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Purse Shopping: Why Buying A New Bag Is So Difficult

08/13/2012 02:46 pm ET | Updated Oct 13, 2012

Five years ago, my husband bought me a purse for my birthday, which I have carried every single day since then. It is, needless to say, completely worn out, and I really need a new one. It shouldn't be that hard a choice, but the purchase of something that you use every day, and which has to be functional, as well as stylish, is a tough one. My current bag is pretty large, which is great because I can carry everything I need -- including a wallet, umbrella, a notebook, makeup bag, etc., but the downside is it is so big, I can never find anything. I have tried putting my phone and keys in separate pockets, but find it difficult to remember to put them back in their little pockets, so I am left fumbling around, sure I have lost my keys, and when my phone rings, I inevitably rummage around until I miss the call. Plus the large bag is heavy, and gives me a back ache on days when I walk a lot.

A smaller bag would mean it is easier to find everything, but then most days I would have to carry around a separate bag for the overflow, which defeats the purpose. A more organized woman would have several bags, and switch around depending on the day and outfit, but as I am already almost always five minutes late to work, that seems like too much trouble. I need to be able to just grab and go. Years ago there was a wonderful infomercial for a purse system, which allowed you to neatly organize your stuff in a plastic insert, which you could then move from purse to purse. Remember that? (Or I am the only one who devotedly watches late night infomercials?) Unfortunately, the insert seemed only to fit in monstrously large, square, plastic handbags which looked more like lunch boxes. I haven't seen it on TV for a while, so I am not alone in finding them unattractive.

And then there are numerous other issues: My chiropractor (see bad back above) says that shoulder straps are terrible for your back, and that clutches are better for you, but those seem too easy to lose, and who wants to have to carry something around all the time? And many bags come with complicated zippers and clasps. If you move fast, like I do, you need to be able to drop something into your bag, not stand there unzipping and unfolding flaps, but if the bag is too open, things can fall out or be pinched. My mother has given up on purses altogether, and carries around a small canvas backpack and has never been happier, although she does admit that it is not particularly stylish, and it is pretty useless in the rain. So here is what I am looking for: A large clutch that can also be used as a backpack which has been approved by the American Chiropractic Society. It needs to have enough room for everything I need to carry, and easily findable pockets so I can find my phone and keys without having to dump my possessions on the floor. There can't be a lot of hard to close zippers, but it will also have to be discouraging to pickpockets. It will also need to go with whatever I am wearing, and look great so I do not look like I am going camping or emigrating, or that I do my shopping by calling 1800 numbers in the middle of the night.

Want more? Take a peek in our gallery below to see how heavy the Stylelist staffer's bags are and be sure to check out Stylelist on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest.

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