How to choose a purse

Part 2 of how to reduce your spending on accessories. If you missed part one, you’re a terrible person, but here it is for your edification.

If you are the type of person to buy lots of purses, give some thought to why you’re buying them. I kept looking for that “perfect” purse. Each one would have some fault: the opening was too small, there weren’t enough pockets, the strap was too short, whatever. To finally restrain myself, I thought about the features I wanted in the ultimate purse, and what items that purse would need to carry.

At the time, I was in college, and I wanted to be able to carry my spiral notebooks, pens, calculator, and snacks for class, along with regular “purse stuff”. I wanted a pocket just for my cell phone, because what always happens? Your phone has fallen to the bottom of the purse, and you forgot to turn off your ringer, and OF COURSE it goes off in class during an exam, and everyone hates you, and you paw around in there for twenty minutes trying to shut the damn thing off. I like to avoid masses of people hating me for legitimate reasons, so a pocket was a high priority for me.

I also wanted a long strap, so I can wear it across my body. This is better for your back, and I’ve always found it to be the most comfortable. I get sick of shoulder bags digging into me after awhile, and I like to have my hands free for important things, like playing on my cell phone. I also didn’t want a big purse, because that just enables me to be a packrat.

Taking all these criteria into account, I designed and made my own purse. I figured it was easier than hunting every mall and thrift store for the perfect bag, and also pride in my own creation would be even more motivation to stop buying other purses. It’s worked for 10 years now. I still have the same purse, and I even patched it up a bit recently. I have a few other purses, all of which were gifts, or free.

There are several things to consider when looking for or designing a purse:

1) Are you a clutter-bug? If you tend to collect random crap in your purse, is this something you want to prevent or enable? If you want to prevent it, get a purse small enough to hold your essentials, and that’s all. That will force you to keep it clean. If you want to enable it, you’re nuts. You’re not Mary Poppins. But get a slightly larger bag to accomodate your hoarding.

2) What do you need to carry? When checking out purses, or starting your preliminary crafting, make sure your basics – cell phone, keys, wallet, make-up, water bottle, toy velociraptor – will fit, and are accessible. If you are constantly fighting with your purse to jam things into it, you will not be happy.

3) What do you need quick access to? For me, it’s my cell phone and keys, which is why they have their own pocket that’s easy to see and reach.

4) What kind of strap do you want? Maybe you only need the space of a clutch, but do you want to have it in your hand all the time? Keep in mind that straps can be added or altered on purses fairly easily, so if you find one that’s almost perfect, check out the strap area to see if you can make it fit your needs easily.

5) What kind of opening do you need? I prefer purses that open fairly wide so the inside is well-lit, and I can find my flask chewing gum easily. If you’re the type to just chuck your purse all over the place, consider a zipper so your stuff stays inside.

6) What other things bother you about past purses? I have one friend who is petrified of germs, and hates having to set her purse on the floor at restaurants or in bathrooms. I would suggest one with a hard bottom, with those little metal feet, so it doesn’t actually touch the floor, and possibly made out of vinyl, or some other material that she could easily clean and sanitize.

These same principles can be used for anything you’re buying a lot of, such as sports equipment (I’m guessing). Take a minute to assess what you like and don’t like about the items you already have, and find an item that will meet your criteria.


May 27, 2012. Tags: , , . House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool.

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