Downsizing Your Handbag Will Change Your Life – Here’s How

handbagLadies, I have accomplished the nearly impossible: I have downsized from a humongous, stuffed-to-the-gills handbag to a wee purse nearly the size of my palm. And I feel so light and free now! After years of lugging around a 2-ton bag and suffering back and shoulder pain -- not to mention, never being able to find anything in it, ever, I have culled my cargo to the bare essentials. I got sick of watching guys run around with nary by their pockets to keep their essentials in and finally thought, why not me, too?

"But what about all your STUFF?" you may be wondering. I was carrying this baby around with me (see below), and it weighs about 5 pounds empty. Well, I'll tell you --here's how I took care of the STUFF issue and made carrying a tiny purse work for me. 

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Handbag I love you, but you're bringin' me down

1. Keep supplies in your office desk drawers. Those of you who drive a lot, you could keep a bag of these essentials in your car. Instead of carting things back and forth with me I keep a stash of (almost) everything I might need at work: Emergency makeup and lotion, tampons and panty liners, band aids, books, tights. On the rare occasions that I need something while I'm between home and the office, there are these things called drug stores, and they carry almost everything. So handy!

Here's just a sampling of what I used to carry around with me. Add a paperback or two, three back issues of The New Yorker, you get the picture.

junk in handbag

2. Get a tiny bag that does double-duty. I found a cute cross-body bag that includes little pockets for credit cards and I.D., which means now I don't even have to carry around a wallet.

tiny bag

tiny bag

3. Figure out what you need to get from point A to point B. I need money, my subway card, keys, cash, phone, sunglasses, lip gloss, a bandage, breath strips, a tampon, a mirror, and this friction balm because I do a lot of walking (but even that I could probably keep either at home or the office).

inside bag

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4. Use a paper shopping bag for the rest. I have a huge collection of those little paper bags with handles that are the perfect size for bringing my lunch to work with me. After work I can either toss them into recycling or bring them home to re-use. As for reading material (very important!) I use an app for reading novels on my phone. Sometimes I'll carry a magazine or a book with me because I have hands.

5. Keep kids' stuff separate. The me from nine years ago is wondering where I keep all my baby's things (my baby is now a big boy who can carry his own crap around himself). Well, that's what diaper bags are for, and totes. Some people like to keep mom stuff and kid stuff together in one bag. But if there are times when you're on the go without your child, it makes sense to separate worlds. Don't lug around kid stuff unnecessarily. Besides, we've all seen what crackers, splintery sticks, and melted crayons do to the lining of a handbag.

Even if you're not ready to go as small as I have, you still might want to think about going down just a size. Style expert and mom Elycia Rubin says she downsized when her daughter was 2 or 3 years old.

"Women in general tend to over-pack," says Rubin, former StyleWatch contributor to People magazine and author of the children's book No Biggie!. "For first-time moms, it's a scary world out there and you're learning. But once you get your sea legs, it's a good time to get a smaller bag." 

Later, when she changed to a small crossbody bag, she thought, "oh this isn't going to hold anything at all." But she was surprised to find it fits all her necessities: a small, men's-style wallet, big key ring, lip gloss, phone, even a picture her daughter drew.

"I find it very liberating," Rubin says.

Result: It's only been a couple weeks since I swapped a massive purse for a little one, so I'm still in the honeymoon phase. But I LOVE it! I feel so light and free -- and cooler. Suddenly a huge, loaded handbag just feels frumpy, especially in the summer. I like knowing exactly what I have with me, and being able to retrieve it without digging around. And here's the biggest surprise -- I haven't had a single day where I missed my old bag or felt like I forgot something important. So go on. Try it for yourself!

Do you think you could stand to downsize your bag -- or have you already?


Images ©iStock.com/snapphoto, via Adriana Velez 

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