Dress to Profess #1: Accessorize to Organize

Dress to Profess / Friday, December 15th, 2017

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For the professor, a good satchel can compensate for the fact that we are, unfortunately, not marsupials. Sometimes, a bag serves as a portable classroom as we scurry across campus. Bags are good accompaniment when traveling to conferences or simply taking work home with us. Ideally, bags would be functional, attractive, and durable.

In 2001, I was gifted a black fabric Kenneth Cole bag from the Portland Luggage Company. Nevertheless, I was always enamored with leather messenger bags and was simply waiting to exceed the life expectancy of the Kenneth Cole bag. Astonishingly, that day never came. After commuting everywhere with me daily for nearly 17 years, it still looks like new—even the corner piping is intact. Although this is not a review of that particular bag, I’d have to say I’m impressed!

Recently, my girlfriend intervened on my behalf and bestowed a beautiful brown leather messenger bag upon me, courtesy of a Wilson’s Leather outlet store. My model is referred to as the “Vaqueta top rod brief.” Its brown, unpolished finish means that we will happily age together as long as one is willing to accept scuffs as being akin to scars that tell stories and supposedly attract prospective suitors.

Organization is not the strong suit for many a professor. Therefore, we need all the help we can get. A satchel is like a teaching assistant dangling from the end of one’s arm. In statistical terms, organization is directly proportional to the number of compartments, and this Wilson’s bag doesn’t disappoint.

Inside this full-grain leather bag, you will find five compartments, and within two of the compartments are pencil, business card, and calculator/cell phone holders.  Another compartment features a hidden zippered hideaway within its wall. (I’m still debating what I would like to stash in there!) The innermost compartment is padded, having a strap to secure your laptop or tablet. On the opposite side of the bag, the compartments are perfect for hauling tests or assignments while keeping two piles separated with a divider.

The bag comes complete with a padded shoulder strap to free up both hands. (Hey, you gotta carry your coffee while being able to turn door knobs when entering buildings and classrooms, right?) The exterior compartments are held closed by spring-loaded buckles on one side and magnetic closures on the other. The leather is soft and pliable, yet the bag is sturdy enough to stand upright.

Although much of this blog is about dressing on a dime, you may pay a pretty penny for a leather bag. Hopefully this is compensated for by longevity of the bag. Fortunately, mine was a birthday present. Generally expect to fork over $100-$300 for similar bags.

In clinical research, they say there is nothing like follow-up to kill results. Because durability can be properly assessed only in retrospect, I will have to get back to you—hopefully in 10 to 20 years. Generally, online reviews of this product are promising and do not suggest premature failure. For now, I can recommend this bag for those folks who want to look stylish while getting their geek on. Great for work or travel, consider this for any teacher, graduate student, or other professional.

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