Astonishingly, in a new study, 50pc of men have confessed to owning a 'man bag'. It is hard to say what is more surprising: that so many carry a bag, or that they are prepared to admit it. Only a few years ago, a guy venturing out with some manner of carry-all risked a gauntlet of jeers, guffaws and – we never could fathom this one – wolf whistles.
Of course, not all man bags are created equal. Some chaps prefer minimalist satchels, others stagger around with all their worldly goods strapped to their back. Which category do you belong in? Read on to find out.
* The Messenger Bag
Oooh, check out Monsieur Trendy. We are going to leap in and assume you also adore skinny jeans and have a wardrobe groaning with Converse All Stars. Back in the day, the messenger bag was favoured by DJs hefting their vinyl about. Nowadays, it mostly serves as hipster plumage – unless attached to a bicycle courier, in which case kindly step out of the way because he WILL cycle over you.
* The Backpack
Is it vogueish not to care how big a dork you look? If so, it might explain the return of the backpack, recently embraced by Ryan Gosling, David Beckham and others.
The practicality of a backpack is not in question – truly, it's astonishing just how much you can wedge in. But the weight can be a killer and you will also need to accept that you could pass for an overgrown boy scout.
* The Tote
Trendy in Japan, by all accounts the canvas tote is the coming thing in bag fashion. Alas, for most Irish men the look is, ahem, 'totes embarrassing'. As a nation, we are simply too self-conscious to sling a 'girly' tote over our shoulder and go about our business. You think we're joking – try it in front of the mirror.
* The Hold-All
Typically these come in some or other shade of sporting green, possibly with go-faster stripes. The Austin Powers of man bags, the only scenario in which it is permissible to be seen with a hold-all is when you're about to toss it into the back seat of your open-top '60s roadster and zip to St Tropez with your supermodel girlfriend. Otherwise, it's the same as going out wearing too much aftershave. Nobody will whisper a word – but we all know you're overdoing it.
* The Briefcase
Want to let everyone know you're the most important guy in the room? The briefcase is still your go-to. Just be sure there's more inside than a stale ham sandwich and four pencils that create a racket as they roll around. Context is important. Stepping on a bus with a briefcase suggests you are slightly deluded.
Also, don't carry a briefcase if your job requires you to wear a name-tag. People will think you've sustained a blow to the head.
* The iPad Case
Not content with a top-range iPad so slender you could probably floss your teeth with it, you wish for the world to know that you stand on the technological cutting edge. Thus, you insist on carrying your iPad under-arm in a fancy leather case. We are impressed – and also slightly concerned about that mugger about to jump you.
* Your Girlfriend's Bag