What’s inside other peoples handbags has long held a fascination for me. My grandmother used to carry a small, leather Gladstone bag which I loved. It was always spotlessly clean and well organised. Like a magician, Nanna was able to pull whatever was needed from within: a cherry drop to soothe a sore throat, a freshly laundered handkerchief to blot a grazed knee or a delightfully refreshing dab of eau de cologne in hot weather.
My handbag of choice is a small leather messenger bag with zips and compartments for easy organisation and retrieval. I loathe the huge handbags that are so popular today, with all their gaudy, gold embellishments and bold statement colours. For me they lack any charm and encourage the accumulation of unnecessary detritus. I love the Girl Guide motto ‘be prepared’ but lugging around an oversized bag is too higher price to pay for being able to meet any contingency. Heavy handbags can cause shoulder pain and make walking anywhere less pleasurable. I understand that it’s not easy to be a minimalist with a baby or a job that requires frequent travel, but it is at least worth trying.
Having had a spinal fusion when I was eighteen, looking after my back is essential so a bulging tote is out of the question. Whatever the occasion, I aim to travel light and I de-clutter and slim down the contents regularly. This not only spares my back but avoids stress and the unnecessary expense of buying things at premium prices for the sake of convenience.
Apart from the usual keys, wallet and phone, I always carry tissues, mints and a tiny bottle of water, as well as a pocketbook and pen. I also have a tiny tin of my beloved Nivea cream. It is surprisingly versatile for soothing chapped lips, moisturising hands and face or for buffing up scuffed shoes with a tissue. A tiny perfume atomiser can always be found in my bag too. I have a good one, which allows me to decant my favourite perfume without lots of mess. I use a pretty little zip purse from Kath Kidston as my portable fix-it kit. Within this purse, I keep a couple of plasters, some ibuprofen, a toothpick, a hotel freebie sewing kit, a hand wipe sachet, a phone charger and a credit card sized torch.
Apart from the essentials listed above, I also pop other items into my handbag based on what’s planned for the day. For example, if I know I am going to have a long train journey, I always take my fully charged IPod mini and my Kindle. I love being able to switch between audio books, music and reading. For a train journey, I usually pack some food; anything from a couple oat cakes and some nuts to a delicious, home-made sandwich. If I am travelling for leisure, I will often take a little bottle of wine too just to make it even more enjoyable.
Is there anything I have missed? What are your handbag essentials?