Add this to the list of Things I Didn’t Know Science Cared About, I suppose.

According to UK retailer Debenhams, the weight of the average woman’s handbag, including its contents, has fallen from 7.69 pounds in 2007 to 3.31 pounds in 2009. I don’t know about anyone else, but my shoulders and back are certainly thankful for the dramatic change.

Everyone knows that no trend lasts forever, so when tiny actresses were seen with handbags bigger than some New York studio apartments in the middle of the last decade, we all knew that it was a matter of time until the Olsen look was so five minutes ago. Well, if handbag weight is any indication, that time is now. But are there possible explanations other than just the normal ebb and flow of fashion trends?

UK rag Daily Mail thinks that there might be. They want to tie all of this into our gadgets – iPhones weigh less than the combination of an old school iPod and that Motorola flip phone that you had back in 2007, so I suppose that you might save a few ounces there, but I’m just not buying it as an overall explanation. It’s not like we were all carrying enormous Zack Morris phones back in ’07, it was only two years ago.

And not only are traditional phones still more popular than smartphones, despite the fact that it seems like everyone you know has a Blackberry or iPhone, but the rest of the stuff that a woman usually carries is pretty static. As far as I know, no one has figured out a digital makeup app yet. Apple, get on that. The article also mentions laptops, but I don’t know many women that carry a computer in their everyday bag. And even if they did, I would imagine that any decrease in average laptop size between 2007 and 2009 would be offset by the likely increased number of women that now carry these ever lighter, slimmer devices that didn’t carry them at all two years ago.

So, as they say on one of my favorite shows, myth: busted. I’m not buying the explanation that the Daily Mail is selling. There’s an important one that they may have overlooked, however, and that’s the weight of the materials used. Maybe, just maybe, the manufacturers are listening to the practical complaints of their customers. That’s not common in fashion, but it might have happened with our handbags.

Yesterday, I walked into Neiman Marcus in Atlanta, picked up a Chloe hobo and for the first time, didn’t feel myself begin to tip over under the sheer weight of the empty bag. The size itself was still big – maybe even “oversized” would be the correct word – but it wasn’t heavy. It wasn’t even close. And when we live in a world where we can’t count on CHLOE, of all brands, to put out bags that are all so heavy that they make my arms fall asleep, what can we count on?

Handbag weight is one of the most common complaints that I hear from bag lovers, even to the point where some designers have changed their materials in very obvious ways. For instance, the first few iterations of the famous Marc Jacobs Stam were lined in suede. People complained, and every season since then has had a cotton or linen lining. When I pick up a Stam in a store now, it’s noticeably lighter than the early version that I bought back in 2006.

Those things considered, it’s likely that a combination of size trends, material changes and maybe a few technological advances have lead to such a precipitous drop in bag weight. Whatever it is, it’s better for bag lovers, any way you slice it.

Article via The Daily Mail

P.S. Please consider supporting our small, bag-loving team by clicking our links before shopping or checking out at your favorite online retailers like Amazon, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, or any of the listed partners on our shop page. We truly appreciate your support!

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • An4

    I agree, I think they finally started to listen to customers and adjusted the materials.
    also, I think big bags will be around for long, maybe petite women with xxl bags don’t work well but imo neither do big women and tiny bags. so there’s room for all bags in this world.
    except fugly, those should be used as fuel or something.

  • dierregi

    It is indeed good news ;-) I also wonder – who’s paying for this type of research?

  • Linda

    I think you’re right and it’s the mfg’s that are using lighter materials, a definite improvement! I love big bags but don’t want them to weigh a ton.

  • Cynthia

    I think a visit to the handbag department of any major department store will show that this “downsizing” trend is indeed in effect. I, for one, am truly thankful that the days of searching for my stuff at the bottom of a cavernous handbag are over! The size issue is a big factor in my long-standing debate over whether to get a 30 cm Birkin or a 35 cm one. My fear is that the 35 cm Birkin might end up being too heavy and big.

  • rae

    I don’t think I can ever switch to a small bag… I just don’t like how they look on me — I’m not big, either. That said, I do have pretty light bags, and I don’t fill them up. All my stuff could fit into a larger clutch size, but I choose a big bag for the way it works with my size/outfit/curves/etc.

  • jane

    I have always carried the size bag I need for my stuff, and that is a large one.

  • mochababe73

    The whole big weekender being used as an everyday handbag was ludicrous. I had such a difficult time finding a medium sized handbag that I started to shop at resale stores. It is so true about handbags being heavy before you even put anything in them.
    Since I am a mother of two boys who play football, I don’t wear a small bag but not a large one either because I have scolios. I don’t fill them up either. However, on game days, I wear a crossbody bag because I need ot be hands free.
    For me, I have yet to see a large bag that actually looks good on the shoulder unless it is structured.

  • joce

    1) Our bags are lighter coz our wallets are lighter!
    2) More percentage of the selected women are unemployed and don’t have to carry files/laptops in their bags.
    3) all of the above!

  • Chris

    For me, the big over-sized handbag never worked anyway. I am too small. I always go for the small/medium handbag. It also makes me think what I really need during the day.

  • Roxy

    It’s matter of style and likes….I have Burberry Medal Studs Warrior and let me tell you this medals are heavy my shoulder is crying when i use it, but this bag worth it. It’s so gorgeous!
    I think you choose your outfit everyday according to how you feel and the purse doesn’t matter the weight it has…

  • mary s

    i am glad for it, i never liked big bags, and because they were so trendy it made it near impossible to find styple but smaller bags that arent just giant clutches…

    • Terri

      I concur! Being petite I always thought I would look like I was playing dress up with the oversized bags so I’m glad to see less is more again!

  • susan

    I love the look of a larger bag, and won’t go back to a small bag.

  • CLutchLove

    I have to agree with a couple of the other girls… I CANNOT survive without my big bags. In the heart of DC, going from meeting to meeting and needing to have everything on you at all times, there isn’t much a small clutch can do (despite the fact they are my favorite type of bag!) I just think for a working woman today, a good large bag is a must. Lighter fabric…ok a must too.

  • Ivy

    I jst bought an oversized YSL muse croc print leather bags.. I m not big but the bag is just gorrrrrrgeous!! LOVE it!!! I guess the company has chosen lighter materials or have the leather polished or anything because the bag is not as heavy as it suppose to be with that huge size.

  • Mukik

    I love big bags on a working day, since I do carry my laptop with me and a whole bunch of other stuff that I might need, but I try not to fill the bag up to its limit. But on a weekend it is time for a large Goldenblue clutch or most often a MAB Mini Mini that fits the essentials. I am sure that size of a bag is something that adjustable to what the need is.

  • Lianne

    I have bags of all sizes, from teeny tiny (for parties) to very large (trips to skating competitions where I need it to hold everything I need for a full day, plus a lap blanket because rinks are so often too cold for me).

    But the majority of my bags are in the small to medium range, since that’s what carries everything I need for a day. In fact, since I bought a Sony Reader, I find that I’m going even smaller, since I’m not carrying a bulky novel (never leave home without one). Reader, wallet, notebook, pen case, eyeglass cleaner, small zipcase with my thumbdrives, and MP3 player. That’s what I carry on a daily basis, and I see no reason to carry a giant purse that encourages me to carry more than that, giving me neck and back pain from the weight.

  • Bagolicious

    What bag is the girl, in the above photo, carrying?

  • TiOnaDeE

    I LOOVE big bags! First of all I’m tall so uness its a clutch I don’t feel right carrying a smaller bag. But Overall I think its about preference..and also how much stuff you’ve got to carry while doing it!

  • Erin

    Its all a matter of what the individual person likes, and how much she carries. I used to be only into small, structured bags but I grew out of that (although I still have them in my closet) and now I tend to like larger ones for every day. Small ones are nice for evenings out. I’ll always carry bags that I like, no matter what size they are, or which way the trends go. If it’s on my arm, the only thing that matters is that I am happy with it, not what anyone else thinks.

  • Ellen

    i like that purse in the picture too… does anyone know who makes it? thanks

  • abitnerdy

    Oh this makes me a little sad, I like big bags… makes life so much easier. I like thinking: “Oh I need _____” wam bam there’s it is.

    I think I will probably still rock big bags even if dinky small bags come in. nothing against them, I’ve been spoiled is all. BUT at least we’ll all stop having back problems caused by our big bags :O)

    Oh and the clutches I’ve been seeing are to die for.

    random and all over the place. tis is my mind. scary i know. LOL

  • Ashley

    :( but I like big bags, and i just purchased purchased a giant weekender


    Nothing like a Big Bag that Pops love them, I have bags of all sizes so it’s really what you are in the mood for on any given day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • SuzyZ

    No one can dictate the passing of big bags – I like them and wear them – I carry several pairs of eye glasses along with my normal stuff – I need it to all fit properly.

  • Elyse

    I don’t even want to know how heavy my purse is… the thought just scares me (fb)

  • Jane

    Dont forget its much cheaper to line a bag in fabric as opposed to suede and the smaller they are the less cost in materials. With the credit crunch maybe its in their interests to keep costs down.