Subliminal Style
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Catching Rae

How to Use a Statement Bag (When You Carry Lots of Stuff)

Happy Monday, everyone! 

We're kicking off this week with a super-practical offshoot from last week's Handbag as Jewelry post. That post discussed the use of a statement bag in place of jewelry/scarves/jackets when it's too hot to layer on your normal amount of accessories - but it raised the excellent question of how to get away with such a little bag when you need to haul a bunch of stuff around for work.

I can totally relate to this issue, since my job sometimes requires me to carry affects for networking, consultations, drinks, and full-on wardrobing appointments all in the same day!

I have two main solutions to this problem: one very simple option, and another that takes a bit of planning and organization to execute.

Brahmin Vivian Vineyard Satchel

Brahmin Vivian Vineyard Satchel

The Big Statement Bag

The simple solution? Choose a statement bag large enough to fit all your stuff inside! These days, printed, embellished, and color-blocked bags come in all shapes and sizes - not just delicate clutch styles.

For hot days when I want a pop of detail without tons of clothes, I keep a large option as well as a small one. This Brahmin "Vivian" domed satchel is large enough to function as a briefcase and, packed full, holds my wallet, camera, sunglasses, phone, notebook(s) keys, and pens. 

The Multistage Rocket

Most times, carrying a larger bag is an adequate solution for carrying my necessary amount of stuff. However, there are days when the occasions are so varied - and the traffic so oppressive! - that I can neither go home and swap bags nor lug the kitchen sink into every event. 

Enter my "multistage rocket" bag!

Fully packed for a wide range of events.

Fully packed for a wide range of events.

In this system (which I've implemented for several clients as well as myself!), bags are nested within one another by degrees of necessity so that, as your needs grow smaller, so can your arm candy. Here are the "stages" I use for myself:

  • Card Case - ID, my main plastic (carried with phone and keys in pocket)
  • Clutch/Wristlet - cash, makeup, auxiliary plastic (e.g., department store credit cards), club cards, gift cards, pill case, receipts, mini pen (carried in hand, phone and keys in pocket)
  • Crossbody - phone, keys, sunglasses
  • Satchel/Tote/Weekender - depending on the day, the largest bag may carry as much as: clothes clips, pins, safety pins, shoe polish, camera, mini tripod, notebook, lint rollers, fashion tape, shoe glue, shoe inserts, sewing kit, closet organizer tags, glasses, lotion, deodorant, business display. 
Fully packed with card case inside wristlet inside crossbody inside weekender.

Fully packed with card case inside wristlet inside crossbody inside weekender.

The photos above show the various situations in which I might use each type of bag. I might only pare down to my card case if I'm going to a crowded event like a concert, and I might only bring my weekender if I'm doing a large closet overhaul. In this example, I could also choose to swap in a more colorful statement wristlet to pep up my outfit in the evening.

And of course, many days I will change it up, bypassing the crossbody or tote altogether, because they aren't necessary for the day. The below example utilizes two statement bags: my metallic croc wallet-on-a-string and my striped Brahmin satchel.

Bypassing the "crossbody stage" on a day with fewer activities.

Bypassing the "crossbody stage" on a day with fewer activities.

Think of the card case as the shuttlecraft and the weekender as the big-ass rocket ship that blasts off from Earth! The layers that are shed throughout the day get left in a secure location like a locked trunk or office.

Since everyone has different needs,  you may also need to tailor a system like this to your individual quirks. For some, the list of bare essentials will be larger than mine - one of my clients, for example, carries a cigarette case instead of a card case and stocks it with cash, business cards, a pencil, and dietary supplements in addition to her ID and credit card.

Here's how yet another client, who carries heavy files for work, organizes her items:

  • Card Case - ID, plastic, cash
  • Pouch - pens, highlighters, post its, pill case
  • Laptop sleeve - laptop, tablet, toothbrush, toothpaste, mints, glasses
  • Mobile Office - lunch cooler, files, books/binders, charging cables, flat shoes

One thing I love about this system is that it makes bag collections very modular. It becomes very easy to switch to a fun bag to better match your outfit - without also forgetting something essential (how many times did I leave the house without lipstick and tampons before I started doing this??). It also really saves my back on days when I have a long appointment in addition to some smaller functions. 

How do you make statement bags work for you? How do you switch them out when they don't match your outfits? Or do you avoid statement bags because they don't go with everything and are too hard to switch?

P.S., Statement bags, clutches, and mini bags are all modern trends for Fall 2017! More on that later but, if you are interested in making the look work for you, now is the time. :)