Make the Most of Your Purse

  • Carry only the essentials: Rebecca Minkoff, designer and self-described purse minimalist, says she sees a lot of women schlepping around everything from a hardbound book to enough makeup for a movie premiere. Your purse should ideally be 5 percent of your body weight—10 percent at the max, says Karen Erickson, DC, a New York–based chiropractor. That means if you weigh 165 pounds (the average weight of the American woman according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), your bag should be about 8 pounds. A heavier weight forces the body to tilt forward or causes your shoulders to "micro-shrug," putting excess strain on the trapezius muscle—leading to back, neck and shoulder soreness, and even tension headaches. Pack what you really need (wallet, cell phone, house keys) and keep the rest (charger, planner, coins) in an extra tote in your car or at the office. To check the weight, step on a scale without your bag, then weigh yourself again with your purse and find the difference.

  • Pack products that do double-duty: Makeup artist Mathew Nigara says that eye and lip crayons (like Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour, $24, and Tarte LipSurgence Lip Tint, $24) work as eyeliner, eyeshadow, lipstick and blush. Plus, you don't need brushes to apply and won't be left with an explosion of powder all over the inside of your pricey leather purse. Or try this space-saving trick that Buckle uses for his red-carpet clients (and their tiny clutches): Use a butter knife to cut a small piece off the top of a lipstick bullet and wrap it in a piece of tinfoil for touch-ups minus the full tube.

  • Divide by color: If your purse lacks lots of compartments, Minkoff suggests buying a caddy to fit inside it (like Pursket organizers) or separating the contents of your bag in slim, different-colored pouches to avoid digging around for receipts or makeup. She also keeps the things she needs access to most often—like her lip gloss and cell phone—in the easy-to-reach built-in zipper compartment found on the side of most purses.

  • Give it a deep clean: Minkoff suggests emptying your purse every two weeks to prevent it from becoming a dumping ground. Eliminate things like excess change (which Erickson says adds a lot of weight), gum wrappers, ATM receipts and multiple tubes of balm or lipstick. After all the contents are out of the way, suck up crumbs and dirt with a vacuum hose.

  • Find the sweet spot: Once you've got the contents under control, make sure you carry your purse like a pro. If it has a long strap, wear it across your body to balance the weight and keep it from interfering with the natural swing of your arms. And all bags, regardless of design, should ideally rest on the curviest part of your hip (where the top of your jeans sits). Switch shoulders every block or two, says Erickson, or hold the bag against your chest like a baby to give overworked muscles some relief.

    Next: Get your clothes to your destination without wrinkles


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