I take my work seriously.” Leather briefcases are the tried and true standard for carrying and protecting vital documents, electronics, and those pesky pens that always manage to get lost in your pocket. But how do you find the perfect case that balances style and personality with quality and durability? Following are three critical things to consider as you shop.
1) Not all leather briefcases are created equal
The quality of your briefcase should be one of the biggest factors in your decision to buy. You are in it for the long haul, so do not settle for something that will break down after only a year of use. The single most important factor that determines the quality of a leather briefcase is, naturally, the leather. Real animal leather is what you want to look for. The best leathers traditionally come from France, England, and Italy, although the U.S. is increasing its good reputation in the leather market as well.
Substitute leathers are fine for anyone on a really tight budget, but keep in mind that faux leather is essentially plastic, and it won’t handle well the demands of daily travel and use. Although high-end leathers don’t come cheap, they pay for themselves over a lifetime of use. In fact, good quality leather improves with time. With continued use, leather will age and the colour might deepen, making your leather briefcase 100% unique to you.
Another key factor in the overall quality of a leather briefcase is the metal used for the locks, hinges, handles, and shoulder strap fixtures. These areas are the most common places for breakage and wear, so be on the lookout for a strong metal, and try to avoid cheap alloys. If you cannot find this information while looking on the Web, see if you can pop into a local leather briefcase retailer, or call up the manufacturer to talk to a representative.
2) There is a style that’s just right for you
There is nothing wrong with owning two or three different leather briefcases, but the majority of us are probably looking to buy just one, so finding the right style for your personality is fundamental. As you shop, take into consideration what your daily attire might look like. Is it casual or business professional? A lawyer or an executive might strive for a different look than an engineer or an editor, so determine how you want to portray yourself to others and see what fits your needs.
Leather briefcases can usually be lumped into three styles: attaché, flap over, and messenger bag. Attaché cases are the classic standard and are what most people think of when they hear “leather briefcase.” They feature a sturdy box on a hinge that opens up to a right angle. The latch typically consists of two combination locks, and the interior is usually split into two segments. It easily fits documents and files, and some modern models feature a pocket for a laptop. They offer outstanding protection because of their rigid frame, and they look smart in any board meeting.
Flap over leather briefcases are less rigid than attaché cases. They feature a softer leather construction that stands upright and latches with a leather flap that folds over the top. To most, flap overs are slightly more casual than attaché cases, making them more versatile to fit any given scenario. They can feature one, two, or three inside divides, allowing plenty of space for folders, documents, and electronics. Some flap over cases also offer an optional shoulder strap, perfect for freeing up your hands or distributing a heavy load more evenly across your body.
Messenger bag leather briefcases have their advantages in cargo space. They usually feature a roomy main compartment with zipper pockets or dividers. Although some might have a carrying handle, most messenger bags are designed as shoulder bags, and they are quite comfortable to carry because of their size and soft leather construction. Though most messenger bags can be more casual than other styles of leather briefcases, a high-end design can still get the message across that you mean business. They are perfect for anyone who needs to carry a lot in a comfortable yet stylish manner.
3) You can’t take it all with you
Leather briefcases are not suitcases; they probably cannot carry your university textbooks or your entire DVD collection. What they do offer is style, elegance, and an easy way to carry the most vital components of your average day. Be careful in deciding how much stuff you need to take with you on a daily basis because this could very well determine the style of leather briefcase that you end up buying. A good measuring stick is to simply place on a table all the essential items that you will need to perform well the next day-papers, files, computer, pens, business cards-and eyeball how much space that will take up.
If your job requires a large amount of equipment that you need both at work and at home, you might consider a messenger style leather briefcase. If you really have a lot to carry, or if you have a long walk to the office, you can find classy leather briefcases on wheels. For those of you who need simple protection for a folder or two, a single-compartment attaché or flap over case might do the trick. Whatever your preferences or needs, a leather briefcase is out there for you. Keep in mind these three things, and you will be impressing your colleagues for many years to come.