The 8 Best Vintage Briefcases
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in May of 2016. If you want to carry your gear in something a little more stylish than a backpack and more professional than a messenger bag, you might want to consider one of these vintage briefcases. Although they boast an elegant and aged appearance, they're made of durable materials and are capable of keeping modern devices, like laptops, tablets, and phones, safe and secure in transit. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 14, 2021:
We removed a pair of hard-sided briefcases no longer in production and made just one other change worth noting. We decided to recommend an updated version of the Polare Business that is remarkably large. In fact, it has enough space for a pair of 17-inch laptops, something that few options can claim. The rest of our recommendations are the same as before, and in particular, Komal's Passion Leather S84U is well known to use high-end leather and hardware.
May 07, 2020:
Generally speaking, a briefcase has one or two compartments inside, is covered by a flap, and is carried by hand. Models like the Floto Ponza and Banuce Tote exemplify the classic style that's often associated with lawyers carrying papers, or briefs, to court, which is where they got their name. Some, like the Komal's Passion Leather S84U and Wowbox Messenger, are similar to more modern messenger bags and as such are often carried on the shoulder or worn across the body. Still others, such as the Polare Business, Bostanten Retro, and high-end Bed Stu Nigel are considerably larger and border on soft-sided luggage. Regardless of the specific style, most soft-sided briefcases offer a little bit of expandability and come with a shoulder strap. For this wiki, we've paid special attention to bags made with high-quality materials such as top- and full-grain leather as well as durable canvas in some cases. These days, you'll also notice that most soft-sided briefcases also double as laptop bags.
On the other hand, there's a significantly different type of briefcase that's also known as an attaché case. These hard-sided carriers offer considerably more protection than the others and some users feel that they put forth an even more professional air. The McKlein V Series Reagan performs well in nearly every respect and has a middle-of-the-road width of 3.5 inches, while the Tassia Luxury is about one-half of an inch thinner. The Alpine Swiss Attaché is a similar size but also offers one inch of optional expansion to help fit items that are just a bit too large.
Buffalo Jackson High-end briefcases and attachés are just some of the goods from this premium manufacturer. Their bags range from the simple, with just one or two compartments inside, to the more complex and versatile with varying selections of pockets and materials. You'll also find a number of quality products to help you upkeep their top-quality leather. buffalojackson.com
Mission Mercantile Goods Here you'll find a small collection of high-end office bags that exemplify good craftsmanship. They are relatively expensive, requiring an investment of a few to several hundred dollars, but they look fantastic and are built to last a lifetime with proper care. missionmercantile.com
Time To Be Timeless
In short, there are certain looks that are undoubtedly dated.
If you walked out of your house in the morning and went to work decked out in an enormous double-breasted suit that made you look like an extra in a Talking Heads video, you might have a hard time getting through the day without stopping to explain yourself. The same could be said if you showed up to the gym in a neon lycra onesie with bright green leggings and hot pink leg warmers. In short, there are certain looks that are undoubtedly dated.
The worse sin, perhaps, is to wear something that’s utterly appropriate for the time you’re in, only to look back at pictures of yourself 20 or 30 years later and realize how ridiculous you looked. There’s a special place in the depths of people’s closets for photos of them rocking parachute pants and a Vanilla Ice T-shirt. And while some of those styles might make momentary comebacks, the hard reality is that dated clothing quickly becomes obsolete.
Ironically, we often look to the past to guard against this. The difference is that the past fashions we look to aren’t the ones that came and went in a year or two, but rather the ones that never really went out of style in the first place, even if they became somewhat less common as the tide of trends swept past. It would be a misnomer to call these fashions throwbacks, and even the term “vintage” carries with it a kind of baggage that might limit your imagination to pieces that are specific to a certain time period.
What we’re talking about here on our list, in an attempt to recalibrate our understanding of vintage fashion for the 21st century, is timelessness. Timeless fashions have the air of old souls, like they never really debuted, or they always just “were.” They are rather like good folk songs, as Oscar Isaac says in the Cohen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, “If it was never new and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song.”
The vintage briefcases on our list all fit this description, in that they have a look that will never go out of style, because theirs is a style that transcends trends and fads, that you can rely on for years to make you look like a professional with a personality to boot.
Which Vintage Briefcase Is Right For You?
Choosing a vintage briefcase for yourself is going to have more to do with your own personal sense of style than pretty much anything else. You know better than anyone else the contents of your closet, particularly when it comes to your business attire. Finding a briefcase that compliments the attire you already have or that's the first step in creating a new look is going to be your prime directive. There are a few features worth examining closely, however, to help ensure that the model you have your eye on will be as functional as it is fashionable.
With either hard or soft bags, though, there are ways to keep important materials form getting dogeared.
One of the clearest differences among the models on our list and on the market at large is just how rigid a given briefcase’s frame is. Traditionally, a briefcase consists of six hard sides that make up a nice, handy rectangular box. This design is generally favored by professionals in slightly stuffier businesses, like law or finance. It’s also particularly good for anyone who's concerned about security, as many come with locks that are relatively difficult to bypass. Those hard sides are also much more difficult to puncture, especially compared with some of the softer leathers used by other models. If you work in a more laid back office, however, a briefcase like this can seem like overkill.
Among the most popular styles of briefcase today are slightly softer models that have a firm enough stitching to hold their shape, but that can also break in over the years to serve as supple, reliable bags. Many of these also come with long straps that allow you wear them as messenger bags or dangle on one shoulder to make your commute as easy and customizable as possible. Some haughtier professions look down on this kind of bag, however, so make sure it won’t give your bosses the impression that you don’t take your job seriously.
After that, your biggest concern is liable to be how the inside of the briefcase is organized. If you carry around a lot of important papers that you need to stay in good shape, you might want the added security of a hard-sided case before you even begin to examine the way its innards are laid out. With either hard or soft bags, though, there are ways to keep important materials form getting dogeared. Some cases are large enough to contain additional storage inside them, like three ring binders or stiff folders.
If you’re someone that has a hard time staying organized, you’ll want the inside of your briefcase to offer as many little predetermined living spaces as possible for all your business accessories. Slots for pens, pencils, and markers are a must. It’s also a good idea to have a space for both a small and a large notepad, and, depending on your profession, a calculator. If you have your heart set on a certain case that lacks any kind of efficient internal organization, don’t worry. There are briefcase organizers designed specifically for this situation.
Other Classy Business Accessories
Looking your best on the job doesn’t stop with your briefcase. After all, once you get to the office and put it down, it might not come back out until the end of the day. To stay on top of your game, here are a few additional items that can elevate your status among the cubicles.
For starters, make sure you’re outfit is properly accessorized. That means a nice pair of shoes, a belt, and, most important of all, an attractive watch. It doesn’t have to be something too expensive, but it should look the part.
After that, consider upgrading some of your office tools. A fountain pen, for example, will make you stand out as an employee who takes a unique amount of pride in their work, and who’s willing to go the extra mile for presentation and class.