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How to organise your handbag

Lighten your load ... the bigger the bag, the more we put in it.

Lighten your load ... the bigger the bag, the more we put in it.

If you’re anything like me, then you lug around the world in your handbag. From the mail to hairbrushes, kids jumpers' to iPads – the bigger my handbag is, the more stuff I find to fill it. What I'm sick of? This: The phone rings while I’m trying to find my keys. They're both in my bag. The bottom of it. Trapped in a jumbled mess from hell that includes a leaking lip gloss and a squashed muesli bar. Don't pretend you haven't been there too...

Organising your handbag is a life changer but it's also a little like the Dewey Decimal system – if you don't follow it precisely then you're never gone find that book. Here’s how to de-clutter and turn your handbag into a shrine of organisation.

Organise your handbag. Change your life. It's as simple and difficult as that... 

Start From Stratch

The first thing you need to do is to put a towel down on the floor and then tip the contents of your bag out on to it.  It's time to untangle, throw away and separate all your stuff. The aim of this exercise is to group everything into items that can be separated out into pouches or containers. When I say everything I mean all of it - the loose lipsticks, the hair bands, the kids toys, the breath mints – everything either goes in the bin or in a pouch. The final aim is to have a handbag that contains a series of these pouches – you can use anything from little cosmetic bags, old sunglasses case (great for pens) to zip lock bags - each one dedicated to a different use or need.

Make-Up Minimalism

When it comes to make-up you need to be brutal – what do you really need? Actually use? I've whittled it down to a tinted moisturiser, bronzer, mascara, blush and gloss – this can get me through most face scrapes and doesn't overwhelm my handbag (or destroy my back).

Streamline your cosmetics to the daily essentials and then just add extras – a night time gloss, red lipstick etc - as you need them. Keep hair ties, spray, bobby pins in a separate mini-zip lock bag. This prevents them from getting products and cream on them.

Money, Money, Money

Your coins need to go in a separate coin purse – they just do. All those ten cent pieces floating around with all those receipts in the bottom of you bag just isn't working out for you is it? Coin purse. It's the way forward. Keep your wallet for notes and cards only. I found switching to a bright wallet made it much easier to locate in the darkness of my bag. Gold, silver, fluro pink - much faster to find when you're in a hurry.

General Electrics

Headphones, iPhones, iPads, iPods, cameras … some days my handbag looks like a JB Hi-Fi outlet. Wrap your cords around the hardware to stop them from tangling together or use a hair elastic to secure them in a loop. Make sure each item has its own pouch or casing to prevent them scratching each other or your sunglasses.

Colour Code It

A fashion editor friend who’s also a mad, crazy organiser uses different coloured silk pouches to organise her handbag. It's smart. She knows that the pink pouch is the for pens, the yellow for her mobile phone etc... It works particularly well if you prefer big, over-sized totes as it simplifies the whole digging around in the bottom of a bucket feeling. This system is also brilliant for nappy bags – separating all you need for a little one via colour is a life-saver when you’re on the go (or sleep deprived).

Key Party

Most hand bags have a built-in hook for your keys and yet ... we never, ever use them. Start to. They're genius. Keys are so easy to lose in the bottom of your bag and damage things by scratching etc. If you don’t have a clip – dedicate a side pocket to keeping them in place.

Survival Kit

This tip is from another fashion editor: create an emergency pouch that contains the following: six pandol, two tampons, black and white cotton with needle, breath mints and a $20 note. You’ll be amazed just how much you come to rely on it.

Professional Help

If you're looking for ninja-like precision then you just might need an industrial handbag insert. Action-packed with pockets, zippers and pouches to hold everything under the sun these clever little devices create a false lining that can be transferred from bag to bag. When you want to change bags you simply lift it out and swap it over. Try: bagorganiser.com.au

33 comments so far

  • When I first met my husband, we'd go on walks or whatever and he would always open the boot for me to leave my handbag in the car... I was reluctant at first as I hadn't realised what a security blanket it was, but I came to enjoy the freedom, and my "handbag walk" (one shoulder higher than the other!) improved. Now I try to carry far less, but with little kids it's nearly impossible for a few years!

    Commenter
    Irene
    Date and time
    June 08, 2012, 11:56AM
    • I had exactly the same experience with my husband!Before I met him, I'd never gone anywhere without a handbag and felt strangely naked the first few times I wandered around without one.I second the tipping everything out of the bag method of bag cleaning.You also need to escape the hoarder's mindset that you may one day need that receipt for some mystery item from 2001.<a href="http://ipomenscarlet.com">Ipomen Scarlet</a>

      Commenter
      Ipomen Scarlet
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 1:51PM
  • As a lover of handbags - my collection is too numerous to count - I keep my "bag" clear by cleaning it out with each bag change (usually daily or at least every second day). This has made me change from just adding continually to the void that was my one extremely heavy handbag, to just having a few essentials that I can quickly change from one bag to the next.

    I keep my 2 purses, a small makeup bag, phone, keys and emergency bits (in a snaplock bag).

    I also have two purses, but mine are: one for credit cards/money/licence etc, the other is for all those 'rewards' cards. I had 60 cards at last count.

    Commenter
    Amanda
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    June 08, 2012, 12:32PM
    • My bag has an umbrella, my wallet, my keys and thats it. I keep my phone in my pocket and my keys in their own pouch in the bag. I have a little zip pocket for feminine products.

      This is not rocket science, and that fact that people need to be told is cause for concern.

      Commenter
      Mas
      Location
      Tumut
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 12:50PM
      • Well that might be all you need in a hand bag in Tumut........ ;)

        Commenter
        Sydney Handbag
        Date and time
        June 08, 2012, 6:47PM
      • It's cause for concern that everyone doesn't do what you do, Mas? Come over and show me how it's done and you'll have that bit less to be concerned about.

        Commenter
        BC
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 10, 2012, 9:56AM
      • I needed the exact same amount when I lived in Parramatta. Its all about being practical and knowing that you don't need much.

        Commenter
        Mas
        Location
        Tumut
        Date and time
        June 30, 2012, 9:26PM
    • Mas, some people just manage to accumulate junk in their bag. They are pits for losing stuff in. You are clearly a well organised person. Between half to three quarters of the population is not.
      Our bags are a repository for all sorts of stuff. I'd love someone to come up with a bag that has a row of LEDs around the perimeter of the inside of my bag so I can see what's in there!
      I'm with Paula re the mobile phone. Mine always just stops ringing when I finally get it out from under everything.

      Commenter
      what the hell is that ... oh, dear
      Location
      at home
      Date and time
      June 08, 2012, 1:50PM
      • Mimco sell practical bag organisers. You just fill them with essentials and you can transfer them between bags.

        Commenter
        dianav
        Location
        Perth
        Date and time
        June 08, 2012, 1:59PM
        • a bag in a bag?

          Commenter
          bee
          Location
          sydney
          Date and time
          June 11, 2012, 10:17AM

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