pile of fashion handbags

Give Your Handbag the Heave Ho! Join My 30-Day Purse Free Challenge

Tote bags. Oh how I love them! I have them in lots of colors and upon closer purse inventory, nearly all my handbags are actually tote bags. Some more stylish than others but all chosen for their ability to haul things around.

And haul I did. I carried my laptop, my bullet journal, a wallet, two different accessories pouches, two phones, and earbuds. On some days, I added either an iPad or a Kindle depending on what I was reading at the time. Not to mention tissue packets, a foldable fan, letters I needed to mail, and a riot of receipts.

contents of an overstuffed handbag
Some of my purse’s daily contents.

I carried it all until I injured my hip last year. You never know how much your hips do for you until one of them is hurt and boy, oh boy did I learn a fast lesson. My physical therapist told me to stop carrying so much stuff but my positional therapist told me to ditch my tote bags altogether and get a backpack to carry the things I needed.

See, not only were the heavy totes throwing off my alignment and making it harder for me to walk properly, they were also preventing my arms from swinging naturally, which led to increased tension in my shoulders and rock-hard trapezoids. No bueno, my friend, no bueno!

I lightened my load significantly but I didn’t ditch the bags altogether because…stuff.

Living the Purse Free Life

Fast forward a few months and I came across an article in New York Magazine titled Men Know It’s Better to Carry Nothing. The piece looks at the differences in the way men and women traverse the Earth. Men leave home largely empty-handed and unconcerned while women are loaded down with big bags and feel it necessary to be prepared for any eventuality. Hmm.

This got me to thinking that maybe I wouldn’t go shopping for backpacks as my therapist had suggested. Though I loved the idea of free-swinging arms and having my hands free to stop runaway baby carriages, I didn’t relish the idea of looking like an overgrown teenager with a knapsack. Thus, my Purse-Free Fall was born!

leather purses in varying colors
Join my Purse-Free Challenge and lighten your load!

Historically, I’ve only ever gone without a purse for very short excursions and that didn’t happen very often. It was mostly when I lived in midtown Manhattan and was no more than 20 minutes from home no matter where I went. Having no purse was easier then, I felt free but still safe.

And that brings to mind an episode of NYPD Blue where, during the course of a homicide investigation, Detective Sipowicz says to a beat cop “the only woman without a purse is a dead woman.” Gah!

Well Sipowicz, I think a woman without a purse is more alive than anyone. Schlepping is bad for the soul and there’s immeasurable freedom in not having to carry things. Also, the universe will provide!

So today, I invite you to join me in my Purse-Free Fall starting with a 30-Day Purse-Free Challenge. I’m tracking my progress and pitfalls on Instagram using #PurseFreeOct. Look for it in my Stories or my Purse-Free Highlight and share your purse-free journey as well because I’d love to see how you pare down and free yourself up!

pile of fashion handbags
Ditch your purse, free up your hands, and join my Purse-Free Fall Challenge!

Things You Need to Be Purse-Free

Living the purse-free life takes a bit of planning. When you’re accustomed to carrying around everything but the kitchen sink, you need to be really intentional about knowing what each day will require and you must be hyper willing to pare down your belongings.

My intention is to carry only a credit card case, my phone, and my keys. My glasses I’ll wear on my face and I’ll perhaps stuff my earbuds and a couple of tissues in my pockets for good measure. (It’s allergy season after all.) I’ve even taken some keys off my ring to make them easier to carry. Basically, if it can’t fit in my pockets, I’m not taking it with me.

Freedom freedom, where are you? I need freedom too!

via Gfycat

Full disclosure: my first day out during the challenge was a miserable failure because I didn’t plan ahead. I didn’t have time to unpack and transfer my essentials and I didn’t wear pants with big enough pockets. SMH! Watch word for the challenge going forward? Preparedness.

Be Prepared: Shop for card cases

To ensure your success in this challenge, you’ll want to get a case with enough capacity to hold your essentials and also small enough to slide into the pocket of your sexiest jeans. I noticed a few of my friends carrying small aluminum cases with clasps like these.

Fortuitously, I got this great croc-embossed leather card holder (below) in the Fall Box of Style and I’ll be using it until I get this one that I ordered from Amazon. I prefer leather over the aluminum.

red leather card case for purse-free challenge
Traveling light with a small leather card case. #PurseFreeOct

Bloomingdale’s also has a great selection of small cases that slip easily into a back or front pocket. These mini RFID credit card holders are a great option too. They hold several cards, come with cute designs, and added protection against information theft.

The Purse-Free Challenge

Well lovely, I wish us luck on this purse-free journey and once we get used to the inevitable naked-in-public feeling, I’m sure our bodies will thank us. Cheerio!

Can you leave home without it? Ditch your heavy handbag and join this 30-Day Purse-Free Challenge! You don't need to carry the world around on your shoulder! Free up your hands and free yourself. #PurseFreeOct


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  1. Patranila, thank you for posting this idea. I am with you. In fact, I am so with you that I created a product to help women ditch their purse. See the Pursesuitz Pocketwear Tank at pursesuitz(dot)com. It is so comfortable and does not sacrifice style if you wear it underneath a stylish top. Creating this product has been so liberating for me. Now I always know where my phone is, and I can be on equal footing with men who can leave the house hands-free!

  2. Hey, great post. This 30-day purse free challenge sounds tough to me as I can’t go out without my purse. But still, I’m gonna try this. Keep sharing more interesting posts like this.

    1. Patranila says:

      It’s definitely an adjustment but since doing it, I realized how much ‘stuff I carry’ that I don’t actually need. I’ve continued it and now it’s weird for me to carry a purse. Good luck though and let me know how it goes for you!

  3. I have a leather cuff wallet that keeps all my wallet essentials right on my wrist. It’s perfect for busy mornings when the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. Never feel like I “have” to bring my purse anywhere anymore!

    1. Patranila says:

      It’s such a wonderful feeling isn’t it?!

  4. Arun Dahiya says:

    I generally carry a backpack or nothing. These days I avoid carrying bags specially one sided slings as they dig into my shoulders and cause pain.

  5. Lina Melo says:

    I always carry with me a purse, I can’t get out of home without it.
    Also, I love the small leather case, looks so cute and very useful

  6. I still love carrying a purse! Even with a diaper bag I love my purse

  7. I either carry a huge bag or nothing. Lol. I keep a lot of stuff in my car and when I’m going into stores usually just carry keys and a wallet.

  8. Maybe if I change to a jacket with many pockets, I could do this! I need to carry a portable phone charger since I need my phone in case of emergency, a bottle of water (steel bottle!), my meds and autistic stim toys, but I feel like with the right jacket, I could go bag free! Also, love the Beyoncé reference.

    1. Patranila says:

      With the right jacket you could totally do it!

  9. Marjie Mare says:

    Girl, these items make me so happy. I love a cute purse and must have that mustard color one now.

  10. I don’t know if I could leave my house with my purse. I am always on a bike and need a bag to hold my important belongings in (especially a special ID I really need). I want to try but soooooo hard!

    1. Patranila says:

      It’s definitely an adjustment but you could do it!

  11. I carry purse only when I am alone heading out for shopping or any event or outings! Otherwise, my hands are free always as husband carries his wallet ? Also, I love handbags which do not add too much weight to my body! Loved reading this post ☺

    1. Patranila says:

      The weight of a purse is a serious consideration for me nowadays. I can’t carry things at all. The slightest additional weight makes me wary.

  12. I hardly ever carry a purse! I have a wallet case for my phone and my keys are on a clip that I can easily attach to my belt loop. The only time I bring a bigger bag is when I am substitute teaching at my son’s school because I like to be prepared with a few bandages, backup plans, and my sweater because it’s usually cold in the school.

    1. Patranila says:

      Really! I’m so surprised. I’m thinking of getting a multi-function case for my phone that would allow everything to be in one place. Right now, my phone travels the world naked and unafraid. No case, no bumper, no screen protector, nada!

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