PQ Style: What's the Difference Between an Attaché Case and a Briefcase?

In most instances, a briefcase and an attache case are interchangeable. However, when directly compared, they each have unique histories and distinct features. Use your knowledge of their histories, uses, and features, to show off your fashion cred and ensure you end up with a bag you love.

The History of the Attache Case

attache bag

The word "attache" itself is a French term that refers to an administrator of an ambassador. It's an ultra-specific word for a broad job description. They had to juggle papers, liaisoning with other staff members of ambassadors, planning special events, and catering to the ambassador's needs. The Attache's bags eventually became known as attache cases. The bags they carry eventually became known as "attaches".

The History of the Briefcase

leather laptop briefcase

"Briefcase" has its roots in the legal world. First, let's define what a legal brief is. A legal brief is a summary of case facts and legal positions and precedents for judicial proceedings. Lawyers aren't particularly known for their fanciful nature and the term stems from a case that held their legal briefs. Thus, "briefcase" was born.

Features and Uses

Despite their shared bureaucratic history, the attache and briefcase are quite different from each other. An attache case is a small and thin bag, built especially for carrying documents. Modern attaches are like a mobile office. They have room for documents sure, but also have room for laptops, chargers, and iPhones. They're normally made of metal, or more commonly leather and have a slim profile. Internally, they have two separate pockets that keep delicate items safe.

A briefcase is flat and rectangular and usually used for carrying books, pens, and papers. Inside it's got one main compartment, that's usually lined with pockets to provide balance and organization. Also, briefcases have a "lid" that keeps the interior protected. There are a wide variety of briefcases, but most are made of leather and/or canvas. They're a bit chunkier than attache cases and allow for more and larger items.

In practical terms, you can pretty much use "briefcase" and "attache case" interchangeably.  However, when compared, an attache case and briefcase are different in subtle ways. However, depending on your tastes and needs, those slight differences mean a lot!

Please take a moment to see our take on both briefcases and attache cases!

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