Be organized with a Butler Bag

A couple weeks ago, I met a group of power professional organizers for drinks. These people are no-nonsense business owners who employ staffs and kick clutter’s arse. Additionally, they make me laugh, which makes checking in with them a few times a year a lot of fun.

As we toasted our drinks, I realized that all of the women in the group were carrying the same purse. I had to ask them about it because it was such a bizarre sighting. I mean, maybe in junior high a girl gets the same purse as her best friend, but it’s not something you typically see with a group of adults.

It turns out, none of the women were aware of the other women’s handbags. Each said she purchased her Butler Bag for the same reason — the purse’s inside structure. These organized women had all purchased the most organized purse they could find.

After talking to these organized women about their bags, I decided to buy one. (That is my purse in the above pictures.) I bought the “Classic” style in the color espresso. It’s only 13″ x 5.5″ x 5″, yet it holds all of my things with an unbelievable amount of remaining space in its five sturdy compartments. Check out the website to get a better idea of all of the things you can carry in one of these small purses.

I no longer have to search for anything in my bag. I don’t have to worry about the top coming off a pen and marking up my cell phone. And, since the purse is really cute, no one knows that I’m carrying it for utilitarian reasons.

If you don’t need a new purse, check out these purse organizers that make lots of pockets on the inside of your purse. For $20, they seem like a nice alternative.

46 Comments for “Be organized with a Butler Bag”

  1. posted by Andrea on

    The purse style does look really nice and classic and contrary to what I thought about how deep it would be – it’s tiny! Is the little box of dividers actually sewn to the lining or is it removable? I’d also wonder how heavy the empty purse would be with that divider in it..I’m guessing it’s made from lightweight cardboard covered in cloth?

  2. posted by Another Deb on

    According to the FAQ’s on their website, the Classic weighs 1.25 pounds empty.

    I like the large D-rings on the handle attachments because I am always connecting sets of keys on carabiners to that location on purses. I am looking forward to hearing how everyone likes their purses, since I am not in the habit of dropping $125. on a purse.

  3. posted by Ellis on

    it’s not very manly

  4. posted by Another Deb on

    @ Ellis,

    Think of it as a hybrid of a toolbox and a saddlebag.

    I just checked, the dimensions are almost exactly the same as my ScanSnap. Coincidence?

  5. posted by FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com on

    I ADORE the butler bag. I still haven’t bought one for myself, but I love it in concept.

    Maybe I could remove the insides and use it in my other purses?

  6. posted by Amee on

    I absolutely LOVE my butler bags! I have the Classic and the smaller size one. It’s so easy to find my cell phone and keys, and everything stays really organized. It’s completely worth the cost if you are always on the go and don’t have time to be digging in your bag looking for your keys, phone, wallet, sunglasses, etc. The dividers are sewn into the bag so they are not removable.

  7. posted by R on

    Sounded appealing until I saw the price…$125? No way!

  8. posted by RA on

    I got this bag as a gift, and it is really great. However, my version of the organizer doesn’t have that longer section (upper left in the first picture), so maybe it’s not as up-to-date as this one. The biggest down side for me is that I can’t fit my camera into this bag because it’s more chunky than slim and trim.

  9. posted by Barbara Tako on

    This bag seems like it could be a little rigid with it’s predetermined compartments and heavy (weight-wise). I like the nylon Baggallinis in varying sizes, colors, and fabrics (www.ebags.com). My chiropractor likes it’s size and weight too!

  10. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @R — Actually, for a leather purse this size, $125 is pretty reasonable. I did a lot of comparison shopping at my local Nordstrom, and for this quality of purse it’s actually a deal.

    Think of it this way … the last time I bought a brown leather purse was 2000. I got a solid 8.5 years out of it. Let’s be conservative and say that most people only get 5 years out of their leather purses. 365 days a year X 5 years = 1,825 days. Divide $125 by 1,825 and you pay less than seven cents a day for this purse. This isn’t that crazy of a price for a durable leather purse.

    Now, if we were talking something in a trendy, flimsy canvas or vinyl, then yes, $125 might be a bit much. In that case, you wouldn’t be paying for quality.

    Also, don’t forget about the organizer I mention at the end of the article, for just $20.

  11. posted by Cindy S on

    Try Kmart or Kmart.com for the “low end” version of the Butler Bag – still made by the Butler Bag company, but if I remember what I read correctly…they use less expensive materials to make the bags they sell at Kmart. Same concept though. I picked one up for $30 from their summer line and will likely get one again this fall when the fall line comes out. The pricer bag wasn’t in my budget, so this works for me! :)

    Do a google search for “butler bag kmart” and you can read more about it.

    Cindy S

  12. posted by Susan on

    I am uncluttering my purse with my ultimate goal being not to carry one at all. The dimensions of my current purse is 6 x 4 x 2-1/2. When we visited my son in NYC, I carried my drivers license, credit card and a few dollars in my pocket and left my purse locked in my son’s apartment. The upside is I no longer have rooom to carry anything for somebody else (read hubby) in my purse.

  13. posted by Kathy Hofmann on

    Hey, how did my purse get on your website! Just kidding. I just got mine and except for having to purchase a new wallet (my old one didn’t fit in the larger spot) I love it. My digital camera, it’s charger, and my phone fit into one of the smaller rectangles. Another holds cosmetics. I’ll need to get a folding brush. The side carries a mini notebook, a calendar and a checkbook. I wish it were a we bit taller, so my next purse will definitely be the hybrid, although this one is too cute!

  14. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Cindy S — Thanks for the head’s up. That is great to know!

  15. posted by Mary on

    I love the idea of this, but I go nowhere without a book.

  16. posted by Jeannine on

    I’m interested, but their website needs a bit of work! I’m having a lot of technical problems viewing it. Not a good sign…..c’mon folks, it’s 2009 here.

  17. posted by Stephanie on

    Jeannine,

    one of the key points of poor webdesign is too much flash. They have WAY too much flash video and other flash elements on the site: unnecessarily. Just post the images and let us click through.

  18. posted by whyioughtta on

    As an inexpensive alternative, anyone who can sew can make those smaller purse-in-a-purse organizers very easily–I just made one for myself using some leftover fabric lined with interfacing (to make it slightly rigid). It’s just 2 interface-lined pieces of fabric sewn into 4 pockets I keep all of my necessities (wallet, cheques, lippy, cell) in it and just move it from purse to purse as needed. Cost me about $5 and 30 minutes to make.

  19. posted by Rue on

    Here’s a link to one at Kmart…only $18 until Saturday!

    http://www.kmart.com/shc/s/p_1.....butler+bag

  20. posted by JLSR on

    I have the same bag in black and I love it. I will say I was a little disappointed that it doesn’t really fit over the shoulder – it is definitely a HAND bag. So hard to tell sometimes when shopping online. In hindsight I would probably have been happier with the Hybrid or Satchel version (which are more expensive), but I still carry it every day and love it more than my other purses.

  21. posted by Quinn McDonald on

    Love the bag and your post about it, but not one of the links worked (they said “access denied”) so I couldn’t check it out. I am on the eternal search for the perfect bag.

  22. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Quinn — It appears their site has crashed. I imagine it will be back up in the next hour.

  23. posted by adora on

    I own a butler bag for over a year now, the same one as photographed.
    My only problem with it is that it is too bulky to wear on the shoulder for a long time. (about 6″-7″ thick) And the leather started peeling over the hinge in about 3 weeks, due to the twisting when wearing over the shoulder. You could tuck it back in, but that’s not what I expect from a $150 bag.
    I think the design could be improved by having one single strap across the length, without hinge, directly sew to the side of the bag.

  24. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    If you want to go the purse organizer route rather than use a Butler Bag, there are lots of alternatives. See http://tinyurl.com/qfahgs.

  25. posted by Sheryl on

    I looked at the Kmart bags, and while the styles and prices look great, I can’t get past how shiny all the material is. (Except for the straw ones.) The purse I use now is a black leather-look vinyl, so it’s not like it’s not available. And why all the reptile and animal prints? Not exactly my style.

    I gave up trying to look at the Butler Bag website…major PITA.

  26. posted by Sandra on

    Unfortunately they do not have a cross body version, and thus I cannot use any of them. Back pain, ahoy!

    The purse organizers themselves are intriguing, but nobody seems to make a good-sized, affordable cross body bag, so I always have to settle. Always. :(

  27. posted by infmom on

    Ew. Made me wanted to sing “Little boxes, in the handbag, little boxes full of ticky-tacky…” :)

    I bought a nice travel-safe bag from the TravelSmith catalog and keep my stuff organized in different colored zippered bags inside. Didn’t even spend half the price of that vinyl-looking monstrosity.

  28. posted by infmom on

    @Sandra: My bag goes cross-body easily. Not sure if I can post links here but I’ll try: TravelSmith catalog.

    Otherwise, search the site for “secure handbag” and you’ll find it.

  29. posted by Anita on

    Great idea! The price tag is a bit steep, since I generally go for cheaper trendy purses that I can change every couple of days (rather than one catch-all purse), but the purse organizer (either the one in this post, or a DIY one) is more for me.

  30. posted by Anca on

    But…it’s just a bag with a box in it. I guess it’s useful if you have to carry around lots of little things in a purse with no pockets and you know you’ll never tip it over.

  31. posted by Keter on

    I haven’t seen this purse in person, so I can’t tell how well made it is. I have a Dooney & Bourke bag from 1995 that I still use and still looks great. It was almost $300 when I bought it, but I figured out that I have saved over twice its cost in never having needed to replace it. A couple of years ago, I picked up a gently used identical bag on eBay for $50, so I can swap purses every year, and let the leather rest and absorb conditioner. I figure that between the two bags, I will never need another purse as long as I live, so in that case at least, I definitely got my money’s worth.

    After having my wallet stolen out of my purse at work last year, I switched all of my critical items to a small wallet that I made myself. It clips onto my belt or waistband and holds my cell phone, credit cards, ID, money, and a small lipgloss…really all I need most of the time. My purse, which is not as long but a little taller than the Butler Bag, is now used to carry my netbook and its accessories, a matching Dooney leather zipper case (for folding hairbrush and tampons), and my clip-on wallet in the car. When I get where I’m going, I clip on my wallet, and if I don’t need the netbook, I usually just stow the purse under the seat. (The zipper case can tuck discreetly under my arm if needed and looks like a small clutch purse – it doesn’t announce “I have my period!” like a cosmetic bag can.)

    The advantages are that I can travel very light, I have absolute control over my critical items at all times, and unlike a briefcase or laptop bag, the purse is easier to control in a crowd and doesn’t scream “here’s a computer to steal.”

  32. posted by QuinnCreative on

    Keter and all others who have had a wallet lifted from your purse (me, too), here’s what I do now: I got a small card case that holds my credit cards. I use a slim pouch for bills and change and keep them separate. If someone steals the pouch, yes, it’s money, but it’s not my driver’s license and credit cards, too. As to the Butler Bag–I think I’d need to see it. I already have a wide bottom, so I can’t carry a purse that does. And I drive a motorcycle, so my bag goes across my body or strapped to the bike.

  33. posted by knitwych on

    I have been on the quest for the perfect purse since I was about 14 years old. This looks like a contender, but I definitely need a shoulder bag, rather than a handbag. Currently, I carry a utilitarian brown/teal Overland Donner bag, which has compartments for all the junk I have to haul around for my job. I would like to have something dressier, so I’m happy to have found out about the Butler bags.

  34. posted by Be organized with a Butler Bag | Unclutterer « Women’s Handbags on

    [...] Read the original:  Be organized with a Butler Bag | Unclutterer [...]

  35. posted by Groovymarlin on

    OMG!! When I saw this post I went to the website right away (thank goodness it was back up). I ordered one of the larger bags from their “sample sale” – only $90 for the larger “Hybrid” (normally $165). Can’t wait until it gets here. This is the holy grail of bags and I can’t believe I never found it before now.

    And anyone who thinks $125 is expensive for a leather handbag…wow. Where do you shop? LOL!

  36. posted by Marie on

    This is definitely out of my price range, but the idea is good. I go for indestructible over attractive because I beat the daylights out of my bags. I’ve been using a Land’s End zip-top canvas tote in place of a purse for several years, and I think it could stop a bullet.

  37. posted by Coming and Going on

    The perfect organized, inexpensive shoulder totes that I’ve been using for the past couple of years, the Liz Claiborne Work World square totes, are being discontinued! What a shame, because they came in a variety of colors, and keep everything safe and secure with their two-zipper configuration and compartments.

    However, lately, I’ve seen a couple of them on eBay, claiming to be new, for about $45 each. How does that happen?

  38. posted by Off the Beaten Plan » Blog Archive » Lookee What I Found! on

    [...] was reading my feeds and went here and I found this. I think I’m in love! Do I want it more than a new tattoo? I don’t know [...]

  39. posted by Petra Teunissen-Nijsse on

    The problem of this bag is the lining is dark / black. In my experience, a light or even red lining helps finding your stuff much better than separate compartments.

  40. posted by Grant Parish on

    To truly be uncluttered you need to get rid of handbags. Several years ago I started going attending conferences for work and found that it was a pain to keep track of a purse while spending 10-12 hours a day going to sessions or other activities and juggling binders and notepads. So I switched to a wallet and it was freedom! Somehow men seem to be able to carry all they need in a wallet, what is wrong with us women that we can’t do the same?

    At first I just used my wallet at conferences but was seduced by how much it simplified my life so I started using it all the time. I bought a super thin wallet online – http://www.thinnestwallet.com/.....p#European – that fits in the small pockets of women’s clothes. It has been more than five years since I have regularly carried a purse and it has worked so well and so uncluttered my life that I would not go back.

  41. posted by Karen on

    I agree with Grant Parish. I haven’t carried a purse for years, though I may have to go back to it, due to having to carry an Epi-Pen. An Epi-Pen doesn’t always fit in my pocket. :)

    I carry my cell phone in my pocket, and have a small wallet with a key loop, and a caribiner on my keychain so I can hook my keys to my wallet. If i’m taking the kids with me I’m usually carrying the diaper bag, and I can put stuff in there.

  42. posted by Tania on

    I love handbags :D

    but I could do with a more organized one, and of the “organizer” type bags this is one of the few that I’ve seen that I didn’t think was Way Ugly (important to me since handbags are both a functional and a pleasurable purchase). $125 is actually a bit less than what I normally spend on bags so… hmmm…. I may be sold here… (note: paying a bit more for a bag is uncluttering, IMO, because they’re generally better made and do not need to be replaced as often! :) )

  43. posted by Tania on

    LOL! typical me, the style I would actually want is $225. LOL!

  44. posted by Michelle on

    Erin,
    Just had to write and give you a big THANK YOU, I showed this article to my hubby back on the day of your original post and now today he gave me one for my b-day! So thanks for the post and giving him the idea plus an easy way to order it!

    Best,
    Michelle

  45. posted by Kathy on

    I ran across your article and giddily started shopping. I was bummed to see that alot of the leather Butler Bag offerings are gone from her site (except for REALLY upscale pricey versions). If I wanted vinyl, I’d just go to Kmart!! It looks like eBay is the way to go if you want to snag an affordable leather Butler bag now.

  46. posted by Genia on

    AVON has two Butler Bags in different styles, one white and one black. There’s a brown one coming out later this summer. They’re “faux leather” but look really good. Same structure inside, and the white one has outside pockets too. I have the black one and I really like it.

    Go here — http://www.youravon.com/eugeniashipman — and search Butler Bag. They’re $39.99.

    FYI…
    Genia

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