[Trendzilla] Males: Rocking the Fashion Boat With a Man-Purse

Guys lack in the accessories department. You've got your watch, some ties, cufflinks, maybe a chain (let's hope not), but face it: Males tend to not want to rock the boat when it comes to fashion.

Take a look at norm-pushing designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, who's known for his jump suits, off-shoulder tops and kilt-like skirts. He's had pinstriped suits paired with matching pinstriped sarongs. On the same level, Galliano had silver knit tunics with cinched waists and what looked like a veritable mix between a harlequin clown and a samurai daimyo's robes. Comme Des Garçons had billowy black and tartan-patterned Vivienne Westwood-inspired culottes.

But these guys with the kilts, ruffled pirate blouses and 80 percent lycra tops are all considered “avant-garde” designers—in other words, things regarded as only having a place in the future. Or, in other other words, things that would make your friends turn, stare and possibly laugh at you.

There's an option now. Call it what you want—the man bag, the man purse, the murse, the “European carryall” or, as you probably prefer, the “workbag”—it's nothing to be embarrassed about. There's stuff you've got to carry with you at all times: your Blackberry (too big to cram into your back pocket), your planner (too big to cram into your back pocket), wallet (that leaves marks on your back pocket), keys, ChapStick, cigarettes, whatever.

You're not alone. Upscale stores such as Prada and Gucci often sell out of their small messenger styles for men, and waiting lists are a common occurrence. But for those of you who can't afford an $880 Louis Vuitton monogram reporter bag or $940 for a Fendi mesh tote, such labels as Coach have a Hamptons Canvas Weekend Tote available in assorted colors and a monogram print for $298-$398.

If you'd rather avoid what you think is the “effeminate” high-end look, nylon messenger bags are probably for you. Jack Spade offers a line of single-flap, solid-colored messenger bags. You can sling it diagonally across your chest, or wear it behind you for a more “concealed” look. Tumi, Campomaggi and Manhattan Portage are other popular options.

I spotted this guy grabbing a cup of coffee before heading to work—he said he carries everything in there. His “whole life.” There was no way he was going to waltz into the office every day balancing a stack of folders and papers. Though he always made sure to sling the bag behind his back and under his coat.

As for the all too-important-question as to whether or not it's okay carry said bag outside the work environment, a friend once remarked that he was lusting after a Tumi leather-trimmed tote—and he wanted to wear it on his shoulder.

Attempting to justify the price tag, I asked, “Would you wear it all the time, though?”

“Probably not,” he replied. “That's where I'm still functionally gay.”

So I guess it all comes down to just how much you're going to let other people—and societal norms—bother you.

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