I've been following Permanent Style for a while now, as well as investing significantly more of my time trying to learn more about menswear.
As my style has evolved and I find myself wearing a blazer or sportcoat more often, I'm really struggling with bags. As a postgraduate student, I lug around a laptop and lunch everyday, and apart from looking bad, I really worry about the backpack pulling on the shoulders of my jackets and damaging them.
I wondered if you had any recommendations for leather briefcases? Searching around your site I have spotted a few I like the look of, however, I think that £800+ is more than I want to spend on a bag at the moment. I'm looking to spend up to about £500 and I wondered if there were any go-to brands for this slightly lower price bracket?
On a somewhat related note - what kind of frame of mind do you approach buying clothes and accessories with? As I get a bit older (I'm 22) I find it increasingly unsatisfying and untrue to say "I can't afford things", but find it equally frustrating to admit that I'm just not prepared to pay enough to buy a Dunhill bag or a Brioni blazer! I just wondered if you could share any thoughts or wisdom about this problem, silly as it is.
Thanks for your time, and all the best.
Men generally don’t spend enough on bags, in the same way as they rarely spend enough on shoes. Both can make an outfit on their own; both look better with age; both repay investment over a long period of time; and you only need a small number of them – probably just two bags in your lifetime: a day bag and a weekender.
That said, £500 is still a lot of money and a good amount to spend on a bag. Most of the bags I talk about are real luxury items, from Hermès, Bown or Tanner Krolle. The thing that sets them apart is the hand-sewing of all the seams. Like the sole on a bespoke shoe, this will make them last longer. But you pay a disproportionate amount for that work.
So the first way to save money is to buy machine-sewn bags. Dunhill, for example, has its Tradition line, which is hand-sewn in London. But it also has a much cheaper line which is not. The Single Zip Bourdon briefcase is beautiful and only a little more than you were planning to spend at £595.
The other way to save money is to introduce a material other than leather. Dunhill’s Saltaire range, for example, is mostly canvas with leather trims. I’m a big fan of J Panther Luggage – their Ruc Tote is very versatile. And Bill Amberg makes some great machine-sewn bags: there is a version of the Jag in leather and cordura, or one at £495 that mixes in perforated leather.
To your last point, what you can afford all depends on what period of time you apply. I tend to save up for a big purchase for 2-5 months, pay for half of it with that money, and use a credit card for the rest (which I will pay off over another 2-5 months). In a consumer culture like ours, the hard thing is often not saving money to buy something, but going for years after that without any retail hit. Master that, and you’re halfway there.