We asked real women—working women who actually have their life together—what they put in their bags as they step out in the morning, and if the cute factor of small bags alone will get them through the day.
MARILOU PEÑA KOA
Franchise owner of Escada, Escada Sport, Van Laack, Hiltl men’s pants, Falke socks, Zimmerli innerwear and Northskull men’s bracelets
I used to carry big bags, but after I had very bad back pain, I was told by doctors and a chiropractor to avoid carrying big bags, because we have a tendency to overload the bag. Now I carry either a small dark brown Birkin 30, Goyard shopper, Escada ML 40, or Hermès Lindy 26.
I like to change my bag from time to time, but it still has to be a small bag. It was hard at first to switch to a smaller bag because I was so used to dumping everything inside. I sat down one day and really looked at what I was bringing, and realized that 50 percent of what I bring, I hardly use. So what I have now in my bag are things I really use: a small wallet and driver’s license, compact powder, lipstick, tissue and iPhone.
It’s a good thing small bags are so fashionable now. I have a different bag for the office, an Escada document bag, where I put my 10-inch iPad Pro, power bank, a small pouch, a scarf and other documents. That way I distribute the weight my body carries.
Owner of Vintage Restore luxury bag restorers
My handbag has my makeup kit, wallet, cell phone, leather business cardholder, my croc skin receipt holder and my pen. I still prefer using medium to large bags. My favorite is my Lally Dizon croc tote. It can be carried as a tote or sling bag! I also love Prada and Saint Laurent. I’m okay with small bags, but I would only use them during events. For work, I would still go for the larger sized bags since I put so many things inside.
The typical contents of my bag are my mobile phone, iPad and power bank (I use all three so I can work wherever I am); Lucas Papaw balm for cuts, dry skin, lip balm; Avene Spring Water spray; Guerlain Terracotta bronzer that doubles as my compact; my wallet; assorted pens; LV sunglasses; candy, Band-Aids and Neosporin spray for the kids.
As a mom who wears different hats, I consider a big bag a non-negotiable. I can never get away with cute totes, as much as I want to. I prefer discreet bags of good quality. My navy Tod’s navy D bag, tan LV Mahina, and a Givenchy Olive Hobo are on heavy rotation. I cheat by using a vanity pouch or wallet that can double as a small purse or clutch and leave the rest in the car when I can.
Marketing executive at Stores Specialists Inc., in charge of brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Bottega Veneta, Tod’s, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney
Typical contents of my handbag are my wallet; my makeup up kit, which allows me to retouch throughout the day, especially when I need to go to events after work; small alcogel, hand cream and perfume; power bank, which is a necessity; sunglasses and a rosary.
On an everyday basis I carry a small-to-medium bag. Since I work in the fashion industry, I carry the brands that I handle, so my favorite go-to bags would be a Givenchy Pandora, Saint Laurent Monogramme, Gucci Soho and Stella McCartney Falabella.
I personally love that the trend now is small bags! I don’t support the micro versions that can only fit your phone, but the practical “small” bags are just perfect. It’s a lot easier to carry around, especially if you have to be out and about throughout the day. It forces you to be very selective about what you put in it.
Mother of three; creative consultant at chicify.com, cofounder of shoptilda.com, and blogs at manilafashionobserver.com
I have three kids, so it’s a sling bag for me, para hands-free! I have three on rotation: a Celine Trio XL, regular-size Celine Trio and a Mansur Gavriel crossbody. Of course, when it’s a busy day and I need more space, I bring a tote. But other than that, small bags for the win talaga! What’s inside my bag: wallet; hand sanitizer, tissue and wipes; cell phones and a mini portable charger.
I love the small bag trend. I think it’s a reaction to that time we all had these huge heavy bags, and used them all day, every day. It was not uncommon to feel your shoulders and back ache. Remember the Alexander Wang Rocco? I don’t even know why I even bothered using that bag; it was like carrying weights!
LESLEY ANN TAN
Director of communications, Shangri-La at the Fort
My work handbag is a papaya-colored Prada Vitello Daino tote. It’s practical, holds everything I need, even my MacBook, documents, notebooks, makeup kit, phone, sunglasses, wallet and business cards.
Small handbags are cool on weekends or days off. Sometimes I just use a small clutch. But otherwise, I still prefer large totes for my everyday essentials. So much easier to dump stuff in.
President/CEO of Buensalido & Associates Public Relations
I have several work bags that I normally bring and interchange on a daily basis, depending on my outfit and what I’m scheduled to do. I have two Prada bags, one red and one maroon, which are both big because I put everything in: my mobile phone, my makeup kit, two wallets and eyeglasses (one for reading and a pair of shades), a small writing notebook, and lots of office papers, which I read when I’m in the car.
I also like Kate Spade’s quirky colored bags and I have a YSL light blue and a beige Chanel 2.0 for more formal events or after-office cocktails/parties. I like small bags, but since I’ve gotten used to carrying everything I need, my option is to have two bags in the car: one for meetings, and another one for dressy functions.
ANNA GO CHIA
Sales director, Poliform
I usually carry a Hermès Lindy. I bring a power bank, makeup kit, brush, wallet and a scent. With the small bag trend, we tend to be more particular about what we put in rather than dumping everything in, so I like that. It’s good to bring just what we need.
Client development manager for Louis Vuitton Philippines
My work bag is an LV City Steamer in MM. I love how the elegant design of the bag is perfect for work, and MM is a very practical size for me. Contents include my personal phone and my work phone, my cosmetics pouch, my planner (yes, I’m the type who still loves to carry a small planner and manually jot down my schedule), my wallet and card holder, my eyeglasses for when I’m working on my laptop, and a power bank.
I love how small bags are easy to carry and way lighter, but I can’t do a small bag for work, so I’m still one of those who prefer a practical medium-sized bag that can hold my things comfortably.
CHRIS YAM DAEZ
PR director of Fully Booked
Being mom of two little boys makes it impossible for me to carry a small bag. My current favorite daily bag is the Celine medium Tri-Fold shoulder bag because of its style and functionality. I really won’t be able to follow the trend of carrying a small bag, being a busy working mom always on the go. I always have my tissue and wet tissue (to clean up after my boys), Aleve, shades, wallet, keys, lip balm and rosary (lots of time to pray on the road especially with the terrible traffic) wherever I go.
CARISSA CRUZ EVANGELISTA
Founder of Beatriz
I am now using a Tumi Voyageur tote for my everyday bag, and also a bigger Beatriz tote for files.
In my bag I have a notebook, a few pens, wallet, a pouch with a charger and cord and plug, my personal cell phone and one office cell phone, hand sanitizer, keys for house and office, shades in a Mangyan case, tissue, checkbook, medicines, cosmetic case (with some makeup, Band Aid, first-aid cream, menthol oil from Davao, all-purpose balm for aches from Bohol Bee Farm), candy, prayer book, rosary, and photos of my family in a carrying case bearing my discount and frequent shopper cards.
Also, I have a small light fan from Japan when it’s hot and a light scarf when it’s cold in meetings. I used to carry a Swiss Army knife in my bag, just in case, but now I have just invisible tape, a small stapler and tape measure. I also carry a small perfume and office clips/paperclips, just in case.
JACQE Y. GUTIERREZ
CEO, Happy Skin Cosmetics
I use an Issey Miyake Bao Bao Planet round tote bag. Inside, you will find my phone; accessories pouch with portable charger and cable; makeup bag with three lippies, face powder, eyebrow duo and blush; document sleeve for all my receipts; wallet; cardholder—I put all my cards (I have so many they won’t fit in my wallet); house keys; and travel tissue.
I’ve never been into big bags because I’m too lazy to carry them around. I like small bags because I can easily find what I need. This particular bag also has a divider so it’s easy to compartmentalize, plus because of its round shape, it’s very roomy. I can put an extra milk bottle so I don’t need to carry a diaper bag during quick mall trips.
DIANA ANG UY
Owner of What’s Cookin’ Kitchenette and Catering
I have in my bag my wallet, Kleenex tissue paper, wipes, small bottle of alcohol, small hairbrush, scrunchy, sign pens, envelopes for receipts, one-month menu cycle, paper, eyeglasses. In a Ziploc bag I bring something to munch on when I get hungry (dark chocolate, Ritz biscuits). In a small pouch from Beabi, I have a St. Benedict’s medal, rosary, MAC makeup primer, press powder and brush, two MAC lipsticks, lip gloss, panty shields, Biogesic, Virlix and Bonamine.
I usually carry a medium-size LV or Gucci bag, which are very spacious and can fit all the things I need.
The new bags today are quite small, compared to the massive purses of maybe five years ago. Whenever I use a small bag I have to bring an extra bag to put all the other things I will be needing.
JANE KINGSU CHENG
Editor in chief,
Working Mom magazine
Typical contents of my Chanel camera bag include a bag organizer that has my pens, calling card, hand sanitizer, lipstick, lip brush, compact mirror, a pack of wet wipes, house keys, tissue, clip, ponytail holder, USB/flash drives, company ID with lace tag; wallet; phone; pouch with my charger, battery pack, cable; and makeup kit, which I leave in the car, since I do my makeup in transit. If not, I bring it with me to the office.