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What is a Man Purse?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A man purse is an all purpose bag or satchel designed to be carried and used by men. It tends to be somewhat larger than a lady's purse, partially to eliminate confusion between a man's bag and a women's hand purse. The bags are quite handy, allowing men to carry an assortment of necessary belongings throughout the day without having to use an informal backpack or an overly formal briefcase. Several designers offer variations on a man purse.

As a general rule, a man purse has a single large strap so that it can be slung over the shoulder. The larger size often accommodates a laptop, large books, or necessary files and papers. One common variant on the man purse is a messenger bag, a type of bag commonly used by bicycle messengers and postmen. Messenger bags can be quickly accessed because they have wide openings, making them very convenient for people in a hurry.

When a bag is consciously designed as a man purse, it is usually kept simple, so that it will be unobtrusive on the wearer. Men's bags can be made from nylon, leather, cotton, and canvas, just like women's, but they tend to be designed in more subdued colors and styles. If the bag does feature embroidery or a design, it is usually in the form of the manufacturer's seal or logo. Extraneous buckles, zippers, and straps are also kept to a minimum.

Although some people find the concept of a man purse laughable, satchels for men can be extremely useful, and some women use them as well. The large size accommodates a range of items which would otherwise have to be carried by hand or in an assortment of awkward bags. Objects like wallets and cell phones can be stored in inner pockets so that they will not destroy the line of a nice pair of pants, while the user can also store things he or she might need to use over the course of a day.

A good man purse will have a wide, sturdy strap so that the wearer can carry a heavy bag. An inner pocket is often extremely useful for small items, to ensure that they do not fall to the bottom of the bag. The design can range from a casual messenger bag to a more formal bag which may be appropriate for more situations, and the bag should also be strong, with reinforced seams and solid stitching. If the bag is going to be used to carry a laptop, additional padding is strongly recommended to insulate against shock.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon220552 — On Oct 08, 2011

Throughout history men have been carrying things in satchels. So I don't see why people are making a big deal. It's nothing new.

By Planch — On Aug 20, 2010

I really like the new Gucci man purse...

By googlefanz — On Aug 20, 2010

@copperpipe -- I really disagree. I think that a man purse, when used appropriately, is a very useful, practical item to have around.

My friend uses a small man purse, and the man purse jokes never end.

I mean, its not like my friends man purse is feminine looking or anything -- it's just your normal, leather man purse.

I think people should just realize that men need to carry things too, so get over the man purse phobia.

By CopperPipe — On Aug 20, 2010

I've never been a fan of the man purse -- just by a briefcase or use a backpack, for crying out loud!

You can call it a satchel or bag or a leather satchel or whatever you want to call it, but the fact remains, it's a purse.

Just get a backpack, purses should be for girls.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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