The Secret to Cooler Luggage

Hey, M.A.G., I have the same black luggage as everybody else shuffling down the aisle. How can I up my carry-on game?

Great personal style is generally instinctual. Miles Davis just knew how to lasso his bandanna ever so artfully around his neck. Clark Gable just knew how to dangle a cigarette in a way that made the surgeon general say, “Now…that is cool.” Pharrell just knows how to rock green hair. And red hair. And orange hair. But there's one sartorial sense no one is born with: sporting the perfect luggage.

I've tried everything. The massive army-surplus knapsack. (Too Top Gun-y.) The leather trunk. (Too Titanic-y.) The cowhide duffel. (Too many visits to my chiropractor.)

So after approximately 247,629 flights in the past eight years for GQ alone, I've finally found what works, and what works, on the sidewalk or while trudging to the gate, is a roller bag, a tote, and a large—I mean large—Dopp kit. (The trick is to keep the Dopp kit stocked, whether you're leaving town or not.) Never buy matching pieces of gear. It just looks lazy, like those shirt/tie/pocket-square sets they sell at So-and-So's House of Fashion.

M.A.G.'s roller and tote—proof that luggage shouldn't match.

The Carry-On
Get a roller—if only for your spinal health. Rimowa luggage is a bit pricey, but it will outlast three or four cheap black bags. Plus, my roller bag is so good-looking—with its scuffs, customs badges, and stickers—it lives in my apartment. It's like a piece of furniture. I never put it away. And the more you put it through hell, the less art you need on the walls.

The Tote
Look, I know some of you are still tote-resistant. But here's the thing: Backpacks are great for hauling things, but they're terrible for pulling things out or putting things in. You need something that opens up, so you can throw in some new treasure you find at a market. And on the plane, you need to be able to retrieve a book without having to claw around at the bottom of your satchel. I've been glued to this leather tote from RTH. It's built to take a beating, and it always gives (and takes) what I need.

This story originally appeared in the July 2018 issue with the title "I Get Emotional About My Baggage."

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