Bags, Downsized

Gucci Soho disco bag and contents. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

And speaking of comfort, I just can’t anymore with the big, heavy bags. Or even the little heavy bags. It’s really amazing to me just how much some bags weigh empty.

Above: I’ve been using this bag while we’ve been away for the weekend. Fits everything I normally carry, plus our little point-and-shoot camera. We’ve been on our feet for hours at a time and it’s never felt too heavy. (I should also mention the wallet…it’s a couple of years old now, lightweight and incredibly sturdy. It’s deceptively capacious, and I’ve never felt the need to switch back to a larger wallet.)

Most days I find that a smallish crossbody bag is all I need to carry. Granted, I’m no longer commuting to an office or hauling around supplies for a small child. It took a while to get over the feeling of having to keep handy a lot of “just in case” items, but being able to run errands “hands free” is a liberating experience. 

The Fuss-Free Crossbody Bag

Bottega Veneta woven leather crossbody bag. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

On the luxury end, they don’t get much lighter than this one from Bottega Veneta. My friend Lisa has this bag in brown, and it’s one of those goes-with-everything bags. Holds quite a bit too. Red on sale here.

Theory triple pouch crossbody bag. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

The Céline trio bag is another luxury option that’s been around a few years. It’s chic and understated. But I actually like this option from Theory better, because of the mixed pouch color. (You can also buy the pouches and straps individually and make up your own combination.) It’s also less than half the price of the Céline.

Cuyana lock shoulder bag in green. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I haven’t seen this new style from Cuyana in person yet, but plan to check it out soon. It has 3 gussets, so provides some organization. And I love this forest green color!

Quilted flap bag from Tory Burch. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

If you like the look of a classic quilted flap bag, this one from Tory Burch is an elegant crossbody option. I like that the strap is mostly leather, which is more comfortable to wear than a chain. (The strap can also be removed and the bag carried as a clutch.) Other colors available too.

Michael Kors metallic tassel bag. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Back to the camera bag styles…a metallic finish adds “oomph” to an outfit. The finish on this bag is much nicer in person that it looks online.

Leather tassel crossbody bag under $100. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A budget-friendly option, this tassel bag is under $100, also available in tan leather, or in leopard print or burgundy calf hair.

red leather camera crossbody bag

Another great everyday option, available in several colors, each with a contrasting key tag. And it can be monogrammed.

Lo & Sons Pearl crossbody bag in light grey. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

And there’s the Lo & Sons “Pearl” crossbody bag. I have this bag in black nappa leather and love it for travel. I’m thinking about adding the light grey for variety.

Do you use a crossbody bag? What style do you prefer?

Stay in touch.

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  1. October 9, 2017 / 3:47 am

    I miss the crossbody Fendi bag that they made for years – one inch longer than the Chanel bag, with a pocket across the front that was the size of a ticket 9I know we don’t have tickets anymore, but still…) and a zippered pocket on the back about the size of a passport – it was the perfect travel bag! It was usually in their traditional F print, but sometimes in a color.

    They haven’t made it for 10 years, but I live in hope…

  2. Vicki Elliott
    October 9, 2017 / 4:34 am

    Hi Susan,
    Thoroughly enjoyed your post on bags, downsized.
    Learning to embrace this after decades of owning ‘carry all’ work/family/mobile office bags. I still travel with a tote but make sure I always carry little crossbody bags that will coordinate with what I’m wearing. A long time favourite is my tan Enny wristlet which accompanies me on every OS trip as it pretty much holds a fair bit.
    As I mainly travel solo I enjoy the freedom of a crossbody esp. when I don’t have a companion to hold my bag and, it does free your hands up when sightseeing/ shopping.
    Your recent post of :- on my style radar – red bags – has lead me into dangerous waters but, I justified my purchase as I have a birthday next month.

  3. October 9, 2017 / 4:40 am

    I love a small bag. I have a very flat one, similar to the Céline, but it’s almost too flat–I can’t get my eyeglass case in it. Would love one like the Chanel.

  4. Meg
    October 9, 2017 / 5:20 am

    I would love to downsize to a sleek lightweight bag. But alas, even as an empty nester I am still somehow the family pack mule. My husband learned that his wallet was giving him back pain ( I can see this- I can not imagine sitting or driving with a lump at my backside!) so now I am the one carrying two cell phones, two wallets, and his key fob. When he looked at upgrading our phones, my first question was “does it weigh more then the ones we now have??”
    My ideal bag is a sadly no longer made Coach style. It’s shaped , about 8 wide, 6″ tall and importantly, 4″ deep. Zips open to a wide view of the contents and is lined in PURPLE satin. Nothing gets lost in there. Has two small handles for hand carrying and a detachable cross body strap. My version is a snazzy gathered leather one in black. I would love for this bag to be reissued in other colors. I would buy them all.

  5. Ginger
    October 9, 2017 / 5:20 am

    I have a long flat Tory Burch which came in several colors. It has the cash fold and credit cards built in. I got the tan and have been very happy with it. There was also a pretty grey with great reviews. On the days when I like/need the big statement bag I can throw my cross body in as a wallet and then I never have to switch out of it. The deciding factor for me was it had to be big enough to hold the large iPhone. I have been surprised by how much it will hold.

  6. Ellen
    October 9, 2017 / 5:52 am

    I have carried only small cross body bag for years, ever since a physical therapist weighed my purse to show me what was a main source of my chronic shoulder pain. You would probably not carry my everyday bag: a gray canvas bag from Troop London (not sold in the USA, but can be purchased from Fabric is slighter than leather, and this has many pockets, making it especially good for travel. When my first on showed signs of wear, I bought an identicl replacement. My day to day style is far more casual than yours.

  7. October 9, 2017 / 6:08 am

    I love cross body bags; in every way! I think we are all amazed at how much stuff we really do not need to carry around. The flat bags are so pretty, but sunglasses become a major problem with them, so I am loving that Cuyana one you have shown!

  8. Pam
    October 9, 2017 / 6:25 am

    I bought the MZ Wallace ‘Paige’ in black for a trip to France and loved it so much that I continued carrying it and eventually picked up 2 more, one in olive and one in merlot. This was my first smaller bag and although I still have some huge bags that I love (especially those from ikabags, made in Paris and available on ETSY) I almost always find myself carrying the Paige or another smaller bag. I still haven’t found the perfect small wallet but I have my eye on one from allsaints in a metallic chocolate brown.

    • October 9, 2017 / 9:50 am

      When I read your post, I ran upstairs and found the MZ Wallace bag I put away about two years ago – yeah! I love it, and almost forgot about it. Lightweight, good-looking, perfect size. Thank you!

    • Caroline
      October 10, 2017 / 5:46 am

      Ditto on the MZ Wallace Paige. I have one in black and one in a warm deep tan color. They are my absolute go to cross body bags for travel and every day. Paige has virtually no hardware and has no extra handle, which makes it super light weight (even compared to other MZ bags, which are in general quite light weight). Love it!

    • Pam
      October 12, 2017 / 8:33 am

      Update: I saw a style I hadn’t seen before this morning on Nordstrom online, Toni Bedford in a nice gray (called magnet) with what looks like a reddish brown leather trim. On my wish list!

  9. Chris
    October 9, 2017 / 6:54 am

    I just returned from a girls trip to New York and used a Brighton cross body for the first time. I just finished a month of physical therapy on my left shoulder and knee I needed to downsize my bag. It has two zippered pockets with a magnetic snap interior with built in slots for credit cards and cash. So comfortable and easy to access! I carried a Longchamp tote on some days for extra space but it is lightweight too.

  10. Norine
    October 9, 2017 / 7:47 am

    I am firmly pro small cross body. Mine have to be leather, around 6 × 9 inches, light, and hold two large smart phones , my wallet, lipstick, a pen and room for receipts. I have 5 in rotation – j. Crew, Coach, Rebecca Minkoff, Hayden Harnett, unbranded, and I have more on the shelf. They are great for travel, shopping, and keeping life streamlined.

  11. amidprivilege
    October 9, 2017 / 7:48 am

    Oh yes! I still have my Bottega Veneta bag – the one you show here, and I wear it any time I have to walk at all. Took it to Scotland, with a backpack and a rolling suitcase. Pop the bag in the pack for getting on the plane. Comes in so many different colors too. I also love that Cuyana bag you show, very like the Céline box bag but slightly more modern.

  12. Joan
    October 9, 2017 / 8:10 am

    I just wore the Lo & Sons Pearl (in black) for 10 days in Spain/France. Love its organizational features and sleek style. Great for both casual or dressier activities. I’m definitely taking it to Japan in November.

    • Mpls
      October 9, 2017 / 9:15 am

      I also have the Lo & Sons Pearl in red and am considering another color. I love the pockets, dividers, key fob, etc.
      Only wish it had a zipper top closing for a slightly more secure feel.

  13. stephanie ashworth
    October 9, 2017 / 8:16 am

    Funny you should post about this day. I have been hesitating about a smaller bag. Why not? Going to jump in. Thanks!

  14. October 9, 2017 / 8:18 am

    I’ve carried cross-body Healthy Back Bags or large Bagallinis for years. NOT leather; a fabric that looks sleek enough for when I work in public. I have a larger one for a laptop but take that one only when I have to work on the computer outside my place.

    But all my commutes and errands are by public transport, bicycle or on foot so I have to carry stuff around. I do have panniers on my bicycle (using a backsack is hell on the back).

  15. Nancy
    October 9, 2017 / 9:02 am

    I used my Longchamp large black bag as my carryon last Spring on a trip to Paris with a small black leather Hobo shoulder bag inside it for sightseeing and shopping. In many of the stores and museums you have to open your purses and bags for inspection before entering – I would unzip mine and the guards would always just laugh and pass me through – my purse was too small to bother with.

    • October 12, 2017 / 10:28 am

      I also use my Longchamp. I like it because I never know when I’m going to pick up something from the store, so it keeps me from using both a tote and a cross body bag. The weight of the bag works for me.

  16. Cindy Lou
    October 9, 2017 / 9:33 am

    Since I retired 2 years ago I switched to a cross body bag. I still have shoulder issues from carrying a heavy tote. The cross body bags are so light and you really don’t need to carry much. I have several: red, white,black, pine green, a muted violet and a mult-colored navy. But the best bag I bought and wore all last winter was an inexpensive black faux fur bag–I received so many compliments, especially from the younger set. Perfect for simple everyday outfits, it adds just the right insouciant touch.

    • October 9, 2017 / 5:07 pm

      I do need to carry much; groceries, occasional garment purchases, work-related items.

  17. October 9, 2017 / 9:51 am

    For several years I’ve been carrying my smaller crossbody purses and leaving my “serious” big pieces at home. My crossovers range from a $5 canvas one I found in Barcelona a few years ago to a deep red crossover I wear in winter with perfectly matching red leather gloves that turn every jeans outfit into something better.

    BTW, those red leather gloves make me feel like a young girl on her first trip to Italy (remember the days when we bought our leather gloves in Florence?). Ah, memories …. 🙂

  18. October 9, 2017 / 10:11 am

    I like a smaller cross body bag and cannot carry a heavy bag anymore. I had frozen shoulder a year ago and my surgeon said heavy bags could be a factor…I have some great vintage bags now that are lighter and yet classic. I consigned all my big bags and have not looked back!

  19. Maggie
    October 9, 2017 / 10:11 am

    I adore handbags and have many but my daily preference for months now has been the J. Crew Signet in burgundy. Seems to complement all my clothing colors! Even for my large bags, I always want the cross body option so I always test them for that. I would like to get more bags in rotation for fun but this Signet seems attached at my hip, ha quite literally. I have a couple other of the same style (calf hair and a geometric print) so I could at least get them in rotation. It fits two phones, sunglasses case, random papers and pens, lotion etc. I don’t have a separate wallet as I have a phone-wallet. And like other commenters, this is easy to put in tote or carry on, neat compact shape and not a delicate leather.

  20. Jane2
    October 9, 2017 / 10:20 am

    In the first season of UK Broadchurch, Elly wears a crossbody bag – I searched high and low and found out it was a Radley (UK). I now pretty much only use Radley bags – 3 sizes, organizational pockets, lies flat, nothing ever falls out, great colours, high-quality leather. They’re excellent for travelling, as well – iPads, etc seem to just disappear into them without adding a lot of bulk.

  21. Mimi Wan
    October 9, 2017 / 10:29 am

    The Bottega Veneta bag is on sale at Barneys, not the same color but definitely the same bag!

    Is your Givenchy bag too big, love the shape but worry it might be too heavy!

  22. Briar Gregory
    October 9, 2017 / 10:49 am

    My forest green cross-body bag has been in constant use this (New Zealand) winter and it has worked really well. I think you would like the look with your colours, Susan.

  23. Suz
    October 9, 2017 / 11:13 am

    I have a fair number of bags I rotate through here at home.
    For travelling I have 2 pacsafe fabric cross body bags. One is dark grey, smaller (somewhat dressier?) style, essentials plus I can fit my water bottle or umbrella but not both.
    The other is a black, larger basic unisex style. That one has 2 separate (water bottle – umbrella) side pockets. I can fit my thin light rain coat in there. Sometimes, husband uses that one and I use the grey one.
    I feel more secure with the pacsafe bag features (steel wire in strap, locking zipper mechanism).
    Do you have concerns about that with your travel purse/bag?
    I think I might be a a little too much “Elmer the safety elephant” …..
    Suz from Vancouver

  24. Angela
    October 9, 2017 / 11:38 am

    Buying a bag organiser for my larger bags has unexpectedly led me to downsizing. Even my cosmetic bag now contains very little so maybe I can get away with just a lipstick and tiny mirror. A tape measure seems to be the only random item I still want to keep on hand especially when shopping with my husband!

    • Judy
      October 9, 2017 / 4:48 pm

      A dollar bill is 6 inches long

      • Laurel
        October 11, 2017 / 7:06 am

        Thanks, Judy! That’s a genius way to measure.

  25. ValToo
    October 9, 2017 / 11:38 am

    I have amazing bags in my closet that sit there because they’re just too big and heavy. I’ve gone to crossbody bags, too. My only issue has been finding bags with long enough straps. I like a bag where the top hits my hip bone, which looks nice with clothes and seems to distribute the weight better.Too often they fall higher, hitting my abdomen or even my rib cage. I’m only 5’8″. Am I the only one with this problem?

    • Kristin
      October 9, 2017 / 5:28 pm

      Laughing at “only 5’8″. I have problems with bags hitting me mid thigh or lower. Several disappointments with trying to get straps shortened by the cobbler. The all say they can do it but results are never neat. I’m 5’0”.

  26. catodd18
    October 9, 2017 / 12:57 pm

    Radley Uk have been doing great cross bodies in all colours and sizes for years; but my new favourite is an Orla Kiely from her stem bag collection, mostly patterned so they become the focal point of your outfit.

  27. October 9, 2017 / 3:03 pm

    I love love love smaller bags. I’ve switched over to smaller crossbody bags entirely. I have the Lo and Sons Pearl in red and light grey saffiano – it is so durable. I just found a similarly sized woven black and gold bag for $8 at a thrift store, and it is fantastic too.

  28. Pamela
    October 9, 2017 / 10:38 pm

    My favourite crossbody bags for everyday are: (1) a Sonia Rykiel navy nylon flap bag- it’s small, strong and incredibly light; (2) a slightly bigger LV Messenger flap bag, in their signature check, also light and strong.

    But I need to carry more things than you, eg reading glasses and sunglasses. So the bags must be big enough to fit both, as well as a larger wallet, phone, small camera, comb, handkerchief etc. As I also generally carry a rolled-up pashmina (useful even in summer in air conditioning) and light fold-up umbrella and a light zip-up make-up bag (lipstick, mirror, lip pencil, handwipes, extra tissues, pen) – I also carry a light tote, particularly the Vanessa Bruno cabas in a range of colours – eg navy, black, charcoal, red, orange, leopard etc – or a Neverfull or Pliage.
    But when travelling I need a bigger crossbody bag to fit all the extras that we don’t need every day, like passport, airline tickets, other travel documents, medication for the entire time we’ll be away etc. Chargers etc. Best wishes, Pamela

  29. Paula Brink
    October 10, 2017 / 11:23 am

    I’m a big fan of small bags too. I bought the red Gucci Soho disco bag in your photo in February and have used it almost every day since. It holds everything I need and is now my favourite bag.

  30. October 10, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    I love all sorts of bags but yes, a back-friendly small bag is a super-smart option. Style-wise, the right cross body bag looks chic and youthful. I really like the forest green one from Cuyana you have featured above. This color actually looks great with so many things. Great post! (as usual)


  31. Pam
    October 10, 2017 / 12:36 pm

    I admire the speed with which you’ve made adjustments in your clothing and accessories for your life post retirement from your former office job. It has taken me longer to adjust my style choices post retirement. Your blog posts helped me tremendously – experimenting with more casual style without losing my “glamour.” My expulsion of high heels, heavy leather purses and overly structured clothing is nearly complete – so hard to part with certain items. But the huge reduction in foot, neck and shoulder pain is marvelous! Had to laugh about your comment re packing your larger purses with just-in-case items. Still have to reign in my tendency to do the same, but the crossbody purses are training me (happily) to give that up.

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