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View Full Version : What's a good "man bag"?



ozone
05-26-2009, 11:24 PM
I'm at a conference and have decided that I need a man bag! Or a murse, whatever the current term du jour is...

I have some smaller shoulder bags (not Tom Bihn) from MEC that work when I just out running errands and want to carry a digicam, sunglasses, water bottle, gum, etc. However, at this conference I realized that the bags I do have would look just so out-of-place, especially when wearing a suit or blazer and black dress pants at receptions, business meetings, etc.

I have the large Cafe Bag, and I was wondering about the small Cafe Bag in black... not sure. I was leaning towards microfibre or leather for this specific situation.

Any comments? If not TB, any other suggestions? I can't seem to find as many options as I thought I would...

keb
05-27-2009, 07:57 AM
I have had the same question percolating as well. Maverick and I discussed a smaller version of the Ego in a different thread but that probably wouldn't meet the above criteria either. Too "messengery" or "daypacky" for slightly more formal situations. I have also been eyeing a Smart Alec or Synapse (someday...) but again that doesn't meet the above needs either. I have actually been considering one of the cafe bags in black or navy for the times when I don't need a laptop and the Empire Builder is just too big or when I want to bring something along besides a backpack to have at my destination. What are the drawbacks of your Large Cafe Bag for above? Is it just too big?

Maverick is the Cafe Bag expert. Mav, what do you think? Size and color (and material?) for a manly non-briefcase/non-backpack/non-schleppy errand/conference/sporting event bag? (Personally I would also like to be able to include a DSLR inside in the camera insert when the time comes if necessary...)

maverick
05-27-2009, 08:16 AM
tom is the expert with regard to all things bags.

but i think that a small cafe bag would compliment the right suit nicely.

i think the last time i put on a suit was at my sister-in-law's wedding a couple of years ago. god help you, but let me see if i can put on a suit and get a picture with my small black cafe bag. better yet, let me see if i can meet up with my brother for lunch tomorrow and have him model the small cafe bag for us. he dresses up in a suit every day. yes, that's a much safe approach!

you mentioned cameras and the camera insert. while a dslr isn't something i would put into a small cafe bag, you could carry many nice point and shoots or a leica m-series camera with a couple of lenses in the small cafe bag.

keb
05-27-2009, 09:00 AM
Didn't mean to give you a project but I forgot you can't resist!!! Sorry about that... I take it that you would think the medium and large cafe bag are just too casual because of their size to replace the classic Coach Leather saddlebag but that the small cafe bag comes off as a bit sleeker with the downside of not being able to carry some of the larger items when put in a different role? I assume you would reserve the DSLR for the medium or large cafe bags (I have seen your videos), but that almost any point and shoot style in pouch would fit in the small... BTW the Domke wrap on my wife's D80 is doing very nicely while waiting for the camera insert...

rabergnc
05-27-2009, 09:14 AM
I currently use the Ristretto as my man bag - works well for me, but I typically need to keep my laptop with me. If you choose to look at bags other than by TB, you might check out Waterfield Designs (sfbags.com). They just introduced the Musetto - their version of a man bag. Comes in a variety of colors including black and has leather as a part of it. It's pricey to be sure but for some folks, it may be worth it. I can attest to the quality of their bags, before I became a TB fan, I purchased and still use one of their bags (the Cozmo).

maverick
05-27-2009, 10:56 AM
don't be sorry - i'm happy to do it :).

my brother is traveling, and has gone from suits to business casual, by the way. so back to the original plan.

yes, i was thinking that the small cafe bag would look rather sleek. but the medium and large cafe bag, as well as the ristretto may work, depending on the size and build of the individual.


Didn't mean to give you a project but I forgot you can't resist!!! Sorry about that... I take it that you would think the medium and large cafe bag are just too casual because of their size to replace the classic Coach Leather saddlebag but that the small cafe bag comes off as a bit sleeker with the downside of not being able to carry some of the larger items when put in a different role? I assume you would reserve the DSLR for the medium or large cafe bags (I have seen your videos), but that almost any point and shoot style in pouch would fit in the small... BTW the Domke wrap on my wife's D80 is doing very nicely while waiting for the camera insert...

Frank II
05-27-2009, 01:15 PM
I'd like people's opinions...I've decided to get a Medium Cafe Bag as my "manbag" and to mostly use it for travel.

When I travel, I pack light, wear mostly black or gray pants and neutral color shirts (white, light blue, maroon, etc.)

I was going to get a black/steel cafe bag but the cocoa is looking good. (I've been told I wear too much black/gray.)

So, here are the questions....will the cocoa bag stand out too much considering what I wear (I hesitate to use the word 'clash")? I like to blend in

And, is the cocoa color suitable for a middle-aged guy? How about sand?

Thanks.

ozone
05-27-2009, 01:31 PM
Well, this feedback is great! My large Cafe Bag is olive coloured, and ironically, I think it's a little too large for business situations in some ways. I think the olive colour is suitable for most situations (or all situations if you don't care), but I'm at a academic/business networking conferencing, and suits are pretty much the standard. At a regular academic conference where there is a lot more khaki, I don't think it will matter as much.

I just want something that I can throw into my other TB bags but can be used anywhere.

I'm not sure if a black small Cafe Bag has a formal enough look to pass in formal situations.

Geez... probably getting too introspective! ;-)

Nana8
05-27-2009, 02:46 PM
I'd like people's opinions...I've decided to get a Medium Cafe Bag as my "manbag" and to mostly use it for travel.

When I travel, I pack light, wear mostly black or gray pants and neutral color shirts (white, light blue, maroon, etc.)

I was going to get a black/steel cafe bag but the cocoa is looking good. (I've been told I wear too much black/gray.)

So, here are the questions....will the cocoa bag stand out too much considering what I wear (I hesitate to use the word 'clash")? I like to blend in

And, is the cocoa color suitable for a middle-aged guy? How about sand?

Thanks.

Ohhhhh! I just posted in another area about our 2 new Large Cafe bags -- one in Linen (sand) and one in Cocoa. My husband, a VERY cool middle-aged, musician by night; real job during the day type of of guy loves his new Cocoa/Wasabi manbag. He felt the Linen (sand) was a bit too much on the feminine side for him but I am guessing that under the right circumstances it would be fine and look really smart!

backpack
05-27-2009, 07:03 PM
I'd like people's opinions...I've decided to get a Medium Cafe Bag as my "manbag" and to mostly use it for travel.

When I travel, I pack light, wear mostly black or gray pants and neutral color shirts (white, light blue, maroon, etc.)

I was going to get a black/steel cafe bag but the cocoa is looking good. (I've been told I wear too much black/gray.)

So, here are the questions....will the cocoa bag stand out too much considering what I wear (I hesitate to use the word 'clash")? I like to blend in

And, is the cocoa color suitable for a middle-aged guy? How about sand?

Thanks.

I think you could order black, cocoa and sand and see the one you like best.

I dare you to send back any :)

Backpack owner of 2 Large Cafe Bags and 1 Small one :)

Shiva
05-28-2009, 05:38 AM
Waterfield Designs has a new "man purse" out --<www.sfbags.com>--quite pricey; small runs $179! It is leather and nylon. I have their Cozmo briefcase and it is very sharp looking, very professional, and excellent quality. It is a bit more formal looking than TB bags for work.

maverick
05-28-2009, 08:22 AM
"man purse"

ahem (clearing my throat)... just so we're all on the same page, men carry bags to hold their stuff. the cafe bag is a great example of how we carry our stuff. you can call this a man bag if you like. but it's really just a bag. there isn't anything gender specific about it - men and women can carry it. whatever you call it, please do not call it a purse. a purse is something that women carry. now, a man may happen to be holding a purse (or a bag) belonging to his wife/girlfriend/sister/mother. that is a different matter altogether.

now that we've cleared that up, we can move on. ;-)

sorry shiva - i couldn't resist jumping all over that one! (you know i'm teasing!)

keb
05-28-2009, 08:28 AM
now, a man may happen to be holding a purse (or a bag) belonging to his wife/girlfriend/sister/mother. that is a different matter altogether.

now that we've cleared that up, we can move on. ;-)



I always try to make sure my belt and shoes match my wife's handbag...

maverick
05-28-2009, 08:31 AM
I always try to make sure my belt and shoes match my wife's handbag...

what a clever idea! :D

now, what do you do if your wife decides to carry an orange or green handbag? are you prepared for such situations??

keb
05-28-2009, 09:04 AM
what a clever idea! :D

now, what do you do if your wife decides to carry an orange or green handbag? are you prepared for such situations??

Luckily for me... 1. I am colorblind so brown always works, at least for me. 2. She doesn't do much in the bright color range, other than pink, which is the new black anyway.

maverick
05-28-2009, 09:34 AM
Luckily for me... 1. I am colorblind so brown always works, at least for me. 2. She doesn't do much in the bright color range, other than pink, which is the new black anyway.

i thought brown was the new black?

Frank II
05-28-2009, 09:48 AM
Have you ever noticed that when we go shopping with "them," we all wind up in the same corner of the store holding their purses. And we all have that same look on our faces...."I could be home watching sports."

Why don't these stores ever put a few chairs around so we guys can at least sit down? We know it's going to be awhile.

One Nordstroms I was dragged into, I meant went into, had the right set up. As you walked into the women's changing area, there was a small lounge with a couch, a couple of easy chairs, a coffeetable, and a bunch of sports magazines. That day, I didn't mind shopping. (And better to prepare for the inevitable question..."Does this make me look fat?")

(Sorry, ladies, I neeeded a place to vent.) ;)

maverick
05-28-2009, 10:33 AM
i don't know if i'm the odd man out here, but i actually enjoy going shopping with "them." it's fun to pick out clothes and have them try them on.

nordstroms is indeed a very well outfitted store. you can see the attention to small details, just like you do in tom bihn bags. while i haven't been in one myself, i hear that the women's lounge in nordstroms is quite the experience.

as far as the question of "does this make me look fat?" they are never fat. if the designer royally screwed up in putting together an outfit, be sure you tell them that the outfit does not adequately capture and show how incredibly beautiful they are. :)


Have you ever noticed that when we go shopping with "them," we all wind up in the same corner of the store holding their purses. And we all have that same look on our faces...."I could be home watching sports."

Why don't these stores ever put a few chairs around so we guys can at least sit down? We know it's going to be awhile.

One Nordstroms I was dragged into, I meant went into, had the right set up. As you walked into the women's changing area, there was a small lounge with a couch, a couple of easy chairs, a coffee table, and a bunch of sports magazines. That day, I didn't mind shopping. (And better to prepare for the inevitable question..."Does this make me look fat?")

(Sorry, ladies, I neeeded a place to vent.)

keb
05-28-2009, 02:57 PM
:eek:

Maverick obviously has a really good eye. Or a truly devoted and unbelievably tolerant partner.

I can live with the occasional shopping trip since my three daughters pretty much eliminated the whole watching sports thing a long time ago (the good news is, I can go a whole day of a major event and watch it on DVR because none of them will ever tell me what happened...) but my clothes suggestions are invariably met by eye rolls, peals of laughter, or outright horror.

backpack
05-28-2009, 04:04 PM
Have you ever noticed that when we go shopping with "them," we all wind up in the same corner of the store holding their purses. And we all have that same look on our faces...."I could be home watching sports."

Why don't these stores ever put a few chairs around so we guys can at least sit down? We know it's going to be awhile.

One Nordstroms I was dragged into, I meant went into, had the right set up. As you walked into the women's changing area, there was a small lounge with a couch, a couple of easy chairs, a coffeetable, and a bunch of sports magazines. That day, I didn't mind shopping. (And better to prepare for the inevitable question..."Does this make me look fat?")

(Sorry, ladies, I neeeded a place to vent.) ;)

How about shopping for him. :)

My husband hates shopping for clothes, people have suggested online shopping but he is very particular about the fabric which must be smooth (some brand use different cotton quality from batch to batch) and
sometimes, he nor I are sure of his size.
Men's sizing is pretty much standard for pants but shirts are another matter.
Making sense of all the choices among the endless shelves of khakis is not for the faint hearted.


He never shops with me because I only shop twice a year, for a couple of afternoons which I spend locked in the dressing room of the woman's department.
I have to try on everything.
The better half is in the electronic department, the video store, the food court or at home, playing with his computers.

Why bother him?

I get to buy Tom Bihn bags as a reward. :)

maverick
05-28-2009, 06:35 PM
:eek:

Maverick obviously has a really good eye. Or a truly devoted and unbelievably tolerant partner.


tolerant, patient, and forgiving are all terms that come to mind :).

i also enjoy going shopping for her. sometimes i pick winners, and other times they get returned.

ozone
05-28-2009, 08:14 PM
Since I actually started this thread - and it seems to have taken an odd turn - I feel compelled to come clean:

A. I never watch sports.:eek:
B. I pick out about 90% of my wife's outfits. I usually walk into a store and see what I think matches my wife's tastes, or else ask the staff to suggest what's new and can mix-and-match into ensembles. She likes window shopping, but not trying them on.
C. I cook, she does the baking.
D. I have more computers than I can possibly use, and have more cameras and lens than hands. And I do drive her crazy when I use the remote. I am still a guy after all.:o

So... uh... any concensus on the man bag, murse , whatever? Maybe just try out a TB small cafe bag?

keb
05-28-2009, 10:59 PM
Oh that's right... I still have the same question. The large is too large. I guess the small cafe bag or the medium cafe bag in black in would probably be the thing to try. Having reviewed the photos a little more, I'm not sure it works too well above the academic conference level, where I am sure it would be perfect. The looks probably just aren't quite formal enough for a true business conference, but I think those lines are probably starting to blur.... Don't really know though...

Frank II
05-29-2009, 04:08 AM
Since I was the original troublemaker here just trying to bring a little levity to the group (and not realizing it was overrun with metrosexuals :) ), I'll weigh in on "manbags."

I hate the term. For work, I use a large messenger bag capable of carrying a full size computer (even though I now use a netbook) and other misc. stuff. It is horizontal, could pass for a briefcase if carried, as such, and only once did some neanderthal refer to it as a purse. The bag is black. (What bags others carry really depends on the type of work you do.)

What I'm looking for is a bag to take with me on my personal trips out of my home area (mostly international). I no longer want to use a backpack and find the messenger bag much more practical.

I believe the small cafe is too small for what I need and could be thought of as a purse. This left the medium and large. Both good sizes but I'm going with the medium because it fits better in the tri-star--which I'll start using once it arrives. (Both of the larger bags fit in the tri-star but for my packing methods, the medium is better.)

I've also narrowed the colors down to eiter black/steel or cocoa/olive. The latter similar (somewhat) to military colors. (Olive would also work but I'm not a big fan of green. Although if an olive/cocoa was offered it would be a third choice.)

Now I'm going over to one of the sports forums just to make sure my testosterone levels return to where they should be. ;)

keb
05-29-2009, 05:59 AM
not a metrosexual, just a guy who just has too many females to whom he is legally obligated...

The only things I keep coming back to about its ability to formal up are the hardware and the logo actually. On the Empire Builder it is so clearly a b-a briefcase that the buckle doesn't matter, but on the smaller more casual bag these actually makes it look less like a business satchel and more like, well, a cafe bag... Having said that, I like the idea of the medium cafe bag in black and have been toying with the idea myself...

I have this idea for a smaller Ego that I may flesh out further as an official suggestion from the thread that maverick and I had bounced around before, but obviously it doesn't exist so isn't going to help you. Might do it this weekend...

Frank II
05-29-2009, 07:02 AM
Seriously, Keb, I think it matters as to what line of work you're in as to whether a cafe bag would pass muster--even in black. Banking, no. Academic or creative, yes to maybe.

My personal opinion is that a briefcase style bag (horizontal) would be more appropriate for many business situations than a vertical bag (like the cafe bag.)

It also has to do with age. Again, my belief, the older you are, horizontal is better for work.

Darker colors over bright ones.

It's also good to know what your contemporaries are carrying.

As far as leisure time, then a horizontal might be too formal and a vertical just fine. It just may be that you need two separate bags. That's what I'm going to do.

keb
05-29-2009, 07:47 AM
Seriously, Keb, I think it matters as to what line of work you're in as to whether a cafe bag would pass muster--even in black. Banking, no. Academic or creative, yes to maybe.

My personal opinion is that a briefcase style bag (horizontal) would be more appropriate for many business situations than a vertical bag (like the cafe bag.)

It also has to do with age. Again, my belief, the older you are, horizontal is better for work.

Darker colors over bright ones.

It's also good to know what your contemporaries are carrying.

As far as leisure time, then a horizontal might be too formal and a vertical just fine. It just may be that you need two separate bags. That's what I'm going to do.

agree completely.

ozone
05-29-2009, 08:32 PM
... this one from Waterfield?

http://www.sfbags.com/products/muzetto/muzetto.htm

Looks nice, and I would consider the smaller sized one, but it doesn't look like the flap actually closes, unless there's a magnet under the leather.:confused:

Shiva
05-30-2009, 04:55 AM
oh my my. did not see this thread until now. Seems like many of the "men" here are having crises--over purses and sexual orientation! I feel compelled to speak up in more ways than one...having watched various men over the years have stuff fall out of their various pockets--given newer bigger fobs for car keys, and pdas and ipods and more and more keys...and sorry guys: but most times, I get dumped with all the extras in my bag cos they won't carry any..I end up carrying stuff for all my friends. And as for "metrosexuals"--hmmmm.maybe I will hold my peace on that one.

Shiva
05-31-2009, 10:13 AM
Another good option is a bag made by The Territory Ahead <theterritoryahead.com> which sells for $100 and is well designed; and has a great look.

ozone
05-31-2009, 09:05 PM
I looked at the Territory Ahead bags - truthfully, I'm looking for something that goes well if I'm wearing jeans or a suit. Not sure that the Territory Ahead bag will go well in a formal situation, unless I'm looking at the wrong bags.

JohnDel
06-04-2009, 07:13 PM
I have a Cocoa/Wasabi small Cafe Bag which I purchased used a few months ago. The wasabi color is always a bit visible around the edges of the flap when it is closed. I assume that's the case for the inner colors of all the Cafe Bags. Its something to consider for those who are color coordinating. Or at least trying not to clash.

Its a very good size for many things, but is slightly too small for 8-1/2" x 11" paper or similar sized magazines without bending or folding them.

timothy
06-04-2009, 08:52 PM
My mom carries a giant purse -- always has.

My dad stuffs his pockets clownishly with giant wallet, books, cans of soda, watermelons, magnets, balls of wax, combs, a set of keys that will get you into or out of any major historical prison (by bending gravity enough to distort bars), utility knives, paint, lightbulbs, garage door openers, batteries, notepads, newspapers, cassettes, razors, rope, clamps, golf-balls, bookshelves, and string.

My brother makes do with less.

My sister carries an outdoorsy but small purse.

I carry a messenger bag, for (I estimate) most days of the last 20 years.

timothy

maverick
06-04-2009, 08:55 PM
My dad stuffs his pockets clownishly with... watermelons

now this i'd pay money to see! :)

timothy
06-04-2009, 09:41 PM
Originally Posted by timothy View Post
'"My dad stuffs his pockets clownishly with... watermelons"

now this i'd pay money to see!'

Too bad -- they're obscured by the ink stains from the pens.

timothy

mplsnst
06-05-2009, 09:42 AM
I have a Cocoa/Wasabi small Cafe Bag (...)
Its a very good size for many things, but is slightly too small for 8-1/2" x 11" paper or similar sized magazines without bending or folding them.

I tried the small as well, but ended up going with a medium for that very reason. The medium is just big enough to accommodate the 9" x 11.5" binder I carry to work one or two days a week, but still small enough that it doesn't feel oversized the rest of the time when it's filled only halfway. Ideally sized, really.

On the issue of man-baggish appropriateness or lack thereof, I have to say it is slightly pursey-looking, albeit in an outdoorsy kind of way. I've gotten used to it though. ;)

ozone
06-06-2009, 12:50 AM
I dug up an older, MEC shoulder bag I had and asked my wife if it could work with a suit or more formal situation. Nope. I figure I have to pursue a leather, microfibre, or something similar.

How about these? http://store.saddlebackleather.com/categories/80-Leather-Satchels-Leather-Bags

Yummy! Indiana Jones! Expensive!

Just
06-06-2009, 02:44 AM
My dad stuffs his pockets clownishly with... watermelons

LOL, maverick! I didn't even notice that timothy mentioned watermelons until you pointed it out there!!!

ozone
06-07-2009, 10:12 PM
Well... after a lot of thought (and bugging my wife for her opinion), I think I'm going to give up on the Saddleback satchel idea. I love the leather, but it's a lot of money, and to be honest, I'm not sure it fits with how I pack things.

Wouldn't it be great if TB made a microfibre or "luxurious" Cafe Bag? :-)

ex machina
11-09-2009, 07:11 AM
Wouldn't it be great if TB made a microfibre or "luxurious" Cafe Bag? :-)

I think the Ultrasuede bags may fit that bill when they arrive. I just ordered another medium cafe bag (this time in Linen.)

Katy
11-09-2009, 07:59 AM
My dad stuffs his pockets clownishly with giant wallet, books, cans of soda, watermelons, magnets, balls of wax, combs, a set of keys that will get you into or out of any major historical prison (by bending gravity enough to distort bars), utility knives, paint, lightbulbs, garage door openers, batteries, notepads, newspapers, cassettes, razors, rope, clamps, golf-balls, bookshelves, and string.

My purse used to be like that, I had about 10 uneaten clif bars in my purse at one time. I'm pretty sure my purse was a black hole. I'm down to two clif bars and some gum now in my Ristretto. My keys sadly have only lightened by one key chain over this past weekend.