Hey lady, what's in the bag?
November 21, 2006 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Ladies, what do you carry in your purses? I'm guessing there is

My wife has battled for years with the perfect purse configuration. She goes back and forth between large ones and small ones, between carrying everything and carrying just the bare necessities.

She's frustrated, not even sure what her "bare necessities" are. So ladies, what do you not leave home without - makeup? cell phone? daytimer? or just your driver's license and a debit card?

And by comparison, how big is the wallet inside that purse - do you work to keep it thin, or do you welcome wallet bloat? Men have it easy, we can go for a simple, elegant money clip with a few necessities and that's it - what's the female equivalent of such minimalism?
posted by jbickers to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (69 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Cell phone, lip balm, hair bands, wallet (men's tri-fold), small notebook or pad, pens, mints. that's all, in the minimalist configuration. going to work is a different story. I don't carry makeup. Sometimes I carry tampons.
posted by miss tea at 4:36 AM on November 21, 2006

I try and make my purse as minimal as possible so I can fill it with books and paper/pens. I typically lean towards the larger style of purse so I can carry a Nalgene bottle, iPod, cellphone is usually in my pocket, small-ish wallet (most of the bulk is from frequent buyer cards for Kroger, Aveda, Speedway, etc), and at least four or five pens, one paperback book, a small moelskin, and at least one ClifBar. On top of that, I often times have a lot of mail in my purse, since I stop at my post office box before I head home and just sort of shove it in my purse.

To gauge my ideal purse size, to be carried on one shoulder, I look to have room for at least two 40oz bottles.
posted by banannafish at 4:36 AM on November 21, 2006

Depends. By preference, if I can con someone else into paying for everything, I carry just my asthma reliever medication. Otherwise, it's a backpack (because I walk everywhere) and what's in there is:
notebook & pen
mp3 player
asthma reliever
wallet containing debit cards, library cards etc, sometimes money.
bottle of water
house keys
(and sometimes a box of tampons).

It used to be when I used a handbag, I would not get one smaller than what would fit a book the size of "Gone with the wind".

I think the female equivalent is whatever you want it to be. I used a man-type wallet for years. Easy to fit in my back pocket, so I could keep my hands free.
posted by b33j at 4:52 AM on November 21, 2006

I'm not a lady, but I know one and this is what she carries.
posted by superfurry at 4:59 AM on November 21, 2006

Wallet, magazine or book, lip balm, blotting paper, baby wipes, Matchbox cars and trucks, 16 oz water bottle, Luna bars, swiss army knife, pen, moleskin (or cheapo real-estate-guy-left-it-on-the-porch pad), tampons, keys, baby flashlight

That's what I start with, anyway. Fits easily into a 12"x12" messenger. I'm sure my mom had a much more fascinating array of stuff in her little black patent leather Jackie O handbag from the 60's.
posted by maryh at 5:02 AM on November 21, 2006

I also carry a largish purse. Right now I am carrying a black leather hobo that is beautiful, but can get messy because it only has one main compartment. It is large enough to carry a bottle of water, a paperback, and other misc. things that I may not usually carry. Just last night I put a little girls school uniform in it to be mended for a friend.

Larger hanbags do tend to get messy if you aren't super-organized. I have to purge my purse of receipts and other trash often. I would rather carry a larger purse and have to hunt, than a smaller purse that I couldn't put anything in.

My bare necessities are: hairbrush, hair elastic, wallet, a little bit of make-up--lipstick, mascara, lipgloss,cell-phone, tampons, pen, wallet. A lot of times I carry my camera because I am a mother of two young kids and their are always photo ops. My wallet is a zip-style, like this. My wallet is stripped down to bare necessities, and doesn't get bulky.
posted by LoriFLA at 5:07 AM on November 21, 2006

I don't carry a purse. At all. I figure if guys can deal with wallet-keys-phone-iPod, so I can, and damn the insistance that women have an entire 7-11 in their purses.

(No, that won't change when I have kids. I HAVE kids. I still don't and never will carry a purse.)

The best you get outta me is a bookbag when travelling or on days where I have to spend more than 90 minutes on the Metro (90 minutes is longer than it takes me to read an entire issue of the Post, so on those days I need a book) and that's usually six books and maybe a notebook for variety.

The tampons live in the (bathroom of the house//glove compartment of the car//bottom drawer of the desk at work//inside pocket of the coat) so that's not even really an issue for me.
posted by FritoKAL at 5:09 AM on November 21, 2006

Makeup (mascara, concealer)

Cigarettes and lighter (ahem)
Lip balm
ID card (for work)
Travel card
Loose change

I normally interchange between a red leather mid-size handbag and a bigger, slouchy across-body satchel-type bag.

I get to wear jeans to work, too, and I love having all these pockets available. But I am petite and having stuffed pockets does make my hips look excessively child-bearing.

Oh, and I jingle.
posted by unmusic at 5:24 AM on November 21, 2006

Smallish wallet, cell phone, keys, hand lotion, mints.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:36 AM on November 21, 2006

absolute minimum: cell phone, keys, driver license, debit card, credit card, folding money, shoved into various pockets.

small purse: above + wallet (putting the license, cards and money back in said wallet), checkbook, a few pens (but no notebook - I'm disorganized like that), medication, iPod.

larger purse: above + makeup, all bills that will need to be paid during the month, small knitting project (usually a sock), crayons, a Matchbox car or two.
posted by Lucinda at 5:44 AM on November 21, 2006

I just carry a coin purse with my driver's license, debit card, library card, and cash. The coin purse has a key ring to which I attach my keys and my shopping discount cards. In the past I've carried this in my pocket or strung a strap I'd crocheted through the keyring to wear it on my shoulder. But these days I carry it in the stroller or the diaper bag.
posted by textilephile at 5:47 AM on November 21, 2006

My shoulder bag generally holds: my knitting, a paperback, wallet, vanity case, sunglasses, gloves (in winter), planner, pens, calculator, keys, and Metropass. I just bought a new bag this fall and it was quite expensive but I felt this was justifiable as I will carry it every day for the next three or four years and it needed to be a good quality bag I really liked. I made sure to get something with several compartments so I'm not always frantically digging for my keys or Metropass, and something stylish, as I can't bear to feel I'm toting a diaper bag.
posted by orange swan at 5:50 AM on November 21, 2006

I have several levels of purses, depending on what my plans for the day are. The basics, in a tiny, wrist-strap bag: keys, wallet, cellphone, sunglasses.

Slightly larger is this bag, which holds all of the above items, plus my digital camera, iPod, and a paperback.

The largest is a messenger bag that can hold everything but the kitchen sink.
posted by donajo at 5:53 AM on November 21, 2006

I don't have a car and I don't wear clothes with pockets, so everything has to go into my bag. I also don't tend to go home till my day is over, so I take everything I will need all day.

Summer (tote bag): wallet (smallish), book or two, iPod, cell phone, keys, pen

Winter (larger bag): all that + extra sweater, scarf, hat gloves

Then I'll often have my swim stuff, so that makes a big bag. If I know I'm going to be able to leave my big bag somewhere, I'll stick a smaller bag inside.
posted by dame at 5:55 AM on November 21, 2006

Oh, I meant to say that pockets are key if I have more than the basic summer bag. Everything has its places, based on how often I need it and how acceptable digging for it is. Wallet (with metrocard) is always on top. And if it is just a tote bag, I will place the wallet on top before I leave wherever I am, so I don't have to dig at the train station.
posted by dame at 5:59 AM on November 21, 2006

What lives in my backpack: wallet, keys, Moleskine, Splenda tablets, mechanical pencils, bandaids, Shout! wipes, emery board, Sharpie, Rescue Remedy, gum, tea, Blistik, Sudoku book, reusable shopping bag, small umbrella, hairbrush, hair elastics, small deodorant, karate belt, period stuff, sunglasses, Ziploc bag with a paper towel in it*. Nalgene water bottle in the outside mesh pocket, and the umbrella goes in the other one if it's wet. Cell phone clips onto the strap unless it's raining out.

What gets changed out every day: iPod, meals, utensils for lunch, karate uniform, velvet bag of marked money, whatever I buy or need to transport that day.

I carry my spending money in my right front pants pocket, and any unmarked bills I get go into the left pocket so I know not to spend them until I can log them into Where's George.

I also make heavy use of my coat pockets and the big ones in my army pants...I tend to leave the house in the morning and not get home until very late, and I don't have my own space at work, so I have to carry it all on my back like a turtle.

If I'm traveling light, I just carry cash, keys, cell phone, maybe a credit card. But I spend the whole time feeling like I've forgotten something.

*because I pick up playing cards whenever I find them on the street, and this inevitably happens right after a rainfall when they're soggy and gross.
posted by bink at 6:02 AM on November 21, 2006

Mini Eastpak rucksack:

Cigs and lighter
Notebook and pen
Tiny little paper organiser
Vitamin C tablets

Wallet, like a mini, flat pencil-case:

Debit card
Passcard for work
Other alsorted cards

If I going on a night out and don't want to drag my bag all over the place, I carry my wallet and sequester my cigs and keys with an obliging boy friend with big pockets.
posted by pollystark at 6:03 AM on November 21, 2006

Reusable shopping bag, that is.
posted by bink at 6:04 AM on November 21, 2006

Messenger bag.

Wallet (mens trifold, skinny), lip balm, allergy meds, keys, phone, lip balm, loose change, pen, transit tokens, work ID/keycard, sunglasses, smokes (when not quitting), small notebook, hankerchief, tampons.

And until I find a house so that my SO and I can cohabitate: clothes from night before/for tomorrow & some of the very basic toiletries that aren't at his house (hair goop, deod., moisturizer.)

When going out, I just use pockets to carry cash, ID, phone.
posted by desuetude at 6:17 AM on November 21, 2006

when i'm not taking classes, i don't carry a bag. i simply carry the jimi.

i've always had the motto "if it doesn't fit into my pockets, i don't need it."

but, to answer the question..when i do carry a bag, it holds: glasses, sunglasses, mints/gum, at least 3 tubes of chapstick, the jimi, ipod, and maybe a pen for good measure.
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 6:18 AM on November 21, 2006

I have 2 purse configurations.

One is my going-out bag. The contents fit in a slim wristlet. I carry my drivers' license, debit card, some cash, my cell phone, and some lip gloss.

However, my usual purse that I carry to and from work is larger and I carry a ton of crap. I carry my wallet (which contains not only my license, debit card, some cash, but all of my store discount club cards, health insurance cards, AAA card, random gift cards, etc). I also carry a small vial of Advil, 2 tampons & 2 pads, eyedrops, an eyeglass cleaning kit, my cell phone, my ipod, a small spiral notebook, a couple of pens, my checkbook, some lip gloss, lip balm, and that's usually about it. Oh, and a Tide To Go pen, that thing is a lifesaver!

To keep things organized, I keep the "medical" type things (feminine protection, advil, eyedrops) in one small makeup bag within my purse, and my actual makeup within a separate small makeup bag within my purse. I hate having to fish through a sea of crap, so this keeps things fairly neat.
posted by tastybrains at 6:22 AM on November 21, 2006

Men have it easy, we can go for a simple, elegant money clip with a few necessities and that's it - what's the female equivalent of such minimalism?

I carry just a wallet...and I'm a female. I keep other junk in the car for when I need it. I keep a hairbrush in my backpack, but I don't take it everywhere with me.
posted by jesirose at 6:30 AM on November 21, 2006

In the winter when I'm going out I just use my coat pockets for the necessities: cigarettes, lighter, wallet (similar to a man's trifold but slightly larger, holds cards & cash) keys, phone, lipgloss, Moo cards. Sometimes a small hairbrush. If the coat pockets are small I might leave the wallet, taking only cash, drivers license, car registration & debit card. I have a pen and a tiny flashlight and a bottle opener on my keys, though.

In summer or to and from work the giant bag comes out: all of the above plus camera, notebook, tampax, altoids tin with altoids, altoids tin with aspirin & other medicine, kleenex, coughdrops, miscellaneous assorted receipts, CDs, a thumb drive, bank deposit slips, checkbook, sharpies, a hat, possibly a sweater or scarf, dog treats, my lunch and so on and so forth.

Over years of trial and error I've found that a whole bunch of little compartments in my purse are a waste of space - I never use the majority of them. I want one zipped compartment for bank stuff and a pocket for tampax but other than that I just throw everything into a big heap and then try to dump my purse (on newspaper!) out onto the kitchen table once a week or so and sort through it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:30 AM on November 21, 2006

In my purse: I don't use a wallet -- I put my id/debit cards/cash/insurance cards, etc. in the zipper compartment of my purse and use that as my wallet; sunglasses & case (I have both prescription glasses & sunglasses, so I do the eyeglass shuffle all the time); small notebook & pen; checkbook (just the checks -- I use carbon checks so I don't need the register, and I don't even use checks all that often any more so I don't really know why I have it in there); occasionally tampons; lipbalm; small bottle of Aleve; cel phone. I mostly carry a purse because I tend to accumulate papers throughout the day (notes, receipts, etc.) that I need to deal with, so a purse is an easy (and stylish!) way for me to hang onto that stuff that accumulates
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:38 AM on November 21, 2006

No handbag.

Pockets: Wallet, keys, mobile, cash, diary, sometimes tampax, sometimes gum.

Bag (actually a pannier): spare inner, compact pump, puncture repair kit, spare shorts (in case it starts to rain - wet legs are better than wet trousers).
posted by handee at 6:40 AM on November 21, 2006

I use two different bags mainly, and they're both fairly large- the trick is that they each have at least three compartments, and then random little pockets and whatnot sewn into them, so that I can keep things more or less organized, instead of a chaotic jumble of the truly essential (wallet, cell phone, checkbook, girl-emergency supplies: tampons/pantiliners) and the almost-essential (mini hairbrush, ipod, sunglasses, pencil case- dorky, but saves me from ever groping in my bag to find the right pen, hair ties/clips, etc.). I use both of them to take all the books I need with me for all my daily classes, and I've never had a problem with everything fitting.
posted by Oobidaius at 6:55 AM on November 21, 2006

The missing item for large purses/bags may be the Purseket, of which I am a devoted follower. It lets you buy whatever bag you want, regardless of pocket infrastructure, because you can bring your own pockets! I have one and use it daily with my Queen Bee Truckette. The best part is when you switch to your laptop bag, you just pick it up and drop it in the new bag.
In my Purseket I have: chapstick; swipey card for getting into the garage at work; keys; earplugs; some random business cards; a pad; my inhaler; a little container of Advil; a Tide stain stick thingy; Bandaids; sometimes Neosporin; a glasses cleaning cloth; gum; lots of rubber bands for my hair.
In the rest of the purse I put: one or two Moleskines (small grid version and small pocket version); a 16-oz Nalgene; a reading book; my wallet; my Treo; sometimes an apple or an orange.

Minimalist version is a small case I got at a museum store, similar to a Jimi, which holds ~4 cards and a couple of bills. That goes in one pocket and my Treo goes in the other. Rubber bands in the front pocket since I can't eat with my hair down.
posted by librarina at 7:05 AM on November 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I carry a purse on the biggish side, but it's very well organized, with everything grouped into little zippered cases. I subscribe to the "Be Prepared" school, so I carry a lot of stuff around. I have a big wallet with a million cards and a checkbook. Then I have a cellphone, PDA, business card case, sewing kit, toiletries kit, basic makeup bag, small hairbrush, pen/notebook, sunglasses, pepper spray, keys.
posted by gokart4xmas at 7:05 AM on November 21, 2006

My purse -- maybe three or four inches deep, seven inches high, 10 inches long:
* lipstick
* mirrored compact
* cell phone
* wallet
* business cards
* 1-2 loose pens
* chapstick
* 1-2 loose scraps of paper
* keys

My wallet: as small as I can find, and still hold bills, credit cards and coins in separate compartments.

I think my purse is too small for work and too big for fun, though, and I'm hoping to upgrade to a work briefcase and a smaller evening purse.

In my briefcase I will carry the above, plus:
* planner
* 1-2 books
* lunch to/from work
* binder (how I organize my GTD stuff)
* newspaper to work

In my evening purse I will carry:
* cell phone
* wallet
* keys
* 1-2 pens
* 1-2 scraps of paper
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:06 AM on November 21, 2006

I have a small patent-leather purse, used mostly when I don't have any pockets (work clothes, going out, etc). Contents:

Keys; cell phone; lip gloss; hair berets; hair elastics; some change; a wad of receipts that I stuff in there; a wallet like this with ID, credit cards, business cards, a notepad and a pen. I like this purse because it can fit all this and a small camera, but it looks so tiny. Due to the receipts, it still takes me years to find my keys. Sometimes I carry aspirin in a little baggie and a pantiliner and gum.
posted by muddgirl at 7:07 AM on November 21, 2006

Purse: wallet, ID card holder (holds transit card, library card, school ID, etc.), cell phone, keys, book/magazine, sunglasses, hand lotion, tissues, small bottle of aleve, pen, small planner, iPod, gum

Messenger bag: all of the above, plus the papers/books for whatever project I'm working on, and weather gear if it's needed (hat, gloves, hoodie, etc.)
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 7:07 AM on November 21, 2006

I carry a medium Tom Bihn Cafe bag. It usually contains my wallet, pen(s) and moleskine/small notebook, chapstick, advil, Emergen-C, Treo, keys, a stainless steel flask (with water, how boring), a comb, a baseball cap, a pack of gum and usually some quarters (for parking meters).

On a day that I have class, I can usually fit my notebook and folder into the back pocket of the cafe bag.
posted by jdl at 7:10 AM on November 21, 2006

I only carry a purse if I don't have pockets on me. I find them annoying otherwise. In them I carry my wallet (ID, bank card, credit card, insurance, cash, random business cards, lucky charms), my keys, and my phone.

When I have a bag it's usually filled with books and my laptop, or whatever it is I need for the day. It fills up with paper very quickly.
posted by divabat at 7:10 AM on November 21, 2006

I am now carrying a large bag that I use for carrying work stuff, so my "purse stuff" is going in there these days:

wallet (full o' stuff)
large comb
small bag with lipstick, mini toothbrush, mini toothpaste, mini perfume, nail file, eye pencil, aspirin and so forth
leatherman tool
cel phone
cigarettes and lighter
hand lotion
black scrunchie in case I get tired of my hair
one pad (feminine pad, not notebook)
pad of lined sticky notes

applications for tenancy
copy of the day's appointments
list of our other rentals
business cards
mileage sheet
keys for properties we are showing
digital camera

stuff I took home from work to do at home

stuff I need to do at lunch like letters to mail or printer ink to buy



No wonder my shoulder's sore.
posted by Savannah at 7:22 AM on November 21, 2006

I also subscribe to the two-tier system.

Small Purse (for errands and other outings)
wallet (trifold with changepurse on side)
mobile phone
lip gloss
(in the bag's internal zipper pocket)
8oz water bottle
(sometimes keys, on a carabiner, get clipped to the shoulder strap instead, esp. when the water bottle's in there)
about the size of my wallet, containing: concealer, backup mobile phone battery, backup contact lenses, building access card for work, tiny zip-lock of meds.

Large Bag (for work or daytrips or longer errands)
Small Purse (see above)
16oz water bottle (sometimes 2)
sunglasses in glasses case
tampons in tampon case
(circa 3-5)
(small, seasonal item)
Clif Bar
lunch bag
(only for work)

I would like to stress how helpful that zip-bag in the Small Purse is for consolidating all the smaller items that would otherwise float around at the bottom of the purse.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:27 AM on November 21, 2006

I have one messenger bag that is the closest thing to a purse I'll probably ever have. It has two small pockets and one big main area. Generally it contains

- wallet
- camera
- keys
- key drive
- laptop & charger & sleeve (if I'm going to work)
- pen
- book to read
- power bar of some sort

I consider this the bare minimum. I have a wallet (chain wallet, I am stuck in the 90's but at least I don't lose the damned thing) which has (checking....)

- money (paper only)
- bank card
- credit cards
- AAA card
- car insurance card
- health insurance card
- license
- library cards
- supermarket card
- ALA membership card
- what to do if you are stopped by the police card
- any receipts that haven't been unloaded into my banking software

When I travel I slim the wallet down and kick out all but one credit card, and all the library cards and the supermarket card. Again, I think this is the bare minimum. I could probably do without the chain.
posted by jessamyn at 7:27 AM on November 21, 2006

I started carrying a purse this year, and I'm in my 30s. Until this year, I carried a wallet-on-a-keychain (very college of me, I know) for cards/cash and used my pockets for anything else.

However, I started carrying a cell phone this year (coincidence?), so that goes in the purse. As does a wallet with a coin compartment, migraine medication, a microfiber cloth to wipe my glasses, my sunglasses, a small vial of perfume, a pack of gum, a compact with pressed powder, some ibuprofen, a hotel-sized bottle of hand lotion, and a container of Carmex. (I live in the desert; we have problems with dry hands, dry lips, dry mouth, and bright sun.)

I don't have an MP3 player or PDA.

As for your girl finding a happy medium: I find that it helps to have a micro purse for those evenings out (the wrist wallets are great) -- one that can hold a cell phone and a credit card. Otherwise, a standard sized purse is totally sufficient, and is helpful for carrying anything else I might need -- store coupons, a bottle of water, etc.
posted by parilous at 7:28 AM on November 21, 2006

I have a lot of little grouped items that I can trade in and out of my purse depending on what I need. Here is what is in my big purse:

I have a tiny cardholder which holds my metrocard, debit card, drivers license and birth control (this and my cell phone and keys are what I take if I am going out somewhere at night and don't want to be weighed down);

another card holder with all of my credit cards, membership cards, gift cards etc;

another card holder with my business cards in it;

a little change purse that holds my cash, change, matches, and a fossil;

a small makeup bag that has lipstick, mascara, safety pins, a mini nail file, and face powder;

and then loose in my purse I have my ipod and huge earphones, my cell phone, a measuring tape (comes in handy more often than you would think), some candy, a pen, a hotel-sized lotion in the winter, and lots of room for putting lunch or a bottle of water or a magazine.

I like my system of having a lot of "wallets" for different purposes because I can usually leave at least one at home and carry less.
posted by rmless at 7:34 AM on November 21, 2006

I rarely carry a purse. My only absolute necessities are my wallet and my keys. Other things I frequently carry are my cell, my meds, and a book. Most of these things are carried comfortably in my pockets. If I DO carry a purse, it must have room for a paperback book.

I usually take a tote bag to work; it carries the aforementioned items plus pens, papers, my USB flash drive, and lunch (if I remembered to pack one). Most of the time that's more space than I need.
posted by rikhei at 7:44 AM on November 21, 2006

For work/class days, it's a Timbuk2 Track Day Pack with:

-15" Powerbook (light but somehow so heavy)
-Laptop power adapter
-Kensington laptop lock
-iPod shuffle & headphones
-Small spiral notebook/moleskine/paper of some variety
-Manila folder for whatever class I have that day
-Mini umbrella
-Lip balm
-Mini tube of hand lotion
-Jimi (with Metro Smartrip, debit card, some cash, & driver's license)

For errands or anything that doesn't involve the laptop, it's Jimi, keys, and phone, which go into my pockets.
posted by timetoevolve at 7:45 AM on November 21, 2006

Regular everyday purse:
Earpiece for cel
Spare set of contact lenses
3 pens
Wallet holding ATM Card, cash, DL, Credit cards, health and car insurance cards, AAA membership card
OTC pain meds

Smaller Purse:

Pockets only:
spare house key

Also, I just invested in a "Purseket" purse organizer. Good if you tend to lose things at the bottom of a larger bag.

Hope this helps. :)
posted by Carnage Asada at 7:50 AM on November 21, 2006

Wallet: A small zippered wristlet pouch. Contains drivers license, student ID, credit cards, debit cards, insurance cards, store discount cards, gift cards, store (not grocery) coupons, cash.

Going-out purse: Small. Contains wallet (see above), keys, cell phone, lip gloss, tampon.

Work/School purse: Quite Large. Contains everything in the Going-out purse, plus pens, highlighters, weekly planner, small umbrella, gum, snack bars, now-empty travel coffee cup, small Aleve bottle, tissues, nail file, and a well-stocked makeup bag, lotion, and sometimes my lunch.
posted by gatorae at 8:28 AM on November 21, 2006

I have a few different purses, small and large, depending on the occasion. Usually the small purse is just fine unless I want to bring a book.

It's also worth noting that you will loose something in any purse, no matter the size or how organized it is.

Pen and tiny notebook
Lip balm
Cell phone

If I have a larger purse, I'll carry a book, some makeup, and maybe my iPod.
posted by honeydew at 8:30 AM on November 21, 2006

Wow. Apparently, I have a real minimalist outlook, because the purse I normally carry can fit one 8oz water bottle, a cell phone, a wallet (puffy), keys and lip balm. That's it.
I like the small bag because it forces me to not tote around everything. If I felt like it, I could add a moleskin, and sometimes I do.

Granted, I'll maintain other bags with work materials, and those generally end up being Italian backpacks that look tiny, but have a tremendous amount of space in that tiny exterior.
posted by lilithim at 8:34 AM on November 21, 2006

I believe I'm fairly minimal, though I do tend to accumulate paper in one pocket of the bag (receipts, coupons, to-do lists, etc.). So:

Ladies' wallet (i.e., large enough to hold checkbook)
mp3 player
work ID
Keeper (feminine hygiene)
assortment of membership cards held together with binder clip
small manicure kit
and assorted papers, as stated

The one requirement for my purses is that they be able to hold a hardcover book.
posted by timepiece at 8:54 AM on November 21, 2006

Since my cell phone and keys are generally in my pockets or hanging from my belt, the purse contains items such as the following:

wallet (with money, ID, CCs, etc)
small bottle of advil gel-caps
penlight (a gift)
pen, datebook, current grocery/to-do list in outer pocket
business card case
a lot of receipts I need to throw away
one of those plastic bubble thingies with a new pair of knee high hose in it (cause you never know)
a small toiletry kind of bag containing mints, sample size moisturizer, lip gloss, Chapstick, mini nail file, folding brush, compact mirror, and glasses repair kit (this bag is the stuff that you need to be able to find in a hurry that otherwise would sink to the bottom of the purse).

Hope this is helpful.
posted by ilsa at 9:07 AM on November 21, 2006

Maybe your wife just needs to accept that she is a two-configuration person.

Most weekdays, there is a chance that I will have to amuse myself. Therefore, I carry a purse. Medium size with shoulder strap, varying styles. Contents: Wallet, tissues, allergy pills, phone, pens, notebook, book, iPod, various cords, makeup, whatever miscellany has made its way in between cleanings. (I'm looking at you, ATM slips.)

Most weekends, it's unlikely I will have to amuse myself. Therefore, I carry keys, wallet, and my phone, in a jacket with pockets.

My wallet is a small pouch with two zippered compartments -- I'm not even sure if it's technically a wallet. It has no identifying marks on it, but I got it at Target. I let it fatten up (see ATM slips above), and then deflate it again.

I've never liked traditional women's wallets, because of the coinpurse section. Coins either go in my desk, in my car's cupholder, or in my pocket on their way to one or the other.
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:20 AM on November 21, 2006

I hate that I carry around all this stuff. That said, I jam the following into a large shoulder back. 2 sets keys, one for home, one for work. Cell phone, iPod in a special case, driving/sunglasses, digi camera, pens, giant wallet with debit, store cards and built-in checkbook that I hate hate hate. A small makeup kit with lip balm, lip gloss, mascara, powder, nail clippers, a knife and tampons. A MiniMag flashlight. A tiny address book. A small bottle of medicine - decongestant, acidophilus, pain reliever and claritin-like generic drugs. Then I have my laptop bag with all its stuff. On workdays I have it and my lunch bag. My husband likes to tease me about my "bag lady" tendencies.... :)
posted by Lynsey at 9:43 AM on November 21, 2006

I solved my similar purse problem by using this bag (also called a wallet organizer) most of the time. It has a zippered pouch in back, large enough for a slim phone, keys, and lipstick. The wallet part has a slot for a pen, pockets for bills and paper, slots for cards, and a zippered coin compartment. The shoulder strap can be long or short, or it can be folded up and snapped in place. When closed, the whole thing is 6x9".

When I need to carry more things, I put the small bag into a bigger bag.
posted by wryly at 9:56 AM on November 21, 2006

I'm not a fan of purses and I'm a minimalist, so I only have one small purse that I use daily. In it, there is:

wallet (small and compact as possible; license, debit & cc cards)
cell phone
USB thumb drive
gum & some mints
a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer
a tiny bottle of advil

and in the small zipper side pocket (inside):
a few sudafed tablets in their blister packs
a tiny ziploc bag with some allergy med tablets
some chewable pepto
spare keys

That's it. I find that's all I need on a regular basis.
posted by geeky at 10:19 AM on November 21, 2006

Pockets: Tri-fold wallet, keys, cell phone, spare change. This time of year I try to carry lip balm too, but sometimes I fail. My iPod goes in the coat pocket in the winter, clipped onto a pants pocket in the summer.

That's all I carry on weekends or for social occasions. I do have a handbag I use solely for going to and from work. That always has a collapsible umbrella, a book, bus schedles, pens/pencils, and a flash drive. If I remember to pack lunch that goes in the work bag too. Depending on the workload I may cart my laptop around, but not usually.

I hate carrying the handbag, but have gotten stuck without an umbrella and my bus schedules one too many times, so I'm resigned to carrying one for my daily commute. Right now it's a smallish leather Coach bag that was a gift, but I may revert to my old Timbuk2 messenger bag; this bag seems intended for someone far more grown-up and responsible than I.
posted by Stacey at 10:20 AM on November 21, 2006

Also a double configuration woman. Normally, I like to use and carry small purses (maybe 8w x 6h x 3d give or take). I like to throw it over my shoulder and forget about it, so no wristlets for me yet.

cell phone
wallet (trifold, thin-ish, clean out when receipts make it too hard to close)
chapstick (must have)
lip gloss

However, I'm in grad school and find myself toting my laptop everywhere. For that, I have the Samsonite Ultima, which is seriously the best bag ever. It usually has a ton of stuff crammed into it.

In addition to everything listed above (plus laptop/power cords) it contains:
Business cards
MP3 player and extra batteries
Thumb drives
Extra beauty crap (lotion, advil, tampons, nail stuff, band-aids, makeup, hair ties, bobby pins, small bottle of hair creme, headband, Purell hand wipes, more lip glosses and chapsticks)
Lots of pens and a notebook
Breakfast (dry cereal in a baggie)
Random candy (um, it melts, this is really a bad idea)
Luna bar, etc
Textbooks or papers for class/work

I guess when I have the choice to be less minimalist, I fill the space with food and beauty products. This makes sense, since I recently realized that those two things are taking up too much of my monthly spending :)
posted by ml98tu at 10:33 AM on November 21, 2006

I always have my wallet in my right hip pocket; I attend a college where I have to pull out my wallet to show or swipe my ID at every building I enter. I'd go crazy if it were in my backpack.

Front transparent section: College ID (visible), driver's license, health insurance card, business card, Metrocard, building laundry card.
First internal section (the wallet opens like a book): folded bills, usually $2-10 in singles.
Second internal section (designated mess area): interesting fortune from fortune cookie, ticket stub from good movie, temporary building IDs, NYPL card, home library card, debit card.
Wallet key ring (hangs over the outside of my pocket and keeps the whole wallet at the top of my pocket): two room keys, mailbox key, drugstore and grocery store courtesy card ID, NYPL card ID.

When I'm going to class -- which is the vast majority of my life -- I take my backpack. It wouldn't be so freaking giant if I could ever go back to my room during the day, but although I live "on campus," I have a commute of about 30-45 minutes each way, and can't make it between classes.

Biggest compartment: notebook, folders, choral binder, day planner, textbooks.
Next-biggest compartment: hairbrush, water bottle, very small umbrella inside a plastic bag, T-shirt if there's a good chance the day will warm up, a novel or two (or three).
Small pocket on top (designated mess area): Pens (black, blue, red; choice of nib), pencils, gum eraser, tiny pencil sharpener, coupons for a few places I might go, fingernail clipper (lifesaver), favorite plain chapstick (discontinued!), makeup compact, battered Latin flashcards, blue kazoo (long story), cell phone if it's not in my left hip pocket.
Smallish external pocket: headphones (the earmuff kind), iPod (in padded compartment inside).
Tiny external pocket: Small Ziploc of my favorite cereal so I can sneak a few when I don't have time to eat between classes.

When I go out, my purse is a lot smaller: cell, wallet if it shouldn't be in my pocket, emergency $20 in secret pocket, hairbrush, chapstick, makeup compact.

When I was at home this summer, I carried a tote bag (ick) with my wallet, hairbrush, cell, pens, iPod and headphones, and a novel or two. This was not an elegant solution. I don't know what I'll do once I graduate and can't lug around a backpack anymore -- I'm afraid I'll have to go right to a briefcase to get the capacity I'm used to. Clearly, I'm a member of the (so frequently justified) "you'll want it later" school.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:34 AM on November 21, 2006

I change purses a lot so I keep the contents easy to transfer. My wallet is a simple bi-fold manly looking thing that has a little zippered pocket for coins. Most everything else goes in a leather makeup bag. In there is lipstick, lip gloss, my inhaler, a little bottle of advil, some kleenex, appropriate "girl stuff" depending on the time of the month, gum, allergy medicine, hand lotion, a handkerchief for wiping off sweat (three cheers for the tropics!) and a few other odds and ends. The makeup bag isn't very big (about 5x3x2) but it makes it easy to switch from one purse to another. And without it, I tend to be one of those messy purse people, so it saves me the embarrassment of having to dig for things. My cell phone, keys and sunglasses round out my basic purse contents. I also have a small notebook that I usually carry around but it seems to have gone missing.
posted by wallaby at 11:05 AM on November 21, 2006

Nobody (yet) carries condoms? Interesting.
posted by mrbill at 11:42 AM on November 21, 2006

I've been carrying larger bags for the last year so it seems like I carry around a lot of stuff, but if you peak inside, there's actually lots more room for me to pack stuff in. I find mid-sized bags a little snug though, so I guess large bags are here to stay.

main compartment:
- wallet (includes id, credit cards, bank card, cash & misc. receipts that I haven't cleared out yet)
- wristlet for assorted store loyalty cards, frequent flyer cards, etc.
- pocket-size day planner
- make-up bag (lipsticks/glosses, eyedrops, powder compact, travel-size handcream, nail file, band-aids, ibuprofen - I just about never use this stuff bc I keep a lipgloss in my desk at work but I like to be prepared just in case I break a nail or something)
- book and/or other reading material
- files if I have to bring work home (rare, thank goodness!)

side compartments:
- keys
- work security pass
- gum
- tissue
- cellphone
- pen

When I go out, the bare minimum is my cellphone, ID, some cash and a credit card, lipgloss, blotting papers, keys and eyedrops.
posted by phoenixc at 11:54 AM on November 21, 2006

I carried condoms in my backpack when I was single or not living with my partner, lo these many years ago. These days, the string of ubelievable coincidences that would have to stack up to result in me needing a condom somewhere other than my house are just too involved to contemplate, so I don't bother.
posted by Stacey at 12:40 PM on November 21, 2006

I carry a big purse. I couldn't carry my stuff in my pockets even if I wanted- a lot of clothing made for women have really puny pockets.

I Carry:
Big Honkin Wallet (that I love, because it has an outside pocket that's perfect for my metrocard)
Change Purse
Business Card Case
Sunglasses in Case
Glasses in Case
Many lip glosses (I like a purse with a separate pocket for my lip gloss collection- I prefer to carry at least 5, often 10).
Face blotting sheets
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:37 PM on November 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Right now I'm hauling a smallish canvas tote around. Actually, I'm switching between two smallish totes. Anyway. The tote with the pocket has loose change, three starlight mints, tampons, an ink pen, the current issue of Harpers, a half knitted sock, a ball of sock yarn with needles in it, my cell phone, and a knitting stitch dictionary and Knitting Rules!

The tote with no pocket has a bottle of advil, a current copy of The Brown Journal of Foreign Affairs, a 1/3 knitted sock, an Autumn 2006 The American Scholar, a Quaker chewy oatmeal raisin granola bar, and The Rise of American Democracy - Jefferson to Lincoln.

My wallet isn't in either bag right now, but will be in my jacket pocket when I go out, which may not happen tonight. It contains my debit card, driver license, some small cash and my Red Cross First Aid/CPR card. It is thin and has a button pouch, a side pocket and a zippered change on the other side.
posted by bilabial at 1:38 PM on November 21, 2006

Most minimal:
- nothing or a few $ cash (I can and often do leave the house unlocked; I can get most places on foot)

Minimalist, all in pockets:
- cash or plastic enough for whatever I'm going to do
- keys to house/office or car (separate keychains since I rarely need the car)
- driver's license if driving (rare)

The everyday stuff that stays in my bag all the time, in a bag roughly like this, but all black:
- assortment of pens and pencils
- small notebook (3"x3"x0.5")
- even smaller address/phone book
- nylon wallet, fat with store cards, concert tickets, receipts, other junk I don't usually need -- couldn't fit it into pocket, but only because I'm too lazy to clean it out
- chapstick in winter
- a few bandaids; I'm always getting papercuts
- menstrual stuff as needed
- chapstick-sized tube with ibuprofen and allergy medicine
- postal stamps
- day planner, in busy semesters
- several sheets of looseleaf paper, folded in half
- lecture notes etc, folded in half
- philosophy articles, xeroxed and folded in half
- one or two philosophy books (or sometimes I carry them separately; papers to grade I always carry separately in a big envelope to protect them from weather)
- gum if going to boring lecture

Add to bag as needed; the bag needs to be able to fit at least one of these in addition to the normal load:
- digital camera in soft case with extra batteries, extra memory card, USB connector
- cellphone and charger (I only use it on trips)
- bottle of water
- lunch (loose fruit, sandwich in small tupperware)
- checkbook
- granola bar
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:55 PM on November 21, 2006

Also in bag standardly:
- pocket knife
- cheap silk scarf in neutral colors(in side pocket; I forget about it until I'm really cold in a building, when it's a life-saver)

My basic requirements for a bag are that it be
- small/medium but able to fit 2 1.5" thick books and my wallet
- plain enough to go with everything (I never move stuff from one bag to another)
- have a shoulder strap. I can't abide big bags or handbags.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:04 PM on November 21, 2006

Right now I'm using a small microfiber bag that converts from purse to backpack by the straps unzipping. It's smaller than some of my other bags, but large enough to hold the following:

-small wallet (really just a card case with ID, credit cards and some folded bills in it)
-small filofax
-small coin purse for when I need to feed the meter
-thin moleskin for jotting stuff down
-padlock for when I go to the gym
-2 tubes of lipstick
-small stack of mandarin flashcards to study during down times.
-my favorite ballpoint pen
-tiny tin of tiny altoids

The filofax is what absorbs all the random bits of paper so that my wallet can stay tiny.

When I need to carry tampons around, they go into an old case for eyeglasses that snaps shut and is covered with funky fabric. It keeps the tampons clean and unmangled, and it doesn't scream "FEMININE PROTECTION" like some tampon carriers do.
posted by ambrosia at 3:11 PM on November 21, 2006

I never wear pants, and live in a warm climate, so I rarely have pants- or coat-pockets available in which to carry things. I wish I could blame my constant purse-toting on that, but it would be a little dishonest of me.

I own many purses. I favor bags with some structure (no fabric totes, thank you), either with straps long enough to go over my shoulder (but never so long that I can wear them slung across my chest) or traditional handbag-length: just long enough to carry over your forearm. Um, like Queen Elizabeth. OMG! I feel so lame.

I do not particularly favor clutches for daily use, although I will sometimes tuck a cute cluch/tiny bag into my bigger bag so I don't have to drag the whole thing around during lunch, etc.

I also use teensy bags when going out or on a date or similar.

Having a purse of at least a certain size (say: big enough to carry a paperback, as well as keys/sunglasses/coin purse/cell) gives me a dorky sense of security. Carrying a smaller purse (a wristlet or similar) makes me feel vaguely nervous. What if I NEED more than one shade of lipgloss? What if I NEED a pen? What if-- etc.

My purses are messy. I duck behind pillars and clean them out before going through security, if it looks like it might get searched.

In my occasional brief fit of organization, I find that a purse with separate compartments, or carrying various pouches (for makeup, etc) withing the bag makes everything much neater. One main compartment is almost impossible to keep organized. (Or at least that's what I tell myself.)

This is what I wish I carried in my purse:

*Coin purse (contains cards, cash, change)
*Sunglasses in case
*Lipcolor appropriate for outfit
*Small notebook

This is what I actually carry in my purse:

*Coin purse
*Sunglasses (no case)
*Two or three or four tubes of lipgloss or lipstick
*Small notebook
*Several pens
*Old receipts
*Scraps of paper that may once have had important notes on them
*Hair elastics
*Bills that have been paid but that I haven't figured out what to do with

Also, depending on size of bag:
*Bottle of water
*Work documents
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:54 PM on November 21, 2006

I have a system (sort of)....

Going Out: Clutch that carries cash, keys, lipstick (sometimes other makeup related things), phone, mints, hair rubberband, a credit card and ID (no wallet)

Everyday bag (not at work/not partying): Small bag containing all of that (but some of it in a wallet now)plus a pill case (in case I forgot in the morning!), lip balm(s), maybe band-aids if I'm wearing iffy shoes, sunglasses if necessary, nano if necessary, tampon if necessary (If I'm out for the day, or going to a cafe or somewhere else alone, I'll take a bigger shoulder bag and usually have a book, paper, etc.)

When I'm working at the office: Slightly larger purse that will carry all of the above, plus my little moleskine planner, pens, business card case, moisturizer, ID badges, and depending on which office I'm in, the bathroom key (yes, you need a key to get into the bathroom).

When I'm at a client or offsite meeting: Messenger size bag that will carry most of that plus my laptop, charger if necessary, folders/paper, sometimes a water bottle.

Lipsticks and pens have a tendency to collect in my purse until I run out. Right now, I think there's probably 7-8 lip related items in there and about five pens, it's kind of ridiculous.

Oh, and the condoms are always the guy's responsibility.
posted by echo0720 at 3:58 PM on November 21, 2006

Why do I find this so fascinating? I prefer the minimalist approach, but am stymied by a lack of pockets in many women's clothing.

In the winter I often don't carry a purse and make use of my coat pockets to carry:

- The smallest coin/ID purse I can find to serve as my wallet. It holds:
-- my debit card
-- my work ID
-- my library card
-- a card that I made with phone numbers/insurance info/etc
-- a couple of stamps
-- cash (coins get dumped nightly)
-- sometimes a tampon (no applicator).
- Keys (3 -- home, car, mail box)
- Cell phone
- Sunglasses (sometimes these live in the car, depends on where I'm going)
- iPod & head phones (sometimes)

When I'm not wearing a coat with big pockets (summer) , I carry a purse that is styled like a small messenger bag, in which I carry all of the above. This leaves a lot of empty space, so I sometimes put in a book or my dinner (I work evenings) in the middle section and/or a small knitting project.
posted by redheadeb at 4:00 PM on November 21, 2006

Men have it easy, we can go for a simple, elegant money clip with a few necessities and that's it - what's the female equivalent of such minimalism?

Buying a wallet in the store b/c it looks thinner than my current one, then transferring stuff into it and realizing that it's actually bigger than the current one. Return it, repeat cycle.

Seriously though, I think the female equivalent would be a clutch carrying the essentials and no wallet at all.
posted by echo0720 at 4:05 PM on November 21, 2006

What's In Your Bag flickr tag can answer this.
posted by nakedsushi at 7:20 PM on November 21, 2006

whenever i try to live with a small handbag, it doesn't work, regardless of how organized i am about it. i think this is 'cause i have to have a book with me at all times, as well as my ipod, and whenever i haven't been using a bag that accommodates that i end up in an exasperating situation. and trying to use pockets in jackets or pants doesn't work, since i inevitably leave essential stuff in outfits from the day before. i need a centralized go-to space for my stuff. so i've just accepted i'm a bigger bag type of chick. tant pis.

so i recently bit the bullet and got this (not too expensive, but more than i'm used to; i've been a cheapo with bags, changing them every season, and i'm sick of that too), and it's working great for me--it's big enough, but not airport-carry-on/homeless-with-a-hefty-bag ridiculous big, it's got the best pockets ever, and i like how it straddles the line between messenger bag and real purse. that makes it perfect for almost every day to day situation (dressy enough for work, keyed down enough for jeans and market errands), so i don't have to change bags (which is another thing that exasperates me, since even purseket tactics don't keep me from forgetting to transfer some essential whatnot when changing bags). it frees up both my hands and it's easy to open and close. it also stands upright on its own, and the strap is comfortable and adjustable...it's little details like that that my previous bags were lacking, and that make such a difference. so i'm pretty happy.

/derail (and seeming shill, sorry, i'm just so happy i found my bag solution finally!)

anyway, i carry...

* a chunky pink wallet from target (i kind of want a unique queen bee type of wallet, some day...) that contains my driver's license, 2 credit cards, debit/atm card, discount/membership cards, library card, library printing account card, old metro and bus passes, student id, insurance cards, social security card, contact card, some cash and quarters, and my $1 lucky red envelope for chinese new year.
* keys
* cell phone. mine's old (4 years, battery's dying) and i have to replace it soon...
* ipod in its sleeve with foldable earbuds
* a book! (or two...) right now, zizek's welcome to the desert of the real! (it's always there, since it's tiny) and selected letters of william faulkner.

usually also:
* work badge
* tiny planner/calendar
* moleskine with some loose index cards tucked inside, pens and pencils
* checkbook

* pack that's usually half dunhills and half cloves, 2 lighters (you know how people always ask to borrow one and then...)

* tissue pack
* sanitizing wipes in single-use packets, small bottle of hand sanitizer
* stash tea, emergen-c packets
* ginger mints

* makeup bag with dr. pepper lip gloss, old but beloved delia's lipstick in brown sugar, an eyeshadow trio set, clear mascara, sunblock stick, hand lotion, compact mirror, tiny my little pony comb i use to brush out my bangs, hair ties, barrettes
* secret bag with condoms (yes, some girls do), planned parenthood info card from college days, tampons, those placker dental floss sticks, pepto bismo, cough drops, ear plugs in a case, a stray ziploc bag to protect things from rain

depending on the season:
* gloves/arm warmers, scarf, sunglasses, mini umbrella, pretty collapsible paper fan

* usb key chain drive
* digital camera, extra batteries

and if i really have to, my bag can accommodate my laptop in its protective sleeve. i used to lug it around on campus when i was an undergrad.

there's also usually a bunch of receipts, fortune cookies, and old grocery lists/post it reminders to myself at the bottom. i clean those out whenever i remember to.

my bag is like a security blanket, but that said, i do appreciate those lovely times you're totally unfettered. i do have one jacket that has organized and secure enough pockets to let me go bag-free, and that makes me feel like a wandering nomad in the best way sometimes.

as for the cocktail party wristlet set up, i don't go to enough fancy pants evening events to make it an issue so much. but i did do what others mentioned, had a configuration for that, when i used to go to the symphony for free as a poor college student, woo.
posted by ifjuly at 2:01 AM on November 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

It was funny/fun to read this because I don't even have a purse, just a larger satchel I use for carrying books & school things around. I try to be as minimalist as possible in terms of "necessities," so if I'm just running an errand or going out with friends & don't anticipate needing a book or notebook, I usually have: wallet (in back right pocket) + keys (carabiner on belt loop) + cellphone (back left pocket) + chapstick (front pocket).

On the other hand, I'm in grad school, so usually I'm carrying a lot of course material & folders around in a message bag. With them goes a moleskine, several pens & pencils, a little zip-up bag that contains a travel-size bottle of lotion, chapstick, earplugs, & my Keeper. A water bottle. A book or magazine. There's still usually room for me to stop & get groceries on my way home..
posted by soviet sleepover at 9:06 PM on December 2, 2006

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