Back-busting bags

Laura Braghini, 55, fashion coordinator, Bologna, Italy: 6.5 lbs

"Usually, it's heavier." (Heather Charles/Tribune photo / August 19, 2010)

Heaviest total load: 20.4 pounds

Heaviest purse (with laptop): 13.3 pounds

Heaviest purse (without laptop): 8 pounds

Lightest single purse 2.9 pounds

How many claimed they had just cleaned out their purse: 9

How to lighten up

Get a purse job description: Is it a laptop bag? Then take out the laptop while shopping and so on. Is it a snack bag? Leave the snacks at your desk.

Go digital: Try an audio book or electronic book reader instead of a hardcover book, and an electronic planner instead of a bound paper calendar.

Shop wisely: Consider the weight of that empty purse before you buy it.

Miniaturize: Opt for a smaller water bottle and tiny hand sanitizer; downsize makeup containers.

Try a backpack: It distributes the weight best.

Opt for a cross-body strap: It's better for you than a shoulder strap.

Vary your carrying position: Don't always carry your purse on the same shoulder or in the same hand.

Put your purse on a diet: Buy a smaller one, and make yourself use it. A purse organizer helps you ruthlessly pare down to essentials. Check out Purseket, purseket.com or Divide and Conquer, etsy.com/ shop/divideandconquer.

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