this thing's incredible

The Hands-Free Phone Case That Lets Me Party Without a Purse

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

Allow me to set the scene: It’s almost midnight on a Friday, and I’m standing in line outside Brooklyn Mirage. The set I’m here to see is due onstage any minute. Though normally I’d have arrived earlier to snag a prime spot near the front, late-night service changes to the trains have gravely delayed me. My ID has been scrutinized, my ticket scanned, my bag inspected; I’m nearly home free — coat check is just ahead, calling out like a shimmering Saharan oasis — when security notices my key chain, which is shaped like an oversize safety pin.

“What’s this?” he stops me to ask.

“Just my keychain,” I say, not without a slight note of desperation. Inside the venue, the crowd grows thunderous as the DJ takes the stage. Someone behind me heaves a conspicuous sigh.

The pockets on the Utiliti Case can fit a variety of sundries, including coins, lip gloss, and an AirPods case. Photo: Kitty Guo

Eventually, the key chain and its extremely dull point were deemed nonthreatening enough to be allowed in, but ever since, I’ve resolved to bring only the bare necessities on a night out: phone, keys sans key chain, cash, ID. Nothing that might arouse suspicion, nothing superfluous to weigh me down on the dance floor. (It’s awkward to dance with a bag swinging from your shoulder anyway.)

I made do for a while by stuffing everything into my pockets, but during the summer, my clothing grew more cursory, with little fabric to spare for storage purposes. I was ready to resign myself to a fanny pack — until I stumbled upon a phone case in my Instagram feed that sort of resembled a pair of cargo shorts, with an array of pockets protruding from the back. Thanks to an attached shoulder strap, it looked to be exactly what I needed, and I promptly placed an order.

Since then, my Utiliti Case has become my faithful going-out companion. It’s made by the brand Urban Sophistication, a buzzy IG darling whose ultra-trendy puffer cases have been spotted on every stylish celebrity under the sun (Dua Lipa, Emma Chamberlain, Kendall Jenner, and Justin Bieber are all fans). It comes in multiple models to fit whatever iteration of iPhone you own (sorry, Android users, you’re out of luck) and is available in four neutral colors: sage green, earth brown, midnight blue, and onyx. I went with the earth brown, but all are a solid choice and guaranteed to imbue your fit with a touch of techwear vibes.

The case is made of soft nylon and features three Velcro pockets: a small square-shaped one for holding a couple coins or pills; a thin tube-shaped one perfect for lip balm, lighters, or a roll of bills; and a rectangular one that can fit your keys or AirPods case. There’s also a fourth, flat pocket that hooks to the strap to hold an ID and credit card. The strap itself is both adjustable, so you can wear it like a cross-body or keep it closer to your chest like a harness, and detachable, with matte-silver hardware that lets you clip it on or off.

Admittedly, it does cost $88, a rather hefty price for a phone case (though the brown and blue colorways are currently on sale for nearly 50 percent off). But its elevated functionality, durable material, and — most importantly — the peace of mind it grants me have made it well worth the splurge. The all-in-one design makes it easy to keep track of my essentials, and the slim profile is so discreet and unobtrusive that it barely registers when I’m dancing (while being extremely difficult to pickpocket). No more faffing about with cumbersome purses or shallow pockets — just enjoy to the fullest your music, your night, and your precious, fleeting youth.

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The Hands-Free Phone Case That Lets Me Party Without a Purse