Things a woman shouldn’t miss in her handbag

By Jane Babirye
On 30 September 2023 at 10:08

The list of things women can’t do without may be long, but be sure to find ’handbags’ among the foremost.

Women and handbags are ’inseparable’; they have this relationship where not only ’one complements the other,’ but one where ’one can’t do without the other,’ just like pen and paper, tea and sugar, or what ’Radio and Weasel’ sang about in one of their hit songs: bread and butter.

There have been trends of women going ’braless,’ ’pantless,’ ’make-upless,’ and ’hairless,’ but fashion experts truly doubt they will ever go ’bagless.’

In fact, researchers have it that six is the average number of bags a woman has in her closet.

Designed in different sizes, from different fabrics and for different occasions, bags play a pivotal role in a woman’s life, not just as an accessory, but a ’survival kit.’

Just as men’s wallets always have business or ATM cards and currency notes, there are certain items that will always make it to a woman’s bag, regardless of its size.

’Always haves’

Make-up: When it comes to women who have embraced their ’natural’ looks, we have to give it up to ’Rwandans.’ I don’t know if it’s because Rwanda is the only country I’ve been to after Uganda, but again, I’ve worked in places where clients are from all walks of life and been to international schools for my education.

So yes, I can confidently say Rwandans rock their natural looks even on ’big’ events like wedding days.

But hey, makeup is not only foundation, powder, primer, or concealer. Makeup is any product that is used on the face to enhance one’s looks, and this may include mascara, lip balm or lip gloss, lipstick, eyelashes, and eyeshadows.

No matter the size of the bag, a woman of any age is guilty of carrying at least one of those in their bag.

Mobile phone: If there’s one thing 99.9% of people, men alike, never leave home without, it’s the phone. In brief, mobile phones are like the ’MTN’ network of Africa, "everywhere you go," you carry them with their accessories, like earphones, chargers, or power banks, phone cases, among others. However, don’t get the same attention, simply because they can be shared.

’Must haves’

I’m ’tiny’ by nature, if there is such a thing in English, but I enjoy small things.

However, when it comes to bags, I make sure not to buy extremely little ones because there are some things that I know I can’t go without because of my gender, both for safety and sanitary reasons.

I’m not sure what you always take in your luggage, but the following items are essential for every elegant woman.

Pocket tissues: Along with their kin wipes, pocket tissues should never be left out of a lady’s bag. While you leave home, you never know what you will encounter along the way. For us pedestrians, an angry driver may splash water onto you, or you may spill food on that gorgeous outfit while you have lunch; a wet wipe or pocket tissues will come in to ’save the day.’

Mint or chewing gum: When Philip Knight Wrigley, an American chewing gum manufacturer said, “fresh breath, fresh moments,” he didn’t lie. There’s a certain confidence that comes with speaking with fresh breath. It’s similar to how you can freely pose and smile for the camera after brushing your teeth in the morning. If you want to maintain that confidence throughout the day, carry a pack of chewing gum, or just sweets, for after lunch and later in the evening so that you don’t have people ‘turn heads’ when talking to you.

Wallet: They have recently replaced handbags, where one would just grab their wallet and move. This is not to say that if you are carrying a handbag, you should leave your wallet at home. Due to their size, wallets may fit in almost any bag and should never be forgotten. Not to mention how they help one look classy and organized because they don’t have to empty the bag on the floor when looking for their ID, business cards, or banknotes.

Hand cream: I know we are past Covid-19 times where we had to wash hands because our lives depended on it, but every now and then, you find yourself having to wash your hands, especially after answering that nature call. A hand cream should come in handy after drying your hands; both as a cosmetic (they help keep your hands free from fine lines) and also boost your confidence (imagine not wanting to shake your colleague’s hands because your hands feel rough and dry).

Hand sanitizer: Covid-19 did a good job of convincing us to carry these on a daily basis. Whether you were carrying a tote bag or a belt bag for the day, sanitizers were available in all sizes. Although the virus is long gone, germs and bacteria are still there, and carrying a sanitizer with you at all times will help you keep them at bay.

Toiletries: The list of toiletries is vast, and some may seem unnecessary, especially if you’re not going to a sleepover (e.g., soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, and so on). Carrying some like sanitary towels, however, even if you are not on your period, can be a ‘life-saver’ for a friend, colleague, or stranger. So make it a point to carry one with you on a regular basis; they’re not that heavy after all.

Sunglasses and an umbrella: You may not need to carry these at all times, especially if you own a car and know you won’t be strolling around in the sun. But if you don’t have that luxury and you know the weather can change at any time, having them in your backpack will do you more good than harm.

Notebook and a pen: My profession allows me to have these most of the time; but, you can develop the habit as well. Journaling has been shown in research to lessen overall levels of depression. According to a 2006 study by Stice, Burton, Bearman, and Rohde, "writing in a journal can be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy in reducing the risk of depression and anxiety symptoms.” Even if you use your phone to record important occurrences, a pen and book are still useful because they don’t require a ’battery’ to function.

Phone accessories: Although I previously indicated them under things not carried frequently, accessories such as earphones/earbuds, power banks, or chargers should come in handy with their kin; the phone. You don’t want to miss an important phone call or record a once-in-a-lifetime moment because your battery is dead, and no one else uses the same charger as you.

Pepper spray whistle: I can’t say it ever occurred to me to carry these in my luggage, but after reading Lilian Arjona’s blog, I felt obliged to purchase them one of these days. Women are a vulnerable gender by nature; imagine being attacked as you make your way to your car in the parking lot, or being attacked as you open the door to your house after work; what can help you first, other than pepper spray or a whistle to summon help?

Whichever bag you decide to carry, let it have some of these essentials. "Don’t just add sparkle to your look, add memories and safety."