36 In Wardrobe Wellness

Finding the Perfect Fit Inside My New-Old Handbag

Black vintage bag on BrendaKinsel.com

Days before having a RSOJ moment


Oh my gosh, I have to tell you my most recent RSOJ moment. Remember Random Spasm of Joy as coined by my bartender friend, John, at the girl and the fig restaurant in Sonoma? He told me about that phenomenon on a Tuesday in May and the very next day I experienced it when I paired my old yellow Chanel Talbot’s jacket with my new yellow Etro shirt and realized they looked brilliant together (Anatomy of an Outfit: Hello Yellow!). True to John’s explanation, when I realized my iPad would fit into my new-old black straw bag, I had that feeling go through me that could barely be described in words. It could only be a RSOJ.

Explaining RSOJ

RSOJ is bulletin board worthy


RSOJ on BrendaKinsel.com

John shares RSOJ with me


Falling in love with my new-old straw bag


Black vintage bag on BrendaKinsel.com

Black vintage bag visits Farm Shop


My girls own SAX, a consignment store in San Anselmo and when this vintage bag came into the store they thought, maybe Mom would like this. They let me try it out and I kept bugging them to give me the price because I wanted to pay them for it. But, when we celebrated our birthdays (me and my twin brother, Brent) they told me it was my birthday present. Gotta love that!

It’s wider at the bottom and gets narrow toward the top. The clasp on the frame works really well. It even has little metal feet at the bottom to keep it protected when you set it down. I’d love to know who originally owned it. I’m thinking a car executive’s wife in Detroit in 1953. She chairs big charity events. Your guess? Anyway, I started putting my things inside and now I’m using it practically every day.

Bags inside my bags


Sydney artist mini bag on BrendaKinsel.com

My handmade handbag organizer


This cutie pie mini bag is one of my go-tos for organizing my handbag contents. Handbag contents can get so out-of-hand that I do what I can to keep myself from going crazy looking for things. When I go to change bags I can pluck this mini bag out of one handbag and move it into another one in two seconds. This one is bright and easy to see. I keep things I use the most in this little bag: my keyless car key, my plaid eyeglass cleaner, an orange lipstick and a red one, my blue Pilot G-2 07 pen (can’t write with any other pen), my turquoise pen for highlighting lines in books I’m reading (yes, I mark up books), and my business cards.


Handbag organizer

Mini Sydney bag contents


I have quite an attachment to this handbag organizer. I purchased it directly from the designer in Sydney, Australia in October, 2011, when I visited a local artist collective. I was down providing training to image consultants. (Thank you, Sydney!) Do you see the likeness between the face image and the artist? Evidently her husband is an artist too and paints versions of her all the time. I get it!


Silk handpainted handbag organizer on BrendaKinsel.com

Sydney artist who made my handbag organizer


In addition, I have other important things to carry like my little journal (Caitlin brought me this one from her Costa Rica trip) and my leather wallet, purchased in Fargo, North Dakota on Broadway when Willi Nilli was there. The artist, Susanne Williams, now lives in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Check out her whole line at www.willinilli.com. Her work is creative and unique!

And of course, I always carry one of my mother’s handkerchiefs. But this one isn’t Mother’s. It was given to me by Bonnie Swanson, one of the church ladies in Mother’s quilting group in Dent, Minnesota, and a good family friend. She knew how much I loved Mother’s handkerchiefs and when Mother died, she came over to the Mom and Dad’s house one day with a tattered box overflowing with vintage hankies. Were there tears? Oh yeah, you betcha. Lots.


Handbag essentials on BrendaKinsel.com

Other handbag essentials: wallet, journal, handkerchief


Here’s what turned this lovely bag into a RSOJ

So this is all buildup to the very second I experienced a RSOJ. I was parked in the Sonoma Plaza. I’d already been using this bag a couple of weeks. I planned to snag some me-time before working on writing projects in the afternoon. I’d lunch at Sunflower Caffe and then head later to Peet’s Coffee and Tea to buckle down and do some writing for the blog on my iPad.


Sunflower Caffe

Me time at Sunflower Caffe


Problem: It was 102 degrees outside. Even though I wasn’t going to be using my iPad while having lunch and reading a book, I couldn’t possibly leave it in the car to melt. I didn’t want to bring the tote with me that had the iPad, keyboard and my notebooks which I’d be using at Peet’s. So what to do?

Oh well, I thought, I’ll just carry the iPad with me and hope I don’t forget it on the table when I walk away.

Hmmm, I wonder if my iPad would slide inside my purse…

I tried it. It did! Ding, ding, ding, RSOJ RSOJ RSOJ!!!!

Imagine that! My vintage handbag had nary a glimpse into the future when it was constructed decades ago probably to hold theater tickets, white gloves and one of those hankies like Mother had. And now it meets the most modern of times and the two things meld. What are the chances? Fashion, yes, check. Function, YES, check. Love, yes, yes, yes! Can you feel it?


Vintage bag meets iPad on BrendaKinsel.com

Old meets new and RSOJ fireworks go off!


Vintage bag

The iPad slides right in as vintage meets tech


I can’t wait to tell John about my latest RSOJ. He’ll be so tickled.

Oh, and let me explain the guy on the iPad. I set this up just for you. My bestie in Minnesota insisted I start watching the Australian TV series on Netflix called Rake. It’s a comedy about a lawyer in Sydney who’s a real rascal. She insists that our new thing on Netflix is to watch anything Australian. I have to say, I’m loving it!

How are you at organizing your handbags? Do you have tips to share? We’re here to listen!



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  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 3:48 am

    Brenda, I so love your purse and I am happy (Joyful) that it fits all the necessary items of your day. I look for beautiful old eyeglass cases and use them to organize purses, as I change them often. I put lipstick etc. in one, and nail file, tweezers and a couple bandages in another and of course sunglasses. They are easy to find if the lining is dark, and fun to use. Hate it when something is in there and you can’t find it. Hope your days are randomly joyful.

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 10:39 am

      I love that idea about the old eyeglass cases for organization. And I bet you enjoy diving into your purse and finding them, right? Hope you have a randomly joyful day too!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 5:37 am

    I LOVE your vintage purse and that adorable handmade bag. Fabulous!! This post just made me smile and now I am looking for a random spasm of joy today 🙂

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 10:40 am

      And I hope you find one, Brenda! Maybe 10!!

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    July 18, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Brenda, I love your purse! I have a foible fo 1950s purses, and this one’s a beaut.
    Oh, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the picture of your table at the Sunflower cafe… I think we have the same glasses! Are yours from Zenni by any chance?!?

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Oh funny! No, mine are Fiction by L.A. Eyeworks. I got them at Uber Optics in Petaluma. I’m leaning on these a lot these days even though I have others.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Hi Brenda! I’m fairly new to your blog and I have to tell you I’m enjoying it immensely . Would you mind sharing your lovely lipstick colors you shared in this post? I’ve found a few colors I like lately but always looking to add to my ‘stash’.

    Hope you have a joy-filled day

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Okay, Judy! Here are the two that are in that picture. The one in the gold tube is a drugstore special. I was at our International Film Festival and realized I had no lipstick with me! I dashed to CVS and bought this one to be a lookalike to my Tom Ford. The jokes on me; I love the drugstore one more than the expensive Tom Ford one! It’s by Milani and the color is #66 Matte Passion.

      The Chanel one is a long-lasting lipstick and the color is Bright Raspberry. These are currently my two faves!
      I wish you a joy-filled day too. I’m glad you found the blog!

  • Reply
    Penelope Chandra- Shekar
    July 18, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Beautful and useful purse! I love feet on a purse! I alao love vintage hankies but when I gave one to my best friend she
    Looked non plussed and laughed at the thought of this dainty accoutrement!

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Oh my gosh, I know just what you mean! My two girls really poo-pooed me using these handkerchiefs and having at least one on me at all times. I’ve finally worn them down. I bought them new ones, not vintage ones and their noses did not go up. Funny thing is, when I’m no longer here I bet they’ll make a mad dash for my stash. If people just realized how practical they are as well as pretty. And nothing’s being added to the landfills! I’m with you on this!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 9:39 am

    What I love about this post the most is how carefully your curate your bag inside and out. You are a true artist at heart, that is quite evident. It reminds me of Alexander Stoddard and her grace notes MAKE the everyday special and you do that so beautifully. I am in LOVE with your vintage bag!!!

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 11:01 am

      That you bring up Alexander Stoddard in a neighboring reference to me makes me swoon. Her books were my Bible for years. Wasn’t she amazing? I met her once at an event at the Marin Art and Garden Center.
      I looked forward to every new publication. This was long before I became a writer. I am so going down memory lane right now! I just realized I want to grow up and be like her!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Gotta love those RSOJ when they happen and you realize you’re perfectly well set up with what you already have!
    I’m lucky enough to live close to the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, and when I go to exhibitions I always check the museum shop for small, inexpensive ethnic textile bags to organize my bigger bags. I always check fair-trade shops, too, just in case something begs to go home with me. Needless to say I have a large collection, although I’m not sure it necessarily translates into being terribly more organized…
    I picked up the handkerchief habit in Japan, where women usually carry two, one for dabbing at a perspiring face and the other, usually sturdier cotton, for drying hands. Japanese restrooms usually don’t have paper towels or blowers, so a handkerchief is a necessity. As in everything the Japanese do, the handkerchiefs were an art form, decorated with seasonal themes and changed accordingly. Just lovely.

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      I have instant lust for Japanese handkerchiefs. Wow, great additional uses! I’m carrying two from now on. Besides, I just love looking at them. Why not have beauty inside one’s bag?
      I’m chuckling also because even though I have plans for organization, things still go awry and I’ll be missing something or wishing I had something. Lucky you to be so close to the Textile Museum for multiple reasons! Thanks for sharing. I think you and I may have a little tiny addiction to small bags. However, I’m not seeking a cure.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Love this! RSOJ. BTW, I’m Australian and haven’t watched Rake. Hmm, might have to watch. Have you watched Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries? You might enjoy all the vintage outfits.

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      That’s so funny! I was thinking about Australian image consultant friends I have and I was wondering if I mentioned that show to them if they’d know about it! It’s had 4 seasons. Yes, I ADORED Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I could watch every episode again. I think I will. There’s another Australian series I started watching when things here in the States were boiling over after the election and I needed no more drama for a while. It’s called Dreamland. Have you heard of that one?

  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Love the purse and the organizer. I need one for my purse. I often carry the same darn purse just to avoid having to find my way through the woods known as the interior of my bag. That can be a scary place to visit. I love reading everyone’s response…some great ideas here!

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Oh, I know those scary purses. Sometimes things get out of control with receipts and business cards going willy nilly into my bag. But yes, organizers give you half a chance at handbag sanity!

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    July 18, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    I totally do that same thing with little bags in my purse!! It does make it so much easier to change purses out, which I do way more now that I’m blogging!! Although I do think there need to be a purging session soon–just how many lipsticks do I really need in my purse??
    What a fabulous gift from your loves!! They know you so well!!

    • Reply
      July 18, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      I know about those lipsticks. Sometimes they multiply in the night. Yes, those loved ones are pretty darn special!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Another member of the vintage handkerchief club! I love them too, and have too many. I gave most of the white ones away, realizing I prefer the printed, colorful ones. I once found a set of gorgeous ones with big, bold orchids printed on them and bought them with the idea of giving them to an orchid-loving friend. She was actually revolted at the idea of using a handkerchief so I found another friend who loves them and made her happy!

    • Reply
      July 19, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Isn’t it funny how the reactions can be polar opposite? Amazing!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I love the joy you share in your posts! I wish you were my neighbor.

    • Reply
      July 19, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Well Sue, I wish YOU were my neighbor too! There’s a house for sale across the street!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Mmmm…so you’ve discovered the delectable Richard Roxburgh!! He was also in ‘Moulin Rouge’ -just one of his roles.
    BTW, the character of Rake is loosely(maybe not so loosely 😉 ) based on a well known Sydney barrister called Charlie Waterstreet.

    • Reply
      July 20, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Wow, interesting about the loosely based on part. He really is delectable. I was watching one last night and studied his face and all his expressions…he’s great!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 1:44 am

    Hey Brenda, I’ve said before how I love reading your blogs. It would be great if you put them together in an anthology. Any chance?

    • Reply
      July 20, 2017 at 10:10 am

      Wow, you may have said it before but it could have gone over my head. What would that look like to you? I’m intrigued! I may be too close to this to see what you’re seeing. Tell me more!

  • Reply
    Carol Hermes
    July 20, 2017 at 6:13 am

    Thank you, Brenda, for sharing your fashion wisdom. And now, thank you as well, for the new binge-worthy Rake.

    • Reply
      July 20, 2017 at 10:11 am

      My pleasure!

  • Reply
    Debbie klausing
    July 21, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Do you actually use hankies for other things, like noses? Just had to ask. My Mom had allergies, as do I. She preferred hankies to Kleenex.
    Love your fun blog!

    • Reply
      July 21, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Oh, thanks for asking! Good question. Yes, I too have allergies so believe me, those pretty handkerchiefs meet my nose every day! Like your mom, I so prefer them to Kleenex. And it’s more environmental, right?

  • Reply
    July 22, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Oh! I so enjoy reading your blog =}. Little, cheerful bags are wonderful. That’s how I keep things organized, too. Beings a smile to my face, and others faces, when I pull one out. Family and friends have gifted me with some cuties over the years.

    Handkerchief <3. Always reminds me of my Grandmother and her sister & daughter. They had multiple hankies in their bags and tucked into their blouse sleeves. Gramma was known to have one tucked into her bodice, HaHa! I do carry tissues, too… bathrooms may not have toilet paper… I used to wear vintage pocket squares with suits or dresses.

    • Reply
      July 25, 2017 at 9:33 am

      I love those dabs of vintage. I bet those pocket squares are great! I’m glad this post brought back memories for you!

  • Reply
    Sandi Mcdougall
    September 19, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    I recognized the lipstick you leant me in your beautiful vintage handbag. Had to read this article to get to know your bartender friend.

    • Reply
      September 23, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Oh Sandi, he’s the best! If you and Paul come to Sonoma for a visit, we’ll go hang out there. And I love that you recognized the lipstick. You know I love that one so much I may just have to go to CVS to see what other colors may entice me this fall.

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