Q: I have arthritis pain throughout my upper body, and the large purses in style now are hard for me to carry. What fashionable options do I have?

A: My philosophy in fashion has always been: it’s not about size, it’s about fit – or in this case, comfort. Big bags are the trend, and they are also extremely practical, so forget the size and consider weight. A bag can be large as long as it is light – just remember not to overload it. Try these other tips.

Lightweight fabrics. Some leather can be heavy, as well as expensive. Thicker cottons, linens, canvas, wool and plastics look great and are so much lighter. One to try: The Sak from Macy’s.

Simple straps. Wood, chain and thick fabric straps or handles tug at your shoulders or hands. Keep straps simple and light. Shorter is better – unless the strap is long enough to cross your body, distributing the weight. One to try: Merona from Target.

Limited hardware. Chains, medallions and clips add style, but they also add pounds. Go for simple and sleek. One to try: Cole Haan from Macy's. 

Christine’s 7 Tips to Organize Your Purse

Here’s how to keep what’s inside your bag from weighing you down:

1. Switch to travel sizes of anything you must have with you. Must is the key word.

2. Keep medications in small plastic pouches.

3. Put keys on separate chains and carry only the keys you need at the time.

4. Use a runner’s wallet made of light nylon. One family picture – no albums!

5. Multicolored mesh zip-up cases can hold all of your essentials – money, makeup, small notepad and pen. Buy a small magnifying makeup mirror instead of a big one.

6. Try a nylon or rubber phone case, not a thick, leather one.

7. If you use an iPod, which can really add weight to a purse, carry it separately to distribute the extra ounces when you’re on the go. Then plop it in your bag when you’re not in motion.

Christine Schwab is a longtime fashion reporter and author of several books on style. Her book, Take Me Home from the Oscars: Arthritis, Television, Fashion, and Me (Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2011), chronicles her years battling rheumatoid arthritis while hiding it from Hollywood.

We want to hear from you! Tell us about your favorite “painless purse,” or ask Christine an arthritis-related style question at atmail@arthritis.org.