“I can’t find my keys!”

“I know that receipt is in here somewhere.”

“Aaargh! My foundation has leaked through my bag!”

Sound familiar?

Ask any woman what they’d never leave home without: keys, lip gloss, mobile phone, credit/ATM cards might spring to mind, though my guess is that they’d rarely leave home without all of the above. Possibly (likely) more.

There's something about a woman’s handbag that men will never understand. Men, let’s just leave it as one of the mysteries of the world, like the Quantum Physics or Area 51.

Whether you’re a single woman with a busy social calendar or Mum precariously balancing work/life, our daily activities run on EVERYTHING inside that bag.

Who are you?

The chagrin of your chiro:

The excess baggage type catering for all scenarios, existing and possible.

The upside is that you’re always prepared. Over-prepared mostly. You have anything anyone needs, at any time. Always. You keep your chiropractor’s family fed. Good for him or her.

The downside is that it takes you 10 minutes to find anything in there and there’s usually a cough lozenge from winter just gone stuck to it when you do find it...AND you keep your chiropractor’s family fed. Not so good for your budget or your back/shoulder health.

The lightweight:

The minimalist type often needing to borrow 20 cents from someone to scrape together enough change for a bus fare home.

The plus is that you’re the free-spirited type who has the freedom to run with the wind – it’s the big things that matter – not the small stuff.

The drawback is that you might feel under-prepared at times and all is not peonies and honey tea when the unexpected happens. You may lose a potential client because you haven’t any business cards on hand or you occasionally find yourself in a red hot mess when mother nature decides to visit a couple of days early in her monthly calendar. Never a trip to the fun fair.

How do you nail it?

Natural selection:

Everyone is different, with different needs, dependent on their daily schedule.

What we need every day is different to what we would pack for the beach or take to an outing at the races or dinner date.

Think about the items you intend to carry to choose the adequate size for the application. Opt for the smallest variety possible for each occasion.

From a style perspective, the load you carry impacts the overall look of your outfit, the silhouette you create - where are you adding volume to your shape? Is it your hip or bust area?

Apart from the appearance of a bag (important, from a style perspective) the structure of the bag is key.

The organised woman, might want include the following items:

  • Wallet/purse – money (including coins for parking, shopping trolleys and so on), credit/debit cards, business cards, driver’s license/identification, reward program cards, medical information. Essential contents only when using a clutch.

  • Keys (remove essential keys only from a ring of keys when using a small bag/clutch)

  • Mobile phone

  • Diary

  • Pen

  • Cosmetics & skincare items – keep to a minimum, preferably travel size options and stored in their own plastic or cosmetics bag in case of spillage.

  • Hand sanitiser (preferably travel size)

  • Hair comb/brush/hair elastic

  • Breath mints

  • Tissues

  • Feminine hygiene products

  • Water bottle

  • Paracetamol/Aspirin/essential medications

  • Sewing kit

  • Band-aids

Other factors to mull over:

The fabric – if you can afford leather opt for leather, purely, for its quality and longevity. If dollars have you reaching for faux-leather, aim for something that looks as close to leather as possible or go for an irregular print to confuse the eye of the on-looker. Sometimes a patent can look better than a nasty looking faux leather.

The colour – no longer does your bag need to match your shoes – sometimes colour clashing, print clashing (keeping it in the same colour family though) is interesting and a way to embrace a trend without doing so head to toe.

The shape – think about the shape and how it adds to your frame.

Internal structure & organisation – Does it have a few compartments, pockets and zipped sections to allow you to separate contents? Does it have room to add your own organisation inserts?

Security – does it have adequate security? Would you prefer a zip? Is a drawstring secure enough?

When you have purchased your bag lay out the items you intend to carry, group them according to accessibility requirement and load it up!

Respect the Bag!

Respect your bag and it will give you long service in return.

Do you frequently put your bag on the floor at home, work or at a restaurant? ​Putting a bag where others’ shoes have been is nauseating when you think about it. Do you then put it on your kitchen bench top when you get home? Delightful!

On a weekly or monthly basis, empty the contents of your bag and purse to sort. Remove items that don’t need to be there - food wrappers, receipts, discount vouchers, old cosmetics past their use by dates and so on.

Give it a wipe down with anti-bacterial wipes and do your purse/wallet and mobile phone at the same time.

That, my lady friends, is how your bag will carry you through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Affirmation Handbag StyleChambers


Gold Coast, Brisbane & Northern New South Wales Stylist, Louise Chambers is available for personal styling, photo shoot & media styling, style workshops, fashion event MC bookings and media bookings.

Instagram: @stylechambers