Push the envelope on style

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 November, 2010, 12:00am

I've always picked at men in suits lugging backpacks. The look is too juvenile, or Mormon preacher-like at best. I've also never liked men who report to work carrying those big black leather briefcases, or worse, the steel ones with ridged surfaces. These remind me too much of drug transactions and kidnap-for-ransom situations. Maybe I watch too much CSI.

I see a lot of men in Central who wear beautifully tailored suits. Men who seem to take their sartorial cue from GQ and, ahem, this column. But then I notice the awful knapsack or battered briefcase or company tote bag, and any visions - or illusions - I have of well-dressed men walking among us crumble.

To be truly well dressed is to pay attention to details. This is why I am dedicating this column to stylish, work-appropriate envelopes to hold those important documents, the Montblanc pen and the occasional iPad instead of that boxy attach?case that's seen better days.

First on my list is the trio of document holders from Bottega Veneta (3). They are made from supple and luxurious crocodile skin in rich, dark colours like royal blue, emerald green and deep aubergine. But as with any product that emerges from the Bottega Veneta factories, these come with a hefty price tag. They are HK$90,950 a pop, which means that you'll probably have to seal a few deals before you can make this Bottega Veneta investment. They are worth every cent, though, because they convey power and status, not to mention mega doses of style.

Crocodile skin comes at a considerable damage to your wallet, making it all the more desirable. Ermenegildo Zegna has a similar document case but in black patent crocodile skin. It has a zipper that runs along two sides of the rectangle. Like the pieces from Bottega Veneta, there's a bank-breaking price tag of HK$89,000 attached to it. If you find the price too astronomical for your budget, there is a more accessible but equally handsome version of the case in black calf leather for less than 10 per cent of the one in croc.

At Yves Saint Laurent there is a flat envelope-style case with a zipper on top (2). It's in a gorgeous tan-coloured leather. The French house's logo is discreetly pressed on one side. It is clean and masculine and would probably get better with age, when it has the patina of constant usage. Yves Saint Laurent also has document cases with a gold Y clasp on the flap. I see these on the arms of guys who are more fashion forward. Guys who most likely work for magazines or something creative, who spend hours reading fashion blogs and are up to date on the season's hottest trends.

If you're the kind who likes to be decorated with logos, Louis Vuitton has a document case carrying its iconic canvas monogram. I prefer the exact same style in black python skin that is stripped of any branding save for the extra logo on the zipper pull.

Dunhill's version comes in A4 size. On one side of the case are two zippers, placed on the top and bottom. They open and close in opposing directions. This piece is inspired by a travel wallet but enlarged to hold legal-sized files. It is available in black and dark brown leather.

Jack Spade, the real man's preferred bag brand, based the design of its document case from its best-selling coal bags. At first glance, they actually look like a shrunken version of their signature totes with the handles cut off. They are also made from the same wax-coated canvas and, like the totes, come in snappy colours. I like the one in orange and beige (1). These Jack Spade cases are a lot less formal than their leather counterparts, which make them perfect for hip guys who refuse to look like boring bankers and lawyers.

If I have persuaded you to trade in your old briefcase that's coming undone for one of these document cases, please carry them in your hands as you would a manila folder or a magazine. Avoid thrusting them up your armpit because these are not those tacky man clutches favoured by clueless old geezers.

Shopping List:

Bottega Veneta The Landmark, Central. Tel: 2973 0882

Alfred Dunhill Prince's Building, Central. Tel: 2524 3663

Ermenegildo Zegna IFC Mall, Central. Tel: 2295 0828

Jack Spade at Kate Spade, IFC Mall, Central. Tel: 3188 1928

Louis Vuitton The Landmark, Central. Tel: 8100 1182

Yves Saint Laurent Elements Mall, Kowloon. Tel: 2196 8515