Creating a Purse Organizing System

Feel like you can never keep your purse organized? This post is for YOU! Check out a new way of thinking about organizing your purses so you don't have to waste time organizing your stuff. More on!

One of the words I’m focusing on in 2015 is foundation. I’ve been really trying to evaluate what’s helpful in my life and what’s not. This book has really inspired me and it started me down the road of weeding out things I don’t want/need. I used to have a purse compulsion. Oh gosh, I don’t even want to think of how many purses I’ve bought in my lifetime!  I’m definitely a sucker for a well organized bag but the problem is that I have different needs at different times. It’s taken me a long time to figure that out!  I would have a system going in one bag and when I went to move things over, I came up with so many different organizing systems that I could never keep anything organized.  I also had repeat items in each bag because it was such a pain in the butt to not have what I needed when I needed it.  The key to it all is having a place for everything and sticking to it. Creating more ways to organize and changing my system constantly is what prevents me from ultimately being organized so I decided to create my FOUNDATION.  Here we go!

My foundation starts with a Purse Organizer.

I spent good night on the computer researching purse organizers. What I like about a purse organizer is that you have your organizing system that can pop in and out of other bags. The only caveat is that the bag you put the organizer in can’t be a slouchy hobo bag. It has to have structure. The idea is to have a plain bag (without all the bells and whistles and ALL the pockets) because you’re bringing the pockets TO YOUR BAG.

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I went with an orange purse organizer because most of my bags are black on the inside and I wanted something that would make my items stand out.

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From what I’ve read about this purse organizer is that people love it but it’s kind flimsy. I wouldn’t say it’s flimsy but one of the handles did come off after about 5 uses, so I sewed it in place and reinforced it. Other than that I really love it and for $10, I really didn’t mind having to sew the handle back on. It’s a game changer.

Here’s it is all filled with goodness. 13 pockets total!

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All of this stuff fits into there.

If you wanna see more of my on the go essentials— check out this post

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On one side I have these items—

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On the other side there’s this!

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This is what it looks like from above without anything in the two zippered compartments.

You can see how easy it is to see some of my essentials from above. That means quick access.

If I bought it in black, I am sure that items would get lost.

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In one zippered compartment I have all of my food/snacks/tea things.

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And in the other I stash my makeup/lip gloss/perfume/tweezers, etc.

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In the middle compartment, I store my wallet/checks/post-its, reusable bags (I LOVE BAGGU BAGS!) and some lip balm.

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I forgot to mention that I slip my phone into one of the side compartments or sometimes throw it into the middle compartment if I’m rushing around.

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Now that I have come up with an organization system it’s time to put it to good use!

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So here’s the plan I have.  I have THREE bags in rotation. A work bag, an everyday bag & an on-the go bag.

First bag is my work bag.

I just picked this up from Gap. It’s really big and roomy!

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This is the biggest bag and requires a lot of space because I need to carry all of my folders, lunch and water bottle for work. It’s also big enough to carry my DSLR if I need to bring it.

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In my work bag, I carry folders with me. I’ve tried an expanding file folder system before but it just doesn’t work for me. I end up carrying around things I don’t need and it’s big and bulky. To counteract this, I came up with a few categories and used Colored Folders to organize my stuff.  They’re labeled with washi tape & sharpie.

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Here’s the view from the side. I actually flip them the other way in the bag so that I can easily throw something into a folder to sort later. I’ll show you.

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In my work bag these are my essentials:

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Water bottle, folders, journal, Purse Organizer and lunch containers.

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You can see how easy it is to get into the folders here…I slip receipts in so easily!

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There’s enough room in here for my camera if I want to bring it too. For my camera, I bought this really cool/sturdy neoprene Camera Bag . It protects my camera really well and doesn’t add bulk.

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All wrapped up.

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All tucked in!

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Next bag is my everyday bag bag.

 I got it at Old Navy recently and love it.

(It’s currently on sale!)

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This is something I would take to the grocery store, running errands, going out to lunch/dinner etc.

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The idea with this bag is to use the purse organizer and take only a few of my folders.

There’s enough space for other things to be added (mostly Cooper’s legos!).

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My last bag is my On-the-Go Bag.

It’s a smaller bag that can also function as a fancy dinner bag if I need it to.

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The good thing about this bag is that it can fit into my work bag so if I’m going out to lunch at work, or running and errand I don’t have to carry my entire work bag. The work bag acts as a base and it’s like I can launch off of that bag with a new one. This bag does not have the purse organizer in it. Instead, I have narrowed down the items I put in this bag. These are staples of this bag and I know that if I’m going to take it somewhere, I have to make sure these things come with me.

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And there you have it. I’m going to be using this system for awhile.

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I’ll report back in a few months and let you know how it goes!

Source list:


  • Sarah Stäbler

    Great idea! This looks pretty awesome, especially in orange! I’ve had a DIY purse organizer on my to-do list for a while now…and for 10 bucks, this seems like an even easier / better option. Might have to get one of my own!

    • Linda

      I have this organizer in turquoise and it’s amazing how much space you gain in your purse.

  • MB @ Bourbon and Brown Sugar

    How did you know that last night I spent 5 minutes rummaging around my “scary mom purse” for my house key? (it was about 20 degrees and this made me grumpy). Once again, you’ve saved me Tracy! I’m ordering a purse organizer this morning. Thanks 🙂

  • Meg @MegBollenback

    This is so cool! I had no idea that there were such things as purse organizers. Thank you for sharing this and for such detailed photos and instructions. Super, super helpful. Just shared it with my mom and sister.

  • Michelle

    Love this post! I definitely need to get that neoprene camera case…genius! You turned me onto the black Banana Republic bag with the leopard-print lining a couple years ago. I still carry it for work sometimes, but am always struggling to organize my purses. Thank you!

  • erica

    this was SO helpful! thanks! i just bought that organizer! what a great idea!!

  • Kimberly

    I have been looking for a reasonably priced purse organizer forever (normally see them for about $30. What.)– thank you, I am going to order one now.

  • Rosemarie

    Thank you for this! I have a question, do you think a few diapers and a small container of wipes could fit in the organizer? This would be perfect for weekends and evenings with the kids, while fitting my needs during the week! You are brilliant!

  • Laura Hager

    This was super helpful! I never thought of having a purse organizer, but that would make such a difference. Also, I love all three of your bags. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy

    You know this is my jam! And I need that bag from Gap, ASAP! 🙂

  • Alice

    I love this series! Reading about organization is so calming- great post Tracy! 🙂

  • Kimiko

    I love this post – so many great ideas. I tend to carry smaller bags as my everyday purse, but have an additional bag I carry for work. I love the idea of having a smaller organizer that you can move from bag to bag without having to actually take every little item out and move it over… GENIUS.

    Thanks for letting us snoop inside your bag 😉

  • Ella

    You are superwoman. Great job organizing all your stuff!
    By the way, I’d love to see your business card design. The layout different people choose always fascinates me! 🙂

  • Preeti

    This is an amazing post! I recently started putting some thought into organizing my purse. With a toddler, I find myself shuffling things from my work to weekend bag. And there have been days where I’ve forgotten something. I was leaning towards getting smaller purses/bags/clutch to hold things as per function, but I love the organizer. It’s so much more efficient. Thanks! These are really great ideas!!

    Also, I’m excited about more organizing posts!

  • Suzie

    Wow! This is one of those things where you say “I can’t believe I never thought of that before (this is why I never change purses!!).
    I knew that a lady that notices when street lines aren’t straight would be brilliant at organizing!!

  • Celeste

    This meets me where I am on so many levels. LOVE LOVE LOVE Thanks for sharing!

  • Abby

    OMG!! I love this so, so much! I need a purse organizer, like, immediately. <3 😀

  • Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake

    A purse organizer makes so much sense. It would really simplify my life to be able to grab something like that and swap it back and forth between purse and diaper bag as needed. I’m a notorious stuff-all-the-receipts/candy wrappers/napkins/papers/mail/other junk in my purse type. It gets ugly so fast!

  • Kara

    HS posts are my fav!

  • stacy

    BLOWN. AWAY. Ordering one of these bad boys!

  • Danielle

    I love the idea of an organizer that floats from bag to bag… I have a sort of fancy bag and a running around bag, but I just have doubles of everything save for my wallet, phone, and keys that float between the two. I cary that casual bag AND a separate bag to work every day. It’d be nice to just combine those two somehow. Thanks for posting this!

  • christina

    Wow! I think I need this in my life!!!!

  • Danielle

    I am so glad you posted this! I ordered one of these over a year ago for $4 from Amazon and it’s been sitting in my closet. Your post today inspired me and it’s now in my everyday purse and I’m so excited to use it!

  • Grace Ann

    Thanks for the great tips! I love the purse organizer AND your color-coded file system. I have also downloaded the sample of that book and am very excited to read it. 🙂

  • Ashlyn

    I LOVED this post! You have inspired me. I love this concept of building foundations! I think I need to buy myself a purse organizer. 😉

  • Lucy R

    OMG Tracy, I never knew purse organisers existed. Thank you! One VERY excited reader off to purchase one right now. LOVE the HS posts!!!

  • Trude

    Thanks for sharing, I always love peeking into people’s bags! 😉 Glad to see your thoughts on the neoprene camera sleeve, I’ve been thinking about getting one for my trip this summer. I love my Epiphanie bag for shoots, but it gets so gosh dang heavy if I’m doing touristy things with it on my shoulder all day.

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  • georgina

    I just stumbled across your site (as a new DSLR owner) and I’m wondering where you purchase your (really cute) camera strap?


  • Kris

    This is genius, Tracy!! Seriously, girl. Well done!

  • Lori

    I love this! Thinking I really should get one of those organizers!

  • Bhiravi

    Whoa, love this! Most of the purses I have already have compartments and pockets, but I may have to pick up one of those organizers and go purse shopping soon. This is the perfect solution. And what I love even more is that neoprene camera cover– I have my DSLR in a big, bulky camera bag, and it’s always a pain to take along. You just solved 90% of my purse problems.

  • Danielle

    I am SO glad you posted this! I purchased one of the purse organizers a year ago and it’s been sitting in the closet ever since. As soon as I read your post, I organized it and it’s been in my purse. I absolutely love it! Thank you so much!

  • Dayna@kaleidoscopebrain

    Oh man, I cannot tell you how much I love this post. I’ve been thinking about a purse organizer for a while, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it first. Also, I’ve been thinking about getting a less bulky camera bag also! And I think I may finally take the plunge. Anyway, love your blog as usual Tracy! 🙂

  • Kmarie

    Great post! Thanks Tracy! Those organizers are on sale at Amazon 🙂

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  • Kari

    You are so organized! I love that you can easily move essentials between bags!

  • erin delicious

    I really hope you get a kickback fr all the moms who just ordered one of those pocket dealies. I can never find my sunglasses so I spend all red lights cursing and squinting and rooting through my bag frantically. Just pulled the trigger on the pink one. You carry even more shit than I do. Much respect!!

  • Erin

    After reading this post, I ordered the purse organizer (in orange!) and it came today!! I’ve got all my essentials organized in it and my little brain is so happy! Also ordered some Baggu bags and tucked them in – so much easier than my giant reusable bags from Wegmans! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Where did you find the little bottle holding your Advil? It’s the perfect size!

    • Tracy

      Awesome! I hope all of it helps! I got the container from The Container Store (go figure!)

  • Jen

    I have the one in red! Love it. All of your organization stuff is cool and I look forward to your posts. If you ever need an idea, Laundry organization would be super inspiring for me! ;-P

  • Emily

    This is genius! I have a small purse organizer that I switch between the diaper bag and my purse, but it doesn’t have as many pockets. Yours look like just the right size to keep everything accessible and organized.

  • Emm

    Thank you! I purchased one, just filled it, it’s awesome, I’m so happy. I think I’ll order another one for my mother!

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  • Stacy

    I got mine today and I love it! This was a great review!

  • Neena

    I’m a convert. After reading your post, I purchased an organizer, filled it, and am loving it! This may be even more life-changing than when I learned you can pop out pomegranate seeds by slicing the fruit in half and beating each side with a wooden spoon! Ha!

  • Michelle Naomi

    I’m intrigued by the Gap bag! Do you think I could fit a laptop in there too?

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  • Kerry

    Where’d you get that cute wallet?!

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  • Laura

    Went to buy the work bag from Gap’s website and it was sold out! Know any other similar looking bags that similar amount of space? Thanks!

  • Leigh

    I love what you’ve done! I’m crazy dedicated to keeping my purse organized…I bought one of christi lang’s designs that has pockets sewn in (and it’s not made of that flimsy material that collects crumbs!) My purse has leather pockets and, while I paid a bit more than I usually would, this purse has lasted me over a year and I carry it every single day. Christi’s purses keep you organized! (They have a magnet to hold your keys, so you can locate them in a flash!) If you have ADD or are super busy, this purse will change your life. I got mine in San Antonio, but she has a website:

  • Janice

    Hello Tracy!!!
    First…can I just say how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!!! You are an amazing photographer but also I love your recipes and your Friday Lists!!! So great!! Your blog is amazing…so informative…so thank you for all your energy that you put into this work of art!!

    Yesterday was my birthday and my wonderful, adorable husband was listening to me and bought me this purse organizer that I saw here!!! I have just filled it up while referring back to this page and …wow does my purse look great!!! Thank you!! I want to open my purse for all to see just how great and organized it is…I can actually find my phone and keys without digging through all my junk!!

    I hope you had a great Mother’s Day…I hope you got spoiled cuz you deserve it!!
    Keep up the great work here…I’m sure if we met we would be best friends…and you would kick my butt in gear to get the rest of my life a bit more organized!!! Thank you!!

    Love Janice

  • chelsea

    could you give us the brand of that amazing black and white zig zag wallet?! it’s perfect <3

  • laura bradshaw

    Love, Love your posts Tracy! You are a cooking and organizing Goddess!

  • Theodora

    As usual, your posts are so helpful. I set up my purse organizer today and am excited to becoming a more organized person. I also just ordered some washi tape!

  • Chris

    I’m about to order the purse organizer for a new cute green hobo bag I bought at Target. I love Target, I’m in there multiple times a week!!
    I was wondering if your organizer is still holding up okay? The price seems to good to be true. I hope it’s a decent quality product. Love your work and thanks for the great post!

    • Tracy

      It held up for awhile!!! And then one part came undone and I decided that I wanted something that was a little more stable- so I got this one and it’s holding up well. The only knock I have on it is that I can’t see all of my items with the leopard lining.

  • Courtney

    Leigh, I so second Christi Lang’s handbags. Really, the purse keeps me sane and sanely organized. Everything has a place. (As an added bonus, I got the larger bag so I often carry a law book or laptop in it.) That purse is worth every single penny!

  • Anita

    The best post ever! My handbag is like a cave and so heavy !
    Only I would ask: do those eye drops work? I saw Jennifer Beals uses them too.
    Thank you for everything.

  • Michelle

    So much yes! I got a purse organiser years ago that I still use today. It is so handy to transport my essentials between my work bag and my weekend bag. I would be lost without it! But, I was just thinking the other day that it’s probably due for an upgrade. It’s still in perfect nick, but the main compartment doesn’t have any closure so if I need to turn it on its side to fit my lunchbox in my bag, stuff falls out of the organiser. So annoying.

  • Jan Bonner

    I love the handles and zippered pockets of this one. Which size organizer did you get? Amazon shows 3 available sizes?
    Thank you!

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