Just Call Me the Bag Lady

posted by Andrea | 04/10/2013

my favorite bags

As a work-from-home mom, I wear a lot of different “hats” every single day. I might get groceries or stop by a neighbors house for a playdate in the morning, head to a coffee shop to work while the babysitter is around in the afternoon, and then run a few more errands before a meeting at church in the evening.

I’m certain most of you can relate :)

Over the past several months — basically since my “mom hat” unearthed itself — I’ve noticed that each of my different hats apparently requires a different bag.

Yes, I pride myself on simplicity, but I’m also a huge fan of efficiency, organization… and cute handbags! And I’ve found that by having different bags packed and ready to go for all the different things I do each day, I save myself a whole bunch of time, energy, and stress — and I rarely forget anything (which is a huge accomplishment for me).

So while some of you might be thinking, “it would be a lot easier just to have one bag,” I personally have found that in my own life multiple bags is the key to successfully wearing multiple hats.

If you’re wondering what some of my favorite bags are — keep reading! 

DISCLOSURE: This post is NOT sponsored in any way — if you see me in person, I WILL be carrying one of these bags! However some of the links below are affiliate links — which means I may get a VERY small percentage of the sale if you make a purchase through my links. However, I hope you know that I’m only promoting the bags below because I use them EVERY SINGLE DAY! Read my full disclosure policy for more information.

My Wristlet

my wristlet

I’m not sure if this really counts as a “bag” since it actually serves as my wallet — but you will rarely see me outside my house without my wristlet. My Vera Bradley All-In-One Wristlet allows me to carry all my essentials on my wrist — cash, credit card, drivers license, business cards, gum, chapstick, a pen, and keys.

And while there are times when I just leave the house with my wristlet (like if I’m taking Nora for a walk, running a quick errand, etc.) I usually toss my wristlet into one of the bags below…

My Every Day Bag

every day bag

This is the bag I take with me MOST of the time — at the grocery store, to the bank, to a basketball game, to the mall, etc. It has plenty of room for baby essentials (a few diapers, wipes, and snacks) as well as my wristlet, water bottle, sunglasses, etc.

It’s the Invite.L Felt Shopper bag. I’ve been using it for almost a year now and have no complaints. (Their website is kind of difficult to navigate, but you can purchase the bag through this link.)

The smaller bags I keep inside my every day bag are Nesting Pouches from Better Life Bag. They are awesome for all sorts of stuff — you can read more about how I use them in this post.

I’m currently using the larger pouch to hold diapers and wipes and the smaller pouch to hold snacks. Everything (including my wristlet and water bottle) fits so nicely into my everyday bag — and I love that this bag is a “normal” size. I have the essentials, but nothing more,so I don’t feel like I’m constantly lugging a toddler and a suitcase around town with me!

Plus, it looks really nice with almost every color… and it works well for every season (at least in my non-fashionista opinion).

 

My Diaper Bag

diaper bag

My diaper bag is a Thirty-One Organizing Utility Tote and it was given to me almost two years ago as a baby gift from my cousin. Although it’s not specifically a diaper bag, I thought it would work well — and I’m extremely happy with how is has held up over the last several months.

There is literally a pocket for EVERYTHING — and I use this bag for times when we’ll be away from home all day or traveling longer distances with Nora.

You can read more about how I organize our diaper bag in this post — but you can also see via the pictures below that it holds a lot of stuff.

I always keep the changing pad in our diaper bag, along with the matching zippered pouch filled with diapers and wipes, a small cooler (the black bag), medicine, a sippy cup, books, snacks, etc.

Then when it’s time to leave, I throw in an extra change of clothes, a few toys, my wristlet, my water bottle, and maybe a DVD if we’ll be in the car for a while.

I know that everything is packed and ready to go at a moments notice (like when we’re running late and rushing to get out the door). I’ve also gotten in a really good habit of unloading and restocking the diaper bag whenever we get home again, so I never feel like I’m going to forget something. That’s a good feeling!

 

My Work Bag

work bag

On the rare occasions when I can completely remove my mom hat (is that ever truly possible?) I use my snazzy grown-up looking “work bag”. It’s the Small Tote from the newish line of Martha Stewart products at Staples, and I recently got it as a gift.

It’s black, so it looks good with everything — and even though it’s called the “small tote” it’s actually quite large. My work bag can easily accommodate my laptop, leather notebook, iPad, planner, wristlet, water bottle, sticky notes, charging cords, and a lot more.

There are lots of smaller pockets on the inside — including a sleeve that fits a 10″ tablet perfectly and an exterior pocket that’s just the right size for most smart phones.

This bag is actually large enough to serve as a diaper bag… but not in my house :)

It’s my work bag, and it’s reserved for grown-up outings like coffee shops with free wifi, meetings with blogging friends, and anything else business related.

 

My Laptop Bag

laptop bag

Since I do have a handful of male readers (who have probably all clicked away by now), I thought I would share my very gender-neutral laptop bag.

I’ve tried many different laptop bags and cases in the past — and this bag by Case Logic is hands-down my all-time favorite FAVORITE laptop bag. And yes, Dave likes it too!

It’s slim, but still has lots of storage. It’s nicely padded, but not overly huge. It has a fully adjustable (and removable) shoulder strap plus additional handles. It also has a felt padded pocket specifically for the iPad, and padded exterior zipped pocket for an iPhone.

You might be wondering why I would need both a work bag and a laptop bag… right? I use the laptop case as more protection when I’m traveling or when I JUST need to take my computer/iPad somewhere and don’t necessarily need anything else. Sometimes I even put my laptop case IN my work bag so my laptop is still protected but I only need to carry one bag.

Plus, since we have more than one laptop in our home, it’s nice to have more than one bag to transport those laptops.

 

So that’s it (I think!)

I honestly do use each one of these bags on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. And while it might seem a little crazy for a person who preaches “simplicity” to have so many bags, I truly feel that each bag serves a separate and very distinct purpose.

These bags help me to be more organized and more productive as I wear so many different “hats” each day — plus, they’re cute!

What are some of your favorite bags?

my favorite bags

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32 comments

  1. Lisa Woodruff

    04/10/2013

    I love it! I have a bazillion bags too and find it really does simplify EVERYTHING!!

    I wrote a post about how much I love my wristlet too!

    http://organize365.com/helping-you-add-minutes-to-your-day-part-2-maximize-your-wallet/

    :)
    Lisa

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  2. Kristin@TheOCDLife

    04/10/2013

    I have been eyeing that organizing utility tote for awhile now. I really think I am going to purchase it to replace my work bag. I am ready for a change and I love all of the pockets!!!

    [Reply]

    Alicia Appel Reply:

    Kristin, I can order one of those Organizing Utility Totes for you if you would like?! I have a couple of them and LOVE them. So versatile.

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  3. Renee

    04/10/2013

    I’m a bag lady too! Love ‘em! I’ve been interested in the felt shopper bag since your giveaway some time ago, but the Invite L. website shows it out of stock and I also received an e-mail from them saying they have no plans to restock that item. Do you know of another source that might sell that bag or something very similar to that bag?

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  4. deborah

    04/10/2013

    The title of this post had me at the word bag! :)

    I love bags too. I’m not as organized as you are with them, but I do just love a nice and cute bag! At this point in my life I don’t need bags packed and ready to go like you do, but I totally appreciate your system.

    When my children were small, I tried very hard to keep the diaper bag restocked, so it was always ready to go. Helps a lot!

    Right now, I will keep a bag with a couple of books and a few things in it, ready to grab for farm errands with my husband. Then if I sit and wait for him, I’m prepared.

    We also have a portable dvd player bag that we keep packed, so it is ready to grab for extended car trips.

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  5. Anne

    04/10/2013

    Love it! I’ve been rotating bags for a while and thought it was too much, but feeling like it was keeping me organized. Thanks so much for this b/c now I feel even more organized! Love your blog!

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  6. Laurel

    04/10/2013

    I have been looking for a wristlet like the one you have. I love yours, but was disappointed when I saw it was $43 on Amazon. I can’t think that is budget friendly. Did you get yours for less knowing your wonderful resourcefulness?

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    Lisa Reply:

    Thirty-One has an awesome wristlet — check out my website at http://www.mythirtyone.com/lisavandyken — they fit your phone too and are definitely cheaper than $30 even!

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    Lisa Reply:

    Check out the Vera Bradley website….today and tomorrow they have everything in one pattern 50% off, and they always have things on sale. I check their site every day, when the online outlet is open you can score some really great deals.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Vera Bradley is usually more expensive by I definitely didn’t pay $43 — I think I paid $30 (maybe even less). I used Amazon.com gift cards so it was essentially a ‘gift to myself’ and I use it every single day, everywhere I go, so it was worth it for me.

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    Laurel Reply:

    Thirty is definetely more to my liking :)

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    Kelly Reply:

    I bought mine at Hallmark today and used the birthday 20% coupon to get the price down.

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    Sara Reply:

    I just bought one on eBay (new with tags) for $22.50 including shipping – they had a bunch when I searched and I was able to find a print I liked. You might try there!

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  7. Beth

    04/10/2013

    I have similar bags to these but have a small backpack as well for hands free juggling of kids (I have 2 with a 3rd on the way) and more active outings. It holds my 2 mini “bags”… An organized wallet and a zippered pouch for the extras. Add water bottle, sunglasses, phone and keys to my 2 mini bags and other outing specific essentials to any if my bags and I’m set to go!

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  8. Michelle

    04/10/2013

    Andrea,

    Do you still use your Bag-in-bag organizers (by invite.L)? My husband bought me one for Christmas (through the sale I *think* you hosted!). I like it but don’t use it as much as I thought I might.

    Michelle

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I do still have those but I don’t use them AS much as I used to — especially now that I use the wristlet as my wallet. I use them a ton for traveling or for evenings out (without kids!) but they aren’t my everyday work-horse bags… if that makes sense!

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  9. Lisa

    04/10/2013

    I love all my Thirty-One bags – I have a bag for all uses. I love my crossbody purse for a handsfree bag with little ones. I love my timeless wallet and my retro metro and Cindy Tote. Neat post : ) What woman doesn’t love a few bags!

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  10. Kristin

    04/10/2013

    I’m so glad you wrote this post. I sell 31 for fun and because I like bags, but I always feel conspicuous that I have a different bag for every occasion and felt like I should find that ONE perfect bag that would fit all my needs. I enjoy seeing that a professional organizer uses more than one!

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  11. Amanda

    04/10/2013

    I love bags!!

    I have a few “grown-up” purses, I use them usually when I’m going out without my son. Some hold more than others, and almost all were purchased before we had a kid.

    I love my backpack for traveling – I’ve had it for more than a decade, but it is still in fantastic shape. It has a padded slot for my laptop and plenty of pockets and stuff for whatever else I need. Anytime we’re going overnight anywhere, you can bet that my backpack is with us. Plus, if I pull out any valuables (if we’re staying somewhere), then it’s great for trekking around our destination too.

    I have the same utility tote from 31 – I love it! It’s my go to bag in the summer, as we use it a lot when we go to the pool or other outdoor activities. It fits a ton and has great outside pockets (I wish they had the zipper closure one when I bought it, but oh well)

    My favorite bag right now is also a 31 bag – it’s the inside out bag which is reversible, has multiple pockets, and slings across my body, making it easy for me to pick up the little man and not have to worry about my purse. It fits everything I need and the items that I need to run a few errands with my son in tow.

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    Amanda Reply:

    Oh, and to keep my bag love under control, I have a purse organizer that hangs in my closet, and then for the bigger bags I store them inside one another and then that hides out under the bed, that way I can find them easily, but they’re organized and out of site.

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  12. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    04/10/2013

    My mom does the same thing. She has a bag for each different thing she does and it works really well for her.

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  13. Debby

    04/10/2013

    I am so happy you showed the Organizing Utility Tote. I have about 5 of them in my house for various functions. I am a thirty one gifts consultant mainly for my own addiction. LOL I use one under the sink to keep everything organized, one in my husband’s trunk, one in my girl’s bathroom with cleaning supplies. I am a bag lady and I love it!!! :)

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    Cherie Reply:

    Me, too. I’m a 31 consultant mostly to buy my own bags at a discount. With all of the awesome gifts and rewards they give us, it’s worth it to me even if I don’t sell much.

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  14. Darlene

    04/10/2013

    So many bags! Where do you keep them all?

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  15. Jessica

    04/10/2013

    Love that you found bags that fit your life.
    I love all things Ju-Ju-Be…hands down
    http://ju-ju-be.com/

    Being a ‘Pink Lady’ makes all the different. I’ve become part of a community of women worldwide that trade, sell and buy JuJuBe bags. It’s amazing!

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  16. Lauren @ Rustic Honey

    04/11/2013

    I felt like my car gave birth to me this morning as I fell out my driver-side door carrying all of my bags for the work day! I think I just need one REALLY BIG bag to house this craziness! P.S. Love your “every day” bag!

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  17. Emily Irish

    04/11/2013

    Love your blog! I’m totally a bag lady too. I could add on to your list with my gym bag, church bag and lunch bag! Lol. You need some more colorful bags to add to your collection. You have a lot of black/brown and grey. Any one looking for a cheaper alternative to the Vera Wallet can check out the Initials Inc. Tech Wallet for only $18. Feel free to shop here http://www.myinitials-inc.com/shop/catalog.aspx

    It is the same size as the Vera one as I have both. I love bags!!!!!!

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  18. Kim Hottel

    04/13/2013

    Love your new blog. I wanted to let you know that I absolutely love purses the same way. I even tried to get the felted bag and they were sold out. I contacted the company and got a response back, it doesn’t look like they are going to make anymore. :(

    If you see others like that be sure to post.

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  19. Luba with Forever Living

    04/15/2013

    What a great idea to have different bags packed for different things you need to do. I am going to try this out!

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  20. brigitte

    04/16/2013

    Thank you for validating my idea that MORE bags keep me more organized…I always say this! I do this for the kids as well with activities, school and camp. It works so well because we prepare the bags before library, dance, etc and it teaches them to be responsible and organized and it keeps me from running around like a crazy person when getting ready to go.

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  21. Susan

    05/04/2014

    Hi Andrea! Here is an odd question for you – where do you store all of these bags when they are not in us or are ready to be used? Right now I only have 2 “bags” – my everyday purse and 1 other bag. I use the bag for anything I need to take that doesn’t fit in my purse – paperwork, laptop, lunch, flip flops, etc. BUT…my husband gets upset that these 2 bags are always out and “in the way.” I want them next to our dining room table, as that is the landing area from our upstairs, as well as I have to pass it on my way out the door. It is convenient to have it here and I never forget it, or forget to put items in it. He thinks they should have a “home.” Any suggestions? Closet? Bedroom? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Susan,
    We don’t have a super scientific system — basically, I keep the computer bag in a cabinet in our office (where the computer is) and then the diaper bag and my felt bag are on hooks by the back door. The wristlet always stays in either one of those bags. We have a couple beach bags that are in the drawer with our swimming suits and our lunch bags are in the panty with the lunch packing supplies.

    Pretty basic — no fancy organizing tools or any special cubbies, but it works for us :)

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