100 Possessions: My Handbag

I’ve decided to start a new series here on Miss Minimalist called “100 Possessions.” My intent: to feature each item I own, and explain why I chose to include it in my minimalist life.

Sure, it may seem ironic to be talking about stuff on a minimalist blog. However, given that the majority of us are not Buddhist monks, we need a certain amount of things to function (and be comfortable) in our homes, jobs, and daily lives.

Furthermore, as minimalists, we must be mindful of, and make smart decisions about, the things we own—because the more versatile and functional each item, the less overall we need.

I’m calling the series “100 Possessions” not because I think we should limit our things to an arbitrary number. Rather, I regard it as a metaphor for the carefully-chosen things that have earned a place in our lives.

I think it’d be great to open up a dialogue about our consumer (or should I say minsumer?) choices. I receive emails every day asking for particulars about my wardrobe, luggage, cosmetics, shoes, electronics—you name it, I’ve been asked about it. Well, I’ll share my choices with you; and I hope you’ll share yours as well!

In fact, I’ve started a group photo pool on Flickr called “100 Possessions.” I invite you all to upload photos of your own things, and let us know why they merit a place in your minimalist life.

I’m kicking off the series with a topic near and dear to many minimalistas: handbags. Like many of you, I’ve engaged in a long quest to find the “perfect” bag. Something that works in every season, with every outfit, for every occasion. I only want to own one, after all.

Have I found it? Quite possibly. Here’s my current carryall of choice:

Miss Minimalist's handbag

Miss Minimalist's handbag

Why did I choose it? Ah, let me count the reasons!

1. It’s black—which means it goes with all my shoes, and everything in my wardrobe. It’s also less likely to show stains, and general wear, than a lighter-colored bag.

2. It’s made of seatbelts. I love the fact that the material is vegan, wipes clean, and doesn’t scratch like leather or stain like cloth. It appears to be virtually indestructible—perfect for someone who, once they find something they like, wants it to last forever.

3. It’s versatile. It has a feminine shape, and slight sheen, making it appropriate for dressier occasions (like going to a nice restaurant), as well as casual wear.

4. It zips across the top, making it secure in crowded places and on public transit. (Note: for those thinking of ordering this, the bag comes standard with a magnetic closure–I requested a zipper instead.)

5. It has an adjustable cross-body strap, which I prefer (for versatility, for security, and to keep my hands free).

6. It’s lightweight. I can easily toss it into my suitcase when I travel.

7. It folds flat for easy storage, so no need to find extra shelf space for it in the closet.

8. It was handmade by an Etsy artisan, rather than being mass-produced.

So that’s what I’m sporting on a daily basis. I’d love to hear about your choice of everyday bag—be it purse, tote, backpack, messenger bag, etc. Tell us about it in the Comments.

I think this series will be a fun break from the more serious, philosophical posts. I can’t wait to trade ideas with you on how we can live beautiful lives with less stuff!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

94 comments to 100 Possessions: My Handbag

  • Trish B

    LOL-I had to order one of these. I’ve been making do with some old tote bags, because I couldn’t find a purse to meet my specs-which were strikingly similar to yours. I especially like a zipper top-flaps are just too fiddly for me. For almost 30 years I carried a zip-top plain black Coach shoulder bag, but I literally wore it out. I need something a little larger now, due to carrying medications. And they don’t make my old bag anymore-I think most Coach stuff is too trendy for me now, so this should fit the bill. I’ll know in about a week.

  • Ok on the 100 things update here. I found a great xtranormal cartoon on you tube: The Minimalist Part 1. I thought all my minimalists peeps here would enjoy it!

  • Jen

    I just bought a bag for a recent vacation that I think may finally be my long sought “perfect bag.” It’s basically 3 bags in one and converts from a shoulder bag to a crossbody to a backpack, is made from durable nylon and has lots of pockets. It was perfect for my trip- small enough for the plane but large enough to carry a lot of stuff during the day. Elegant enough carried as a shoulder bag to take to a nice restaurant, but easy to switch to backpack mode for hiking. I love it so far! It’s a Baggallini Brussels bag (http://www.baggallini.com/product1.asp?collection=%27intl%27&product=%27BRUG423%27) and although it was a bit expensive I’m hoping it’ll last a long time!

  • Melissa

    I recently ordered this shoulder wallet. I look forward to simplifying what I carry with me.

  • Can a coat be a purse? I just looked at the Scottevest webpage and they have a new ladies coat…not out yet.

  • miss minimalist

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments — I loved hearing about all your bags. I’m so happy that you’re enthusiastic about the series, and think we’ll have some great discussions!

    Thanks also to those who added photos to the Flickr pool. Looking forward to seeing more of your “100 possessions.” :)

  • […] items she owns and loves, plus her rationale for choosing to include them in her life. Her current post is about her love for her handbag – […]

  • my handbag is made from ringpulls. recycling, and giving mothers in africa work is what that bag does.

  • Simple Zen

    Damm! Iv’e just quit flickr. I couldn’t find a lifestyle minimalism or a 100 things group. Only the Ikea type of terndy consumer (yuk) minimalism.

    I posted a pic in the what’s in your bag group and got over 1020 veiws in five days. Mostly from from trendy teenagers chimping (ooh! ahh!) my gadgets and stuff.
    It’s all a bit sad really. Vanity and consumerism is alive and well.

    I may rejoin flickr when my photography (and health) improves.

  • Rebecca R.

    I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this yet or not, but if you go to theanimalrescuesite.com’s store, they have a few seatbelt purses that are handmade and fairly traded from India. They are between $34-$38 with $4.95 shipping, and when you order from there, they also donate food to shelters for your order. It looks like they have black, grey, tan and tan/orange ones.

  • Pamela C.

    My purse is designed by “Matt & Nat”, which is a Canadian company. The purses by Matt & Nat are made from recycled plastic water bottles and are gorgeous and trendy.

  • […] Well, I hope you had as much fun reading this post as I had writing it! I’ll be exploring some of the specific items in-depth as part of my 100 Possessions series (I’ve already covered my black dress and black bag). […]

  • Maria Alexander

    I ordered the same bag from Etsy, was the only one, now comes with a zipper and it’s beautifull and very light…..
    Perfect to wear all over the place…specially for people who do not want to carry bags which break their backs…
    Love it and also your posts…

  • coco

    I ordered this bag from etsy per your recommendation. I have been wanting to get down to one purse too. Well, it was really too small for me, so i’m passing it on to a friend. But, i ordered the everyday bag customized to be a couple inches taller and it is the perfect size for me. I like to carry a small notebook, thin planner and usually have a sippy cup and a couple diapers and wipes.

  • […] been thinking of this crossbody bag for a while. i’d had it bookmarked, and then miss minimalist wrote it up, so i’m thinking it could be the perfect bag. black, crossbody, soft, sturdy, the […]

  • Ellie

    I love your bag and the whole seat belt idea. The shoulder strap is nice and wide just the way I like it. Think I will be adding this bag to my collection and removing the others. Thanks for the info.

  • Lauren

    It seems good to have only 1 bag, but for daily use I use a tiny purse. On a typical day I only carry my wallet, keys, chapstick, pen, and headphones (phone too but that’s in my pocket.) I only need a bigger bag if I’m traveling or something. I’m actually kind of surprised your bag isn’t smaller. Maybe it’s smaller that it seems. I’d like to only use 1 bag but it’s too hard for every once in a while when you need a bigger one. And having a big one would be pointless since everything would be rolling around. Everyone’s different I guess. lol

  • Betty

    I just ordered the handbag like yours, a wallet and a wallet for my husband. Thanks for posting this!

  • Taryn

    My daughter has a diaper bag and a black handbag. I have 3 black handbags: 1)a cross-body strap one with a zipper 2)one for church when I need to bring my KJ Bible or a book for doctor appointments and 3)a more formal one I used for our 3 sons’ weddings. Inside my handbag I have a wallet(license,etc.),keys, phone, chapstick, emeryboard, a small mirror, dental floss, mints, index card with pen, tissue, glasses and sunglasses.

  • Margaret

    Thanks for this – I just bought a handbag from the same place.

  • Carol C

    The Etsy creator is no longer making this bag (or any). Too bad ~ I am seriously in the market to buy the perfect small black handbag to replace the leather one that I’ve had forever, but the zipper has given out.

  • Annette

    I use this wonderful Kipling bag for everyday use. http://www.kipling-usa.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2993415&cp=2999461.2999759&parentPage=family&cid=1058263 It is practical and durable; perfect for me, in fact. I also have a smaller version for those moments when I want to carry the minimum. All my luggage is Kipling; their bags really stand up to tough travelling. I have a wheelie suitcase and a backpack.

  • Rose

    I use a Kipling bag called the Europa, great medium crossbody bag. Can hold a change of travel knits if you roll it up right. Lightweight cordura nylon. I’m not quite ready to give up my designer bags yet but I could see myself left with just this bag as I approach minimalist level.

  • Rachel

    I got my purse in 2007 from REI. Sadly, they don’t carry it anymore. It is black, pretty waterproof with an adjustable shoulder strap. It zips across and also has a small zipped front pocket. It seems indestructible and has traveled all over the world with me. Only paid $30. Unbelievably, I have never had a thought of replacing it with something “better.” It suits my needs perfectly. :)

  • The Rainforest Site now has a recycled seatbelt bag that zips on top. Only comes in silver/grey or tan. The belts are crosshatch, which is neat, but they don’t appear to be sealed together. I wonder if that could be a problem getting caught on things. Otherwise, I really like it!


  • […] could never find Miss Minimalist’s seat belt purse, but stumbled upon this one made out of recycled bicycle tubes! Share this:TwitterFacebookLike […]

  • Tina

    I carried an old camera bag I got at a rummage sale for years. Then I found a small fabric purse and put the bag’s handle on it. I liked the design so much I bought 2 of them. When the first one looked sort of ratty, I gave it to my mother and I’m now carrying the second and looking for another small black fabric purse with a sturdy handle. I generally use a purse for about 2 or 3 years, except when I go to the library or other places in walking distance when I carry just my wallet.

  • TatiLie

    I’ve found very meaningful the choice of ‘100 Possessions’, specially because of the meaning of 100 in my mother tongue, Portuguese. One hundred in Portuguese is ‘cem’, which sounds exactly like another Portuguese word ‘sem’ which means ‘without’. So, when I read ‘100 possessions’ my brain also reads ‘without possessions’.

  • I found a small bag by “Baggalini” and bought 2. I only need a very small bag. If I am going to carry a lot, I bring a tote bag. The ones I picked are machine washable.

  • Tina

    I like a very small bag. I only carry what I need. I have continued to give away 2 big bags of things to Goodwill each week. I still give a big bag of books and magazines to the library every week. I have more to give away. I filled a second big bag for my grandsons’ art teacher. And yet there is more. I am 68 years old, the items I haven’t used in the last year, probably won’t be used in the next year. I am giving jewelry away each week. I was given some bars of soap and immediately passed them on because I have enough for a year.

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