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The UnPacking List #11: How to Downsize Your Handbag

downsize your handbag

Never date a girl who carries a tiny purse or even worse no purse at all. She doesn’t need you or anything else to survive.

Cletus Van Damme

I’ve come across this quote several times in the past year or so while researching minimalism and downsizing luggage, and every time I see it, I think of my friend Ange.

Angela Corbett lives in Sydney and is a good pal of mine. Due to a variety of circumstances over the past 1.5 years, she has been able to downsize her beloved, slouchy, oversized handbag to a teeny tiny bag… or sometimes no handbag at all!

This chat touches on the why, the how, and what she learned in the process of downsizing her handbag. Dive on in, ladies, and free yourself of the handbag burden once and for all.

What You’ll Learn

  • How an injury has led Ange to living a healthier life with fewer things weighing her down.
  • The things Ange considers essential when leaving the house. Hint – It’s not much!
  • Tips for others who want to be free of the handbag burden once and for all.

Links of Interest

Take Action

Head out without a handbag and let us know how it goes! Leave a comment below.

And don’t forget to

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

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Reader Interactions


  1. Theresa A Crow says

    I carry a small wristlet when I do carry a bag. There are a few reasons for carrying it, but it usually means that whatever I am wearing does not have pockets. Inside it are my men’s front-pocket wallet (very tiny that when open, has 3 slip pockets for cards on one side and a window pocket on the other with 1 pocket behind each side that I use for bills and insurance cards. I have carried a front pocket wallet for about 15 or 16 years. I started using the wristlet when I had to downsize my “stuff” that I carried everyday to work because I started riding public transportation for my 1-hour commute and due to changing buses as well as walking a few blocks. Since I carry my backpack with laptop and associated items and my breakfast and my lunch bags, my purse was the thing that had to go. Now, I only carrying one bag to work (when I go to the office which has not been since mid-March). When I have pockets, I take out my front-pocket wallet, take my keys off the wristlet, and grab my chap stick out of the zipped pocket. These are dropped into my pockets along with my phone. I love the sense of freedom that comes with this and can do this with my Macabi skirts, all of my shorts and my lighter weight pants. Some of my summer dresses have pockets but they are not very substantial so I do not put my phone in those. Some of you will understand the absolute freedom that comes from this, but if you have not tried it, you may think that you cannot do it. I assure you that you can. I wish that I had done this years and years earlier. Let me know if anyone wants a picture of the wristlet (Vera Bradley) or front pocket wallet (Osgoode Marley) and I will be happy to share..

  2. Diane says

    I have been doing a little empirical psychological research on how I am received in retail settings, comparing carrying a mid-size handbag, just a wallet, and no bag, using my pockets. This has been a fascinating experiment. I have discovered that retailers provide the best customer service while I carry the handbag. In each scenario, I am well-groomed, wearing accessories and dressed in the same type of clothing, watch, jewelry and shoes. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the outfit is elevated sportswear or more professional daywear, the customer experience is improved by including a handbag in the ensemble. I like the idea of downsizing or right-sizing my daily carry, but it’s very nice to wear a handbag. Even though there isn’t much in the bag, the psychological impact of being a lady with her bag makes it worth the effort to carry one.

  3. Suzanne says

    I normally carry a lot of things with me but ever since Covid I started carrying less in the stores. It it very freeing! Now I may leave the rest of my things in the car but I’m ok with that. And now after the handbag class I’m even more aware of what I’m carrying all the time.

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