You can tell a lot about a woman …

.. from her handbag. That was the advertising slogan of the very popular Australian brand Glomesh in the 1970s, when they brought on board a swag of popular women of the era such as Jackie Weaver, Renee Geyer and Jenny Kee. Each iconic woman’s advertisement featured a photo of her Glomesh bag, freshly tipped open with its contents artfully spilled to reveal aspects of the owner’s personality. The ads certainly reached me, an impressionable teen in the midst of feminine/feminist awakenings, with the full-page ads in women’s magazines like Cleo and Women’s Weekly.

And I soon became an employed young woman, and could afford a handbag. And I bought a Glomesh (in addition to the one given as a 21st birthday present, as you did in those days), but I soon also discovered Oroton, another Australian brand that, coincidentally, had included mesh bags as part of its staple. And lovely Oroton bags have been my guilty pleasure since, even though I suffered a 30-year ownership gap between the 1980s and 2010s, when purchases were overlooked for practicalities of survival and raising children.

IMG_1355But recently I seriously re-entered the handbag stakes, and have enjoyed owning my second Oroton tote, which can hold a serious load.

And this has brought on the oft-repeated question asked by many men, including Mr JB, to many women:

“What the hell have you got in there??”

Well, in the spirit of solving an entirely unnecessary mystery regarding the practicality or otherwise of women’s personal possessions, here are the contents of my Oroton so you too can tell a lot about me – and probably every other woman, ever. This is yesterday as it came out of the car after a three-day road trip to regional WA for my mother’s wedding (yay!):


Of course, it needs an inventory because I suspect there are some translations of a cultural, age and gender-specific nature required. Here we go, roughly left to right:

  • Self-help book helpfully offered by friend, as yet unread, but I’m sure will be helpful in due course.
  • Work iPad.
  • Top returned by mother’s friend at last minute in shopping bag, after I left it at her house, and I couldn’t get into suitcase already in the car.
  • Lovely notebook, a gift from former colleague, titled ‘Bloggers I met and liked’ (of course it was empty when given; boom boom), used for jotting ideas and other things that need to be remembered.
  • Aids to Gynaecological Nursing: A complete textbook for the nurse (1949), an impulse buy from the secondhand shop visited while exiting the regional town.
  • How to make money on ebay (2010) – see above (and specifically for Brownie).
  • Pair of leggings, in case I found time to slip into something more comfortable sometime during the journey home.
  • Wallet, contents of which remained thankfully enclosed for this exercise.
  • Cheap clutch, brought as a hopeful antidote to a fuller handbag for the wedding (not realised), and whose job was to contain mainly jewellery, perfume, tissues and ear plugs.
  • Clear nail polish, for those days I give a shit about my nails looking noice.
  • iPad charge cord; should be in the car, and will be tomorrow.
  • iPhone earphones.
  • Blondie and Brownie’s bowties from the wedding of the year.
  • Assorted jewellery from clutch (above) including world necklace, subject of much admiration and deservedly so.
  • Tag from sock three-pack, accidentally shop-lifted in my enviro bag from Target last week, so I can take it back and own up to my illegal activity.
  • iPhone in Otter case – what would I do without the glass protective case and rubber casing!? Well, I’d be replacing my phone glass for one. Repeatedly.
  • Medicinal zip-lock bag which, apart from antihistamine tablets, consists entirely of various combinations of ibuprofen, paracetamol and codeine as back-up to combat headaches and/or neck/back pain. Handy.
  • Extra glasses cleaning cloth, rescued from clapped out key ring pouch.
  • A few assorted sanitary products because old habits die hard, even though I am an empty vessel, surgically speaking.
  • Hotel ’emergency kit’ comprising nail emery board and cotton wipe.
  • Sunglasses case (containing actual sunglasses).
  • Work magnetic name tag, because I never know when I might need it.
  • Second and third glasses cases, containing actual glasses. I think.
  • Pawpaw ointment, which is basically just petroleum jelly. I checked once. About 10mg per small 25g tube, pretty ineffectual. But it feels nice.
  • Two perfumes, because – well, just because. Scents suit feelings and places and occasions and you just never know.
  • Ear plugs aplenty, and a random spare button in mini zip-lock bag.
  • Nail file. Indispensable must-have.
  • Assorted Band-aids
  • Fast food scented wet wipes. Hoard with gusto.
  • Sachet of sugar – probably an accident waiting to happen, so will remove to the kitchen cupboard.
  • Bigger zip-lock bag of goodies containing assorted paper clips, safety pins, bobby pins, spare mini-emery board, AAA battery for those moments you need one (like a laser pointer for presentations).
  • Car keys. Simple. Including video shop tag, and grocery shop points tag (really).
  • Pink lady apple, still waiting to be eaten after four days and holding up well.
  • Spare fast food serviettes. Hoard with gusto.
  • Missing chubby lipstick from make-up bag – hooray!
  • Spare pens. Indispensable must-haves. Writing happens everywhere.
  • Trusty USB, the only one that hasn’t resulted in a ‘This disk is write-protected’ message in five years. I love this USB.
  • Work promotional item torch – shines Open Day 2015 when you press the button a-la the Batman sign in the sky of Gotham City at night. In a crisis of darkness, I will also be able to advertise my workplace; excellent.
  • Dental floss; no explanation required. Nonetheless, as my friend Kellygirl the dental hygienist used to say, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.” Wise words.
  • Another ’emergency kit,’ this time silver threads and golden needles, or something vaguely similar.
  • ‘Quick drying pre-moistened wipes’ lens cleaner. I have three pairs of glasses, don’t you know.
  • Another cloth lens cleaner, courtesy my GP’s practice. Three pairs of glasses get smudgy. A lot.
  • ‘Well-used’ (aka filthy) make-up bag, originally a promotional item from my preferred make-up brand. Be thankful I’ve spared the individual contents of this as well, most of which haven’t been used since 2011, with the exception of the lip liner, occasional lipstick, concealer for a particularly aggressive blemish, mascara annually (just exhausted 2016’s allocation), and of course the hitherto mentioned absent chubby stick.
  • Comb; teeth not too close, not too wide – just perfect for curly hair.
  • Not one but two tubes of indispensable moisturising cream. $2.95 per tube, all I’ve used for 35 years, give or take. Don’t know how the extra one snuck in, probably from the bathroom bag. I’ve got them lying around everywhere.
  • Little tissue packs. I never seem to be organised enough to have just one packet open and on the go, there’s always two, or three, in various stages of emptying. But just as well, because TISSUES ARE ESSENTIAL, if not for me, for Mr JB or Blondie who never have any on their person when they gets a hayfever attack. Ever. Grr.
  • Spare unused tissues, man-size, from Mr JB’s car. You never know. See above. They’re clean, really.
  • Two hair cloths – red and white. But the colours aren’t important. Getting the bloody hair off my sweaty neck when it matters is what’s important.
  • Video shop rental special docket, now expired, because TOMORROW ONLY! was a week ago.
  • Heel shields, although the jury is out on whether they’re worth the effort. I just feel I should have some as back-up.
  • Unwashed plastic fork from last week’s lunch, wrapped in serviette (that’s why you hoard them) and forgot to stick in the dishwasher to reuse next week.

What’s missing? A water bottle, another indispensable item for Straya. And of course it fits. Everything fits. Stuff ALWAYS fits. That’s what makes a great handbag. And a great brand. And a slightly hoarder-oriented woman.

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