The Truth About What’s in My Bag

I love those cutesy magazine articles, ‘What’s in Her Bag?!” Each person the magazine interviews always seem to carry cute trinkets and expensive beauty products that are completely unreasonable. Elsa Hosk, Swedish Victoria’s Secret model, carries $36 Shiseido lip sheen, a $100 de-puffing eye mask, and a bottle of $96 Bergdorf Goodman “Sleep Food” pills in her bag. Yes! Completely practical! While reading through these, it’s easy to fall under the allure that all women have their lives figured out. And, in the interim, I’m left feeling a little lost, unorganized, and poor (Writer’s Note: for tough audiences, I understand these articles may be fabricated and it’s not totally crazy that some people carry $30 lipgloss in their purse, simply trying to make a cute point).

Firstly, I carry a beat up and soft Duluth Pack the size of my head and it’s heavy. I think it weighs fifteen pounds on a good day. Second of all, everything in my purse is random, repetitive, and excruciatingly…dirty? I honestly have no idea where all the dirt came from. It is heinous. If I have to dig to the basement of my purse, my fingernails look like I scaled a mountain.

Which brings me to my point! On the outside, I think I look put together. At least how I like to imagine myself appearing put together: wearing pants that are clean, paying my rent on time, feeding my cat before he decides to suffocate me during a studious Netflix binge, and working on not over-nurturing my succulents. I have a good job. I do my very best to take care of my friends and family, and I’m learning how to budget, save money, and workout on a regular basis.

But that’s just the thing. We’re all lying to each other. On the outside, we can look put together, but it’s what’s within our insides that makes us who we are. Thus why I thought it would be appropriate to share with you the inner workings of my purse. It’s not fair to say I have it together. Because I don’t. And the proof is in the purse lining.

What’s in my bag:

  • An old coach wallet. Its insides hold just about every credit card + punch card I’ve ever owned, business cards from random networking events where I blind myself from my anxiety with bad Pinot Grigio, three MetroCards, a Fauntleroy – Vashon Washington State Ferry ticket, a hopeful ‘Buy One Get One Free Quarter Pounder’ receipt I kept after a sad trip to McDonald’s, and a half-eaten caramel.
  • Yes, the half-eaten caramel was re-wrapped and put back into my wallet.
  • Sour Heart, a glorious book (and the current one I’m reading) by Jenny Zhang. I’m super glad it’s currently in my bag because I should plug it anyway.
  • Giant purple Minnesota Super Bowl LII mittens that I never wear when I need to sweep the snow off my car. Instead, they smell faintly of stale coffee because I split an entire mug on my computer keyboard and wiped it up with them.
  • A can opener keychain with a mysterious beer logo on both sides.
  • A bottle of SPF 30 Ultra Sheer sunscreen that I’ve been putting on my hands in replacement of lotion for months now and the expiration date was sometime in 2016.
  • Two bottles of essential oils, one for Mental Clarity and one for Stress Recovery. Their directions: “Rub 1-2 drops on palms, cup over nose and inhale deeply 5 times. Sweep remaining oil over clothing or hair” (I find this charming).
  • A rock from the west coast that is slightly shaped like a heart, more so shaped like a rock from the west coast.
  • A screw and 18 bobby pins.
  • Brainspin, a game my fiance and I picked up during our road trip down the west coast. We had purchased it for $5 at Powell Books in Portland and played it in a jet lag haze during dinner. This card game has been in my purse since last May.
  • A birthday card still in its plastic wrapping for my mother. Her birthday was in November. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.
  • Two gift cards to Joe & Stan’s for $20. Joe & Stan’s is a dive bar my friends and I frequent regularly every Tuesday. We play trivia with against four other teams (on a good night) and the $20 gift card is the second place prize.
  • A Minnesota Craft Notes guidebook with one stamp within: Flat Earth Brewing (one of our favorites).
  • A Wings Financial Credit Union letter with my pin number and, on the back, detailed instructions by my fiance about how to make a balance transfer. It’s one thing I’m embarrassed to admit, but I deal very badly with money. And dammit this is bad for the patriarchy but I’m happy I am engaged to a finance guy, okay!!?
  • One…mitten. Not including the pair before.
  • A taco bell receipt that is longer than your average CVS receipt. No comment on what is within.
  • A hot pink doorknob (I wish I were kidding).
  • A set of NYPD playing cards.
  • Some Hot Hands hand warmers from when I worked the Super Bowl in February.
  • A tube of expired toothpaste.
  • A silicone beauty applicator.
  • Pennies, so many pennies. I have access to so much change. It’s all dirty. Why are all of these pennies so ridiculously disgusting??
  • A hair clip.
  • THREE MORE BOTTLE OPENERS. I really need to start considering if I have that high of a need for opening liquor in urgent circumstances.

We can learn a lot about each other if we just take a minute to remember we all have a purse and a linen closet and a heart where nothing makes sense. We are all a little messy, unsure, and trying to get by with the simple movements of the day. Most importantly, no matter the show we’re flaunting on the outside, we all have a few dirty pennies, half-eaten caramels, and a hot pink doorknob hiding somewhere.

Image featuring the canvas tote in The Writer’s Bundle, sold on

Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath, and author. On the daily, she gets paid to strategize and create content for brands. Off work hours, it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread, and good company. She lives in St.Paul with her 80-year-old cat, Butch. Read more about her latest book, Borderline, and go hug your mother.



  • I carry my best friend’s Christmas photo/card that her family sent out when she was 7. We found it while cleaning out her father’s house, when he had to move into assisted living for early onset Alzheimer’s. I send her a picture of it about once every 3 months. She laughs every time.

  • This is simultaneously relatable…and not. I used to carry a giant messenger bag around with me everywhere I went for the longest time.

    Now, I carry everything in my coat pockets. That took some getting used to, but I barely need my phone when I’m out and about, let alone five lip balms haha!

    • I NEED TO TAKE THIS ADVICE SO MUCH. That’s amazing. My shoulders hurt after carrying that giant Duluth Pack everywhere – and I definitely don’t need my phone EVERYWHERE I go. I’m going to try this!

    • Yes!! Bring on the lipsticks. I also found another CLUSTER of bobby pins under the lining. Now, I know where bobby pins go to die 🙂

  • Another fantastic read by Brittany. Also, I never understand where all the GD dirt at the bottom of my purse comes from either!!? One of life’s great mysteries.

    • Thank you so, so much for reading! It really is a great life mystery. I do go rock collecting from time to time, but that can’t explain ALL of the lint and dirt in there 🙂

  • I forgot to mention two of my lipsticks were UNCOVERED and there were smears of pink and wicked red all over my purse lining. Beauty, I tell ya. 🙂

  • The “What’s in her bag” articles and videos often sound so fake! They often are a way to allow a celebrity to promote brands she works with. “I always carry with me this perfume” and she’s the face of the fragrance.
    Many women seem to carry only pretty stuff.

    • They really are! I was happy to write a more (honest) account of what’s REALLY in the depths and chasms of our purse lining 🙂

    • They really are! I was happy to write a more (honest) account of what’s REALLY in the depths and chasms of our purse lining 🙂

  • First time reader. This spoke to me so much! I have 14 lip products, crumbs, notes, receipts, a shirt, a notebook which is new and meant to cut down on the random notes, 4 sets of keys, and . . . You get it. Thank you for making me laugh at myself and feel like we are all in this together.