31 July 2008

The purse evolution

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Fashion, shopping

Back in my tomboy years, I swore that I would never carry a purse. Why? Because I hated the idea of having to hold it all the time and I thought purses were pointless, especially when I could fit everything I needed in my cargo pants pockets. Yes, at that time I had no idea how much “weight” the puffy cargo pants pocket would add to my full legs.

But now, I not only can’t live without purses, but also I’ve noticed that I’ve “crossed over” from small, clutch purses to the oversize bags. 
My what a change. Today the RedEye declared clutches the “it” bag of summer, telling us to put our oversized ones away for winter. Yeah, hi, I can’t do that. Where would I put my camera and obnoxiously large cell phone? That won’t fit in a tiny clutch! I could only get a few bills, an ID, maybe a condom (if I’m feeling extra skanky that night) and my keys in that small of a purse. No cell phone or camera? They can’t stay at home!
As exhibited below, I used to only carry small handbags because I could get everything I needed at the time in them. This includes: wallet, cell phone, Chapstick, fingernail clipper and my keys.
But since I moved to Chicago, I’ve noticed a “bag evolution” from small, cutsey, clutch purses to mom-size, full-day bags, like the one below.
Suddenly I started needing to pack extra things, like gym shoes and clothes, cameras, business cards, pocket mirrors, make up and mini hair brushes, in a purse, all of which could not even remotely fit into the small cute bags I used to carry. And now because of going to the gym (to work on my pipes), I carry a large purse and a gym bag. WTF? Do bags multiply like bunnies?
Now when I’m on the prowl for a new bag to join the others on the shelf, I actually will not buy it if it cannot hold the new “essentials” that I carry, negating the optional shoes, magazines or even Lulu that might also be in that bag one day.
When we did our bloggy meet-up at Sheffields a few weeks ago, Rachel pulled the ultimate mom purse magic trick, a black bag that magically hid a HUGE camera, shoes and necessities. It was like a mini-clown car.
I’ve been told by my guy friends that this change is the equivalent of the evolution into “tucking in your shirt,” but that is a post for another day. Ryan recently asked me how many purses I have, and my first response was, “designer or not?” It’s a sickness. But I love them.
In fact, I’ve started laying out the big bags because the fam and I are headed to northern Wisconsin for a little break. And seriously, I need to take a few days to get my mojo back and work myself out of my current funk. So I will be hopefully posting while I’m gone as I dutifully support my dad on the golf course, so forgive me if I’m behind in my comments. I’ll catch up soon, promise!
Has anyone else gone through this “change” as well?
Reader note: Wow you guys are so spoiling me with all these amazing comments about Newsweek and the Rage Girl post. Seriously I don’t even know what to say! Rage Girl almost came out on the bus tonight in response to inattentive parenting and a screaming child but I kept her under wraps. And I will be sure to photograph my free Nordstroms Cafe lunch. I will be over-ordering and bringing Glad-ware so I can enjoy it well beyond the Cafe as well.


  1. Chicago Girl says:

    i love need have to have big purses. clutches are for going out, dates, and clubs and such

  2. Miss Em says:

    Yes! I seem to buy a bigger bag each time I buy a new one, so they increasingly get bigger over the years. A strange phenomenon.

  3. bianca says:

    I TOTALLY used to be the same way about purses. Now I feel like I need to carry the biggest purse I can find and carry every tiny little thing that I may need for the day. My shoulder is starting to hate me.

  4. wontletlifedefineme says:

    I went from a purse to a slingbag, it’s so much easier to carry around with me.

  5. ~Angela~ says:

    I was VERY anti-purses when I was younger, and carried a hideous mini-backpack everywhere instead. But then it just became a necessity. I realized that purses are really just women’s answer to cargo pants. They’re dead useful.

    I used to carry a backpack everywhere, but as soon as I left college, that was replaced by giant bags. I never really carried small purses… I jumped right into Mom-Bags. I love big, overflowing, 10-pound purses. :)

  6. Affiliate Marketing Tips says:

    I also thought like you but know I have also started using purses and I cant imagine my routine visits without it.

  7. Heidi Renée says:

    I tend to buy cheaper bags because the expensive ones tend to always be made of leather or have leather trim. This means I have a huge collection of purses from tiny date night clutch to giant almost-diaper bag. I recently got a tote bag-like canvas purse at the Gap Outlet. It’s huge, but I can fit everything in there–wallet, phone, camera, a variety of lip glosses, hand mirror, keys, magazine or book, water bottle, mints, et cetera. Plus, it’s my favorite shade of blue and doesn’t have any leather bits. If it gets dirty, I can just toss it in the wash with everything else.

    If I were home right now, I would so go count my purses. It’s probably a good thing I’m not, so I can’t. I would probably be ashamed at my purse-hoarding ways.

  8. Rachel says:

    my purse evolution has gone the opposite way. I started with huge obnoxious purses and have moved my way down to the “smaller” black purse you witnessed. Now it’s all about the packing.

  9. Erin says:

    I used to be a smallish purse kind of girl. Then I became a teacher and it became necessary for me to carry everything I own in my purse. My current purse is huge. I love it because it eliminates the need for me to carry stupid teacher tote bags with apples on them. Just because I’m a teacher doesn’t mean I want to carry cutesy teacher crap!

  10. megkathleen says:

    I have definitely started carrying bigger purses around as I get older. It’s like you say there’s just so many things you have to have on you at all times. My dad jokingly calls my purse my “suitcase”.

  11. Vanessa says:

    I now have two size purses, one smallish Coach bag that fits the essentials-wallet, blackberry, keys, lip gloss, emery board and gum. Then I have what I call the “day pack” for when I’ll be out all day and need books, notepads, shoes, snacks and anything else. I’d be interested to hear more about this “clown car” bag you witnessed!

  12. Katelin says:

    i was so the same way. i went from no purse for the longest time to tiny as can be to mary poppins purse and now i’ve switched back to smallish. i can never make up my mind :)

  13. Miss Grace says:

    And then you HAVE a kid, and find yourself pulling around a luggage rack everywhere you go.

  14. Angela says:

    I just can’t do a big purse. I’d get lost in one! My friends have them and they have to dig and dig and DIG to find anything they need! In mine, I know where everything is.

  15. Liz says:

    But you forgot to mention your sunglass case, aka The Brick! You know I love bags, and I believe purses are like a fishbowl, your contents will increase proportionally to the size of the bag. Perhaps I need to go smaller…

  16. Maxie says:

    I had the same purse evolution… first it was a small dooney and bourke, then a small coach (which I let someone borrow and never got back– awesome, right?). Now I still mostly with non-designer, large bags. I’m so rough on my purse that I don’t want to drop a lot of cash on it. i just throw it around anyway. But yes– I’m with you on needing the big bag.

    When I go out to the bar I usually take a large clutch with my phone, camera, ID, and cards. I won’t buy a clutch if my phone and camera don’t fit. I always try them out at the store.

  17. laurwilk says:

    I’m a rare bird, apparently. I do not really love purses all that much. I have one (although I too vowed to NEVER have one) but it’s relatively small and practical.

    I’ve never had an oversized purse. But the other day, I saw an oversized purse and I liked it…for the first time. The ‘switch’ may be in my near future. OH NO!

  18. RebeccaC says:

    We’ve discussed proper Nordstrom behavior. If you want off that blacklist, maybe we leave the Gladware at home this time? ; )

    Re: Purses, I managed to find a one this summer that can expand to a full-size bag, but the top half can fold over as a clutch. Genius!

  19. laura marie says:

    As for the roomba, it’s funny because roommate and i totally treated like a pet when we tried it out yesterday. We quickly started talking to it and gently chastising it when it went somewhere we didn’t want it to go. :)

    It worked pretty well on dirt patrol too! i would recommend it.

  20. thatShortChick says:

    this is exactly the evolution of my bag collection. it’s bad when people continuously comment on the fact that most of my bags now are big enough to contain a large portion of myself.

    I will be over-ordering and bringing Glad-ware so I can enjoy it well beyond the Cafe as well. that cracked me up!!!

  21. Jamie says:

    The purse and I have a very complicated relationship, it’s sort of an on again off again thing. I’ll use one, get it good and dirty and then I’ll either lose it or lose intrest in it and it sits in my closet forever. And I CANNOT bring a purse with me when I go out, because after about two drinks I put it down somewhere (usually on the bar or in the bathroom) and I lose it. So I’m unfortunately a pocket stuffer…does this make me less of a woman?

    Oh and with my little experience with the purse, I find that no matter the size there’s never enough room because as soon as you get a bigger purse you get excited and stuff it with as much crap as you can. Or at least I do!

  22. The Modern Gal says:

    The change, like the OTHER change, is inevitable. I’ve been fighting the urge to buy larger bags for years but it’s slowly overcoming me.

    The other change, of course, being to buy higher-waisted pants. I’ve resisted that one so far.

  23. Jamie says:

    My MJ is gigantic and weighs a ton empty but I adore it and would feel weird without it.

    I enjoy big bags though, I’m planning out my next purchase. Oh it will be ridiculous but amazing.

    But really, I need to find a smaller one so I don’t have to lug around this gigantic one. It’s just hard finding the perfect smaller bag.

  24. Cheryl says:

    I always have had a small purse–just big enough for a wallet, keys, cell phone and lipstick. Sometimes, a good wristlet functions as a wallet too. But when I want to bring a camera I have to carry it around. Don’t we women lead tough lives?

  25. Jenn says:

    I love purses, but I appear to have no taste. I rarely go after the expensive, popular label purses. They’re just not me. I feel like I’m missing about a bit because I don’t drool of Marc Jacobs.

  26. Blaez says:

    my purse is like a little half way between more on the smaller side. it carries my address book, cell phone, womanly necessities, condoms, pens, checkbook, wallet, mini photo album and ofcourse my pills. its not too cluttered and its not too roomy. i’ve tried going smaller and going larger but nothing to seems to fit me like a midsize.

  27. Ashley D says:

    Yeah, I can’t live without my huge oversized purse. I need it.

  28. SF says:

    i love purses! I have too many…and oversize purses are definitely my fave…I need EVERYTHING in my purse damnit! :)

  29. the glitter kid says:

    I definitely went through this. I never thought I’d ever own a purse and now I carry one with me all the time. The bigger the purse, the more stuff I “need”.

    Also, I’m way too lazy to sign out and use openid so this will link to my old blog. My apologies.

  30. Mandy says:

    I carry a purse that my friends say could be used as an overnight bag (yes, it has been). I need to acutally weight it because its ridiculously heavy. I love big bags though and always have what I (and everyone else) needs. It is a sickness.