Day 230 How many handbags does one woman really need?


Yes that’s right ONE. That is all you really need. Having said that, I own more than one handbag myself. I actually have three but I only ever use one. Maybe it is time I decluttered the other two. I used the other two bags more often before I needed prescription glasses but they are not big enough to hold the case. One of the reasons why I stick with just one bag is because I just can’t be bothered moving the items I keep in there all the time from one bag to another.

I don’t like to carry a big bag because like every other space the bigger it is the more you fill it up with needless stuff. The one I use all the time is actually ready for the bin. Its handle fell off some months back and I have been holding it on with a safety spring hook (You know, like a climber would use. You never know I might find myself in a “MacGyver” situation one day and that hook will save my life. LOL). That said, this old bag suits my needs really well and that isn’t easy to find so I will continue to use it for as long as it will hold together.

I know some of you lovely readers are probably thinking “you must be mad, get a life”, but the question was “how many handbags does one woman need” and the answer is one. All extra bags are just an extravagant fashion statement really. We are all allowed our one little weaknesses though I suppose.

Thank you to Angelina for sending in that question and inspiring this post.

For more on handbags check out Day 97 Handbag Clutter.


I believe these shot glasses have been in my possession since my grandmother died so that is 29 years to add to the weeks clutter years tally which is now 43 years.

Shot Glasses

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I would argue two. One for regular use and one small clutch for “special” events like weddings, funerals, etc. I tried stripping down to one and had to give in during a particularly busy “formal” season and get a little black bag. I recommend black for the small one… goes with everything and stores well.

    • hi Carrie,
      I agree. I was forgetting about the little clutch bag for formal. My head was stuck on the “taking it with you everywhere you go” type of bag.

  2. Hi Colleen
    I used to collect handbags (much like lots of other things which I no longer do!), my argument was that I was always looking for the perfect handbag. I never found it of course but I did have fun looking! Now I use a largish tote bag which has pictures of Paris landmarks on the side – most people are surprised to find that I bought it in our local little fashion shop, rather than somewhere like Paris (where I did buy a handbag which I no longer have).
    I agree with Carrie B, that 2 would really be a satisfactory minimum of ‘need’.

    • Hi Judy,
      I must admit it was easy being ruthless with this one because I have never been in to bags. I agree with Carrie B about the clutch.

  3. One of the reasons I am de-cluttering is to have enough time and energy in the morning to look “put together” instead of just barely adequate. For me this now means two handbags – one brown and one black. The time that used to be spent frantically hunting for keys etc can now be devoted to the peaceful task of transferring my minimal contents from one bag to the other depending on the colour of my outfit. Result – a happier me, which is what it is all about.

  4. For everyday now I have a business card case that carries my DL and money. I stuff that and my phone in my laptop backpack for my everyday jaunts, then switch to a regular purse when out on trips where I won’t need my laptop. I’ve thought about getting a little clutch with a chain or string to keep my essentials and phone that I can just place in the backpack or carry alone, but haven’t found any I like yet.

    • Hi Annie,
      as I answer all these comments I am finding that I am preaching to the converted. Is sounds like you know what your needs are and sensibly stick to that. Good for you!

  5. Amazing you should post about handbags. I just got rid of all of mine except for one! LOL

  6. I don’t even carry a purse. If I can’t shove it in my pockets or carry it in my laptop case I don’t carry it. When I worked, I made sure that my desk had everything I needed except my DL, cash, and keys. I also have the same things in the car. So the only time I need something is when I am not at home, in the car or at work. I know, I’m a nut case. I just hate purses. I hate carrying anything unless I have to. I’ve been that way since birth.

    • Hi Deb J,
      that is really interesting that you have always been that way. Lets face it men manage to get around without a bag so why can’t we?

  7. i could never make it with just one handbag..that is my guilty pleasure!!

  8. I’m with Carrie and have two: my day to day workhorse and my little black evening bag. When my Mom worked, she had 5 or 6 purses and coordinated them with her outfits. She looked so put together, and I admired that but years ago realized that wasn’t for me.

    • Hi Cindy,
      looking put together is a good argument for this subject and I did consider it while I was sriting it. I comes down to vanity I suppose and I like to think my levels are low.

  9. I’m with Nikki… handbags are my thing. I can wear the same pants for 5 years but I get bored with my bags after about 5 days and rotate them through my closet. I know, I know… as far as minimalism goes: Epic Fail!!

    • Hi Kelly,
      so we have found your weekness and that is OK. At least you are using them on a regular basis so that really makes them not clutter for you.

  10. I’ve got three bags, all black, which I rotate according to need: a big black Vera Wang tote in this swoopy synthetic alligator stuff, big enough to hold my laptop or books and hats, or just almost empty and softly crushed–just an all-around classic; a black leather Hobo bag with a long strap and lots of hidden compartments, a medium size, very secure and good for traveling or in crowds, no worries about snatching; a small black woven jute bag with a long strap for summer use, as the Hobo bag seems too “heavy” to look right with the linen clothes I prefer to wear in the summer heat. I’ve had them all for quite some time. I’ve also a small black beaded evening bag given to me by my son’s grandmother many years ago, and when I am sure I will no longer use it I will give it to my son’s wife.

    You will only pry my bags from my cold dead hands. And if you think that is bad, I am the daughter of a woman is the Imelda Marcos of purses ;D

    • Hi Meg,
      I wouldn’t dream of trying to pry your bags off you. It seems like each one has it’s onw purpose so they aren’t clutter.

  11. Hi Colleen

    Thank you so much for writing about this post. I used to collect handbags because when I was young my Mom would keep buying them for me. Then one day as I start to de-clutter my home I realized how much bags I’ve collected. Too much I’d says, I have it all organized in their own little boxes and dust bags. Looking at it was nice but, honestly I’ve only used one over and over again. So I got rid of allot but still have more to go. I don’t carry diapers bag anymore since I learned to use my handbags for this purposed too. I’m glad I’m not the only crazy person who thinks you only need one handbag, maybe two just in case. A black and brown perfect color that goes with everything I owned in my closet. So thank you again Colleen, this post help me allot to keep my handbags to a minimal.

    • Hi Angelina,
      it was my pleasure to write and thank you again for requesting it. It seems like you have been cured of you bag collecting ways.

  12. Here’s my dilemna–I have a small black leather purse which I seldom use and a teeny tiny DB clutch with a strap handle, BUT because I am a tireless and constant knitter, I carry a hand knitted (by me) and felted purse large enough for a small knitting project, my keys, wallet, lip gloss and camera. I have two or three of those. I do use them whenever I go out (like every day) and switch them out. Now you’re getting me to rethink my bags. Good for you!

    • Willow,
      it sounds to me like you have your bag situation pretty much under control already. Each one seems to have a purpose and they are all being used. No problem.

  13. I do love purses, but I am faithful only to one. It is my partner throughout my day and night (I never go anywhere dressy enough for an “evening bag”.
    Therefore, ONLY ONE. I wore out my last one, an excellent small short-handle red Rosetti from Penny’s. I hated to give it up. This new one is also red (I love red purses!) but it’s not quite a compact. But I’ll stay faithful until death (hopefully it’s) do us part.

  14. I agree on one for everyday use and one small bag for special occasions. This is what I have. Then I have a weekender which also holds my child’s stuff. I also have a shopper that I carry now (or it’s in the stroller) for diapers, change of clothes, lunch and water bottle for my kid -but that’s a totally different topic!

  15. Calicoginger – There are a lot of cute black bags with brown trim (& vice versa) that would go with either color. However, I’ve found that a deep red, green, or other color is more fun & also goes with everything.

    When I was in college years ago I refused to carry a purse – & those were the days before backpacks! Now, the lines of most clothes are ruined if I use them for keys, cc, id, etc.

    I use my husband’s suit pockets for a fancy evening out (in return, I carry some of his stuff in my everyday bag when we’re out casually). My second bag is a larger one for travel – as I then need to carry more stuff & a book with me.

    • Hi valleycat1,
      welcome to my blog, it is good to hear from you. Once again a lady who has the handbag situation well and truly under control. Good for you!

  16. You’re going for the jugular Colleen! You’re going for the jugular! I love bags. A lot. Having said that, I have been paring down quite a bit, because I know I have too many. Yet, I know I wouldn’t be happy with just one or two. Sometimes I like a big one (I’ve got a toddler), sometimes I like a small one, sometimes I like a pop of color (@Debbie V – I love red ones too!). I think, like anything else, the magic number varies person to person based on lifestyle and personal style.

    • Hi Donna,
      decluttering isn’t about getting rid of the things you love. It is about getting rid of stuff that is sitting around not being used. Clearly you are using your bags and love them so they aren’t on your declutter list.

  17. Hi, Colleen! Excellent post.

    I have one plain black, leather purse that I use all the time. I got it at a thrift shop, and have been carrying it for three or four years already, and it’s still got plenty of life left in it.

    Part of the reason I have only one bag is because I’m too lazy to switch all the stuff I carry into another bag.

    Another reason is that I like plain and classic bags–and they’re getting hard to find these days. I don’t like a lot of buckles, chains, and other decor on my bag, so it takes me awhile to find one I really like.

    I do like tote bags though. I have three, made of canvas, so they’re easy to fold up and keep in a drawer.

    • Oh Becky, I couldn’t agree more with not liking the overdone bags with all the chains and crap all over them! It brings out the design snob in me and I just cringe when I see them :p

    • Hi Becky,
      Isn’t it great when you find that perfect bag that you can use for years and years. The one I have at the moment has been great too but it’s lasting as long as I would like. I hope you get many more good years out of your favourite.

  18. I bought a small, zippered purse with a key ring attached. It fits 1 small lip gloss, coins and my cards, so most of the time I just grab that. Of course, I still have 3 evening bags (all beautiful and meaningful in their own way) and several fabric handbags (leather ones are just too heavy)!
    Colleen, I’m leaving a comment on your decluttering presents post, when I find it! It’s in day 189. Cheers.

    • Hi Loretta,
      that little zippered purse sounds great. I sounds like what I need when I go walking.

      • Yes, I have a couple of small wristlets which I use When going out for a quick second. I am thinking of getting myself a new wallet that can hold my iPhone since I need it for work.

  19. I have about 10 purses of all different sizes. Half of them are coach, But one of them is a multicolored purse. I also have a couple of small wristlets and one large mk tote which I use every day for work. This one is an investment piece Since I will use it for a long while. I need to carry my laptop for work. I have a backpack and a weekend bag that was given to me as a gift from one of my friends at school So I do not have too many bags.