Attache Case vs Briefcase – 5 GREAT Options! Which option do you prefer in the attaché case vs briefcase showdown? Whichever you pick, you may very well need such a bag for work. Even though an increasing number of people are working at home, plenty of us still need to go to an office. This post, it’s photos and table include links to products on other websites. If you purchase something through these links we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. CLICK To Our FULL Product Reviews And many of us need to bring home actual paperwork and books, even while we also take along a laptop for digital documents. If you need to project a more conservative professional vibe, then any choice between the attaché case vs. briefcase will do just fine. Attaché Case vs. Briefcase: The Differences It is true that in modern usage, the terms attaché case and briefcase are virtually interchangeable. In fact, plenty of bags are classified as both an attaché case and a briefcase in their product marketing and descriptions. But technically speaking, there are a few notable differences. Historical Origins The attaché case originated from France, which shouldn’t be all that surprising with the use of the word attaché (and the letter é in particular). The attaché is a member of a diplomat’s staff, and they used these slip cases to carry their diplomatic papers. The briefcase, on the other hand, was first used by lawyers. In the legal sense, a brief is a document containing the lawyer’s facts, evidence, and legal position to support their legal arguments. Thus, the case they used to carry these documents was called a briefcase. Different Exterior Features Most of the time, you’ll only find a handle with the attaché case. There are exceptions, of course, but they’re not very common at all. It used to be that briefcases also only featured a handle. But these days, you now find more shoulder straps for easier carrying. In general, these straps are detachable, so you can use the strap while traveling and then remove them when you’re facing a client. Locks Attaché cases are also generally secured with locks, often combination locks for convenience. But there are plenty of briefcases these days without locks, though you can also find a briefcase with combination locks as well. Shape Difference Finally, attaché cases tend to be firmer in shape than regular briefcases. That’s why if you find a case made with metal, it’s more likely an attaché case. On the other hand, briefcases are better able to expand to handle thick folders. Storage Features Attaché cases rarely (if ever) have any sort of outside pocket. But you may have front pockets for the briefcase, along with a zippered pocket at the back. On the inside, here’s where the differences get interesting. That’s because when you open an attaché case, you get this large space on the bottom lid. On the top lid, you have your various folder compartments and maybe a few compartments for cards, pens, and your smartphone. Complicated Briefcase Interior With a briefcase, the inside compartments are generally more complicated. You may have several large compartments, with or without zippers. There may be a special padded compartment made especially for your laptop. You also usually find more smaller pockets for various stuff, including pens, a journal or notebook, your smartphone, and maybe your wallet too. Attaché Case vs. Briefcase: Do the Differences Matter? For some people, the attaché vs. briefcase debate is just nitpicking. They both look professional and conservative, so that clients find it easier to trust your expertise. It gives off a no-nonsense vibe, without the eccentric flourishes that some potential clients may distrust. These bags may be too fussy and old-fashioned for creative types, but they’re great in professions where experience counts more than youth. If you want to look older (and therefore more trustworthy), then you can always pick any option in the attaché case vs. briefcase debate. Attaché Case vs. Briefcase: Top 5 Reviews Whichever option you’re leaning to in the attaché case vs. briefcase debate, we have 5 excellent bags you can certainly use for your formal and conservative workplace. 1. Jack&Chris Men’s New PU Leather Briefcase Messenger Bag Laptop Bag, MBYX015 (Black) “Formal and Functional Briefcase” Our Rating: 4.5 Buy From Amazon The Jack&Chris brand may seem like a Johnny-come-lately name in the work bag industry, but actually the people there have been handcrafting leather items for decades now. They like to feature retro styles that remain in vogue for years to come. This MBYX015 is a great example of a work bag that won’t go out of fashion. It looks utterly simple and somehow elegant at the same time. It reeks of conservative professionalism that fits in nicely with financial and legal offices. If you’re a young professional in these industries, then you may want this option among your attaché vs. briefcase choices. Material This uses polyurethane leather (PU), which is quite appropriate in these times. It looks very much like other real leather briefcases, but you won’t offend modern sensibilities because it’s completely artificial and it’s even regarded as vegan. Because it’s not real leather, it sure cuts down on the price. It doesn’t absorb water at all, so it’s much easier to clean. In addition, this artificial leather won’t ever dry out. Handles, Straps, and Hardware This comes with the traditional handle on top, made with the same type of leather with metal attachments. But you also have shoulder straps, which you can adjust from about 75cm to 125cm. The shoulder straps aren’t all that easy to see, so you don’t give off an obvious “messenger bag” vibe that may look overly casual for your office. In fact, you can just detach the shoulder straps completely for a more formal look. It also uses high-quality hardware, while the zipper on the side rolls smoothly. Security Lock with Key You also have a security lock on the bag to keep others from casually checking the contents of your bag. And you’re able to open it with a key. Size and Compartments This isn’t all that bulky, as it measures 15 inches across, 11.8 inches from top to bottom, and 7 inches thick. You’re able to fit in your 14-inch laptop, along with your other EDC items like your smartphone, wallet, pens, and notebooks. Of course, you can also put in some books and documents as well. The compartments include: 3 main open compartmentsA zippered compartment in the middle2 slots for credit cards on the insideA slot for your walletAnother slot for your smartphone2 pockets at the frontA zippered pocket at the back What We LikeRetro look that’s both formal and stylishGood size for easy carryingComes with a shoulder strap that’s not too obviousPlenty of compartments and pocketsWon’t offend vegan clients (and bosses)Easy to clean and very durableNot So GoodWon’t fit in larger laptopsFront pocket has small capacityHandle is prone to breaks 2. Jack&Chris Men’s Genuine Leather Briefcase Messenger Bag Attaché Case 15.6″ Laptop, MB005-9L “Somewhat Formal Workplace Bag” Our Rating: 4.5 Buy From Amazon If you prefer genuine leather when choosing between attaché vs. briefcase and it’s acceptable where you work, then the Jack&Chris brand offers you this option. After all, their long history is on handmade cowhide leather in the first place. This particular bag isn’t as formal, however, but it does offer a dashing look. You even get it in a dustproof jacket, so it’s absolutely pristine when it arrives on your doorstep. It will suit the personality of someone like Indiana Jones, even in a classroom setting (the man was an archeologist, after all). Cowhide Leather The cowhide full-grain leather is brown, with a distressed look. It offers a rougher vibe, but bits of dirt on it won’t look too obvious at all. It somehow looks even better over time, as folds and scratches give the leather its own character. Measurements The bag measures 17.5 inches long and 12.3 inches high, with a thickness of just 2.83 inches. It may be slim, but you’re able to fit in a laptop measuring 15.6 inches. Handle and Straps You have the leather handle on top, which is nicely curved to provide ample space for even large hands. Then you also have a shoulder strap with a pad for more comfortable carrying. This strap is adjustable from 85cm to 140cm. You’re also able to detach the shoulder strap completely, so that it doesn’t look too casual. But you also get a built-in luggage strap at the bag, so you’re able to attach this on your roller on top of a suitcase. Storage Your storage compartments include: A main pocket for your documents and other stuffA padded laptop compartmentAnother large compartmentA zipper pocket in front for A4 papers4 card slots2 pen slotsOther slots for your smartphone and keys What We LikeCompactFits in a larger laptop (up to 15.6 inches)Real leatherLots of compartmentsDetachable shoulder strapLuggage strapNot So GoodMay be too casualMay offend vegan sensibilitiesExpensive (due to genuine leather) 3. Banuce Full Grains Italian Leather Briefcase for Men “Vintage Look with Simple Storage” Our Rating: 4.5 Buy From Amazon This is another attaché vs. briefcase option that you can carry around outside as a messenger bag. It comes with a dark brown color, so it can fit in with your formal workplace without looking too conservative. Size This is actually quite compact, so it doesn’t seem like you’re toting around too much of your stuff. It measures 15.55 inches across, with a height of 11.81 inches and a nice thickness of 5.51 inches for all your documents. It’s not really all that heavy, either, as it weighs just 3.76 pounds. Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather This uses Italian vegetable tanned leather, which means it was tanned by the traditional method using animal fats and vegetable tanning. There’s no synthetic agent added, so you get the fully natural look of full grain cowhide. Each piece has a unique look, so it won’t look exactly alike another Banuce bag of this model. It’s designed with a vintage style, so it looks like it might have been used in the early 1900s. You get even a stronger sense of its vintage look over time, as the leather becomes softer, smoother, and glossier. You even get that great smell of natural leather, though this will eventually dissipate. Used Materials For the hardware, you get zinc alloy with a bronze color to complete the vintage look. Don’t worry, it’s still rustproof. Because of the vintage style, you also don’t get any polyester cotton lining for the inner sides and bottom of the bag. Everything here is basically leather, aside from the hardware. Handles The handle is also leather, and attached with metal hardware – it doesn’t rise up too much from the bag, so it gives off a slim profile. It’s great for smaller hands, but the 1-inch clearance may not be enough for overlarge hands and fingers. You also have a shoulder strap with a pad, using both leather and cotton for durability. This strap can be adjusted, so its length can range from 30cm to 58cm (that’s about 11.75 to 22.8 inches). Or you can just detach the shoulder strap completely if you want. There’s also a built-in strap at the back so you can attach this to your roller when travelling. Storage and Security This comes with the characteristic flap-over, with double buckles for the closure along with a lock for greater security. On the inside, you have 3 main compartments to segregate your items. Here, you will be able to fit in your 14-inch laptop, along with your A4 folders and other documents. There’s also a compartment for your smartphone, 2 pen slots, and another compartment for a calculator or a billfold. What We LikeNatural leatherVintage lookGreat compromise between casual and overly formalSimple storage designAdjustable and detachable shoulder strapBuilt-in roller strapNot So GoodDoesn’t accommodate laptops larger than 14 inchesGenuine leather needs special careReal leather not animal friendly 4. Lorell Expandable Attaché Case, Black, LLR61614 “Simple and Old-Fashioned Attaché Case” Our Rating: 4.5 Buy From Amazon This is clearly an attaché case, if you’re referring to something that’s firm and designed to hold its shape. The good news is that if you’re carrying a bit more documents than you have anticipated, at least the attaché case can still expand. It looks truly formal, and it fits in nicely in the offices of bankers, lawyers, and diplomats. Dimensions This measures 17.5 inches long and 12.5 inches high, with a thickness of 4 inches. But it can expand to 5 inches thick, in case you’re carrying more papers. The inside measures 16.5 inches wide, so take that into account when you’re getting this case to accommodate your laptop. There’s no shoulder strap, as you only have the traditional hard plastic handle. Professional Look The case is made with tough vinyl, and it’s very soft to the touch even while it’s firm and durable. That means it’s not made with genuine leather, which should keep you from offending potential clients with vegan sensibilities. The overall smooth look looks very elegant and professional, and conservative as well. There aren’t any special flourishes here that may detract from your no-nonsense vibe. In fact, some may consider it old-fashioned. But in some industries, that’s actually a good thing. Inside Storage The inside comes with a traditional storage design. The bottom part is large, but the lid part has 2 separate compartments for segregated folders. You also various pockets for smaller stuff, including your smartphone and your pens. This comes with dual combination locks that secure your papers while allowing you easy access. What We LikeNon-offensive to vegansVery simple and professional designLarge amounts of space for documentsExpandable spaceComes with pockets for smartphone and pensNot So GoodOutside may scratch a bit too easilyA bit clunkyFeels a bit cheap 5. RoadPro SPC-931R 17.5″ x 4″ x 13″ Silver Aluminum “Sleek and Stylish” Our Rating: 4.5 Buy From Amazon Who says all these options in the attaché vs. briefcase showdown have to come with black or brown colors? Certainly not RoadPro, with this silver aluminum briefcase. It really looks sleek and professional, and inside you have various useful compartments for all your stuff. Eye-Catching Design You can’t help but attract some attention with this briefcase, since the silver aluminum material is just so uncommon. It sure looks great, though you may get some ribbing for it in school (or in a more creative or hipster workplace). You have black accents on the edges and with the handle, and these areas just stand out in the silver background. Open the case, and inside you’ll find a lined interior with subtle markings. The interior lining is silver as well, which makes the back tops of the pockets stand out even more. Storage With the dimensions here, you sure have quite a bit of room for your documents. The case measures 17.5 inches long and 13 inches high, with a thickness of 4 inches. Inside, the bottom part is vast and roomy, and here you may want to just set in your laptop. The lid part has 2 sections for folders and papers, a zippered pocket for other small items, 2 slots for cards, and another 3 slots for pens. There’s also a buttoned pocket for perhaps your smartphone or calculator. Carrying Everything’s secured by 2 combination locks, so no one can just look inside and read your private documents. There’s also just the handle, so you don’t have to worry about the shoulder strap making it look more casual. The handle is smooth and comfy to grip, so it doesn’t really hurt your hands even if you fill up the case. What We LikeEye-catching silver colorTough aluminum for the caseSleek designConvenient combination locksGood size for somewhat larger laptopsNot So GoodDoesn’t really expand all that wellLacks feet on bottomCan be damaged easily Attaché Case vs Briefcase: Conclusion In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter all that much which camp you side with in the attaché case vs. briefcase debate. It surely irrelevant what you call your bag in the first place. What matters most is that your bag works like you need it to. It has to carry all your stuff, last a long while, and project the image you want people to have about you. With the right choice among our recommended options for the attaché case vs briefcase showdown, people will recognize the professionalism you bring to your work!