Why do women of a certain age need to walk softly and carry a big tote?




When an article I recently read mentioned that older women should never carry a tote because it makes  them look frumpy, I wondered if the author had any insight into a real day in the life of an aging population.  

It seems every week there is an article published telling women over 50 how they should be dressing.  One article states that the official older woman’s “uniform” is crop pants, a long loose blouse and soft, comfortable shoes that will lessen the chance of taking a flop. A lot of women may say, “It works for me!”

There are also articles instructing older women to never wear their hair beyond a certain length, explanations of why they should color their hair, what shade they should go with and even what makeup they should wear or ditch.  Really!

I once had a manicurist who told me the shade of nail polish I picked was meant for a much younger woman.  The anticipated percentage of her tip was in jeopardy at that moment , but I knew she was just going along with those unwritten rules many of us ascribed to back in the day.   I decided on a full tip, but I was mad at myself for not going with the color I wanted.

Baby boomers are a generation of women who were encouraged in the 1960s to wear makeup every single day, wear stiletto heals, tease their hair and wear underwire bras and tummy tucking underwear even if they were as skinny as Twiggy.  Even though some women burned their bras in protest during the women’s movement back in the day, they are still being told how they should look and dress.

For many of us, trying to look like a Barbie doll at this stage of our lives just isn’t on our agenda.  That doesn’t mean we don’t care about our appearance or have given up and no longer care if we are perceived as attractive.  It just means we have more realistic expectations.   More likely, the reason may be we are at peace with ourselves.


So, being the guilty owner of several totes in lovely colors, I asked myself, is it really necessary for older women to have a bag that big?  

Well, that depends, no pun intended. We really do have a lot of stuff we need to carry around because life changes.

We’ve got stuff, and we need it with us!  

Our senses change.  We may have mobility issues, a need to carry medicine, medical devices or even slip a sweater in our tote in case the weather cools down while we are out.

Here is what this tote-carrying mama carries every day:

A wallet with all the usual stuff that goes into it

Glasses with transition lens and an extra pair of reading glasses

An extra set of cochlear implant battery holders, packs of implant batteries, a remote control for my cochlear implants, a bluetooth phone clip, a small one-on-one amplifying device

A five-pound keychain with assorted keys, FOBS and keychain reward cards

A comb, lipstick, tissues, antibacterial gel, a nail file and an eyebrow pencil to ensure my brows don’t “fade away” while I’m out

A small mirror that doesn’t magnify

Coupons, just in case I come across a really good sale

A small supply of Pepto Bismol tablets and Tylenol for those unexpected moments

Business cards 

A pen and pad to remind myself of all the things I would normally forget

A big cell phone with large print

Breath mints to offer to those who may need a “hint mint”

A small purse of quarters

Bottled water

On a rainy day, an umbrella

The real question should be, how do men manage without carrying around so much stuff everyday?  When asked this, some women will say men ask their wives and girlfriends to slip a few things in their tote bag so they don’t have to carry them.

Tell me though, do you really know any women who can get away with one of those tiny purses after 50?

Maybe this is a second coming of age for a generation that made their own rules. Walk softly in those comfy shoes girl, and carry your big tote proudly!






2 Replies to “Why do women of a certain age need to walk softly and carry a big tote?”

  1. The beauty of this post is that the author of the original article, if she is lucky, will probably end up carrying a stylish tote of some sort in a decade or two.

    My purse keeps getting bigger even as I realize the weight of it is less comfortable on my shoulders. Most of it fairly necessary (well, perhaps not the bed bath and beyond coupons).

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