When we think briefcase, images of Madmen-style attaché cases automatically come to mind. Unless you need nothing more than a glorified file folder to cart to and from the office, however, the traditional image of a briefcase just doesn’t cut it for the modern professional. No matter what you do for a living, you will need something well-equipped to carry daily necessities for the year 2012.
The anatomy of the perfect modern briefcase is complex and varies depending on specific professional needs. But, there are some things that most of us need, or possibly never knew we needed all along … until we experience a briefcase equipped with everything.
This list focuses on the modern professional who does it all. Works in planes, trains, and automobiles, changes presentations wirelessly five minutes before go-time, meets deadlines on a mobile phone when a laptop decides to stall, and texts loved ones and the boss, all, as Atlanta rapper Future would say, at the same d*mn time.
All things considered, here’s a rundown of what it takes to make the cut as a briefcase for 2012.
Tech-ready. No exceptions.
Most professionals need to carry in their work bag a phone, a laptop, chargers, power cords, cable shorteners, emergency batteries, thumb drives, a Wifi hotspot, and a power splitter, according to via LifeHacker. Some professionals depend on more.
“I carry a lot,” says Angeline Evans, founder of The New Professional, named among the top 20 fashion blogs for professional women by Forbes . “I don’t like my things to float around too much,” she said.
The modern briefcase absolutely must have a separate slot for a laptop. It should be big enough to fit the laptop sleeve, or sturdy enough to provide the protection your laptop really needs. It needs compartments for your phone and small pockets for your thumb drives. It needs enough room to fit a power cord and a separate, medium-sized, possibly net (see-through) pocket for your chargers, cable shorteners, power splitters and hot spot. “Having the right number of pockets that are the right size is important,” Evans said. “A space for your keys so they don’t scratch up phones is another essential.”
Room for real paper.
Pens, pencils, and paper. We still need them. Sometimes retailers forget about that and try to sell us on sleek, completely unusable $300 laptop sleeves disguised as briefcases. You need space to hold your legal pads or planner. You need to be able to keep some file folders or important documents in a separate compartment where they won’t be damaged. You will also need at least one pen at all times and place to put it where you can find it without digging.
Discreet exterior pockets for quick hiding access.
Every good briefcase needs pockets on the outside. There are some things you will need to quickly access, like a wallet, phone or business cards. It’s always nice to be able to access/hide these things discreetly. Like when you’re in a meeting and have no choice but to check for an important text. Stealth compartments for your mobile are a must, before your coworker sees you watching this again.
Size, structure, and material.
According to Evans, the best briefcases are not too bulky. They are streamlined enough to fit slimly against the body and don’t bump around while you travel or walk. A shoulder strap is also a must, but this comes with most laptop briefcases. The material should be sturdy and rain-proof. Leather works, as well as a durable polyester.
For those of us who lean feminine.
If you have done a search for “women’s” briefcases lately, you’ve probably seen tons of wonderful options… joking! At least if you actually need a functional briefcase and not a strange, single-zipper bowling bag-tote-style contraption where your laptop is free to mix and mingle with your keys, missing quarters and flying nail polish bottles. You may be able to find something that isn’t a joke, but it has a high potential of being ugly or $600.
Go with a “men’s” briefcase if you really want something that will give you everything you need. There are plenty of chic options.
Many women carry a purse and a briefcase, but it’s so much easier to fit everything in one bag. Consider a sleek leather or PVC makeup bags that can be tucked into a side pocket of a briefcase.
The ultimate briefcase will mainly depend on your personal tastes and needs. But, cover your bases and make sure to keep the above list in mind before you buy.
Here are a few reasonably-priced briefcases that pass the test: