with Susan Wagner
The Working Closet is your source for the best of what's hip and fresh in fashion and beauty. Susan Wagner keeps you up-to-date on trends and offers tips and tricks for making everything in your closet truly work for you.
You can also catch Susan over at Working Closet.
On a normal day, I carry all of the following in my handbag: wallet, iPhone, ear buds for iPhone, iPod, Kleenex, hand wipes, contact lens drops, eye cream, nail file, tampons, Tide to Go stain remover pen, fancy hand cream from L’Occitane, face powder, breath mints, EnviroSax tote, Canon Power Shot A430 camera, three lip glosses, two lipsticks, and a tube of Aquaphor.
I also occasionally need to toss my laptop or my big camera or both into the bag, depending on where I’m going. And sometimes, it’s nice to have a sweater, just in case.
And you wonder why I have such a hard time finding a bag I adore.
When you are juggling work and kids, finding a bag that is professional and practical and kid-friendly can be nearly impossible. But constantly switching bags, from work to weekend and back again, is a gigantic pain. Trust me, I know. As a working mama, you need a bag that stays organized and is easy to use, with functional pockets and enough storage room for all the gear that it takes to bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan.
Although don’t put bacon in your handbag. Please.
This week I had a chance to test out a Butler Bag, and honestly, it might be the bag of my working mama dreams. The Butler Bag claims to be “the world’s most organized handbag” which is entirely true.
If I could get it to clean my kid’s rooms, it would be perfect.
The idea behind the Butler Bag is simple: the problem with most handbags is that all your stuff winds up in a big jumble in the bottom somewhere, in a kind of Black Hole of daily necessities. As a result, you can’t find anything and you’re probably carrying a bunch of crap that you don’t even need. Many of us solve this problem by carrying smaller bags inside our big bag, but that’s just the same thing in miniature; after all, how organized is that makeup bag you’re toting around? I thought so.
The Butler Bag addresses this dilemma in a really interesting way: the bottom of the bag is a sturdy tray with little compartments — kind of like those desk set things you see in Pottery Barn, the ones that are designed to hold paper clips and stamps and other office supplies. The Butler Bag has seven compartments in the bottom for all your stuff; everything stands upright and stays in its place (at least as long as the bag is upright).
Can you see the little compartments inside? All of my stuff is right there, where I can see it and grab it easily, but it’s all contained in these little boxes. I LOVE that. The Butler Bag site has a little interactive tutorial on how the bag works, which is really cool (although I feel compelled to warn you that the link HAS SOUND — I hate being surprised by links with sound).
The Butler Bag comes in two styles, the Classic and the Hybrid; the Hybrid is the slightly bigger option and is designed to hold a standard 10 inch laptop. Of course MY laptop is a 14 inch, but it fit nicely into the bag, although I couldn’t zip it. If you are toting a smaller laptop, though, this would be a nice alternative to a frumpy padded laptop bag. You could also slide file folders or a book or magazine into the bag, in the space next to the storage compartments. The Classic size is perfect for mamas who are NOT toting a computer everywhere but still have all that other stuff to move around.
The Butler Bag also has two outside pockets, on the ends, and an interior pocket with a zipper. I’ve been tossing my cell phone into the exterior pockets, which are wide and deep enough to keep it safe. You could also tuck a small water bottle into one of the exterior pockets, if you wanted.
The funky tray storage thing (I’m sure it has an actual name, but whatever) takes up about a third of the bag’s vertical space, which leaves plenty of room for a sweater or big camera or change of clothes for a child. The Butler Bag is really like a tote with a filing cabinet in it; it is roomy and squashy but still structured and organized. The storage tray also gives the bottom of the bag a firm, solid shape, which is a nice change from completely floppy totes; the look is more structured and grown-up, honestly.
I like the Butler Bag because it’s a piece that could move easily from work to weekend; it doesn’t look like a work tote, per se, but like a classic tailored handbag, but it has room for all your stuff AND the smarts to keep it all organized. The ideal bag is one that works in more than one way: a bag that looks great with everything (and this one does) AND functions well under pressure (and this one does). The Hybrid Butler Bag retails for $165.00, which isn’t cheap, but this isn’t a bag you buy for just today; this is the bag you buy to carry every day from now on. It is a reasonably priced investment bag, and one that offers you a lot for your money.
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