Briefcase Bags

At the WhoWhatWear.com offices, we're always closely monitoring what's in the hands of the world's trendsetters. We don't have some sort of phalanges fetish, dear readers, rather we're paying attention to the micro trends in the hot handbag arena. After analyzing the latest photographic data, our reports are clear: stylish celebrities are all business when it comes to their bag preferences. While their less fashion-forward peers (and the rest of us plebeians) are still sweet on boho hobos, zippered clutches, and standout studded totes, ladies like Rachel Bilson and Katie Holmes have moved on to the briefcase bag.

Just as there are zillions of different careers and professions, today's stylish circle of ladies carry a range of briefcase bag shapes. Their totes are quite varied: some gals like a slightly more structured style, while others prefer their carryalls to be on the slouchy side. Peaches Geldof pulled out a crisp black vintage briefcase bag for a recent trip. Seen here en route to Heathrow, Geldof demonstrates the bag's inherent versatility: the long strap makes hands-free travel easy while the clean lines add polish to even the most casual travel outfit. Another woman who like a smartly built briefcase bag is Katie Holmes. The All My Sons-headlining actress was seen strolling through Manhattan carrying a sophisticated black Hermes Kelly Depeches PM Briefcase with her simple outfit of jeans and a white button-down. Though not technically a briefcase, the structured, top-handle, tan tote Rachel Bilson was spotted with in Miami has the same look and feel of our accessory du jour. Seen above in her own blouse, AG Premiere Jeans ($215) in the 5 Year Wash, and a pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs Glitter Flats ($183, on sale), Bilson completed her outfit with Luis Steven's Medium Laptop Pack ($495). We love the burnished leather and fuss-free design-it reminds us a bit of a vintage mail carrier bag, albeit updated, of course.

On that quintessential slouchy satchel note, we'd like to redirect your attention to the softer side of the briefcase bag look, as exemplified by the handbag choices of Mary Kate Olsen and Alexa Chung. The super cool black bag slung over Olsen's shoulder is one of the most highly coveted of the season, as it's from Proenza Schouler's inaugural handbag collection. Her Large Leather Bag ($1995) will hit Barneys New York in about three weeks, it's offered in a range of colors (including black, white, gray, coral, tan, blue, green, yellow, and pink), and will be available in leather, suede, and python. Past Insider Alexa Chung prefers an equally relaxed briefcase bag that's slightly less dear in price than Olsen's choice. She was seen in front of the PPQ Spring 09 show in a vintage dress and her favorite Mulberry Elkington Briefcase ($795).

Unlike some of the more delicate carryalls on the market, a sturdy briefcase bag only looks better with wear (at Chung shows us), so if you're hard on your totes and in love with this style, it's not a bad idea to save up and invest. Thriftier readers should obviously troll their local vintage stores for less pricey models. There are lots of perfectly worn-in satchels from the likes of Coach to Cartier on eBay.com as we speak, so dig around. As for contemporary cases, we rounded up a few of our favorites for you to consider. Banana Republic's BR Monogram Leather Brief Bag ($330) is a gorgeous tawny cognac color and comes with a detachable strap. Urban Outfitters also has a lovely tan tote, the Folio Briefcase Bag ($58), that looks like a seventies version of Bilson's tote. If you'd like a totally untraditional take on the bag, check out the Plaid Briefcase Bag ($88) from Play by C. Ronson. The plaid flannel shoulder bag is a little slice of preppy perfection and is available in navy or scarlet. If you want an ultra classic basic black briefcase bag, you can't go wrong with Frye's Todd Collection Brief Case ($502). Equally trustworthy is the current range of briefcase bags available at Coach right now. They've got a huge selection of timeless totes, any of which will last forever.

EXPLORE: Katie Holmes, Peaches Geldof, Rachel Bilson, Hermes, Mulberry, Proenza Schouler, Accessories
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