Purse

Updated: What's In My Bag

This is hard to believe, but the last time I wrote about what I carry in my tote bag daily, we still lived in our old condo and my organizing business was less than a year old. So much has changed!  

And yet, not much has changed at all, because an organizing solution that works is one that lasts. As you’ll see, I still carry pretty much the same stuff with me in the same way. After so many years, it’s just a habit, and requires little to no effort. This is something I always emphasize to my clients: it takes an investment of time and energy up front to implement organizing systems, but that investment pays off huge dividends when everything in your home and your life just flows.

So, on to the details. As I discussed last week, when you use something frequently, you wear it all the way out. When I show up to a client consultation or networking meeting, it’s important to me to look polished and prepared so that I visually convey my style and expertise. A tattered, fraying purse is not a good way to do that! My old Gucci tote served me extremely well for five years, but it was just d-o-n-e. 

I took the opportunity to choose a tote that is even more practical, cohesive, and true to my personal brand. I don’t mind a logo print, far from it (you’ve surely seen my Goyard bags featured here and on my Instagram), but I just don’t think it’s appropriate for work. I was looking for something that would be high quality and elegant but also fade into the background so that I can shine instead of my accessories.

Simple, slouchy yet polished, goes with everything: perfect.

Simple, slouchy yet polished, goes with everything: perfect.

Enter Cuyana. I’ve raved about their clothing here before, as well as the company ethos of producing and consuming “fewer, better things.” So, I popped into the San Francisco store to check out the bags in person, and the Classic Leather Tote in Stone spoke to me. Plus, I am a sucker for a monogram!

Everything I need, nothing I don't.

Everything I need, nothing I don't.

I’ve switched out a few of the pieces I carry: I moved into a smaller wallet, switched out my daily sunglasses, upgraded to a sturdier umbrella, moved my primary note-taking and list management to Evernote so that I travel with a smaller notebook for jotting things down, and added folding grocery bags so that I’m never caught unprepared on an errand run. The overall strategy, however, remains the same. This is something else I also teach my clients: your organizing system isn’t for me or for anyone else, it’s for you. You can always continue to refine and iterate to make things work even better for you - nothing has to be set in stone!

The pink rectangle is a folding dog bowl - genius!

The pink rectangle is a folding dog bowl - genius!

While I was in the Cuyana store, I also picked up the Large Leather Zipper Pouch in Oxblood. The fabric pouches I had been using bit the dust as well - they were dirty, discolored, and frankly just kind of gross after so many years! I was able to consolidate all the little personal care items I carry every day into one pouch, and continue to keep them protected from the depths of purse purgatory.

Now, if Cuyana would only restock their purse organizers, I’d be perfectly happy!

If your bag is stuffed with youu-don’t-know-what and you’re overwhelmed and disoriented every time you leave the house, give me a call. We can streamline and beautify your daily routines to save your time, energy, and sanity!

LMW 

Don't Buy Travel Products!

When you start a project, what’s one of the first things you do? Like most humans, I bet you start buying the stuff you think you’ll need to complete the project. Marketers know this, which is why you can easily find a “must-have” list for every activity under the sun.

This impulse is totally normal, but I’d advise you to resist it!  Why? It’s not just a matter of expense, although that’s certainly relevant. More importantly, your time and energy are precious, and it’s going to take more than you might realize to purchase, organize, and store the items you buy.

Let me give you an example: travel.

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Travel is a big deal. It takes a lot of resources (money, vacation days, planning, stress) and there’s always an element of the unknown involved. As humans, we like control, and this combination of high cost and high risk makes us nervous. As a result, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if we just buy all the right stuff, a trip will go well.

However, I encourage you to treat travel is just like the rest of your life: use things you love that serve you well, and organize them in a way that works for you. Here are a couple broad categories of travel specific products that are relentlessly marketed and commonly purchased - but that I believe you can substitute with things you already have, love, and use.

The Longchamp Le Pliage is a travel classic for a reason: it's lightweight, zips closed, and...

The Longchamp Le Pliage is a travel classic for a reason: it's lightweight, zips closed, and...

...and look how tiny it folds!

...and look how tiny it folds!

1) Slash-proof or concealed travel bag or wallet

There are surprisingly few places where you truly need to take extraordinary measures to protect your valuables on your person. Remember: almost anywhere you travel, people go about ordinary lives, so follow their lead! I generally carry a lightweight tote bag that zips or a small leather crossbody bag when exploring cities all over the world, and I have never been pickpocketed or mugged. I simply take common sense measures like staying aware of my surroundings and appropriately calibrating the amount of jewelry and type of clothing I wear.

Yes, I did go ahead and customize through  Nike I.D.  with a rose gold swoosh. No regrets.

Yes, I did go ahead and customize through Nike I.D. with a rose gold swoosh. No regrets.

2) Walking shoe

Walking shoes marketed for travel may be extremely comfortable, but they’re also heavy, bulky, and ugly. These shoes take up valuable space in your luggage (and in your closet, because you likely won’t wear them at home) and, like it or not, mark you as a tourist. Instead, pack the shoes you wear when you’re going to be on your feet a lot in your normal life!  I’ll often bring my Nike Flyknit sneakers, which pack flat, add a streetwear vibe to variety of outfits, and can double as gym shoes. 

Much of this photo came as a sample or point perk from  Sephora .

Much of this photo came as a sample or point perk from Sephora.

3) Travel size toiletry containers

These sets are so cute, right?  A set of tiny bottles all ready for your lotions and potions, and TSA approved to boot!  In practice, when I come across travel bottles in clients’ homes, they are usually goopy and unidentifiable.  These sets only work if you are willing to be diligent about labeling bottles, repurchasing the same products and decanting them before every trip, and cleaning up after each trip. And if you’re not, that’s ok! I keep a small stash of all the products I need in travel sizes so that I’m always ready to pack without having to fuss around with containers.

My workout clothes served me as well climbing The Peak in Hong Kong as they do in the gym at home!

My workout clothes served me as well climbing The Peak in Hong Kong as they do in the gym at home!

4) Travel clothing marketed as sun protective, wrinkle free, and/or multifunctional

You know what I mean: those lightweight, drab button down shirts and pants with zip-off legs that companies insist you need for of travel. Instead of thinking of “travel” as your activity, however, I suggest you think about the activities you’re planning for your trip and pack the clothes you’d wear for similar activities in your normal life. For example, for a sightseeing trip to a European city in the spring, I’d pack outfits I’d wear for a day of shopping or museum-going at home in San Francisco: a mix and match assortment of jeans, silk pieces, and lightweight sweaters. For a week long hiking trip, I’d include various pieces from my workout and outdoor wardrobe including Lululemon pants and Patagonia layers.  I always feel prepared for my trip while at the same time feeling totally comfortable and like myself - which makes travel a lot more fun!

As you might have gathered, my philosophy on travel is that the best strategy to maximize both your personal safety and your enjoyment of the trip is to blend in, rather than mark yourself as a tourist. To me, travel is about expanding my perspective through authentic experience of people and places, and I can’t do that if I’m visually separating myself from my surroundings.

How about your favorite hobbies and activities: what things are we told we absolutely need but you know we can easily live without?

LMW

Purse Storage for the Real World

You guys, the unthinkable has happened: there is a list of organizing tips on the internet that I can wholeheartedly endorse!  Thank you, Nancy Mitchell and Apartment Therapy, for publishing The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Bags and Purses!

Photo courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com (I Heart Organizing)

Photo courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com (I Heart Organizing)

For those readers who might be newer to my personal style of organizing, I am a skeptic of hacks that don’t address the root needs of each person’s wardrobe and life.  So many organizing recommendations just don’t function well, hiding things you need to be able to see or grouping them artificially in the name of a Pinterest-ready row of pretty straw boxes with chalk labels.  Hm, was that too on the nose?  Moving on…

That said, just like any professional organizer I have a few tried and true organizing techniques that check all my boxes: they’re quick and easy to install, aesthetically neutral, and work best when you’ve already done the hard work of organizing (that would be editing your collection, which should always be Step #1!).  And this list includes at least three of them!

I regret to inform you that I am not showing you how I organize my bags today. The closet in the room we are currently using as a master bedroom is very strangely shaped and came with pre-existing shelves and hanging space wedged into nooks and crannies.  I moved my things in as best as I could, and I’m living with it until I can move into the closet in our new master suite, but the entire internet does not need access to this situation!

I will tell you, though, that I will be using shelf dividers for my clutches and bags, and there will be hooks for my totes.  Hooks are such under-appreciated organizing tools.  The one benefit of my current weird closet is that there are hooks everywhere and they are so useful – I put belts on a couple of them, keep spare hangers on one and lay out my next outfit on another, stash the week’s pair of PJ’s here and that sweatshirt that doesn’t need to be laundered yet but isn’t quite clean over there.

I will also say that there’s bag storage strategy that works for me but that I do not often recommend to clients: I keep my purses in their dust bags.  It’s easy to see why I do that: the dust bags protect the purses!  But why wouldn’t I recommend this to a client?  It’s because many people who struggle with organizing have a hard time remembering where they put things and difficulty maintaining the habit of putting each item back in its place when they’re finished with it.  In order to help them stay organized, they need everything to be relatively visible.  With a lifetime habit of use-it-then-put-it-away firmly in place, I don’t need to see my shelf of purses to know that the one second from the left is the gray Fendi 2jours medium sized tote!

I look forward to being able to share my own closet with you, but in the meantime, these tips can get you started on your purse organization!

LMW