Getting a Handle on Mid-life: Does Your Purse Pain You?

Is your "It" Bag full of it?


Pining for the Perfect Purse

I was scanning catalogs and shopping online last night. I was searching, as always, for the perfect purse. Here’s what I wanted:

  •  trendy but doesn’t break the bank;
  •  goes with everything;
  •  weighs nothing;
  •  just big enough for the “first aid kit for life” that goes with me everywhere;
  •  makes a statement yet is understated.


I felt a little entitled to something special since I returned the enormous designer bag with dangling golden charms and hefty price tag I received from my husband for Christmas.

I took his gift back — not because it was bright blue, since these days gargantuan bags in shades of vermilion, orange or magenta are considered cool —

and not because it cost too much, which it did and my Midwestern sensibilities were affronted, again —

but because it was too big and my aching back tells me that it’s time lay down such burdensome things and pare down to bare essentials.

My Cavalcade of Carryalls

In my twenties, I could spend an evening out with ID, car keys and $10 for drinks. If it was someplace fancy, I’d ask my date to pocket my lip gloss. Those were the days.

Then, in my thirties I surrendered to a craving for Coach — a late 1970’s symbol of precocious professionalism.  Today they lend their leathery cache to craven teenagers.

By the end of that decade, it was a Landsend diaper bag I was lugging on my shoulder full to the breaking point with baby wipes, pull-ups, snacks, bottles and toys.

In my forties I entered my feminine Fendi phase and exercised my rights to credit card debt. No price was too high to pay for chocolaty Italian designer initials.

Fifty was my year for frozen shoulders and after three surgeries and years of tender chiropractic care, I bunches of  Baggalini’s in any color but beige.

Now that I’m looking sixty straight in the eye, I have once again outgrown my clever little clutches and minimalist mini bags.

I’ve come full circle to an elephantine carryall with room for snacks, books, and medications — and this time they’re for me and not for toddlers.


Hit’em With Your Handbag

So, what to do when your bulging bag weighs in at fifteen pounds and contains enough paraphernalia to mount an assault on Mount Everest?

What we’ve lost in make-up poundage, we’ve gained in prescriptions. Even with careful culling, here’s what I cannot do without:

  • Make-up Pouch: lipstick, Chapstick, tweezers, breath strips, tooth cleaners like minty little Christma trees to excavate stuck salad pieces, tin of Nivea hand cream, folding hair brush, department store giveaway spritz of Jo Malone
  • Medication Pouch: Aleve, Motrin, Tylenol, Tiger Balm, Claritin, Beano, eye drops, antiseptic wipes, two BandAids, Cortizone cream for crusty eczema flare ups.
  • Miscellaneous: multi-focal eyeglasses, eye drops, sunglasses, tissues, mega-wallet, notepad, pens and iPhone.


A full load, no doubt, but hardly to Diva proportions. I carry around my own little “comfort zone” as I go about my days.

I guess the key is to walk in the world unencumbered and hope for a little helping hand when you need it. Or…


Maybe the answer is a “ride on” handbag like the Trunki toddler luggage I’ve seen in airports. On days when all is not well, we could hitch a ride from a partner or passerby.




Another solution — a “sit down walker” with designer details. Something we could push through Starbucks like an aggressive mommy with a high tech stroller..


Getting a Handle on Mid-life

I want a satchel that’s small, elegant and balanced — everything that in mid-life I’m not.

I’m no longer aiming to be the woman with the “It” bag. I just want to carry the necessities of my daily life without looking like a bag lady!

The fashion forward profile for the coming season…wait for it…the Boxy Bowling Bag!



I know just where mine is in the garage! Now I’m wondering about those comfortable shoes?

Is your closet are crammed with the carcasses of bags that you have loved and now loathe? Have you found the Holy Grail of Handbags?