Slim Is In: A Gentleman’s Approach to Wallet Management

A fat wallet sounds nice if it's stacked with bills, but when it's overflowing with receipts and stubs and who knows what else, it's just a pain in the ass - literally. Lighten your load with these simple carry solutions to that clumsy leather mess you call a wallet.

Hey Gents—

It's the beginning of March and we're well into 2010. Have you stayed on top of your New Year's resolutions? Even if you've managed to slip a little, here's a quick, easily-implemented change that could make a significant difference in your everyday life: Dump that bulging tumor you call a wallet, and opt for something slim and sleek.

Start by asking yourself these questions, and be completely honest:

  • Do I REALLY need those Target receipts from last October?
  • How about my library card? Wait… when was the last time I actually stepped foot inside a library?
  • How about these business cards from my last company event?
  • What about this “Get-10-cones-for-the-price-of-one” coupon from Baskin Robbins?

Okay, maybe you should hang onto that last one.

The point is, 97% of the crap men keep in their wallets isn't actually needed on a daily basis, if at all.

Wean yourself off the wallet-as-storage habit by following these pointers:

1. Toss or File?

Every evening, spend a couple minutes clearing out your wallet and tossing out the junk you don't need (old Post-it note reminders, last week's grocery list) and filing away the more important things (gas receipts, business cards). Getting into this daily habit insures you won't accumulate a bunch of waste that over time becomes so overwhelming you end up putting the Toss or File process off indefinitely.

2. Minimize the Plastic

Ideally, you have one or two credit cards, a debit card, some cash, and an ID. A gentleman needs nothing else. You don't need to tote around your vision insurance, 3×5's of your ex-girlfriend's Pomeranian, Daisy, or your college meal card from 2003; it's just taking up space.

3. Invest in Something Slim

The benefits of a slim wallet are two-fold. You are forced to simplify and carry only the essentials, and aesthetically, it doesn't look like you're growing a third butt cheek.

Not sure what to look for? Here are some options:

Slim Clip

I have to admit that the Slim Clip‘s infomercial had me sold. This wallet boasts the capability of holding up to 30 bills under its clamp, and 6 cards on the flip side. The kicker is that even when filled to capacity, it is only 1/2″ thick. Additionally it comes with a lifetime warranty, in case you don't trust the reliability of those As-Seen-On-TV type products. Given its affordable price point, it's definitely worth considering.

Magic Wallet

From the original magic wallet, to Wilsons Leather to J.Crew, it seems everyone has their own version, and for good reason. This is a great option for a gent wanting to keep his cash and cards in one place. Most magic wallets have room for four cards and the four strategically-sewn elastic bands hold cash firmly in place.

Card Case

Most card cases are double-sided and have two card slots on each side, perfect for housing the necessities I mentioned in #2. Some versions feature a middle slot for some extra storage, while others have only one side with two card slots, and a clip on the opposite side for cash… perfect for the gent who carries a couple bills for incidentals like tipping, a cocktail at happy hour, a mid-afternoon latte, etc.

The One Wallet

There are many variants of this, but I prefer the One Wallet by Makr Carry Goods, who specialize in delicious leather goods and produce in small quantities. This is constructed for the ultimate minimalist that finds cash too cumbersome to carry. It is essentially a leather pocket, but when all a gent carries is his ID, a credit and/or debit card, and one or two bills, how many slots do you really need?

Money Clip

Sometimes, all a gent wants is something to hold his cards and cash together. If that's you, go with something durable and timeless, like this piece from Tiffany&Co: Paloma's Zellige Money clip.

The Money Clip Alternative

If you consider yourself less fancy and more utilitarian, opt for a binder clip. Seriously.

I may be attracted to shiny things like Tiffany money clips, but in the hustle and bustle of daily life, a binder clip just works… and works well. Opt for the smaller variety—choosing a binder clip that can firmly secure a 600-page novel creates unnecessary bulk in your pocket, which is what you're trying to avoid in the first place. Plus, you don't want to be the weird guy with the comically-large binder clip in his pants.

In Conclusion

It's no fun subjecting yourself to a lopsided posture with one cheek atop a billfold the size of a paperback romance novel. Taking the minimalist approach to wallet content management is the best way to avoid clutter as well as back pain.  Follow these pointers and explore the slim alternatives; not only will your necessities be readily accessible, you'll also save yourself the hassle of numerous chiropractic visits down the road.

Barron Cuadro runs The Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to better equipping the everyday man by helping him find his own personal style. You can find him on Twitter @effortlessgent, Facebook, and at He lives in San Francisco.

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  • Aaron Lindfield

    here is the money clip i use. it’s fantastic

  • Luke

    I’ve been using the Slimmy from Koyono in my back pocket for cards, plus a simple CRKT money clip/pocket knife in the front for cash. They keep things organized, and far more easily accessible than anything else I’ve done.

  • Barron

    @Aaron — That was one of the wallets I had planned on mentioning but it had slipped my mind. How are they from a durability standpoint?

    @Luke — Those are also great options. Love the design of the Slimmy, and the idea of pocket knife slash money clip is genius. Didn’t even know those existed. Thanks for pointing it out!
    .-= Barron´s last blog ..Slim is in! =-.

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  • eric

    I have been using the same staples binder clip for years – and i LOVE it. the thing i don’t like about most clips or slim wallets is that if you stretch it out with an unusual load of extra cash or cards or whatever, they usually don’t snap back for whne you have your usual amount of cash and cards so i had the occasional card slip out of the card slot in the wallet or clip. the binder clip stays taught no matter how big or small your wallet-load is.
    just wish someone would make a “fancy” version of it, strictly for monetary use.

  • Barron


    I agree completely. I switch from time to time, between a binder clip and my old, old J Crew magic wallet I got in 2004. The leather is all stretched and the elastic is loose, so it’s time to replace, but I keep it around simply because I’ve had it for so long and it’s served me well. Binder clips definitely do the job though, and things never fall out.

    Thanks for the comment!
    .-= Barron´s last blog ..Q+A: What to wear on a Friday night =-.

  • Jano

    While I do prefer my slim leather compared to a traditional wallet that is fairly fat; I find it hard to get used to keeping cash in one. I keep getting the odd feeling that I may lose it. Maybe it’s just something I need to get used to.

  • Barron


    I can see where you’re coming from, especially when you contrast these slim options with a traditional billfold that really holds your cash. Assuming you don’t have a knot the size of Jay-Z’s, your cash should be fairly secure in one of the magic wallets or the card carrier / money clip hybrid. The wallet I’m currently using is a magic wallet I bought at J.Crew in 2004. Sure, the bands are a little stretched by now, but I’ve yet to lose a bill. :]
    .-= Barron´s last blog ..Q+A: What’s the best undershirt under a dress shirt? =-.

  • Joystick Junkies

    Great post and nice looking products..Maybe this is the next big thing!

  • Mark

    Have had a Louis Vuitton wallet for 15 years, expensive but worth the quality. Most wallets don’t last more than 5-6 years.

  • Jay

    I am a slim wallet fanatic. I prefer the Slimmy. It forces you to carry only what you need and has no folds (which reduces even more bulk). It has great reviews on Amazon.

  • Barron

    One of the commenters above mentioned the Slimmy as well. I looked it up and it seems like a great option. If I knew about it before writing this I would’ve been interested in profiling it more. Thanks for your comment!

  • Barron


    That’s great you’ve had your LV wallet for 15 years. You should take photos and share with the class; we here have an affinity for aged, quality things.

  • Slim Wallet

    One of the best slim wallet products on the market today is the slimmy Slim Wallet. This product is widely known and holds an outstanding rating on Amazon with tons of great customer reviews. You can’t go wrong with the slimmy by koyono!

  • Joe

    I’ve been using the Grand Band money clip for a while. I love it. I have a black rubber band with an monogrammed sterling silver panel. Ultra, ultra slim expandable option in the world of ‘money clips’.

  • Viola30Kirk

    All people deserve wealthy life time and loans or just small business loan will make it better. Just because freedom relies on money.

  • Ben Keels

    Here’s another great money clip and wallet alternative called The Xband. There is nothing like it and it works amazing!

  • Lauren

    The Magic Wallet pictured is exactly the one I wanted to replace. I’ve loved it!! Any idea what brand that one is/was??????

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  • john

    what is the specific name of that magic wallet with the cool design