A woman taking a Fibre One 90 Calorie bar out of her handbag.

The Handbag Essentials Every Woman Should Own

Every woman is different, which means every handbag (or clutch or rucksack or tote) is different too. But ask the average gal on the street and she’ll probably tell you she wishes her own bag were a little better organised and more sensibly stocked.

If you’re looking for some inspiration when it comes to what to pack in your handbag, read on for a list of the absolute essentials. The only thing missing is a magic wand for transporting us from that boring work meeting to a tropical island…*sigh*.


Ah, the humble tissue. It’s truly one of the most versatile handbag essentials. Not only does a pack come in handy during flu season, it’s also brilliant for coffee spills, badly stocked toilet cubicles, makeup mishaps and, of course, Friday night weep-fests at the cinema.

Lip balm

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that no woman should be without a good lip balm. Just make sure you choose one that’s moisturising and colourless – lipsticks and lip stains are great, but your basic balm needs to be wearable 24/7.

Notebook and pen

A smartphone might be useful for taking phone numbers and making shopping lists, but having a compact notebook to hand is essential for low-battery moments. Writing by hand also tends to be more convenient in work meetings when taking notes or brainstorming (or doodling cartoons of ourselves lounging under a palm tree on the beach).

A good snack

We’re thinking a packet of dried fruit, a Fibre One™ Salted Caramel Square, or a handful of mixed nuts – basically anything tasty that keeps well, can withstand being bashed around at the bottom of your bag and is easy to eat on-the-go.

Scented moisturiser

Carrying a tube of all-over moisturiser comes in handy for dry patches on your hands, face, elbows or even feet. Buying a scented one (any skin conditions allowing) will also make you feel spruced up, refreshed, and ready for evening engagements/the sweaty commute home.

Memory stick

A memory stick is one of those work bag essentials that every office employee should own. It’s also a great thing to have lying around if you need to pop into a copy shop and print off boarding passes or photos.

Emergency cash

We may live in a world of contactless cards but there’s a lot to be said for carrying around some good old cash. Slip a twenty-pound note into a zip-up pocket and you can call on it in a pinch. All you have to decide is whether a craving for crisps counts as an emergency or not…

Hairbands and kirby grips

For ladies with long hair, having a few hairbands and grips stashed away can be a godsend. They come in handy for unexpected gales, day-to-evening hair transitions, and those moments when – under the harsh lights of the work toilets – you realise you’re having a bad hair day (gulp!).

Tampon, pad & pantyliner

Having all three tucked away in your bag means you’ll be ready to take on any kind of period. You’ll also be well prepared for co-workers or friends who get caught out by Mother Nature.

Foldaway carrier bag

Popping into a boutique where there’s a sale on, picking up dinner, carrying home work or Tupperware from the office – there’s just no denying that a spare carrier bag is a must-have in our daily lives. Invest in a good quality foldaway cloth bag in a pretty print and you’ll never have to use that battered supermarket number again.

And remember – if all those essentials won’t fit, it might be time to invest in a brand new handbag. Just an idea.