Wearing a Backpack vs. Briefcase to the Office

CMO1's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 27

I will be starting next month at a BB and I was wondering if it would be unprofessional if I wore a backpack to the office.

Is It Unprofessional to Wear a Backpack to the Office?

In finance, having a clean appearance can be important especially when you are walking onto your floor for all your group members to observe. Our users are fairly split about whether or not it really matters whether you use a backpack. Some think that it looks very bad as it can look odd against the suit / make you look like a college kid but other users do not think it matters at all.

User @ostrich222" shared:

ostrich222:

So I've decided that it's time to ditch the backpack upon request from a colleague (my VP).

Considering the fact that some people feel strongly enough to tell bankers to not wear them to the office it is wise to use a messenger bag, or gym bag in order to avoid being judged by those that might care.

If you are looking to carry your laptop / paper work - bring a brief case. If you need to carry in gym clothes you should invest in a nice looking gym bag or use the bank provided bag, and if you want something more all purpose you can consider a nice messenger bag.

For example - user @copecre, real estate associate, shared this statement:

copecre - Real Estate Associate:

What are you carrying in your backpack? Your laptop? Buy a briefcase. Your gym clothes? Buy a decent gym bag (Hudson Sutler, Blue Claw, or even Nike). Backpacks make you look like a student or intern.

While brand doesn't necessarily matter, you should look for quality looking bags that look classy / subtle and will hold up. Please see some sample pictures below.

Sample Brief Cases

Read more about good brief cases to use in another thread.

Sample Duffle Bag

Sample Messenger Bag

Read more in another thread about work bags on WSO.

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Comments (130)

Nov 24, 2014

I do and so do about half the people in my office, but that could just be a regional culture thing. Maybe feel it out the first day. I can't imagine it would be an issue.

Nov 24, 2014

Yeah that's what I'm going to do. Are you in nyc?

Nov 24, 2014

No pretty normal to see people wear backpacks to carry their work out gear in.

Nov 25, 2014

What are you carrying in your backpack? Your laptop? Buy a briefcase. Your gym clothes? Buy a decent gym bag (Hudson Sutler, Blue Claw, or even Nike). Backpacks make you look like a student or intern.

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Nov 25, 2014

In NYC, yes, it would be unprofessional. There are people who will judge you. You'll look like a student, which is not the look you should be going for. There are plenty of cheap bags that look ok. Why risk it? The only people that can get away with backpacks are MDs, partners, and PMs who don't have to give a shit anymore.

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Nov 25, 2014

I would judge you. Our whole lives we've grown up being inundated with the image of business men in nice suits with brief cases and now that you've made it, especially in NY, you choose to wear a fucking back pack? You didn't get tired of wearing one for the last 15 years? My dad's partner wears one and he almost convinced my dad to get one until I called bullshit. Dodged a real bullet there.

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Best Response
Jul 15, 2015

Way to be a conformist, you trust fund dumbass

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Jul 17, 2015

Also, congrats, you now have more Silver Bananas than comments. You win WSO.

Nov 25, 2014

Do a substantial number of people do it... yes.

Is it unprofessional ... yes

Nov 25, 2014

Put your shit in some type of bag, show up, do good work.

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Nov 25, 2014

WSO has really lost its shit recently......

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Nov 26, 2014
Oreos:

WSO has really lost its shit recently......

While I agree with you, this post is way more reasonable than the one asking if a suit with a ticket pocket is appropriate for an interview.

Nov 25, 2014

If you wear a backpack, one strapping is a must.

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Dec 4, 2014
Dying's For Fools:

If you wear a backpack, one strapping is a must.

I'd no strap it, if that was even an option.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

Nov 26, 2014

I'm going for my MBA part time at NYU so I go straight to class after work. That's the main reason I would be bringing a backpack. Does anyone have suggestions for alternatives?

Nov 27, 2014

I wouldn't wear a backpack to B school either, seeing you'll look like a college kid. But maybe I'm just too old school / too European.

Nov 26, 2014

Can someone rank backpack companies for me? Jansport, Camelbak, Nike, Gucci?

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Nov 27, 2014

Maybe someone should start a backpack prestige thread?

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Nov 26, 2014

Nobody in the real world will care. If anybody gets hung up on how you choose to carry your shit to the office, they have too much free time. Also to note, incoming IBD analysts at DB got branded black backpacks as new-joiner swag in London this year. I have also seen plenty of people from analyst to ED/MD in various departments use backpacks and nobody cared. If this is your preferred method of transporting your stuff, go for it.

Dec 23, 2014

This is VERY true! I took a Poly Sci class with a kid and he had a DB blue backpack he wore everyday with is name on it. I think JPM does the same too for some interns. Since I work in retail banking it's not really a problem. But once I get to the Wholesale side I will ditch the Swiss black and Neo backpack for a Burberry brown bag. BTW I'm a girl so honestly I would rather see a backpack than the rolling ones. Good Luck Kiddo!

Greed is Good!

Nov 26, 2014

Nobody in the real world will care. If anybody gets hung up on how you choose to carry your shit to the office, they have too much free time. Also to note, incoming IBD analysts at DB got branded black backpacks as new-joiner swag in London this year. I have also seen plenty of people from analyst to ED/MD in various departments use backpacks and nobody cared. If this is your preferred method of transporting your stuff, go for it.

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Nov 26, 2014

I think it looks ridiculous. I wouldn't wear a backpack. I'd find something else to carry my stuff to work. It just looks like someone arrested in their development.

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Nov 27, 2014

I personally think it looks ridiculous, really really horrible...especially the people in suits with HUGE backpacks that stick out like 2 feet. That being said, lots of people do it. However, if you care at all about your appearance you'll get a briefcase or a gym bag. Either would work well for school and would look much better than carrying a backpack.

Nov 27, 2014

I like to use backpack too but that's outside work. There's a reason why they pay you well you know, and one of them is to dress up well.

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Nov 27, 2014

An employer does not "pay you well to dress well" they pay you to do a job for them.

Nov 27, 2014
georged:

There's a reason why they pay you well you know, and one of them is to dress up well.

Really? Is this true? So if I wear my favourite bright pink Jansport backpack with green zippers to work, will I be taken less seriously? Will I be paid less for not carrying my shit in something more prestigious?

Serious question. I really wanna wear my bright pink backpack to work. It's so comfy.

Nov 27, 2014
Lucky Charms:
georged:

There's a reason why they pay you well you know, and one of them is to dress up well.

Really? Is this true? So if I wear my favourite bright pink Jansport backpack with green zippers to work, will I be taken less seriously? Will I be paid less for not carrying my shit in something more prestigious?

Serious question. I really wanna wear my bright pink backpack to work. It's so comfy.

Jansport's a top tier backpack, so I'm sure that you won't get ridiculed. It's the nontargets (the sierra's, everests, and jworld's, that have to hustle to avoid criticism.

In all seriousness, I just feel like what you carry your stuff in should have no baring on your competence as an employee. Does it fuel perception and discussion? yes. Would I prefer the backpack style that I had to go with for the past 20 years? of course. It could just be that i like the briefcase style.

Nov 27, 2014

Imho it looks stupid and doesn't go well with a suit. However, I couldn't care less. There are lots of people with backpacks for their gym stuff in my office and no one gives a shit. On gym days I bring a duffel back, and on other days there's no need to carry anything at all. Wallet, phone, company phone, keys that's it. No need for a backpack.

Nov 27, 2014

Nobody will care.

Nov 27, 2014

I personally think it looks kind of weird if you're wearing a suit coat, but I see people do it all the time and I don't judge them. As long as you do a good job I don't think it's an issue. I'm an analyst (not in NYC) and I've also never heard anyone higher up make a negative comment about someone with a backpack. Just make sure the backpack is in good condition.

Nov 27, 2014

I would say....it depends. Are you talking the same old jansport/college/high school backpack? If so I would say it is a little unprofessional, and people will bust your balls. If you worked in a casual attire environment it is more acceptable, but with a suit....as depicted in the picture the red back pack looks out of place. There are many nicer / modern upscale backpacks that I think look professional. These would be leather or another material and closely resemble brief cases. Shop around.

Nov 27, 2014

Well you have your answer already by reading the comments right? Half the people will think you look like a fool and half will not give a shit. Therefore, I'd advise you not to do it cause you don't want half the office to think you're an idiot, no matter what the 'objective' opinion on wearing a backpack should be.

Nov 27, 2014

A VP at my firm flew 5,000 miles for a pitch and showed up with a Tumi backpack on. It didn't matter that he flew business class, had a nice suit, tie and shoes, or that it was a Tumi bag and matched his carry-on, in my opinion (and my MD's eyes) he looked like an idiot...For what it's worth, he lived up to that judgement.

As an analyst, I wouldn't worry, just get something that's understated so it doesn't stand out against your formal clothes (i.e. leave the bright blue TNF backpack with excessive pockets/straps for the weekends).

Nov 27, 2014

Of course a backpack is ridiculous in an office environment. It's like asking what pair of Nike shoes should you wear with a navy colored suit. Jesus Christ.

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Nov 27, 2014

do you see bankers in your bank wearing backpacks?

Nov 27, 2014

A "bag" is like an accessory that should compliment your clothes... a backpack doesn't match a suit. I've seen MDs at my bank carry backpacks, granted they came from Zurich so functionality > looks, but it looks funny, and since you're asking this on WSO, you probably think it's awkward too. Get one of those side sling computer bags to do the job, or a briefcase, but if you have heavy books it can be a pain to carry that around.

When I was at school, I didn't even wear a backpack if I was in a dressy coat...

Nov 27, 2014

I would like to add that it is very common here in Indonesia, because we don't wear suits to work.

Someone using a suit has a better luck in pulling off a roundhouse kick than a backpack.

Nov 27, 2014

I would like to add that it is very common here in Indonesia, because we don't wear suits to work.

Someone using a suit has a better luck in pulling off a roundhouse kick than a backpack.

Nov 28, 2014

You ladies give one too many fucks about accessories. Backpacks are fine and if anyone of the fashionistas give you shit for it, does it really matter to you how they perceive you?

I switch back and forth with my brief case and backpack depending if I am going to a client site or not. I would not suggest you wear a backpack to a client meeting, but for everyday usage I much prefer the convenience of a backpack.

Nov 28, 2014

I take my company branded backpack to work every day. It carries my gym clothes, doesn't come into any meetings with me and sits under my desk until I leave for the gym.

Nov 28, 2014

I appreciate everyone's input. It definitely seems like the consensus is no backpack. Does anyone have suggestions for something that may be good for the office and also good to hold text books for B School?

Nov 30, 2014

Plenty of people do. I don't and I suggest you don't either. If you must, don't go near clients with it.

This is a lesser violation, like wearing black suits or coughing into your left hand instead of your elbow, but it still sends the wrong signal. Also keep in mind that a backpack is going to crease the hell out of your suit and unless it's cold out you will get sweat stripes down your shoulders and back. People will also assume you're back office, especially in NYC, and some clubs will actually not let you in with a backpack.

Get a laptop carry bag, and a gym bag for the days you go. The brand is irrelevant, just don't stick out. The only attention you want is for good things.

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Dec 1, 2014

If you absolutely MUST go with the backpack, you have to one-strap it.

Dec 1, 2014

@"copecre" @"TraderDaily" @"DickFuld" These guys nailed it on this one. You're the office bitch if you wear a school bag to the office everyday. Myself and others look at you like you're a complete mongoloid. It makes you look like a high school freshman. You work in an office so act like an adult.

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the bitches on this board roll a small suitcase to work each day.

Dec 3, 2014

OP. One option is to get a nice leather backpack. It is still a backpack, but I would consider that to be pretty classy/professional. They can get pricey, but I view that as much better than some nylon looking thing. But above all else, can't you just find a suitable briefcase?

Dec 3, 2014

Didn't you hear? Wheeled backpacks are in right now.

Dec 17, 2014

I'm seeing quite a number of people here in HK wearing TUMI backpacks and I think it's ok for office? since everyone pretty much knows tumi and its meant to be more business like..thoughts?

Dec 17, 2014

I'm seeing quite a number of people here in HK wearing TUMI backpacks and I think it's ok for office? since everyone pretty much knows tumi and its meant to be more business like..thoughts?

Dec 18, 2014
doubledecker:

I think it's ok

It's "ok" to do alot of things, this still makes you look like a total pussy minion. Act like a man.

Dec 18, 2014

Depends on your work environment. If you work in a suits-everyday type place then a book bag is going to have the same social acceptability as having a parrot on your shoulder, wearing an eyepatch, and sporting a hook for a hand. So just get a briefcase, which will go well with your big metal cufflinks, contrast-collar monogrammed shirts, and brown tassel loafers.

Dec 18, 2014

I like the clip my Nalgene bottle to my back pack with a carabiner.

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Dec 18, 2014

Work it

Dec 18, 2014

I rock a sick backpack/fanny pack combo to work on the daily. Nobody says shit to me.

Ever.

I'm so lonely.

Dec 23, 2014

Not worth getting labeled for being a stand-out intern

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Jan 3, 2015

Nothing wrong with a backpack per se, but they look pretty terrible when worn on a suit or even a collared shirt.

Get a small duffel bag or gym bag.

Jul 16, 2015

Rather than use a backpack I would recommend using a briefcase or a banker/gym bag if you are bring work out cloths or something.

Jul 17, 2015

Only if it's one of these:

And it has a Goldman Sachs sticker on it.

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Jul 22, 2015

Only interns wear them in my office. Functionally, it is better for your back then the briefcase/laptop case. I just prefer the look of a laptop bag, but I certainly think it is silly to judge an analyst for wearing a backpack

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Nov 26, 2015

Thank goodness I live and work on the left side of the USA. Lots of us carry packs, lots of us don't. We get things done out here instead of judging others by their use or non-use of backpacks. Maybe that's why we are so far ahead of those on the East Coast. Based on the posts I see here, we always will be. (And I'll bet I make more money and have more customers then you.)

Nov 30, 2015

Could you be any more butt-hurt about how much of a clown you look like wearing your L.L. Bean monogrammed book bag to work??

Also "customers"?? Do you work at a gas station mart or something?

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Dec 1, 2015

I'd stay away from a backpack and go with a brown leather duffle that can hold all of your shit

Dec 4, 2015

Is this backpack acceptable (got it as a gift 2 years ago)? Its the one I use right now

https://www.google.ca/search?q=tumi+alpha+bravo+ca...

You speak in in varying levels of verbosity.You often adopt the typing quirks of others as you find it boring to settle on styles.

Dec 4, 2015

Personally a huge fan of Briggs and Riley

Dec 4, 2015

Briggs and Riley or Victorinox are the only ways to go.

Dec 4, 2015

Tumi alpha laptop bag, had it for five years and still going strong. It was a gift so didn't have to worry about the cost, but given the ruggedness, customer service and style I think it makes the price point ok. It's expandable and can fit a ton of stuff in there. Only had one issue with the strap wearing through (not sure if defect or something I did) went to the nearest store and they gave me a new one no questions asked. Their carry on stuff has seemed too pricey for me, I stick to LL bean (carry on) and Lands end (garment bag) stuff which has held up well.

Dec 4, 2015

It just does. It's very 40 Year Old Virgin-ish. Trainers, runners, running shoes, whatever the heck you want to call them stick out like a sore thumb when paired with business formal.

Dec 4, 2015

Yeah dude, big fashion faux pas. Might as well put a pencil on your ear so you always have one handy!

Dec 4, 2015
alexpasch:

Yeah dude, big fashion faux pas. Might as well put a pencil on your ear so you always have one handy!

It's ok. I've got a pocket protector for that. :D

Dec 4, 2015

The women you've spoken with are right, as are the two posters above. Get a nice leather satchel and get a nicely fitted pair of shoes. Do you want to be taken seriously??

Dec 4, 2015

Wearing trainers to work does look stupid and makes it look like you're a schoolboy who forgot their proper shoes at home...as to rucksack I use one every day for gym kit, books, economist, mp3, cocaine etc....

Dec 4, 2015

I think this is something more common among women. I have seen women wear sneakers/flat shoes while walking to work and then change into heels once they reach office. Haven't seen any men do this.

Dec 4, 2015

What size laptop do you use?

Dec 4, 2015

like a backpack you are going to be wearing with a suit?

Dec 4, 2015

total waste of money I can't believe how many people go for those things. instead i just bind my books together with an old belt as i walk to school in the snow with torn sneakers for 10 miles. TROLL!

Dec 4, 2015
markhobbus:

total waste of money I can't believe how many people go for those things. instead i just bind my books together with an old belt as i walk to school in the snow with torn sneakers for 10 miles. TROLL!

LOL +1

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Dec 4, 2015

There is no wall-street standard backpack...not sure why you're here

Dec 4, 2015

Eddie Bauer...you get a life time warranty...

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

Dec 4, 2015

Cheap durable and common : north face every kid in ug uses it. If u want a really nice one Hartmann makes a tan leather one. Lifetime warranty and it's awesome. But no1 really gives a crap man.

Dec 4, 2015
Dec 4, 2015
luccabananas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcIF69MLe3A

Dude, I gotta get me one of those.

"Have you ever tried to use a chain with 3 weak links? I have, and now I no longer own an arctic wolf."
-Dwight Schrute

Dec 4, 2015
luccabananas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcIF69MLe3A

Can't wait to see consultants rolling around the airport in these soon

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Dec 4, 2015
Dec 4, 2015

I've been repping this for the last few years. It's got quite a few miles on it, and fails to disappoint.

http://tinyurl.com/3hd9x5k

Dec 4, 2015

use a shopping cart...you'll stand out and get noticed every time.

Dec 4, 2015

North Face, Mountain Hardwear, and Columbia. Only backpacks worth considering.

Dec 4, 2015

Nike is also good

Dec 4, 2015

What do u find funny ?And i m not a troll.I just asked in order to know what is a good backpack to buy.Just wondering what you thought about my post.

Dec 4, 2015

Just get a leather messenger bag, fuck backpacks lol.

Dec 4, 2015
Dec 4, 2015

^^^

Agreed. The classics never go out of style, that's why I use the same thing. It gets me a lot of looks from the ladies!

But if you're not a player, check out Targus. I have a very comfortable back pack from them that holds my laptop and is small enough for carry on.

Dec 4, 2015

http://www.dakine.com/sport-packs/
da kine. their backpacks are the intersection of style, function, and durability, and prices are surprisingly reasonable. a lot of their models have padded laptop sleeves as well. i own 3 and have had two of them for over 5 years

Dec 4, 2015

Northface packs are pretty good as well, very durable

Dec 4, 2015

Is this a joke? I bring Power Rangers to the table and all you guys have to offer is Targus, North Face and Dakine? Give me a break.

Dec 4, 2015

I can understand the challenge you must be facing. Most adventure bags are rather large and not all of them have a laptop compartment. I think you may like this excursion backpack (http://www.briggs-riley.com/category/productDetail.aspx?id=Excursion-Backpack_BP118) from Briggs & Riley's BRX line. It falls comfortably within the legal carry-on baggage size and has a padded compartment for a laptop. You can use it to carry things like a knife, flash light, water bottle, snacks, maps, GPS navigator, compass, etc.

Dec 4, 2015

Thanks for the great suggestions, everyone. Tracy, I just loved the BRX excursion backpack you suggested. I checked out the features on their official website and it has everything I need, so I've gone ahead and placed an order for the bag.

Dec 4, 2015

This is by far the funniest situation I've ever heard of in my life, and even better that you posted it here.

Dec 4, 2015

Da fuq did I just read

Dec 4, 2015

all u gota do is on your 1st day of work say ay yo whatup i took a shit all over your daughter notebook in high schol my b

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Dec 4, 2015

hahahahaha this is the funniest thing I've every read on WSO

Coram Deo

Dec 4, 2015

Why didn't the girl tell her parents your name before this?

Dec 4, 2015

strong username to thread content relation

Dec 4, 2015

people call this "karma."

Dec 4, 2015

you might get lucky and be the recipient of some "browniepoints" there for an unusual courtship there pal

Dec 4, 2015

Its total bullshit... I've been hiding my lunchbox all week in case her MD father keeps cool and goes for a sly counter strike to restore his daughter's honor :(

I don't think I deserve this, everyone thought it was funny when I did it in hs and I did stuff like this all the livelong day back then. I took a piss in her friend's mailbox on the day that they got college offers : )
My parents were always kinda cool, I guess.

I am going to call my kids Ctrl, Alt and Delete. That way if something is going wrong I can beat them all at once.

Dec 4, 2015
browniepoints:

Its total bullshit... I've been hiding my lunchbox all week in case her MD father keeps cool and goes for a sly counter strike to restore his daughter's honor :(

I don't think I deserve this, everyone thought it was funny when I did it in hs and I did stuff like this all the livelong day back then. I took a piss in her friend's mailbox on the day that they got college offers : )
My parents were always kinda cool, I guess.

6/10 troll

Dec 4, 2015

how stinky was it? Her dad must shit on her a lot, considering he's an MD and all... As long as you smell better than the old man, you should be fine

Dec 4, 2015

if this situation actually took place, you're one fucked up dude

Dec 4, 2015
Tommy Too-toned:

how stinky was it? Her dad must shit on her a lot, considering he's an MD and all... As long as you smell better than the old man, you should be fine

The heater didn't help, lemme tell you; Im quite a healthy eater, though, so I'd say it wasn't her worst.
Im on the sae page as you vis a vis the smell, but I certainly wouldn't want to turn it into a competition between me and her father - I don't want my life to be a constant duel of the bowels, scuttering around the office in the wee hours leaving little surprises for the man who may very well decide the fate of my career. I've got to swing for the fences and think about FT man!

keensetofpeepers:

if this situation actually took place, you're one fucked up dude

Sir, there is know black and white; only shades of gray.

I am going to call my kids Ctrl, Alt and Delete. That way if something is going wrong I can beat them all at once.

Dec 4, 2015

Haha this is hilarious. I feel for you bro.

"All things are difficult before they are easy"
- Thomas Fuller

Dec 4, 2015

Dude, you gotta tell the dad and get it over with. Besides, odds are he's shit in a chick's backpack before also.

GBS

Dec 4, 2015

Maybe you should drop a deuce in his briefcase to show him who is the real boss.

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Dec 4, 2015
Comment

Competition is a sin.

-John D. Rockefeller

Dec 4, 2015
Comment

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Dec 4, 2015
Comment

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Dec 4, 2015
Dec 4, 2015