In the Bag

While I’d never look into another woman’s handbag, I love blog posts where people post the contents of their lives, i.e. their purses or their apartments, etc. Even though I know there is something a bit artificial about the notion of a curated life, akin to saying, “here, look what good taste I have!” I still find it fascinating. Before I went back to school, I could still afford to occasionally buy a piece of designer clothing, often heavily discounted, and they still form the backbone of my wardrobe. With a tighter budget, I find a small gratification in choosing daily necessities that are also beautifully designed, such as a wooden comb or tube of Kiehl’s lipbalm. Carrying these things gives me a sense of comfort in the antagonistic setting of the city.

  1. 1. Shabd x Baggu Duck Bag in Grey. Being vegetarian, I avoid leather products so I’m picky about my bags. I don’t like anything too feminine or with a lot of bells and whistles and buckles and studs, and I like my bags big enough for a large notebook and one of the big scarfs I always have with me. I liked these duck bags as soon as I saw them on the Robber store blog a few seasons ago. They’re a collaboration between Baggu, the maker of shopping totes, and Shabd, an amazing dyer and designer whoses dresses and tights I long to be able to afford. To have a small piece of Shabd Simon-Alexander’s work, in vegetarian-friendly canvas is a wonderful treat; on top of that, I found the bag on sale this summer. I really love the attention to design in such an inexpensive bag. It has a little pocket inside, and the smaller handles can be tucked in, alternatively, the longer hands can also be put out of the way by closing the snaps on the side, which gives it a lovely tear-drop shape. (Mine is in need of a little cleaning because I tend to leave it on the subway floor). They’re nearly all gone now, but I saw a few still available on the site Branch and Birdie, for $26.
  2. Hand-knitted Intarsia hat (it’s faint but there are two rows of little triangles, in green)
  3. Hand-knitted handwarmers, as I lost my green gloves at the end of last winter and haven’t had time to knit more
  4. Travel mug from Bodum. They come in different sizes with different coloured tops. I found mine at Green Beanery in the Annex, and I also found the coffee bag there, with makes great wall hangings, floor mats, and seating for outdoor concerts
  5. Vegan wallet from Matt & Nat. I love this deep turquoise-blue colour and I consciously try to stay away from black accessories, as they’re so hard to find in one’s purse or bag.
  6. TTC token holder
  7. Keys on a Hospice Toronto lanyard— nice to be able to show my support for hospice & palliative care, and a lanyard makes keys easy to find at the bottom of my bag
  8. The afore-mentioned Kiehl’s Lip balm SPF 15 in Hue No. 30G. At $11 a tube, I don’t always buy this. It’s a small luxury. Though now reading the list of ingrediants in it, it may be my last tube…
  9. Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free daily face protector SPF 40. I wear this even in winter, and tinted moisturizer is basically the only make-up I wear. My favourite is Stila’s Sheer Color Tinted Moisturizer, because it has some kind of light-reflecting ingredient that smooths out my skin, but at $40 for 1.7oz I just cannot justify it. Sometimes I see a smaller tube as part of a special Sephora-only kit. I’ve also really liked Aveda’s Inner Light Mineral Tinted Moisturizer  SPF 15 in Sweet Tea, which is a little heavier. I took me a while to get used to the scent, but I think I may go back to this one as it’s oil-free, great for summer tans, and only $28 for 1.7oz.
  10. Uni-ball Super Ink black pen, made in Japan. They’re my favourite kind of pen, the only kind I can write serious things with, like poems and comments for my students. I can only find these in art supply stores.
  11. Headphones for my Blackberry Curve 9360, which is not shown here because it’s being used to take photos. It’s not the best image by a long shot but with a 5MB camera it does the job. I’m a new Blackberry user and it’s pretty addictive. Every day I learn something it can do. Yesterday I found out it can be put on “bedside mode”– no flashing indicator, no vibrator, just incoming calls in case my Mom phones. Needless to say it’s the best setting.
  12. Another Baggu collaboration, this time with Brooklyn designer Mociun. I have several of Caitlin Mociun’s pieces and am very sad that last fall was her last collection. She’s really more of a textile designer and her prints are fascinating. She did four for Baggu, and two of them, including this one, is on sale for $7.
  13. Post-It notes. For writing, the old-fashioned way, my many not-so brilliant ideas, like shopping lists.
  14. Make-up bag, which is a pencil case that I found at Grassroots in the Annex.

Friends joke that I’m a walking pharmacy. I admit this isn’t even everything I carry. If I’m going out, I often bring contact lens solution, a toothbrush, and some extra clothing. Hey, every single girl needs to be prepared for any kind of adventure. Briefly, these are:

  1. small glass vials of Thayer’s Witch Hazel (an excellent toner) and Aveeno Moisturizer
  2. small double-sided Clinique mirror
  3. beer bottle opener, from Canadian Pacific Resorts, found at Value Village. This has come in more handy than I care to admit.
  4. Bausch & Lomb contact lens rewetting drops
  5. tupperware (I have an aunt who was a Tupperware lady), with vitamins, Advil and Tylenol
  6. Blistex
  7. much battered Korres Natural Products Mango Butter Lipstick SPF 10 in Coral. I chose this lipstick because it’s a little bit sheer, has SPF, and most importantly, is manufactured without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances or petrochemicals. Since women lick their lips a lot, it can mean that they’re ingesting all kinds of carcinogens.
  8. dental floss
  9. eyebrow tweezers
  10. nail clippers
  11. wooden comb from Chinatown, $1
  12. The last item in my bag is often a small craft project. These are the first pair of socks I’ve knitted for myself. I realized that after knitting two pairs for my sister and one for my mom. Even though I had two skeins of gorgeous Koigu Painter’s Palette Merino sitting for several years (!) in my stash. I’m knitting a basic pair of socks from Interweave Knits Summer 2007, Ann Budd’s On Your Toes Socks, a pattern that is free in an e-book here. I thought a quick and simple toe-up pattern would mean that I would get as much length as possible, and not delay any longer. I’ll post more pictures of the finished socks, though they’re not all that exciting. Bag is a reusable dry-goods bag, once again from Grassroots.

And that’s all! What’s in your bag?

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About Phoebe Wang

Apollo's sister. A moon off Saturn, a small, sparrow-like bird, once a Titan.

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