I, like most women, lug around a lot of stuff.
And on a daily basis, I have a tendency to shove said stuff into large bags. We’re talking big totes — roomy enough to fit my essentials (wallet, keys, phone), a change of clothes if I’m heading to the gym, a lunch container, Advil, lotion, a package I’m bringing home from the office — the list goes on.
So when I suggested another Princess Kate-inspired experiment, this time where I’d do best my to embrace my minimalist side and try out Princess Kate‘s favored way of carrying her own stuff — in a teeny-tiny clutch — I was nervous.
Though Princess Kate serves up fashion inspiration in pretty much every other department, she doesn’t offer much variety when it comes to her bags. They’re all clutches. And not just any kind of clutch, but really small clutches.
I am not Princess Kate. I do not live in a palace (unless a railroad-style walk-up apartment counts?), nor do I regularly wear fascinators or attend galas, ever. But I’m trying — after all, I wore nude pantyhose for a week just like Kate — and carrying my life around in a clutch seemed a similarly doable royal habit to replicate.
So I embarked on this Princess Kate-inspired mission, to carry nothing but a clutch for a week.
And how did it go?
In short: Not well.
The most obvious sign that this experiment was going to be a tough one was how long I put it off. First, it was, “Oh, I’m packing my lunch, and I can’t fit my lunch in a clutch, so I’ll start it tomorrow.” Then, it was, “I need to go to the gym, and I can’t fit gym clothes in a clutch, so maybe next week.”
But when I had to take an unexpected trip home, I figured this was my opportunity: If the only bag I brought home with me was my clutch, I’d have to use it. I wouldn’t have a choice. (I did make an exception for my carry-on, because try as I might, I cannot fit a laptop in my clutch.)
My first day of clutch-carrying went pretty smoothly. It forced me to lighten my normally bulky load. I only carried my phone, a pair of earbuds, a smaller-than-normal wallet and my keys. It was nice that it was compact enough to place on a table during lunch or dinner, so I could keep an eye on it. It was a little annoying to have to unzip the clutch and fish stuff out of it, rather than just sticking my hand in a bag over my shoulder, but overall, it was fine. I felt like I was living a simpler, less stressful life. Who needs a tote?
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But then the problems started to arise: My umbrella had gotten the boot in the elimination process, but then it started to rain. Or I’d want a hair tie or a pen, and then realize I left those in my other, bigger bag. Or I didn’t have my debit card because I didn’t put it in the smaller wallet I had switched to to accommodate the clutch. There were physical obstacles, too: After a while of holding it, I’d want both my hands back, so I’d tuck it under my arm. But then I’d lose partial arm mobility and go back to holding it. It was a vicious cycle.
As the week went on, I explained the experiment to several friends, and everyone’s response was exactly the same: “But Kate carries a little clutch because she has people to carry her other stuff.”
That’s what I was starting to realize.
By the end of my experiment, I was starting to resent it. I met a friend who was in from out of town for brunch and then we went on a long walk through Central Park. I couldn’t just sling my bag over my shoulder and forget about it. I’d have to ask my friend to hold my bag if I wanted to tie my shoe or put my hair up. On the subway, I felt practically naked without a tote glued to my side. Was I missing something? Did I leave anything behind? It just got annoying.
I don’t want to say that clutches are without merit. They force you to condense your stuff — meaning I finally junked the circa 2015 receipts I’ve been toting around. I didn’t need to carry five different shades of lipstick, or an umbrella on a sunny day. And life without lugging around all that clutter made me feel very KonMari. Plus, clutches are chic and minimal for night out to dinner or at the theater.
And that was the big takeaway from this experiment. While little clutches are fun for special occasions — or if you just want to channel your favorite royal — using one just isn’t sustainable longterm in the life of a commoner.
In fact, it gave me more respect for Kate. Even if you’re a royal, who doesn’t need house keys or an extra $20 in their wallet? I have to imagine carrying nothing but a clutch would get annoying after a while.
I don’t know how she does it.
Yes, I do.
Buy a clutch like Princess Kate’s (but a little more wearable!):
BP. Tonal Stripe Foldover Clutch, $25; nordstrom.com
Halogen Leather Clutch, $80; nordstrom.com
Natasha Couture Resin Box Clutch, $59; nordstrom.com
Kate Spade New York Charlotte Street Clutch, $196; amazon.com