This post was inspired by my weekend reading from Pancakes & French Fries about the average woman’s handbag and her own struggles to lighten her load.
As an avowed “bag lady” I enjoyed her post and quickly ran to inventory my bags and weigh them loaded (daily backpack just under 10lbs; daily wristlet just under two lbs!). This inventory got me thinking about my current bag selections.
Before I started down my semi-minimalist path, I had a least a few dozen bags in my closet. Different sizes, shapes, and colors for a variety of purposes. It was actually my bags that started my clothing simplification (or maybe it was my shoes?). I had gotten tired of trying to make sure I had just the right bag to coordinate with my clothing (I have a matchy-matchy gene that demands this).
My first step for me was to eliminate all bags and shoes that didn’t go with black. (Which led to ultimately only wearing black, but that’s another story.) That worked for a short while until I accumulated more than a dozen black bags. Then I started to really think about what bags I needed and for which purpose. The truth for me is that there was not a single perfect bag for my life, but there COULD be a perfect bag for the most often functions I most often performed. I narrowed that down:
- Bag for work — needs to hold a laptop, my wallet/wristlet, snacks, and must have cupholders for water and coffee.
- Bag for weekends — needs to hold grocery bags (a plus if it can function as a grocery bag itself) items needed for errands (library books, store returns, water bottle, towel, blanket, whatever is needed on the weekend)
- Bag for regular evenings — after work, I do not want to carry a big bag — just the essentials: my phone, keys, lipstick, glasses, lotion, motrin, cards
- Bag for dressy evenings — basically needs to carry the same as regular evenings, but look good doing it
- Bag for traveling — in addition to a suitcase, the bag to carry all the other detritus needed when traveling either while on the plane, in the car or sightseeing
Several years later, I’m down to these six:
Clockwise from top left:
- Bag for work — I’ve used this Japanese-style backpack for the last six months and it meets all needs identified, but would prefer with silver hardware if I ever find it. I’ll be back in Japan later this month and will be on the hunt.
- Bag for weekends — I’ve used this French Market Basket with both short handles and long for over a year. It holds virtually everything I need on the weekend and I love the look. Occasionally it will snag on more sensitive fabrics, but it’s otherwise been perfect.
- Bag for regular evenings — I used this satchel for a few years for both work and evenings before I got the backpack but noticed that I’ve rarely used it since. I can no longer carry this for work with a laptop in it because I’ve got some shoulder damage that has required me to switch to a backpack. This may not make the next cut.
- Bag for traveling — the fold-up Eagle Creek backpack has been a perfect addition to my life in the last three months. I use it either as my personal item with a carryon or (if I’m traveling for work and have my backpack with laptop) I toss it into my other bag and use it when I arrive. It’s lightweight, spacious and gender-neutral so my husband can also use it when we travel.
- Bag for life — this Lo & Sons convertible wristlet/cross-body/waist-pack is an addition in the last three months as well and it’s been perfect. It replaces a Hobo wristlet/wallet that I used for over five years that I loved, but was limited because it didn’t convert to a cross-body (I even looked at how it could be adapted to do so rather than replace it). I still use this mostly as a wristlet, but the times when I could use it as a cross-body or as a waist-pack have meant that I didn’t need to reach for a different bag.
- Bag for dressy evenings — I’ve had this clutch for a couple of years and I love the look and it works well for its purpose, but it’s pretty limited. Since I’ve been using the Lo & Sons bag, I’ve not pulled this one from the closet. This may not make the next cut either.
What’s in the bag?
Another thing Jules included in her article was an inventory of the stuff she carries in her bag. This is also an area where my semi-minimalist focus has made a difference over the years.
In my daily backpack (weighing on average 10lbs depending on how full my water bottle is or whether I’m also carrying a coffee-to-go), I carry (from top left): a water bottle, a rations bag, my wristlet, a lipstick, fan, pen, hankie, earbuds, umbrella, planner & notepad, laptop and cellphone/wallet.
To further inventory what’s in the bag, I unpacked my ration bag:
And my wristlet:
Overall, I’m pretty happy with how well I’ve been able to reduce what I carry to really only what I use (which I know is a luxury of the empty-nester).
What about you? What do you carry in your bag?