Women’s Wallets Are Getting Super-Tiny

Women's wallets are shrinking. No, that's not a metaphor for the amount of cash they're toting around. Their physical wallets are getting smaller.

They're slimming down because women are buying more compact handbags, and people just don't need to lug around as many cards or thick wads of cash. 400xFashion trends are pushing shoppers toward sleek, crossbody bags and itsy-bitsy satchels; with phones taking over the role of such physical items as membership cards, loyalty cards, business cards, and even credit cards and cash, there's no need or desire for big, bulging wallets. This means a shift toward more petite wallet designs: zip-around pouches, thin billfold styles, little leather card cases, and so on.

Historically, women's wallets haven't seen much change. In fact, most small leather goods take a back seat to their larger, more visible brethren. They're not presented front-and-center in retail stores and are often buried in the accessories tab at online shops. Wallets just aren't very glam. They spend most of the time wedged somewhere next to a person's keys, gum, lotion, and lipstick. Handbags, meanwhile, are overhauled each season, with flashy new hardware and creative silhouettes.

These useful tools have, for the most part, followed a pragmatic formula: long, rounded rectangles with a zipper or a flap. Now such wallets are being converted to full-on clutches. Many designers make sure to add optional chains or wrist straps to wallets so they can be carried around on their own. One particularly popular tactic is a carry-all tote—for makeup, workout gear, flats—with a teeny zip pouch or wallet stashed away, allowing for an easy switch to a de facto clutch if necessary, said Cohn-Barr.

It seems these accessories will keep getting smaller as bags continue to shrivel. Cohn-Barr said she expects to see lots of micro, kitten-sized handbags come the fall 2016 season, although it's unclear exactly how miniature they can get.

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