With the right sized bag, I am a walking CVS store. I put the "carry" in "apothecary," and I put Mary Poppins to shame. I have the universe within arm's reach—it's all in my bag.
But between you and me, I have never liked the phrase "mom friend." Someone would have a crisis, and I would have the solution. Then they'd say, "You're the mom friend," and. I'd think, "No, it's called being a decent person." Having everything a person could reasonably need in your purse shouldn't make you the "mom friend," it just makes you prepared. That being said, everything I know about packing a purse comes from my mother...
It's your turn to be the "mom friend" because I don't want to be the "mom friend" anymore. I'd like to be unfettered and carry a little Crescent Bag or Baguette Purse or tote that fits a small loaf of bread, too! Liana Satenstein wrote an incredible piece about quitting her Vogue job, ditching her giant work bag, and carrying a little purse for once. My shoulders yearn for such itty bitty accoutrement. Until then, I'm probably carrying a bag big enough for my laptop and all of the other 30 things on my packing list.
I'm Atlas shrugging my shoulders and giving you the bag. Here's everything anyone would ever need you in your purse, ladies and gentlemen.
1. Mints or Gum
Personal preference. I love the coin roll mints. Efficient use of space. I've dazzled some people with Listerine strips. Compact and novel.
2. Hair Ties or Hair Clips
You know what your preference is. Hair clips can easily clip onto the strap of your bag, which is good use of the architecture. If you're a bobby pin girl, then also put those in your purse. I never wear them, personally.
3. A Comb
Or a compact brush. Again, you know your preference. It's a superpower to always have this on hand when you need it.
4. A Compact Mirror
Looking into your phone mirror is too hi-tec for me. Compact mirrors are also so chic. It's like pulling out a checkbook. Everyone is like, "These things still exist?"
5. Cough Drops
My mother is making converts everywhere. I'll proselytize now. FISHERMAN'S FRIEND IS THE BEST COUGH DROP ON THE MARKET. My mom has made friends by giving strangers these cough drops. They're intense, but they work.
6. Emergency Earrings
You might think this is excessive, but I often forget to wear earrings. I usually try to keep a pair in my purse for these days. I have a go-to dangling clip on pair in some bags and a pearl stud pair in another. Obviously, don't do your expensive heirloom pieces. Just a simple, versatile pair that you're okay with rattling in your bag.
7. A Non-Perishable Snack
Stash something that you won't crave and try to dig out of your bag when you're at home. Its sole purpose should be to provide sustenance when you're on the move.
Hopefully you never have to use these. But should you, thank goodness you have them. The Welly Bandaid is a modern marvel and will raise your bandaid standards. If you laughed at "bandaid standards," then that means you probably don't have them. The incredible quality of Welly bandaids is no joke.
9. Tylenol, Benadryl, The Works
I rarely need it, but I've been in situations where someone else does. It's great to have on hand.
10. Hand Cream
I was never really a hand lotion person until I started traveling a lot. Then all of a sudden I understood the hype. My absolute favorite hand cream is from Evolve Together. I pull these out of my purse as a party trick. I've never used a hand cream so instantly hydrating. (My favorite scent is Monaco, the modern rose fragrance.)
It is humiliating to be a writer without a pen. I'm always armed.
12. Safety Pins
I can work magic with a few safety pins.
You don't need them until you do. And when you do, you really, really do.
14. Wet Wipes or Hand Sanitizer
I prefer wipes! (Unless it's the evolvetogether hand sanitizer. That's the best I've ever used.)
15. Perfume Samples
I love spritzing myself silly! I usually have multiple samples in a bag, and that's a source of in-bag entertainment when I'm with people—we just sniff the different scents and exchange our thoughts on the notes.
Keep a few single dollar bills in the pocket of your purse for easy access. I don't like rifling through my wallet for tender, so it's best for me to just be able to pull bills as I need them.
19. Hot Sauce
For my Texans in New York. If I had a dollar for every time I ate eggs in NYC and thought, 'Needs hot sauce,' my purse pocket would be STUFFED! Thankfully, mini Tabasco bottles aren't hard to come by online.
I've been a sunscreen pusher since before it was cool. In high school, I often offered my friends sunscreen while I touched up in the broad daylight. They laughed. Who's laughing now? (And who doesn't have laugh lines while she does it? You know the answer!)
21. Feminine Products
Even if you don't need it, you might bump into someone who does.
Or AirPods or earphones or whatever you prefer. While we're on this topic, do you remember the Seashells from Fahrenheit 451? Bradburn was onto something there.
23. Touch-Up Makeup
For me, this is mascara. I often forget to put it on before I leave. It's nice having a travel-size version to quickly swipe.
24. Folding Fan
I feel like a Southern belle (or maybe Southern brat) when I get hot, but I need to fan myself. Plus, everyone loves a folding fan. They're beautiful!
25. Lipstick or Lip Gloss or Chapstick
Whatever your preference.
For me, absolutely! I always have something to write down.
27. Portable Battery Pack
I somehow lived in New York without one of these. What a shame. I would have been unstoppable with it.
I don't wear expensive sunglasses because they get battered and buried in my bag. But at least they're always there.
You would not believe how many times this has come in handy. Not just for me but others, too! I use deodorant wipes and have been delighted to have it ready any time someone needs one.
30. Baseball Cap
I want as little sun on my face as possible. I know I walk the fine Logan Roy-Joe Goldberg cap line, but that's fine by me.