28 In Wardrobe Wellness

Handbag Defrazzler Just for You

A handbag trick

Happy with my handbag fix


I’ve always wanted to invent something useful for women. I’m thinking along the line of shapers (The History of Shapers here!) or the Sleevey Wonder that adds sleeves to sleeveless dresses or the flocked hanger (thank you Joy Mangano) that is in every client’s closet now.

I swear I’m paying attention but I haven’t quite come up with a hassle-eliminator…until now. If I ever had a fantasy of inventing something and making money doing it, this idea isn’t going to qualify. But I do think I’m about to solve a problem for you. It’s a problem I’ve had for a long time and I’m surprised it took me until this week to figure out the solution, but here it is for free.

Problem: You can’t find anything in your handbag with compartments

Have you ever had this happen? You have a handbag that has two separate zippered compartments. You put stuff in both of the compartments but when the time comes to look for your lipstick you can’t remember which section it’s in so you scrounge around digging deeper and deeper. You push stuff to one side and then the other. No luck. So you go to the other compartment and repeat. You still can’t find it so you go back to the other side. Meanwhile, you’re feeling so uncool. It’s a handbag. How hard can this be, right? You’re beginning to lose your poise. Beads of sweat are appearing on your upper lip.

It’s insanely irritating. You have all that handbag real estate and you still can’t gracefully locate what you need.

I have a solution to guarantee at least 50% less frazzlement. That’s a word, right?


Handbag trick

Keep one compartment stuffed


Solution: Eliminate the option of using both compartments

I’m demonstrating my invention with my Calleen Cordero mushroom-brown leather bag with dual compartments. I was feeling sad because I don’t grab this bag much anymore. I have looked so uncool countless times trying to find things in it.

This morning’s solution? To be more efficient and confident I’ve sealed off one of the compartments. It sounds counterintuitive, but stay with me. If you stuff your bags to help them hold their shape when you’re not using them, keep the stuffing in one of the sides and zip it closed.

Now, how do you know which side has the stuffing and which side has your stuff?


Labeling the compartment that’s functional

You know how we tie a ribbon on the handle of our luggage so it’s easy to find our bag on the carousel at the airport? If you’ve only done carryon, ask someone what they did in the old days. I did and do use this trick when I’m traveling and checking a bag. So what you do in this handbag situation is find a little ribbon to attach to the zipper of the side you’re going to be using.



Ribbons for repurposing


I have a hanger where I put ribbons that can be repurposed. I went to that ribbon stash to look for my solution and there was a ribbon that has been waiting for this moment. It’s white with black polka dots but it has a mini handbag charm on it. See? I think it came off a box of fashion related stationary and I kept it.


A ribbon and a handbag charm from my stash


I used that ribbon with the charm and put it on the unstuffed side of my bag and tied a knot. Easy peasy. This will remind me which compartment I’m using.



Now that I’ve eliminated half the problem, I will confine my belongings to one side and not be tempted to spread my stuff out between both compartments.

You’re saying, but the point of having a bag with compartments is you can hold more stuff. You’re right, you can. But just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. When women have lots of closet space, it’s easy to pack in lots of clothes whether they need them or not, wear them or not. Women with less closet space tend to be efficient because they don’t have that extra space to hold stuff. Same with handbags. If you have the space in your handbag your mind automatically goes to figuring out how to fill it. But you don’t have to.

Last weekend I cleaned out a junk drawer in our kitchen and realized most of what was in there I didn’t need. The same holds true for handbags; they get cluttered so easily.


Winnowed down handbag contents


When I curb the space, I keep things to a minimum. I really only need to carry a handkerchief, a lens cleaning cloth for my glasses, a pen and pencil, a small notebook, my key, wallet, and lipstick.


Throwing out a challenge

What in your handbag could you take out right now and not miss? Is there more than one thing? Two? Five? Seven things? Tell the truth. In fact, tell all of us! What are those things you never use?

I used this bag today, all day. Only I knew my little secret. Did I experience less frazzle? Yes! Did I look uncool even once today? No! Would you consider trying this?

If not, what are your handbag tricks so you find what you need in record time? I’m all ears!!


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  • Reply
    Cherry Robinson
    November 2, 2017 at 4:01 am

    I kinda do this. I mark one side and this is “drugstore”. So lipstick, travel hand cream, comb,tissues, any meds etc. The unmarked side is “office”, where I keep phone, notebook, kindle, pen, reading glasses and so on. If I have an extra outside pocket, I stash metro card and any hotel card key there for no-fumble access.

  • Reply
    Ramona Puckett
    November 2, 2017 at 4:40 am

    I love that idea! You know those little cosmetic bags you get when you buy from the cosmetic counters? That’s what I use to corral my lipstick, I use a little tin for pain relievers, nail file, a tiny brush, Kleenex, I switch handbags and for me this works. Oh and I carry a spare car key! Thank you so much for all you do for us!

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Thanks for sharing your handbag insides! The spare key seems like a great idea as well.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 5:02 am

    Those pants! Those shoes! Please share; what are you wearing? The outfit is fabulous.

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Pants are by Vince Camuto and the sweater is J.Crew and the shoes are AGL. Thanks!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 5:17 am

    I carry a metal fork and straw, a cloth napkin and a hard plastic glass in my purse so that I can avoid using disposables that harm the environment. I also carry a loupe & tape measure, and Swiss Army knife because one never knows… I like to be prepared.
    Only one of my purses has 2 different compartments, but I do end up rummaging around even in those with one.
    I know what I need to do is get another little zippered bag for some items, but I haven’t found one I like (need to look harder).

    Your idea is excellent, though.

  • Reply
    Paula Moreshead
    November 2, 2017 at 5:47 am

    I appreciate this post and just the fact that you are addressing one of the many frustrations with purses, or as my mother called them – pocketbooks:) Since I haven’t found a practical or attractive way to just stop carrying a purse, I may try your idea. Another pet peeve of mine regarding purses is black colored interiors. I think it adds to the frustration of finding things. I have been on the search for the “perfect” purse for much of my adult life, so It’s probably not out there. There are many that look good, but not that many that are truly functional and beautiful and affordable!

  • Reply
    Paula Moreshead
    November 2, 2017 at 5:49 am

    P.Ss. to my earlier comment above….I really like your outfit!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 6:10 am

    You a one smart, well-dressed lady.

  • Reply
    Elena Williams
    November 2, 2017 at 7:36 am

    I love that suggestion; to avoid that problem I usually go for purses that just have one compartment – same for suitcases as I really dislike multiple compartment in suitcases even more than in purses. So, I now own hardback suitcases to solve that problem….and I love the swivel wheels, makes handling them a breeze. Traveling today with one of each…smile.

  • Reply
    Marcia Miller
    November 2, 2017 at 7:46 am

    I like to use clear plastic zippered bags with my purse. I can see what is in them. And when I travel the TSA can too. Eliminated them having to open them.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I carry a large purse, because… life. Inside the purse are three smaller very festive zippered bags for toiletries, energy bars/sanitizer/spork, and tech/phonecords/business cards. Also, a festive wallet-on-a-string that holds my credit cards/money/phone. I do not use the extra pockets/compartments in my purse, except for maybe putting my phone in the outside pocket. Everything is in its place, and if someone looks in my purse they just see the neat tidy bags.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I think, like my goal to one day do a push-up, organizing my handbag is for another lifetime. At one I used a vinyl organizer that I could move from one tote bag to another. But, that organizer did not fit inside my more formal bag. I carry sunglasses, sunscreen and a travel umbrella most days (Florida weather), a book, Wet Ones, pen, calendar, lipstick, phone, keys, wallet and driving gloves for more sun protection. That’s all in my bag. You should see what’s in my car!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I was mugged two years ago and lost everything I was carrying. Very traumatic. I switched to carrying small crossbody bags and have only in the last 4 months started carrying on occasion a larger handbag. I toned down what I felt I needed to have with me. Right now the little hoarder in me could throw out all the receipts I keep in my bag (why I keep them I’m not quite sure). I love your bag and all it’s hardware! Great suggestion on staying organized. Staying organized is a goal and a work in progress……I carry less today than ever before so I’m getting there……slowly.

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:27 am

      How awful to be mugged. Oh my gosh! “The little hoarder” in you is quite precious. I bet there’s a bit of that in most of us! I really do have to de-receipt my handbag by week’s end for sure. I’m in that same place you are in terms of first getting organized (especially in my paper/filing department) and then staying organized. Always aspirational goals that keep requiring baby steps. Good luck to you on that!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    It gave me a little thrill to see the lovely handkerchief peeking out of your purse. I have the same one, inherited from my great grandmother.

    Thanks for your advice and sharing the joys and beauty of life.

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:28 am

      Oh my gosh, what are the chances of that! It’s giving me a big thrill right now. I just adore antique handkerchiefs that are handed down. Makes them extra special. I want to give you a big hug!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    I wear prescription sunglasses and need to swap glasses A LOT when I’m out and about. Quite a few years ago, experiencing the same frustration as you, I decided that the sunnies plus mobile phone plus emery board(critical to me as my finger nails are affected by psoriasis, so need constant attention) would have their own compartment in any of my bags.I added a pretty charm (or 2!) to that compartment’s zip pull to get to them quickly. The rest of my compartments (minimum of 3,usually 5) are ‘sort of’ organized…..I have learned the hard way to NEVER buy a bag that has several identical compartments!!

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Boy, you’re right about that! Identical compartments are a challenge. It sounds like you’ve got a handle on or at least a plan for remembering what is held in each compartment. Sometimes around the house I’m searching for something and the last place I look for it is the place I actually store it. I guess I don’t trust myself to remember my original bright-idea organizational plan!

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    November 2, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    ohh I am laughing so much ! I wish my twin could weigh into the conversation here, as she would tell you whilst rolling her eyes, about how often in our lives, travelling together ,i lose my ticket, or travel pass, boarding pass etc etc, at the last minute! Despite being a very organized person, If I get nervous, I can’t remember at all where I have put these things ! We can both be spotted at times, frantically ferreting through our handbags, looking for that lost essential item. But perhaps your clever idea, might put pale to that ? It is not that I have unnecessary things in my handbag, but nonetheless! Thanks Brenda, and community. I have been enjoying a laugh since reading this, remembering my delightful , funny trips with my adorable twin. Sending much love from Oz xx

    • Reply
      November 3, 2017 at 11:33 am

      I think you’re right Trinnie about the panic that sets in when we look everywhere and can’t find that important something but then it’s right there all along! This happens to me when I travel as well. Glad you’re enjoying a laugh though! I think I’ll join you! Love from Sonoma!

  • Reply
    November 3, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    I try to do what Cherry does.

    What can leave? Receipts for purchases.

    • Reply
      November 6, 2017 at 8:30 am

      Receipts sure have a way of looking messy, don’t they?

  • Reply
    Gail D.
    February 27, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Oh my, that cute little charm would be adorable made into a necklace!

    • Reply
      February 27, 2018 at 8:44 am

      So true!

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