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Finding a Handbag That Won't Strain Your Back

Style For Style: Back Friendly Handbags

I recently heard of a girl who complained she could no longer use her large chain-handle Chanel bag because her doctor said it's bad for her back. What a shame. You pay thousands of dollars for the purse of your dreams, and and it turns out to be a pain in the back. That's not OK. If you're in the same predicament, let's get you out of it!

  • You shouldn't carry around any more than 10 percent of your body weight. So if you're 130 pounds, your bag should be no heavier than 13 pounds. Stay away from handbags that are heavy even without anything inside.
  • Avoid long-strapped bags and chain handles. The former swings around as you walk, while the chain handle digs into your skin.
  • When wearing shoulder bags, make sure the longest your bag sits is around your waist or bellybutton area. Satchels with short handles are preferable.

To learn more and to see a widget of back-friendly styles,


  • Slouchy bags are OK, but structured bags are best for health purposes.
  • I am not advising you go out and buy a fanny pack, but you may want to reconsider really oversize bags. The smaller your bag, the less things you'll put in it, and the less heavy it'll be. There are stylish belt bags you can look into.
  • Plastic, satin, nylon, and canvas bags are perfect because they're not as heavy as leather. If you like leather, opt for a lighter leather like with Foley + Corinna's City Tote.
  • Heavy designer bags to stay away from if you want to avoid back pain: large chain-handle Chanel bags, Balenciaga's large motorcycle tote with heavy studs, Marc Jacobs's Stam bag, and any Zac Posen bag, to name a few.

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nadya1978 nadya1978 7 years
FASHOIN WILL KILL US BUT WE HAVE TO LOVE IT :(
bussbuss bussbuss 8 years
ugh...i've had the same problem and finally switched to cute canvas totes by indie designers and small vintage evening bags. i also really minimize what i put in them, which has helped. the bonus is they're a lot cheaper so you can switch it up often too! it's a bummer, but being in pain and hobbling around and moaning about it is never chic. i'd say guys are lucky because they don't have to deal with issues like this, but my husband once worried he might be having a heart attack (he wasn't even 30!) after he walked home with his messenger bag across his chest...
bussbuss bussbuss 8 years
ugh...i've had the same problem and finally switched to cute canvas totes by indie designers and small vintage evening bags. i also really minimize what i put in them, which has helped. the bonus is they're a lot cheaper so you can switch it up often too!it's a bummer, but being in pain and hobbling around and moaning about it is never chic.i'd say guys are lucky because they don't have to deal with issues like this, but my husband once worried he might be having a heart attack (he wasn't even 30!) after he walked home with his messenger bag across his chest...
Punk-Glam-Queen Punk-Glam-Queen 8 years
I actually switched to Gucci bags after I herniated a disk in my lower back years ago. This was the one brand I found that hit me in the right place -- I'm tiny and they are a perfect fit under my arm (even my vintage ones) and they never hurt my back! I've been drooling over the satchel styles, but sadly I don't think they'll do much for my spine :(
angelthelson angelthelson 8 years
ugh, sounds like me i have a scoliosis
twiggychic3 twiggychic3 8 years
sigh. i love my chloe paddington, but since im a little under 80 pounds, my mom and uncle (doctor) are quick to grab it from me before i leave the house and then follow up with the usual lecture about how bad my back will be when i get older. boo
dmartinxoxo dmartinxoxo 8 years
My stam seriously hurts my neck and shoulders, oh well, it's so worth it.
Mintie Mintie 8 years
My beloved Muse often gives me a pain in the back and/or neck. I switch off and only carry it a few days a week.
reesiecup reesiecup 8 years
i gave up heels to save my knees, but i really don't want to give up my back-breaking bags :(
Cuppitycake Cuppitycake 8 years
I would die for fashion...so therefore, I will endure the pain of carrying my lambskin Botkier and Bulgas....and Mr. Louis will NEVER leave the crook of my arm! :)
kiwiprincess kiwiprincess 8 years
I adore this tip. I had such problems with bags that, for a while, I stopped using them. My mom always wondered where it was. lol
emalove emalove 8 years
Almost all of my handbags are fairly large and they kill my shoulder when I'm carrying them for a length of time...I need to take note of these tips!
thoroughlymodern thoroughlymodern 8 years
Let's not forget the notoriously heavy Chloe Paddington bags (you know, with the padlock?).I second tkoblondee's comment; we're here for you, ladies.
thoroughlymodern thoroughlymodern 8 years
Let's not forget the notoriously heavy Chloe Paddington bags (you know, with the padlock?). I second tkoblondee's comment; we're here for you, ladies.
tkoblondee tkoblondee 8 years
I will gladly take anyone's pain in the neck (or back, as the case may be) off of their hands!!
FashionLuvr FashionLuvr 8 years
I had to look for a new handbag to replace my Biasia satchel because it was too heavy (I have a history of neck/shoulder pain). It makes me sad to know it is just sitting there unused now. But I can't part with it.
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