A handbag can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s that makeup emergency or a wardrobe malfunction, your handbag can save the day (or night). But that’s only if you’ve remembered to pack the right stuff in. It’s not the ‘LV’ tag on it that matters, it’s what’s in it.
Here’s a handy girls’ guide on the essentials to carry in your handbag:
India’s leading celebrity makeup artist and hairstylist, Jojo says, “Don’t carry the dressing table with you.” And for good reason — you will never get the time to use all your favourite cosmetics when you are on the move. Always stock your handbag only with what you need for a quick two-minute touch up. This is what you really shouldn’t leave home without:
Mascara: To accentuate, define and highlight the eyes. Most of you use your eyes to draw attention, express yourself or make a point. A quick mid-day reapplication or a couple of ‘fully loaded’ outward mascara strokes a few hours later will ensure your eyes continue to do the talking.
Tip: If you have short or thin strands of hair on your lashes, use volumising black mascara to make them look fuller and longer. If your lashes are naturally long, then you can do with using clear or transparent mascara.
Blush: “Use blush to add just a hint of colour to your cheeks and never to make a strong colour statement,” adds Jojo. Blush instantly adds a healthy colour pigment to even the dullest and palest of cheeks. A stroke of blush, if it’s in powder form or a dab if its cream-based, will brighten up a lot more than your mood.
Tip: Based on what you are wearing and your skin tone — stain your cheeks with either pink or peach (for pale and fair skin) and coral or brown (if you are wheatish, dusky or dark).
Tip: Choose lighter and neutral colours (skin, browns and light pastels) for the day and brighter ones (pink, red and orange) or dark ones (burgundy, chocolate brown and shades of purple) for the evening.
Nail polish: If you are obsessive about your nails, or have been using a dark or bright colour to coat them, then carry a mini bottle of nail colour with you. This will allow you to cover, repair and fix any unwanted chips when you are out of the comfort zone of your home or dressing table.
Tip: If you want to make an impact and make heads turn, paint your finger and toe nails red!
The wardrobe malfunction kit:
Every (good) girl needs an all-purpose sewing kit with a needle (or multiple needles), multi-coloured threads, safety pins and other elements to alter, mend and fix the unwanted and unforeseen rip or tear.
If you normally wear Indian clothes, like saris, then a spare hook for your blouse can be life saving. If you tend to wear more of shirts, jackets and trousers, you will never regret having a few spare (neutral) buttons on standby.
Based on your hair length, texture and style you must carry a rubber band, a couple of bob pins, ‘u’ pins, invisible pins and a (clean) hairbrush or comb on you. Your back-up will come to your rescue and prove useful, whether you are having a good or bad hair day.
Moreover, if you are obsessive about how neat your hair looks, and like to keep it that way through the day or night, then keep a small tube of gel or hairspray handy. A hand held mirror can be carried by those of you who cannot fix the hair without looking at it. The mirror will obviously also help with the makeup touch-ups as well.
Handbag Basic: The rules for your shoulder or clutch bag
1. However new or old, it should look as clean and as well maintained as possible. Cloth bags can be dry-cleaned and leather can always be wiped, buffed and polished.
2. Broken or fraying handles and straps are just not acceptable. Neither are zippers that don’t fasten and buckles that don’t hold.
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3. Ensure it suits, compliments and accentuates your body shape, build and lifestyle. If you are small built, carrying a very large bag will make you look even tinier.
4. Never let it look overstuffed – your bag should be a perfect fit for what you need to carry in it. Multiple pockets are always a good idea – especially since practicality is far more important than the colour, design or style of it.
5. Carry a work bag to the office, a day bag outdoors, a formal bag where necessary and a trendy one to the party.
6. Depending on how much attention you want to draw to it, it can and should most certainly either match or contrast your clothes and accessories. Show offs will normally carry bright colours and the more sophisticated amongst you will pick neutrals like beige, black, white and brown.
7. Avoid materials and labels that are or look obviously fake. Stay away from plastics, synthetics and polyester blends. You don’t need a trained eye to spot a fake – even from miles away.
8. Printed and heavily embellished ones (especially animal prints) are a thing of the past. The more ‘plain – Jane’ your accessories, the more chic you will look.
9. Texture is hot – from crocodile skin to fish scale.
10. Gold, silver and tone on tone buckles are timeless, classic and a standard. Modern and minimalist styles come with transparent PVC transfers, while some handmade natural and crafty styles use eco materials like jute and biodegradable fibre.
Never leave home without the house and car keys, some loose cash, small change (in a coin purse that fits snugly into your handbag), some amount of plastic (debit, credit and cash cards), your basic identification documents and access/key cards for getting in and out of places at your convenience.
If you have health issues or are on medication (of any sort), carry a few extra emergency pills, some information on your ailment(s) and more importantly, a card that mentions your blood group – in case of emergencies.
If you are a smoker, keep a few extra smokes for the late night or early morning urge and a reliable lighter to light up as and when necessary. Mouth fresheners or mint as chasers, are just as important.
Even though pens and tiny notepads are almost obsolete, you won’t regret having them on you — if not to give an autograph, then most definitely to make a shopping or to — do list.
Gadgets and Gizmos:
I’m sure you have your fair share of gadgets and you’ll need a handbag (to carry during the day or take to the office) that gives you a snug and secure place to store them.
Ensure you have all the essentials – the ever important phone (loaded with all the numbers you could ever need) which can slide in and out with ease, its charger, the digi cam (to capture memorable moments and post them on social networking sites), its memory card, the GPS (especially if you drive and brave the roads), the laptop, the palmtop, the Ipod and all the electric and non electric attachments that run, charge or go with them.
Your party clutch or shoulder sling obviously needs to be a whole lot smaller and sleeker. This season’s trends favour materials that are rich in metallic sheen (gold, silver, copper) or are really glossy. Since its size will restrict what you put into it, carry only what you really need and cant live without!