[from l.l. bean to louis v.]

My love affair with bags began in grade school. Case in point, my favorite part of back-to-school shopping wasn’t the new pencils or even new shoes [although that was a close second], no, it was the part where I picked out a new backpack. My parents couldn’t understand why I was so fixated by backpacks. In their eyes it was just a sack you store your books in, but to me it was oh-so much more. I campaigned for a fugly black leather backpack one year, a hunter green L.L. Bean another, an embroidered Notre Dame one, and when North Face first came out with pink backpacks you bet I was all over it… *sigh* I could go on. This isn’t normal, right? I’m certain experts would classify this as early-onset purse addiction.

My parents supported my obsession reluctantly but willingly. They saw my love for school accessories and assumed it translated into a love for schoolwork… and there was definitely some truth in that. In eighth grade my mom finally put her foot down and said, no more, and I begrudgingly obliged… but like an unstoppable rebel force [thank you meet the parents] my childhood addiction found it’s grownup counterpart: the purse.

From clutches to cross-bodies to carryalls, the right bag can transform an outfit from casually cool to seriously chic. The only problem? Choosing which essentials make the cut from purse to purse. Here are the eight staples that I toss in my tote each time I switch it up.

1. this ralph lauren ralph girl rollerball [$18] is the only perfume I wear. it’s perfect for a quick swipe when you’re running out the door and the delicious fragrance is subtle yet feminine.

2. rosebud salve [$8] this little compact is worth it’s weight in gold. you can use it for everything, from dry skin to blisters, and i’ve had the same tub for three years! bonus, this everyday balm has a light rose scent.

3. mary kay timewise age-fighting eye cream [$26] i love how silky smooth this light cream goes on. it’s barely-there texture is surprisingly moisturizing. your eyes will thank you after a long night on the town.

4. tide to go [$13.50 for a pack of 6] portable stain remover, enough said.

5. neutrogena hand cream [$4.50] i slather this on my hands as often as i remember, not only because it feels like a mini massage, but it’s ├╝ber-important to take care of your hands. did you know the skin on your hands ages quicker than on your face -and- hands are exposed to the elements more than any other part of your body? keep those babies moisturized.

6. ipod nano [5th generation, $120] always and forever an apple girl, i love how sleek this little gadget looks and feels. it’s about the size of two credit cards stuck together, holds all my music, and has a radio. love.

7. band-aid friction block [$7.50] enter the lifesaver in a stick: it prevents blisters and enables allover happiness. i no longer need to tote around band-aids when my poor heels fall victim to my sky-high stilettos.

8. mor body souffle in sorbet [$24] this australian based cosmetics company makes perfectly luxurious body lotion with a soft coconut scent.

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