What would help you to be organized? For me, it's a beautiful wallet. If you have a finely crafted one, it's a pleasure to tuck your credit cards and money inside (although slightly less so to remove them).

Wallets have been around since the 1600s, when paper currency began to replace the clunkier coin, rendering larger pouches or purses unnecessary.

Today they're produced in a myriad of styles, colors and materials, so it's easy to find one you'll enjoy almost as much as what's inside it.

Bejeweled Dazzlers

If you're looking for a wallet that is a piece of art, check out Kelly Lyon's gemstone-embedded collection.

Lyons, 40, has a background in jewelry. She started designing belt buckles a year ago, but when she couldn't find the right straps to go on the buckles, she started searching for leather. "I said, this leather would make a great handbag, which led to my designing wallets," Lyons explains.

Her blend of precious stone and leather makes for unique pieces: One Western-inspired standout ($400, pictured above) is made of black buffalo bull hide accented with red brindle cow hide, and features a hunk of turquoise. It has a place for credit cards and change and room for a checkbook.

Lyons designs a number of custom pieces ($75 to $600), in leathers ranging from alligator and ostrich to crocodile. "I don't like to use run-of-the-mill materials," says Lyons.

Even the hardware is hand-fabricated from precious metals, incorporating Lyon's experience as a master jeweler.

Traditional Elegance

If a traditional wallet is more your taste, accessory king Coach ( COH) has plenty of offerings. The chelsea signature checkbook wallet ($230) features the classic Coach print on jacquard fabric with leather trim, and has ample room for bills, cards and checkbook.

Or, if you're one those people who has many credit cards (does 12 qualify as too many?), try the chelsea signature accordion zip-around (about $200), which has 12 separate card slots and two roomy inside pockets.

Kenneth Cole ( KCP) has a number of classic leather offerings as well, including the that's-a-wrap style ($80). This wallet features braided details and comes in black or a warm, rosy pink.

For men, try the classic bi-fold wallet ($265) by Gucci, with six card slots and two bill compartments, or Bergdorf Goodman's exclusive bi-fold wallet ($205), available in either a lush brown or black alligator hide.

If you need more room, this Prada small soft leather wallet ($365; preorder only) has a zippered compartment in addition to a billfold, and is available in a soft chocolate color, accented by gold hardware. The saffiano accordion zip wallet ($410) has even more space: two zippered compartments bookend several card and bill slots.

For frequent travelers, Tusk's black buffalo-hide passport wallet ($65) is a godsend: It has slots for a passport, airline tickets, various sized bills and credit cards.

Craft Your Own

Maybe you're the artistic type -- well, you can actually create your own wallet with a kit ($15-$25) from the Tandy Leather Factory ( TLF).

"The create-your-own wallets were started in the early 1950s," says Jim Villwock, who has worked for the company for 34 years. They're still popular today with a wide range of customers, he says, from doctors to bikers, and young children to octogenarians.

Villwock suggests buying a leather starter kit ($75) first, which includes all the tools needed to assemble a wallet.

The process is pretty simple, even for novice crafters. First, you place a design on a plastic template, which you rub onto the leather. Then, using a small knife, you cut the traced lines. "Then you have additional tools that you put on the design to give it texture and to give the wallet a three-dimensional look," explains Villwock.

Finally, you can dye the leather to a color of your choosing, then attach the pieces and finish by lacing up the edges, Villwock explains.

It's easy to find a wallet tailored to your specific tastes. And keep in mind, you'll be more apt to use it -- and stay organized -- if you really appreciate its style.



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