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TORY BURCH MILLER CROSSBODY BAGS, Photos by Brenda Coffee, ©2019

Have you ever arrived at a museum, a concert venue or a public building only to discover they don’t allow purses inside any bigger than your cellphone? I have, and more and more places are implementing “Clear Bag” policies to increase venue security and move guests through checkpoints faster. Even if you have a ticket, if you show up with a bag that doesn’t meet their requirements, your choices are to be turned away; hike back to your car or hotel and stash your bag, or throw your bag in the trash before entering. 

So what’s a girl to do? Fret not. I have the answer.

Earlier this month I went to see Fleetwood Mac, and the venue where they were playing had a “Clear Bag” policy. If you had any kind of a bag—handbag, camera bag or diaper bag—it needed to be able to fit inside of a clear plastic bag… not to exceed 12” x 6” x 12” …or a small bag that cannot exceed 4.5” x 6.5.” 

That’s really small. Think cellphone small.

If my friend hadn’t told me about the policy before I arrived, I would have been one of the countless unsuspecting women—standing in the rain—who pulled out money, ID, credit cards and cellphone and stashed it on their person, or wherever their significant other had room for it. I then watched them put their purse in the trash receptacle outside the concert venue door, hoping it would still be there when they returned.

Always check venue rules about handbags before you leave home. FYI, I’ve learned Clear Bag policies are not always easy to find on the museum, athletic stadium, graduation or concert venue website…

…AND even if the venue allows any size handbags… The artists, musicians, athletic teams, schools and traveling art exhibits may require them to implement a Clear Bag policy for that event.

Before Uber picked me up, I put ID, cash and important cards into my bra and tucked my iPhone into the waistband of my pants. With two more concerts and two trips outside the United States on my calendar so far this year, the next day I started looking for small bags that will get me in anywhere.

My favorite is Tory Burch’s Miller Phone Crossbody Bags. They come in leather or a combination of leather and canvas or wicker, in a variety of colors, with the stunning laser-cut Tory Burch logo, magnetic front closure, interior card slots and adjustable straps. It’s pretty pricey—$198—for a little bag, but if you add up how much you’ll already have spent on museum, concert or athletic event tickets, travel in or outside the country, meals, hotel and Uber, it’s worth it not to be turned away at the door because your bag’s too big. 

Then there’s the Kate Spade North South Phone Crossbody Bag in Mauve or Passion Fruit.

There are a number of phone folio cases that open like a book with cellphone on one side and cards on the other, but I don’t know if they meet the size requirements. Technically they’re twice the allowed size, plus they don’t have straps, so it will always be in your hand, or you’ll stuff it in your pants, so you’re right back where you started.

Fanny packs are back in style, but they’re all way too big to meet the Clear Bag requirements.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Before you buy a tiny bag, double check your cellphone’s measurements and the bag’s measurements.

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23 thoughts on “WHY YOU NEED A TINY BAG”

  1. I’ve been thinking about getting just such a bag and this will spur me on before my upcoming trip. They don’t hold much, but I’m also tired of carrying my life around when I only need essentials. I’m sure my shoulder and neck will thank me. 🙂

    • Hi Laurel, Maybe I’m wrong, but I hope the days of needing to take everything in our purses are over. Kids have flown the nest. And yes, if I carry more than a little bag, my neck and shoulders start talking to me. Thanks for reading and leaving me a message, Brenda

  2. Wow… who knew such a stringent policy existed. Lucky you had advance warning. I’m surprised that venues don’t post something on their website. Or even have a way to check your bag at the entrance like at some museums.

    • Sue, Some venues are up front about it, while others you have to dig, online, to discover it, but even then… You can’t relax because they may be forced to change their policy to accommodate the demands of the musicians, etc. who are appearing there. Better safe than sorry. xoxo, Brenda

  3. I can’t even imagine NOT knowing such a policy was in place and having to choose between throwing my $300 purse in the trash, or walking away from a concert that I probably paid that much for a ticket! Aaaarrrrggghhhhh!
    Thanks for letting us know about this. Fortunately, I have a small straw and leather bag, thanks to you.

  4. Yes, I experienced this several years ago when my sons and I visited the White House. Thankfully, my bestie’s son was an intern and was able to store my “large” purse, otherwise, I would not have been allowed in.

    • Antoinette, The White House! Probably the best example you could think of!! I imagine more and more official buildings are not letting big bags in. Thanks for telling us. I appreciate it. Brenda

  5. I have 2 small bags that will work just fine. I’ve never been a large purse kinda girl. Just the essentials. period. You can find several styles for a lot less than hundreds of dollars, too.

    • Hi Barbara, I’m just the essentials bag kind of girl as well. While you can find lots of so called “tiny bags,” small bags, get your measuring tape out and check their sizes against the “Clear Bag” policy. Bags that small are really hard to find… The size of your cellphone! You can’t imagine how long I looked online to find just this handful, plus one day this week I walked thru every boutique, Forever 21, Target, Banana Republic in the mall and didn’t find a single one that qualified. xoxox, Brenda

      • Hi Barbara! Ding, ding ding!! I just had an ah-ha moment and went on Etsy and typed in “Clear Bag Policy bags” and up popped lots of them that are literally clear vinyl. They range in price from $6.99 to $69. I will say they bother me for the same reason I don’t want to carry a plastic, ziplock bag. Everyone gets to see what’s in there… money, credit cards, tampons, etc. Don’t think I can do that. Brenda

  6. I love the Tory Burch option, these are the nicest of all. I want all the colours. They will look fabulous on you darling – enjoy! Xxxxx

  7. I have a super small vintage Coach bag. It’s just big enough for a phone and a thin coin purse. Why oh why won’t they put them back in production?!

    • Hi Lizette, Because we’ve become a “bigger is better” society. We like to take all of our things with us when we leave the house, never mind that we only need keys, phone, ID, credit card and cash. I also suspect that it takes more labor to make a small bag than it does a big tote bag. Good question! Brenda

  8. I am shocked to hear that my 4.5 x 7.5 K.Carroll purse would have been too large for the venue! Terrible that there was no way to prevent this from happening and causing such problems. That should be obvious on the front page of the venue advertisement for the concert and on every ticket.

    • Beckye!! Duh!! Why isn’t “Clear Bag” policy stamped on every ticket and prominently displayed on websites and ads about events? At least with some museums… don’t count on this… you can check your bag and your coat and pick it up on your way out. By any standards your Carroll purse is small, but then again, it’s too big!! You’re an Austin girl… Did you know all UT athletic events have Clear Bag rules? xoxox, Brenda

  9. Am I correct in assuming men can wear jackets with exterior and interior pockets and there are no issues with how much they carry?

    Young people carry their expensive phones in their back pocket. (Off topic – this drives me crazy seeing such casual handing of an expensive item.)

    Perhaps we women need to dress with multiple pockets and our small bag.

    • Ooh, Julie Anne! Good question! I checked the rules on one of the big venues I’ve attended and it says: “You may carry items in your pockets or jacket (keys, makeup, feminine products, comb, phone, wallet, credit cards, etc.) if you choose not to put them in a clear bag or permissible bag.” That said, just like airports, security at Fleetwood Mac was making everyone empty their pockets into bowls for screening. Awesome comment, Brenda

  10. YIKES……..I cannot GO that SMALL but they are CUTE!
    I don’t GET OUT MUCH so hopefully it will not be a problem for me BUT SUPER GOOD OF YOU TO BRING IT UP!!!

  11. I did not have any trouble last year in Italy, although some museums did require small purses. No bags are allowed when climbing the Leaning Tower in Pisa. Until now, I had never given much thought to owning a clear bag. However, I do think it is a worthwhile item to have in my wardrobe. Just purchased one a few minutes ago. Love Fashion Friday!

    • Thank you, Gina! I’m happy you like Fashion Friday and are getting something out of it. Interesting info about NO BAGS ARE ALLOWED in the Leaning Tower in Pisa. That can be a real problem if we don’t know about it in advance. Thanks for weighing in and contributing to the conversation! Brenda

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