Solo Newsletter

Volume 12, no. 1

It’s All in the Bag

By Robin Page West

Style Network, the cable channel that knows about such things, admonishes us that carrying more than one bag is a fashion faux pas, and many women lawyers would like to oblige, but are at a loss as to how. At a minimum, we need our checkbook, wallet, cell phone, a few cosmetics, glasses, sunglasses, keys, pen, legal pad, bottled water, something to eat in case there is no lunch break, a change of shoes to wear between the office and court, whatever file or files we are working on, and maybe a PDA and/or a laptop. Hmmmm . . . all in one bag?

Let’s suppose we manage to get this all in one bag and arrive at the deposition the personification of classic elegance. Midway through, it’s break time and a visit to the loo is in order. Take the big bag? It probably won’t fit in the stall. Fish out the necessaries before going and display for all to see? I think not!

The answer is a constellation of bags that fit inside each other. Start with a roomy legal-size tote or briefcase with over-the-shoulder straps. Omit a fold over flap as this makes opening and closing too cumbersome during transit. An outside slip pocket to accommodate air or rail tickets and itineraries will come in handy if you intend to use the bag as a carry-on.

The bag should have at least one compartment running its entire length that zips shut for security, and one or two more that remain open for quick access. A large selection is available at in its “Women’s Totes and Bags” category.

Next, place your small items in nylon or mesh pouches: try using one for makeup, another for pens, and a third for glasses. Buy these in colors or patterns that will stand out inside the big bag. Visit, which carries a selection of “accessory” bags that are just right.

Finally, choose a small- to medium-size, lightweight, crushable or foldable purse. For one that’s yours alone, check out the “e-store” at where you can design and order exactly what you want, right down to the size, colors, and strap length.

Place your files and larger items in the large bag. Then load your wallet and small pouches in the purse, wedge the purse into the large bag, and you’re off.

If space is tight, you may need to squeeze the pouches, wallet, and empty purse into separate nooks and crannies of the large bag wherever they will fit. Then, when it’s time to run out for an errand or lunch, select items from the big bag, place them in the purse, and carry just what you need—no more, no less.

Robin Page West, editor-in-chief of SOLO, is a shareholder in Cohan & West, P.C., in Baltimore, Maryland, and can be reached at

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