please advise

Ask Chris Black: Which Office Supplies Will Impress People at My New Big-Boy Job?

Photo: Cobey Arner

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or the handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance?

If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, Chris Black is here to answer it in a regular column.

I’m about to start my first big-boy job (in an office). Looking to you for ideas for tasteful and minimalistic office supplies — including calculators.

Braun BNE001BK

There is only one calculator I can recommend with a clear conscience: the Dieter Rams–designed Braun BNE001BK (a reissue of the Braun ET66 Calculator). A simple rectangular design with round buttons — it’s a work of art. But it’s also perfectly functional, and it will look great on your new big-boy desk!

Photo: Keith Ewenson

You will also need this 11-inch-by-17-inch sketch pad from the most tasteful brand in North America, JJJJound, which is based up in Montreal. The paper is nice and thick, perfect for doodling on long conference calls.

Bringing in your own coffee mug will help set you apart from the other new hires. Luckily, white-hot production company A24 has a mug for every single film it has ever made (which include Uncut Gems, Midsommar, The Farewell, and Lady Bird, to name a handful). Pick one that displays your fabulous taste, and maybe your boss will chat you up about his love for independent cinema!

You might also need some off-desk storage for your CBD cream and gluten-free snacks. The Componibili Storage Unit, designed by Anna Castelli Ferrieri, a co-founder of Kartell, will hold it all and work at home if you get fired! It also comes in blue and black.

I love this brand Poppin. The name is just SO GOOD! Luckily, it also makes great, affordable office supplies for the young urban professional. The orange stapler, tape dispenser, and cup for pens and pencils would cover all your desk basics without looking basic. For some reason, the Container Store markets the stapler and tape dispenser together but actually sells them separately — $28 is the cost for both, but you can also buy either for $14 each. Now get to work!

My 25-year-old back and I are finished with messenger bags. So I need a new work bag, preferably a backpack with an external water-bottle pocket and room for a 14-to-15-inch laptop, although I’m negotiable. (I want to look like a grown woman, not a college intern.) It’s a business-casual job, so I don’t need a full-blown PowerWoman bag; my personal aesthetic is “statistics professor who takes her children hiking every weekend, but right now she’s at work.”

I’m not too fond of backpacks, but I love the way you described your aesthetic. If you must have your belongings strapped to your back, then you must go TECHNICAL.

The Garwhar Pack 25 from Montbell is light and durable, and comes in a cool green color as well as in black. Real heads will recognize your tasteful choice, and it will probably last forever.

If that doesn’t strike your fancy, the midsize Black Hole Travel Pack from Patagonia is excellent. Made from 100 percent recycled ripstop polyester, it can withstand all the elements. And the backpack even has a sternum strap to help you distribute the weight of your stuff correctly.

But how about we try an attractive tote bag? I love this double-handle, padded, polyurethane-coated tote from Kassl Editions because it’s heavy duty enough to hold all your stuff, but still looks chic and (kind of?) within your very specific aesthetic.

I will be making my first extended overseas trip to Asia, and I’m finding myself woefully unprepared. Among the things I’m looking for are products that make it easier to travel with suits (both packing and then making sure they’re wearable upon arrival). Might you know of anything?

This is a real challenge. First, you will need to invest in a proper garment bag, a category of luggage that is historically bleak. This one from WallyBags (LOL) seems durable, spacious, and well priced. It comes in two sizes, as well as a gray option.

This one from Wasp fave Briggs & Riley (a brand frequent fliers also turn to for travel gear) is more expensive, but it’s made of ballistic nylon that the brand says “will weather the toughest travel conditions.” Unnecessary? Maybe. But very cool.

Like with any luggage, there are, of course, designer options :) This one from Montblanc is very sleek and trimmed in leather. A subtle flex if you feel so inclined!

It would be best if you also packed a portable steamer. I’ve written about the Cirrus No. 2 Travel Steamer before: It’s chic and small, comes in a few colors other than black, and will keep you crispy no matter how long the journey.

This steamer is much cheaper but, looking at it, seems a bit clunkier and therefore less portable/packable. But it should still get the job done.

Sort of in the middle price-wise is this guy, which stylist and contributor Shannon Adducci always travels with. She wrote that she has used it on “everything” — including suits. Safe travels!

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Ask Chris: Which Supplies Will Impress People at My New Job?