Guide to Picking a Briefcase for Work


    Why Do You Need a Briefcase?

    Man carrying a black briefcase. 

    A briefcase is a telltale sign that someone is a professional that works an office job. It is a sleek yet roomy carry-on that allows you to carry all your essentials. Most professionals prefer a briefcase over backpacks and messenger bags because they keep your outfit looking clean and crisp.

    A briefcase is quite distinguishable from other bags because it is designed to be carried using a handle or a strap. Most prefer to avoid using the handle because it can often damage the shoulder of a well-pressed coat. Due to this, most people carry their briefcases using the handle. Still, most modern briefcases come with a strap for temporary use when you need both hands for a task. 

    Briefcases are not designed to be carried for extended periods. They are excellent for those who commute by car and only need to make short trips between their car, office, and home. For those who like to carry multiple items, such as water bottles, books, or a change of clothes, a briefcase is not for them. They will be much happier with a backpack or a tote.

    Different Styles of Briefcases

    Man holding a briefcase with buildings in the back.

    When you set out to purchase a briefcase, you must consider all the different styles available. Depending on your use, you will most likely prefer one kind over another. The type of briefcase you buy largely depends on your occupation and use. 

    The most distinctive styles of briefcases you will find on the market include hard-sided briefcases, attaché cases, and soft-sided briefcases. 

    Hard-Sided Briefcases

    Hard-sided briefcases are designed to have a lightweight design, which makes them extremely easy to carry around. They have a rigid frame, usually made using aluminum, plastic, or cardboard. 

    Such frames help maintain the structure of the briefcase to ensure it looks professional at all times. Hard-sided briefcases rest on their sides and have a handle for you to carry them with, but there are no shoulder straps. This means no matter what, you will need to carry the briefcase in your hand. These briefcases also have folders and dividers that keep your items neat and organized in the case.

    Attaché Cases

    Attaché cases are similar to briefcases, but they are much more compact. Their slimmer and smaller form factor makes them perfect for those who do not carry many items. Attaché cases are much more formal and have a simple interior. There are few pockets and folders, meaning you can only take a few things with you. 

    Soft-Sided Briefcases

    Soft-sided briefcases do not have any frame at the top of the bag. These cases are designed to open from the top. You can easily store your documents and laptop as you would in a tote and retrieve them with ease. Soft-sided briefcases often have a handle and detachable shoulder straps, making them versatile in nature. 

    Since these briefcases do not have a frame, you can collapse them into a flatter package when you don’t have many things to carry. Soft-sided briefcases are a lot more vulnerable than other kinds, and locks can only do so much on these kinds of briefcases. 

    Benefits of Owning a Leather Briefcase

    Man giving out papers from his briefcase.

    Leather is one of the most popular materials used to make briefcases. Due to its tough nature and look, it is often used to make shoes, handbags, and briefcases. Here are some benefits of owning a leather briefcase. 


    Leather is a highly flexible and resistant material, which makes briefcases very durable. They can easily last you for years without showing any sides of aging. Even after decades of use, leather retains its looks and functionality.

    Easy To Maintain

    Leather is known to be highly durable, but it does require some maintenance. Despite needing maintenance, it is incredibly manageable, given how long leather-made goods tend to last. All you need to do is to wipe it with a damp cloth and soapy water once in a while to make it look as good as new. You can also use a conditioner, but it is not a necessity.

    Long-Term Money Saver

    Since leather is an expensive material, leather briefcases can be pretty expensive. Still, because they are durable, they will likely last you a very long time, making them a good deal. 

    If you purchase a cheap bag, you may think you are getting a good deal since it costs less, but it may deteriorate, causing you to replace it within a few years. On the other hand, a good quality leather bag will most likely stay in perfect condition for decades, making them a worthwhile purchase. 

    Waterproof and Breathable

    Leather is made using animals’ skin, a naturally porous material, meaning that it can hold moisture but not allow it to pass through. This means that leather briefcases will protect your belongings in case you get stuck in light rain or water splashes on your briefcase. Although water does not ruin leather, you may want to treat your leather briefcase with a coating that makes it waterproof. 

    Natural and Eco-Friendly

    As leather is a natural material, it is a lot better for our environment as compared to synthetics. Leather is produced in a much cleaner way, which makes it an eco-friendly material. The production process is also free from harmful chemicals that release fumes.

    What Should You Consider?

    Man carrying a brown leather briefcase. 

    Briefcases are incredibly versatile while also being a statement piece. If you want to purchase a briefcase, ensure that you purchase one that fits your need. Since most people buy briefcases intending to use them for multiple years, it is crucial to buy one that fits your needs best. Here are a few factors you should take into consideration.

    The Materials Used 

    When considering the kind of briefcase to buy, you must choose one that uses high-quality materials. Good leather tends to be highly durable and lasts for years on end. Additionally, it improves with age, giving your briefcase a distinguished look. Over time, leather often develops an attractive patina and changes color.

    Good quality leather briefcases also look sleek and professional, giving you that extra confidence boost. Additionally, if your briefcase is made using genuine leather, it will be durable, flexible, and attractive. Here are a few types of leather used to make briefcases.

    Kind of Leather  Use
    Full-grain Full-grain leather briefcases are the most durable kind that will stand the test of time and come out looking more gorgeous than ever. 
    Top-grain leather Top-grain leather is extremely affordable and an excellent alternative if full-grain leather is too expensive.
    Split-grain leather Split-grain leather is water-permeable and overall a lot thinner than other kinds. Briefcases made of such leather do not last as long as higher-quality leather.

    Your Use

    It is extremely important that you choose a briefcase that suits your line of work. Some jobs require you to be on the go, and for such jobs, a handheld briefcase can get quite tiring, which is why a wheeled backpack or briefcase is recommended. If you are a lawyer or an accountant, a luxury leather briefcase is much more suited as you don’t need to move it around as much. 

    On the other hand, if you want your briefcase to be much more versatile, a leather messenger bag is much better. These can be used professionally and casually, depending on your situation. 


    When purchasing a briefcase, ensure it is durable by checking the stitching. Ideally, the leather bag should have straight, even, and small stitching. There should also be no loose threads, as they can cause the integrity of the bag to be compromised. You should also check the inside and outside to see if it has consistent stitching. Reinforced stitching allows your briefcase to be much more protected. 

    The handles of the briefcase should also be fixed securely to the bag as it is what allows you to carry your briefcase. Ensure they are attached to the bag using reinforced stitching or metal fittings. Handles tend to break off if used roughly, which is why they must be attached securely. 


    When purchasing a briefcase, it is essential to consider its kind and amount of compartments. Some briefcases look compact and slim but have a lot of room to store all your essentials. Ensure that you choose briefcases that are designed to be flexible and spacious. 

    Before deciding on the compartments, you must consider what you will be carrying in your briefcase. If you intend to put only a few essentials, you can size down and purchase a compact briefcase. 

    Additionally, if you carry a laptop, ensure that your briefcase is designed to be laptop friendly. You should be able to easily slide in your laptop and have it safe and secure even if you are being rough with the case. 

    If you tend to carry many small items, you should look into briefcases that offer a lot of small compartments. These are extremely helpful as they are often small and easily accessible, which allows you to organize your items better. 


    The size of the briefcase you choose also plays a huge part. The first thing is to consider how tall you are. For taller people, larger briefcases are much better in terms of style and aesthetics. If you are on the shorter side, you can purchase a smaller briefcase as it will fit your frame better. 

    Bag size also depends on the items you need to carry. If you only need to take a laptop and some papers, you should purchase a smaller briefcase. The price also increases relative to the size of the briefcase, so you must be mindful of the size you purchase. 


    When purchasing a briefcase, it is essential that you do not buy a heavy one. Heavier briefcases add to the weight of the items you are already carrying and tire you out faster. Heavier briefcases also contain extra pockets, larger compartments, extra hardware, and internal linings, which can add to their weight. 

    If you are someone who regularly commutes to work, it is best to stick with a smaller briefcase that you can carry your must haves for long commutes. Smaller briefcases are easy to manage and also put less strain on your hand. On the other hand, if you do not have to commute long distances, you can afford to purchase a heavier leather briefcase.


    The hardware your briefcase uses is also an essential factor. No matter how good your briefcase is and how expensive the leather is, it will be useless if the zippers are weak and snap off. This is one of the biggest points of failure for briefcases. Due to this, you should ensure that the briefcase you purchase has high-quality hardware. 

    Additionally, high-quality rings and clasps are also essential for a briefcase. They allow you to attach long straps, which can convert your briefcase into a functional shoulder bag for when you are out or if you want a more casual look. Metal clasps and rings can also snap if they are not made using good-quality materials. Due to this, you should be extra cautious and check before making your purchase.

    Colors and Aesthetics

    Briefcases are often used for years on end, which is why it is crucial that you purchase one that has a style and aesthetic that you like. Three of the most common colors in briefcases are brown, tan, and black. In a professional setting, black and dark brown are the most suitable colors. They help you feel confident, allowing you to project a sense of authority and power.

    If you intend to use your briefcase for casual purposes, go for tan or lighter colors. They look much more relaxed and informal, perfect for a casual day out. Generally, lighter tan-colored briefcases are considered to look smart. Darker tan or chocolate colors are perfect for the corporate world. Black is excellent for a more formal look, and black briefcases look best paired with suites. 

    How To Take Care of a Briefcase

    Close up of man carrying a brown briefcase.

    When investing in a high-quality briefcase, it is imperative that you know how to take good care of it. The better you maintain a briefcase, the longer it lasts. Maintaining a leather briefcase is straightforward, and here are some tips to help you keep it in perfect condition. 

    Conditioning Regularly

    Conditioning leather briefcases should ideally be done once every year. To condition, you need a high-quality leather conditioner using a cloth or soft sponge. You should apply the conditioner evenly over the entire surface and then gently wipe away any excess. Use a clean, dry cloth for this step. If you live in a hot climate, you should condition your briefcase every few months. 

    Handle Moisture

    Although leather does not get damaged by water, if water spills onto your briefcase, blot it immediately using a dry cloth. If there is moisture in your briefcase due to the winter weather, you should use a moist cloth to blot it out. This is because it contains a certain amount of salt-based substances. After you have blotted away the moisture, let your briefcase air dry before you use it again. 

    When drying out your briefcase, lay it flat on a table or the floor. Do not place it near a heat source, as it can potentially damage the leather. To speed up the process, you can stuff the briefcase with newspaper, which helps the case retain its shape and absorb moisture from the interior. 

    Clean the Insides

    When cleaning your briefcase, remember the inside of the bag. During your routine conditioning and wiping down the bag, clean the inner lining. Use a damp cloth and remove any dust or residue resulting from the items you put in or removed from your briefcase. 

    After the insides are clean, prop open the bag so the insides can dry out completely. 

    Keep It Safe

    When not using your bag, you should store it properly to avoid any further damage. It is recommended that you store your leather briefcases away from heat, sunlight, and humidity. Ideally, keeping it in a cool and dark place would be best. 


    1. How big should my briefcase be?

    When purchasing a briefcase, an ideal size for most people is 16 inches x 14 inches x 4 inches. However, depending on your use, you can size up or small. Many different size varieties are available on the market, so you can easily find a briefcase that fits all of your essentials. 

    2. How do I choose a briefcase color?

    If you need clarification on the color of your briefcase, assess where you will be using it. Lighter-colored briefcases are much better if you plan to take them to informal environments. On the other hand, if you plan to appear more professional and formal, go for a dark brown or black briefcase. 

    Briefcases that have contrasting colored stitching are considered flamboyant and are often seen as unprofessional at work. Black leather is always a safe option, as you can pair them with suits. 

    3. Are leather briefcases worth their high price tag?

    High-quality leather briefcases can be very expensive, but they are highly durable. You can easily use a good leather briefcase for decades if you take proper care of it. Due to this, you can consider purchasing a leather briefcase as an investment. They are a good deal and cost-efficient in the long run. 


    Briefcases are extremely useful and professional at the same time. You can carry all your essentials to work and also give off a powerful aura, but to do so, you must have a briefcase that fits your needs. As briefcases are generally expensive, you must consider a few factors, such as their size, color, durability, style, etc. If you do so, you can buy a bag that you will love and which will last you for years and even decades. 

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