Leather briefcases have been the standard for a quality and classy workbag for a long time. No other material comes close to evoking the longstanding classic integrity of leather. Assuming a briefcase is something you’ll be carrying almost every day, you want to make sure you find a bag that you love and that suits your lifestyles. That being said, leather isn’t cheap, and you want to make sure you’re getting a great product if you’re paying a premium price. Here are some tips of what to look for when shopping for your new leather briefcase.

1. Quality, quality, quality

Don’t get reeled in by lower prices or discount bags, a briefcase made of cheap leather might look great on the shelf but won’t hold up with wear. Quality leather, on the other hand, only improves with age, meaning that your bag will look great after decades of use.

Ask whether or not the leather is full-grain, this is the most durable kind of leather and is highly desirable. Alternatively, top-grain leather is a more affordable alternative and still stands up great in the long-run. Keep in mind that country of origin also factors into the quality of a bag, and that the most highly regarded leather sources are generally considered to be Italy, France, England, and America.

2. Don’t forget about the other material used in construction

Although the quality of the leather is definitely going to be the largest determining factor of how well your briefcase performs and ages, it is also important to maintain a keen eye for detail when it comes to other materials used in the construction of the bag.

Hardware affects both durability and appearance, so you need to know that your bag is outfitted with pieces that you can trust. Take a good close look at the locks, handles, shoulder strap fittings, zippers, and buckles. These are the parts of your bag that will endure the most abuse and will likely wear out the quickest.

3. Decide between a soft or hard-sided briefcase

This is largely a matter of personal preference. That being said, if you are working in a very formal environment, it is usually best advised to opt for a hard-sided style. A soft-sided style, alternatively, will be adaptable to a larger range of situations. Ultimately, you should keep in mind that the prevailing style may change with time, but both versions are generally appropriate for the office and are widely available.

4. Consider lifestyle suitability and durability

Of course style is important, but don’t forget about functionality and what you actually need your briefcase to be able to carry. If you’re going to be totting your laptop around with you, don’t forget to ensure that is has a large enough compartment.

If your briefcase is too big or too small, you won’t end up using it, so really spend some time considering your needs. Also consider that the more wear it will have to stand up to, the more durable you need it to be. Look at the details like stitching and edges. Make sure the stitching is straight, even, and without loose thread. Inspect the integrity of the case edges, where the leather is most likely to split.

5. Have a reasonable budget

Keep in mind that a good leather briefcase is not going to be cheap and that it is worth it to invest in something you really love. Be diligent about checking the quality before you buy, and go for reputable brands like Tumi briefcases. It is important to understand that you usually get what you pay for. Ask lots of questions and don’t invest until you know you’ve found the right bag for you.

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