Keep organized, and follow these tips the next time you buy a purse.
We feel naked without them. We spend hundreds of dollars on them. They simply must match our shoes and the fingernail polish du jour. They are our purses…all those leather handbags, velvet and rhinestone evening clutches, and summer straw over-the-shoulder catchall things. What would we possibly do without them?
The reason we women don’t leave home without one is because we want to make our lives easier by having all of the necessities of daily living right at our fingertips. The problem is that somewhere along the way, making a fashion statement became more important than functionality. As a result, when it comes time to invest in a new purse, we’d rather splurge on that expensive tiny designer clutch than the more practical, albeit less glamorous, somewhat plebeian handbag. Then we wonder why that cute designer number can’t handle everything from gas receipts and grocery store coupons to a toddler’s travel toys.
If you want to get organized, then it’s time to get realistic. Before you go to the mall to shop for that new purse, start by taking your current one and dumping its contents onto a table. Be sure to extract all items from the pockets. Put all the trash into one pile.
Now, take a really good look at that trash pile. Most women are surprised at the amount of refuse they’ve been dragging around for weeks, or even months. Your goal in buying a new purse is to become more streamlined and organized. Digging through a pile of used tissues, old gum wrappers, and empty tubes of lip gloss to find the loose change in the bottom of your bag will defeat your new resolution. The answer is relatively simple. First, put a trash bag in your car and make it a habit to deposit your garbage in there rather than in your purse. Then set aside a self-sealing plastic sandwich baggie to be included in your new purse. This baggie will store those bits of refuse you simply can’t find any place else to deposit. Resolve to throw away the bag and replace it with a fresh one once a week.
Once you’ve dealt with the trash problem, see what’s left in that pile on the table. How many of those items do you really need to be hauling with you everywhere you go every single day? Likely at least a few of them would still serve their purpose and be sufficiently accessible if kept in the glove compartment of your car or in your desk at work. The more items you can cull out of your purse, the easier and quicker it will be to access the items you really need to carry with you.
Next, invest in a small zippered pouch to store all of your cards, except credit cards. This pouch will include library cards, frequent shopper cards, insurance cards, voter registration card, and similar documents.
At last, it’s time to shop. Remember, this time you’re look for a design, not a designer. To facilitate organization, choose a purse that is wide but not deep. There’s nothing more frustrating that trying to find a small item in a purse that is so deep you can’t see to the bottom. Look for a purse that has no more than three interior sections. More than three can get confusing. Make sure at least one of the sections has a zippered closure. Storing your cash, credit cards, and keys in the zippered compartment makes it more difficult for a potential pickpocket, and also lessens the likelihood that these important items will fall out should you drop your purse.
In the biggest compartment, put only large items such as a brush, checkbook, a pack of tissues, and sunglasses. This is the section where you will want to store that zippered pouch containing your cards. This is also the place to keep either an envelope or a second small zippered pouch to corral all of your receipts, coupons, stamps, and other paper items. When you remove your trash baggie once a week, take that opportunity to clean out this envelope and restock any stamps or coupons for the coming week.
In the third compartment, place only small items such as lipstick, personal hygiene items, mints, and Band-aids. Regardless of whether the lining of your purse is fabric or vinyl, any item that is liquid or has the potential to melt or leak should be placed in a sealed snack-size plastic baggie.
Another feature to look for in a new purse is at least one small exterior pocket. This is the spot to put those items to which you will need quick access, but which have little or no intrinsic value. Parking lot access cards and toll tokens can be kept here. Items in these outside pockets will be more vulnerable to being stolen or falling out, so be sure that your cash, credit cards, and keys are not kept here.
For better or worse, cell phones have become a fact of life. Once they start ringing, you only have a few seconds to answer before the caller is referred to voice mail. Your new purse should have an exterior pouch specifically designed to hold your cell phone. Ideally it will have a velcro strap across the top of the pouch to keep it from falling out. Keeping your phone in an exterior pocket enables you to answer quickly and ensures that the ring won’t be muffled under gloves, tissues, and other items while laying at the bottom of your purse.
The last feature you should consider when investing in a new purse is the strap. An unduly long strap will result in much awkward flopping around. A handle that is too short can’t go over your shoulder, and as a result, one hand will always be occupied with holding it. Your best bet is to look for a strap that is long enough to go over your shoulder but short enough to keep your purse resting against the side of your rib cage. You might even want to consider a purse with a strap that unzips down the middle to form two straps. A purse with this versatile design will easily convert from a shoulder bag to a back pack when needed.
It will take a few weeks to become accustomed to your new purse, but the increased convenience and decreased frustration will be well worth it. Someday you might find yourself a little wistful, looking at all your old purses gathering dust in the closet. But don’t worry – just like those pointy-toed stiletto heels you hang on to, once in awhile, on a special occasion, you’ll have need for something tiny, expensive, and impractical.