How can I keep warm while carrying shoulder bags?
December 14, 2013 1:07 PM   Subscribe

For the nth time, I can't believe I'm using my question for this, but it is making me crazy and I need help. Here's the situation: I hate coats and they hate me, but I have to find a way to stay warm outside in winter. Help me figure out what kind of warm garment won't ride up or cause my bags to slip off my shoulder when I walk outside?

Here are the pertinent points:

1. I have narrow, slopey shoulders. I often have to carry a heavy purse and a heavy laptop shoulder bag. When I put a coat on (the one I have is a basic wool ladies' jacket like this, but not this one the extra bulk somehow causes them to slip right off my shoulder. Like I literally have to have my arms crossed in front of me as I walk, and even then sometimes one or more bags come sliding down to my elbow.

2. I have thought about trying to get warmth from a long sweater instead, but two problems: 1. no protection from rain and not much from wind, and 2. I am chubby and curvy and the knits always wind up looking so lumpy on me.

3. This may be because my coat is too small (I bought it when I was some 30 lbs thinner) but last time I wore it while carrying that damn laptop bag, it rode up and up. It ordinarily comes down to the tops of my thighs and I could feel it creeping up my butt from the friction of the walking and the bag.

Is there hope for me, or is there at least anyone else who's experienced the same things? Or am I the only freak out there who by early middle age still hasn't figured out how to wear a coat? Do I need to move to the tropics and stay there, or can someone show me the way (and ideally a link) to stay warm while carrying shoulder bags, without lumpiness or bag-sliding-slickness or butt-riding-upness?

(By the way, of course I have tried wearing those bags across my body to eliminate the slipping, but neither of them have long enough straps to really make that work. I generally do not like cross body bags and I don't have to walk in cold weather often enough to want to adopt them just for this. I'd rather find a Warm Thing that works.)
posted by fingersandtoes to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total)
I also have very narrow shoulders that everything slips off of (backpacks and racerback tops for the win!). When I need to carry a shoulder bag while wearing a coat, I wear a wool coat that has decorative epaulets on the shoulders, like this. The extra fabric/friction is just enough to keep most straps on my shoulder.

Also, when I carry a shoulder bag I hook my hand into the front of the strap where it meets the bag and lift/push forward very slightly, like this woman -- this keeps the bag firmly in place and by taking a tiny bit of the weight off my shoulder, makes it less likely to slip.

As for riding up, it's almost definitely the result of being too small. Same thing happens to me with my too snug coat if I fasten the bottom button.
posted by telegraph at 1:16 PM on December 14, 2013

The cross shoulder solution is much more comfortable. If your laptop bag has a strap that attaches with clips, you can just buy a new strap. Otherwise, you could sew in a section of strap to make it longer or just buy a new bag. Wear it higher than you think you should - you want the bag on your back, not on your butt. A new bag will be cheaper than a new coat, I'd imagine.
posted by ssg at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

Use a suitcase or a tote. Removing your shoulders from the equation means you won't have to make a clothing compromise.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:31 PM on December 14, 2013

Can you slip the strap over your head to the opposite shoulder? Please do not strangle trying this.
posted by Cranberry at 1:34 PM on December 14, 2013

I use a laptop backpack instead of a shoulder bag. Not sure if that's a solution?
posted by Sara C. at 1:35 PM on December 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Messenger bag!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:38 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing messenger bag or cross-body bag.
posted by sarcasticah at 1:52 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Buy a coat that fits. You can get a cheapy from the thrift store first to see if that solves the bag problem. But bag problem aside, you should have a coat that fits.
posted by payoto at 2:13 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

More people have this problem than you think, it's the main reason messenger or cross-body bags are so popular.
posted by Kololo at 2:15 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have broad shoulders and even in my current holiday-pie season flabbiness, visible deltoids. Doesn't help. Especially if there's a heavy shawl wrapped around my shoulders inside my coat.

Bag slip is driving me insane now that coat weather is upon us. My only solution is to hold the handle of my bag as telegraph suggests. This is because I have some sort of freak semi-claustrophobic twitch that won't allow messenger bags or putting the strap on the opposite shoulder (except when in an airport and rushed.)

One thing that does help a little bit is to put your collar up and then make sure the strap is resting on the part of the coat that lays over your bra strap. A strap that is seated on or near the sleeve seam is going to slip.

For work, I do switch to a laptop backpack in winter. For hauling my comb and my books and my gift-card wallet and gum and grocery lists and those CDs my friend wanted and all the things a lady needs in her day, I use a bag and it slips.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:17 PM on December 14, 2013

Best answer: Guys, fingersandtoes says: By the way, of course I have tried wearing those bags across my body to eliminate the slipping, but neither of them have long enough straps to really make that work. I generally do not like cross body bags and I don't have to walk in cold weather often enough to want to adopt them just for this. I'd rather find a Warm Thing that works. so I think it would be most productive to avoid recommendations for cross-body bags and messenger bags, and stick to coat recommendations...

I have a similar problem, but not quite to the extent you seem to.

Things that have helped me avoid the coat-riding-up effect: long coats (knee length) that are fitted around the waist, and loose-fitting coats that hit at hip-height (so a bit shorter than the one you linked to).

Things that have helped me avoid my shoulder bag slipping off my shoulder: coats made of material that isn't super slick, and coats with ever-so-slightly "raised" sleeves (sort of like can't see it in the coat-only image, but it's there in the images with the model). Basically, I look for coats where the sleeves are sewn in such a way that there is a tiny ridge where the sleeve meets the shoulder area.

This seems to help catch the bag and prevent it from slipping. Hope this helps a bit!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:31 PM on December 14, 2013

Go find a coat you like, and that fits your new size, and take it to a tailor to get shoulder pads. Now the strap should dig into the foam instead of slipping off. And, since you are naturally narrow-shouldered, it won't look all 80's power-suity.
posted by elizeh at 2:34 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Part of this has to do with the strap of your bag. A wide shoulder pad should help with grip.

I notice I get significantly better bag strap traction when I wear my Carhartt heavy duty canvas flannel-lined hooded jacket -- the kind construction workers wear. The canvas has a rough texture and is stiff enough that it levels out the shoulder a bit.

I love mine, and in combination with a sweatshirt I find it sufficient for sustained time outdoors down to about 20 degrees, when the down coat comes out.

Bonus: Carhartts are indestructible, super warm, and probably bulletproof in a pinch. Not so bonus if you have an office job: you will look like you are on your way to the construction site or hunting camp.

posted by spitbull at 2:37 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wear coats that fit, as do my female colleagues, and we all have this problem. Bags that happily stay on my shoulder if I just wear a sweater or suit jacket slide off my shoulder all the time in winter. This seems to be true for shoulder bags, laptop bags with wider straps and pads etc. My conclusion is that winter coats are generally cut to allow you to wear a suit jacket/jumper underneath them, requiring shoulders to generally be cut wider. As a result of that and the added bulk of the coat and the bulk of they stuff you wear under the coat you seem to get to a point where the bag simply doesn't get to sit far enough up the shoulder to stay on the shoulder.

So by all means get a coat that fits because nobody looks good in clothes that don't fit. But the only solution I've found is to use a different style of bag.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2013

Best answer: This strap has sufficient grip and padding to allow me to run for the bus with a loaded briefcase over just one shoulder, not cross-body, without worrying about it falling off. It's sufficiently expensive I don't see myself buying more than one, but it fits on more than one of my bags and I can switch it around to whichever bag I'd like to carry with a single shoulder strap, and it's lasted for over five years of heavy use now.

And yeah, nice-looking coats that fit are hard to find but totally worth it, and fitting the shoulders is the most annoying/necessary part. Don't take anyone with you to try on coats unless a) they're also looking for coats or b) you don't care if they hate you by the end of the day.
posted by asperity at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

« Older Identify this song please!   |   SoCal Costal Hotels for Overnight Getaway? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.