What’s your ideal bag size?
Mine is my black cross body purse. It’s small enough that it doesn’t collect too much clutter or bump into people, but it’s big enough that I can stash some strategic items inside:
Like an extra pair of flip flops — for those nights when I wear fancy heels and inevitably decide must. take. off. now. Or my kindle — for those times when I’m headed to some kind of social event and there’s a probability I’m going to try to sneak off to a hallway and read instead of talk to people.
Just call me Rory Gilmore.
Back to bags. Some days, though, I want to switch things up and carry a clutch.
But is it practical for every day?
Yes and no. It depends on your preference and where you’re headed. But here’s why it works for me, in case you’re curious:
All through college, I preferred to carry a clutch. Not because it was cute — we’ve established the fact that I had all kinds of awkward style back then — but because I liked how small + unobtrusive it was. It never got in the way or bumped into people. It was light as a feather. And clutter was nonexistent in a bag so tiny.
I’d just pack it with my driver’s license, debit card, lip balm, sunnies, phone, and keys. And then I’d tuck it under my arm and go. (I will admit that it’s tricky to master the art of holding your clutch under your arm, especially when your hands are full — but as with most things in life, practice makes it easier.)
All that practice makes clutch carrying second nature. And, for me, I feel like I have everything I need.
Everything, that is, unless I’m wearing fancy heels or going to a giant social event. In that case, Imma need some extra bag space.
What about you? What’s your ideal bag size?
Shirt: old from J.Crew (different but equally awesome here)
Bag: old from Madewell (similar here)
Jeans: Gap (similar)
Shoes: Dolce Vita (also similar here)
I’ve discovered late in life that my ideal bag is a tote bag with a magnetic snap closure and pockets on the outside as well as inside.
I absolutely love carrying clutches! I’m a junior in high school, so some of my friends tease me when I only bring my wallet & keys out to go somewhere with them. I just prefer to not worry about carrying a purse unless I have to. :)
This is an area where I have perfected a minimalist lifestyle. I own 3 bags:
1. A small bag that can be a crossbody, larger wristlet, or clutch. It has 6 pockets which holds all of the cards I need, and also holds a pen, chapstick, cough drops, keys, travel lotion, cash, with room for a couple misc items should I need them. I use it as a crossbody on weekends, during the week I store it as a wristlet in my larger bag (below), to tale out if I make a coffee run, and as a clutch when I have the whim. I have it in teal: https://www.etsy.com/listing/213585835/free-shipping-vegan-leather-woven-clutch?
2. A larger bag for my commute, which holds my wristlet (above), laptop, lunch, kindle, sunglasses, and other odds and ends, should I need them. It’s the She’s All That Bag from Stella and Dot In a metallic color.
3. A black sequined tiny wristlet for formal occasions. Just holds a couple cards, my cell, lip gloss, and cash. No particular brand, I picked it up at DSW years ago.
Oh yeah, the wristlet / crossbody also holds my phone!
Oh man, I love the idea of a wristlet inside a larger bag! I pretty much have to have a large bag for work, to carry reading material/lunch/layers that I need for part of the day/groceries I pick up on the way home (I don’t have a car so I tend to run errands on my way to and from work). I have a Duluth roll-top scout pack because backpacks are a way better option for my shoulders/neck given the amount of walking I do. But there are times when I’m running out for lunch or running a quick errand and I don’t need *all* my stuff – I’m totally stealing the idea of a small clutch/large wristlet with basic essentials inside the larger bag.
Kelly NH says
That Etsy bag is just gorgeous!
I love the look of the dressier clutch/blazer with the casual outfit! I also used to just rock a small wristlet in college…much easier to dance and run around with. Plus I didn’t have a smartphone to cart around. Now I like a medium sized crossbody bag to hold all my gear.
Morgan Turner says
Good Morning! I carry a mini crossbody from Target on a daily basis and I find that’s the perfect size for me. I used to carry a massive Nine West purse but realized all the “what ifs” I stuff in it never got used (bandaids, extra makeup, etc.) The small crossbody helps keep my hands free. On nights when I go out, I either stick with the mini crossbody or use a small wristlet from Express. They come in a million colors and patterns so I have several.
Have a great day! Morgan
I’m in college right now, and my backpack pretty much goes everywhere with me (admittedly, I’m more of the studious, homebody type, so I don’t really “go out” very often). It’s a Jansport backpack on the smaller side of backpacks, and I adore it. I can fit everything I may need–my laptop, my books for class, some groceries from a quick run to the store, a small makeup bag, my wallet, a pair of mittens, etc.–and it doesn’t hurt my shoulders because the weight is evenly distributed across my back. Yes, I know…18 years old and already complaining about shoulder pain. Just call my grandma. :p
First, I think this is my favorite winter look so far. LOVE that relaxed blazer. I’m still waiting in anticipation to see that beautiful teal dress :^)
Secondly, in regards to bags, I never go anywhere, ever, without a book or kindle. This unfortunately limits my bag choices and always requires something larger than a clutch. I totally identify with wanting to sneak away at overwhelming social gatherings to read
med to big … big as in the cool double sided tote from Nordstrom you linked up! I love the option of throwing extra things in there to make carrying essentials quick and easy and keep my hands free. I like the idea of having a clutch to go out on a date, and I love a crossbody or smaller purse for outings and dates where a tote might be overkill. ever since I was a little kid I have a sweet spot for handbags and have a nice collection. they add so much to an outfit and there are sooooo many cute styles I cant grasp the idea of only using one. :)
First things first, I LOVE your blazer. This look is so polished/casual and I love it..such a good mix. In terms of bags, I own one clutch but only carry it when going out to a nice dinner or out for drinks. It does have a nice horizontal strap on the backside that I like to tuck my hand into for easy carrying which is nice because I’m not good at the whole tuck under my arm thing :) I used to think my ideal bag size was a large tote but for Christmas my grandma got me a super cute black/leopard crossbody bag and it has become my go to! It’s the perfect size for my wallet, phone, keys and lipbalm which is usually all I need to carry no matter where I go. It’s become my favorite bag.
One of my first un-fancy purchases was a decent size clutch and I love the effortlessness of it and how much it brings to an outfit.
However I have just had a huge tan leather tote for my birthday and I love it SO much! I no longer have the loads of clutter in my bag problem because I read Marie Kondos book in January and she tells you to have a home for the items in your purse and put them away at the end of each day. I have a drawstring bag which I keep things like tissues, hand cream, lip balm in and that goes in my bedside draw with my book/kindle and phone at the end of the day. When I read it in the book I thought it was a bit OTT to empty my bag everyday but it really really feels good like decluttering the mind at the end of the day. Plus I’m more likely to use a different bag the next day because I can’t just pick up yesterdays as I run out of the door.
I used to own 50+ bags but now (almost 12 months into my capsule wardrobe adventure) I have just a handful that I LOVE and can mix and match with outfits.
I love a clutch when I am out to dinner. I like how you can place on the table and not have a bulky bag issue at the table. I carry a leather messenger bag that i wear cross body for work. It becomes everyday as i am bad about switching bags. In the summer I have a large tote to stick all the things my kids need when we are out and about (hats for all, sun screen, water bottle, etc). When my kids were little I used a backpack most of the time. Had all I needed and was hands free to grab kids or play with them at the park. When I am shopping I use a small cross body. So I use many. My BIGGEST requirement for anything is that it holds my phone.
You may have linked to it in the past but where can I find a clutch like the one here?
It sounds like it has a ‘just right’ amount of space.
I look forward to your post every day and I’m summoning the courage to create my own capsule wardrobe.
Hi Jen! Actually, if you click the bag link included in the post, it’ll take you to a similar clutch, but it will show up as navy croc skin first — just scroll down a bit and you’ll see different color options, including the cheetah option. :) xo Caroline
love love that blazer!
my ideal without kids is a clutch or wristlet… enough to fit lipstick, sunglasses and a phone. But I have submitted to the fact that after 3 kids and one on the way, a backpack with lots and lots of pockets is the best for me.
I’ve never worn a clutch except when going out to a fancy party–like a wedding or similar. But I see how it might work for ‘every day’.
I have to say I love this clutch! I actually purchased a little bigger version of this one in the summer when I first started following your blog. And I love it! You can dress it up or down. It is the perfect size to fit all the essentials.
Before seeing this one, I wasn’t even open to the clutch idea (I’ve always been a “the bigger the bag, the better it is” kind of girl!). But, I saw this one and fell in LOVE. After becoming open to the idea of smaller bag for a few occasions, it completely changed my thoughts. I use it all the time now! It is great addition to any wardrobe.
I’m obsessed with this outfit. Obsessed. [And I’m not even a fan of animal print ;) ]
I like a crossbody but has to be big enough for my water bottle…currently “Life is Good”…but I’ve been eyeing one from Target.
I’m at a weird stage right now because my usual preference is a tiny bag: either a clutch/generous wallet, or a tiny cross-body purse. BUT I am also a mom, so unless I’m on a solo excursion or a very short outing, I have to carry something bigger. BUT my “baby” is two, so I don’t need to go all-out diaper bag. Last month I got this, and I’m in love. (It seems smaller and more flexible in person.) http://www.fossil.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=12052&langId=-1&catalogId=25005&categoryId=331141&cm_vc=331141&pn=&productId=22457339&imagePath=ZB4799216 It hits the sweet spot of big enough but not giant, and it’s black AND brown, so it goes with EVERYTHING.
I’ve got a small black Liebeskind crossbody for everyday, and a large dark brown leather tote for anything from my grad school stuff to short weekend getaways. For right now, it fits the bill (but I’m planning for a structured brown crossbody for spring).
Thank you for writing about clutches! I keep finding great ones on Shopbop but can never pull the trigger, because I can’t justify the practicality… I’m wondering if a wristlet might be a good option so then I can keep it attached to myself — I just get so worried that I would spend the night trying to carry a clutch awkwardly with food/drinks, only to leave it somewhere as soon as I put it down…
In the winter I don’t even carry a bag. I have a small wallet with just a few cards, my keys and phone. It all fits right in my jacket pocket. In the summer I might even slip the stuff in my back pocket, or a simple clutch works great! I should start carrying my kindle more for bus rides and downtime, but I can usually get enough content on my phone to suffice.
I used to carry my kindle with me everywhere, too, but I now have the kindle app on my phone and I love it because not carrying my kindle saves significant weight & space in my bag(s)–if there were no kindle app I’d still be truckin’ that kindle with me everywhere, I CANNOT go anywhere without a book tucked in my bag, so obviously I absolutely adore my kindle & the kindle app!
In INFJ (see Meyers Briggs personality types) communities on Google+ and Facebook there have been–and still crop up from time to time–threads about how we have to escape intermittently from parties, even our own! I call it “decompressing” because I get “sensory overload”… It’s not that we don’t enjoy parties, we do, but we enjoy them in an introverted-way. Sometimes extroverts think we aren’t enjoying ourselves because we experience joy & express our joy in ways different from extroverts, but believe me, we can be and usually are extremely joyful, even at parties when we need to make a quick and/or brief escape!
60% of the population are introverts, 30% extroverts, and 10% ambiverts–it may seem like extroverts are in the majority, but that’s just because they are usually much more “vocal” than introverts, who tend to write their thoughts more than speaking them out-loud. So, having to take “party-breaks” is more normal than not doing it, because introvert-party-escapers are in the majority!
Oh, and I have a deep-red soft-side briefcase that I carry my music & teaching stuff with me, then a couple of medium-size bags (black and navy) I use on non-teaching or non-performing days when I’m out and around doing errands etc, and a few clutches in different colors that I carry otherwise. My favorite clutches have the wrist-strap, so it’s easy to have both hands free if desired.
Love that blazer!!!!!!! What size did you get, if you don’t mind me asknig.. it sitting in my shopping cart in 3 different sizes lol
Wristlet all the way. Basically a clutch with a loop to hang around your wrist if you need two hands. My mom got me my first wristlet as a gift and it was amazing because it was the first purse that didn’t make my shoulder/neck hurt! Haven’t looked back :)
Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's says
I like to carry a water bottle around with me, especially on school days, so I don’t think I could ever use a practically use a clutch for college! (I like to drink water to keep hydrated, to do something when I’m bored, and to calm my rumbling stomach until lunch time) Because I need a bigger bag, I used to go for cross-bodies, because I thought they were more fashionable than backpacks. BUT I found two amazing, fashionable, practical, big enough, sturdy, timeless backpacks (one in Taiwan and one in Japan) that I have been loving and using for both school and excursions :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s
Hannah Elizabeth says
I love a clutch on occasions, but find my forgetfulness wanting to accidently set it down and leave it somewhere because it’s small. Probably just me that does that though! :) my favorite size handbag is a structured tote! Not to big, but big enough to plop anything I need in it while keeping it organized with its structure being solid.
For me, a bag with out a strap is practical never. I must just not be good at the tucked under the arm thing. I can be a little haphazard with my belongings so it would just scream, “DROP ME, LOSE ME, STEAL ME.” Even for going out at night I like to have a clutch sized bag, with a long strap. But I at minimum need a wrist strap. In general I like a medium sized bag that can fit things, but that doesn’t require me digging around in my bag for 5 minutes to find something.
I love the way that carrying a clutch like that looks, but I’ve had 4 debit cards in the past 3 months…I know my limits.
Steph M says
Oh, fairly large. I have a two-year-old and an almost-one-year-old, so I’m ready to downsize from carrying a diaper bag and a purse. I keep a change of pants, undies and socks for my boy and a cloth diaper and wipes, along with a small wet bag, in my purse. It also holds my wallet, glasses case, lip gloss, and keys. And a good chocolate bar from which I steal a square now and then. Clearly I cannot yet venture into clutch territory! :D
I was on team wristlet for all of college and law school. However, post graduation, I find myself gravitating to small clutches that can double as a cross body. Realistically, it’s even more hands-free than a wristlet and I feel more adult with it. As much of a bag whore as I was in high school and college, Coach and Dooney & Bourke e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g, I feel like I’ve really nailed the minimalist bag stash these days. 2 work bags (black + brown) 2 cross body bags (black + brown), 1 gym bag, and 1 beach bag that only comes out during my summer capsule. All of which are kindle friendly… of course.
I agree, I love clutches for every day use! They’re great for when you’re running out the door to run a quick errand.
“those times when I’m headed to some kind of social event and there’s a probability I’m going to try to sneak off to a hallway and read instead of talk to people”
To answer your question: I have a few different sizes for different occasions. But I find myself grabbing the super large ones every time, of which I have two: one for everyday, one for fancy parties (yes, really). I just drop them in a corner somewhere. I keep my bag clutterfree, by the way: wallet, phone, book, keys, band aids. The band aids always come in handy, I even hand them out to strangers.
Caroline! My bag of choice is hobo international’s Lauren wallet (in black). It acts as a clutch when needed. I only have a few other bags: a fossil tote in cognac that’s a bit smaller than your tote (and coordinates gorgeously with the open toe booties you introduced me to), a small hobo backpack in black for hands-free travel/party/music festivals and an ivory crossbody bag. The Lauren fits in all three. I will say that I love the clutch option and particularly love your animal print one. Looking forward to finding on in the $75 or under range one day! XoSamantha
I like a wristlet in the summer. It makes it easier to carry just a little something for walking around the neighborhood. Now that I have a kiddo I upgraded from my crossbody to a my big ol’ leather bag because I realized I need a huge bag to carry random stuff (like socks! and toys! and kleenex!) for the kiddo. I actually have 7 bags and find a unique purpose for all of them! Big black! Big brown! Big tan! Small crossbody! Small wristlet! Medium size shoulder bag with link strap (that converts to clutch)! Leather and canvas convertible tote! :-)
I need a tote every day – for work papers and stuff. I’ve recently realized that instead of carrying the tote + a purse, I can just put essentials in a clutch and stick that inside the tote. It’s then really convenient for my lunch break and stuff – just grab the clutch out and go!
I carry a tote for work necessities and a wristlet that will fit my bare essentials. I love that having a wrist strap is WAY less fuss than trying to negotiate with larger bag straps.
My ideal bag… this little Marc by Marc Jacobs cross-body that has stood the test of time (my hardware is gold, vs. silver): http://www.shopbop.com/totally-turnlock-percy-bag-marc/vp/v=1/845524441906698.htm
I bought this purse back in 2009 for a multiple-week solo trip to New York City, and it’s probably one of my best accessory investments to date. I’ve rarely switched it out for another purse. The leather has aged beautifully, and it’s just the right size to hold my wallet, keys, lip balm, sunglasses and cell phone day to day. It also hugs close to my body, which makes me feel secure in crowded places.
OMG I just found your blog and I’m obsessed! I want to do my own capsule wardrobe now!
To respond to the actual post – I live in NYC and I’m a pro dancer, so I have to opt for a carry-all. I’m looking to upgrade to a classy backpack from Matt & Nat to save my alignment and keep the weight distribution on my shoulders more balanced.
Sarah Kristen says
ALWAYS a crossbody – hands-free and holds everything I need. I can’t handle a clutch even for a dressy occasion – I always opt for a wristlet instead. I feel more secure with a strap!
Definitely, the bag must hold the kindle! haha.
tammy t says
I love a cross-body, but I do have a cute clutch or two that you are inspiring me to use during the week!
Signe Aasberg says
My go-to is a small bag with 2 “rooms”. I can wear it on one shoulder or as a cross-over, but most importantly I can have a “man-room” for my husband who always dumps his stuff on me. “I only have pockets” haha :-)
Also, I’ve been reading through your blog and after seeing your lace up heels I’ve completely fallen for this type of shoe. I wrote a blog post about learning budgeting and not buying the stuff I want right away and linked to your blog. Hope that’s ok :-)
Thank you for the inspiration!!
Blakely (Wylde Blog) says
I love the simplicity of a clutch, but, oh man, I’m the queen of setting mine down when paying and then wandering away like it never even existed. I usually remember to go back for it, but I need something more substantial to remind me to collect my belongings :). Or maybe just something that is attached to me, as other people mentioned–like a wristlet.
Right now I carry a Filson messenger messenger bag almost daily, mainly because I’m always lugging books and notebooks around due to the nature of my job. I abandon that sucker on the weekends when I don’t want to carry as much, but it’s wonderful for work materials, my laptop, and as a travel carry-on.
For work I prefer a large tote because it has to hold my essentials + lunch, and also needs to be able to hold an a4 sized folder so I can use it at events and lectures too.
For my free time I use a medium sized shoulder or crossbody bag. When I’m out and about I like to be able to stuff extra layers (light scarf, gloves etc) in there, sometimes a paperback novel or a small bottle of water.
I only ever use tiny bags at very formal events like weddings. Or at concerts (a fanny pack, I’ll admit). They’re just not very practical to me, they’re already stuffed when they hold a wallet, smartphone and a pack of paper tissues!
I love this outfit on you :)
The more formal blazer in combination with the sneakers, shirt and rolled-up jeans looks just so effortless & cool.
I like to have my hands free so I either carry a small crossbody bag (similar to Liebeskind Berlin Maike) or a larger school bag (aunts & uncles Buddy). Made of dark brown leather these two go with everything of my wardrobe for most occasions. For me it was quite an investment. But I am so happy with both, it is the perfect solution for me. In addition I have several special occasion bags like for yoga, beach, photo, travel.
I love carrying a clutch on some days because it’s so feminine… but I would say that my ideal bag size would be a small cross body bag.. i’ve kinda gotten over oversized bags, for now.
A Clutch adds so much style to an outfit! I really want to wear them more often than I do (evenings and speacial occasions only). I need a large bag for work and always needed one while studying, so I’m used to having enough room for everything – How could you only have a clutch in college, didn’t you need to carry books etc? Still I would like to wear a clutch more often in my free time, since it has so much style!
Thanks for the inspiration
Kelly NH says
I have a med-large crossbody camel coloured bag now. I was lucky to find it in a second hand store. I find I only grow to love bags once the leather has softened and worn in a little, so a second hand bag was perfect!
As a mum of two (one child with a medical issue) I tend to carry a lot in my bag, including water bottles and ALWAYS a book! To save money I always borrow books from the library, so sadly no kindle for me!
Ive found that when I go to work I don’t need the kids stuff, so that’s in a separate bag in my bag. I can take that out and leave it in my car while Im at work.
I am IN LOVE with your outfit on this post. So casual, but so classy.
I just watched Iliza Shlesinger’s stand up on Netflix last night and she does a whole bit on trying to fit everything in a clutch. I teared up laughing! I love a good clutch, but sometimes life calls for a tote!
I love carrying a backpack. I like to know that I have everything imaginable in it. (A few years back I even kept an entire set of clothes in my bag) You never know when an emergency or urge to go on an adventure might turn up.
My ideal bag size is also a mini crossbody bag. My favorite one is this vintage Dooney and Bourke purse that I got at SoWA Open Market in Boston: http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=6373591. It carries my keys, phone, tissues, sunglasses and lip balm and a few cards. I used to carry oversized bags and then I found I was literally carrying trash around with me!
For my commute to work, I carry a backpack because I lug my macbook back and forth everyday: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71JUqQYG6bL._SL1300_.jpg
Just wanted to share that I read this while watching Gilmore Girls. Feeling a great kinship right now – not just for the Rory Reference. Love clutches for special occasions. I feel so fancy when I carry one – although yes, it’s more effort, it’s worth it. My everyday is more of a boho cross-body bag that also has a shoulder-carrying strap – versatility, sister!