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Essential Items to Carry in Your Purse

Updated on January 10, 2013

What do you keep in your purse?

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Make Sure These Things Are in Your Handbag

For many women, a purse becomes a mini-reflection of her life: small snacks if she has kids, a buzzing Blackberry if she's a professional, tubes of gloss and lipstick for the fashionista. At the same time, a handbag can become simpy packed with extra items and random junk. This extra weight on a woman's body can make her walk with lopsided posture and cause back, neck and shoulder pain--and often the day is busy and stressful enough with that! Paring a purse down to the essentials can save you back pain and all the time spent rummaging for your keys--but what things should you keep in a purse? This guide takes you step-by-step through the essential items to keep in a clutch, a handbag, and a tote.

A clutch forces you to pare it down to the bare essentials of what to keep in your purse.
A clutch forces you to pare it down to the bare essentials of what to keep in your purse. | Source

Essential Items to Carry in a Clutch

If you're reaching for a clutch purse, chances are you're going out to a fancy dinner, an upscale event, or a night on the town. Clutches are sleek, sophisticated--and small. So what things do you need to keep in a clutch?

When space is at a premium, limit your purse essentials to just the basic necessities.

  • Keys (if you have a huge ring of keys, remove the ones you need and zip them into the pocket inside of the clutch to save space)
  • Credit card or cash
  • Driver's license or ID
  • Cell phone
  • Lip gloss/lipstick

If you have extra space inside the clutch, you can also pop in some mints or gum.

A handbag or shoulderbag has room for more essentials than its smaller cousin, the clutch.
A handbag or shoulderbag has room for more essentials than its smaller cousin, the clutch. | Source

Essential Items to Carry in a Handbag or Shoulderbag

A handbag or shoulderbag is generally the purse of choice during the daylight hours--and since they're a grab-and-go daily item, they generally collect the detritus of the day. Rummaging through my own purse at any given, I may find receipts, nail polish, or jewelry. These things don't belong in my purse--they just clutter it up.

So, what things should you keep in your daytime purse?

  • A wallet with ID, credit cards, cash, and health insurance cards
  • Keys
  • Hairbrush and a hairtie
  • Cell phone
  • Lip gloss/lipstick
  • A pen (it will eventually come in handy!)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Kleenex
  • A small notepad
  • Eyeglasses or sunglasses (in a case)

If you keep your purse to these few items, your shoulders, neck, and back will thank you. It will also be easy to find things (keys, glasses) in your purse when you're in a hurry.

What to Keep in Your Purse

Essential Items to Carry in a Tote

For the woman-on-the-go, a smaller purse might not cut it. Tote-lovers expand their "essentials" options quite a bit, since totes are so roomy, but it's still best to keep the essentials to a reasonable minimum so as not to strain your neck or shoulder muscles or make the bag a black hole from which possessions never return.

Things to keep in a tote include, in addition to the items listed under "Essential Items to Carry in a Handbag or Shoulderbag":

  • Kindle, iPad, or book
  • a small bottle of water
  • aspirin or ibuprofen
  • cardigan or light sweater on colder days

If the tote a work bag that you aren't carrying all day, keep a small, everyday clutch inside it, stocked with the essentials above. That way, you can just pull the clutch out when you run to lunch or out for a short errand.

How to Organize the Essentials in Your Purse

Even keeping your purse possessions to a bare minimum can result in a tangled, cluttered mess at the end of a long day. One tip to keep things simple is to invest in a purse organizer, a small, soft container that fits into your handbag and is comprised of different compartments to separate your things. These come in a variety of sizes, colors, and patterns, so you can find one for almost any bag.

You can also attach a key clip to the lining of your purse, and keep your keys attached to that--oh so easy to reach in and pull them on when you're in a hurry.

Finally, on a more sobering note, one thing you may one to keep in your purse is a small container of mace--it never pays to be too cautious. If you choose to carry mace, make sure the cap (if there is one) is on tightly and also make sure that you practice pulling it out and preparing to use it quickly.


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