in case of a teeny tiny emergency, a little smidgen of preparedness

When I'm on the road, I always have some bandaids and pins tucked in the bottom of what I laughingly call my "cosmetic bag" - less than a quarter of the bag's contents are cosmetics in the strict sense of the word. This is the little wheelie bag that holds moisturizer, eye cream, prescription creams and ointments for dry skin, shampoo, conditioner, hair stuff, nail stuff, the migraine pills, the allergy stuff, vitamins... the "drugstore bag" might be a better name. Except that there's also an emergency set of socks and underwear, and if Girl Scout Thin Mints came in a travel size, you can bet I'd order a gross. For emergencies, you know. Mustn't forget the little sewing/mending kits from hotel rooms. There's not enough thread of any single color to handle a real emergency, like a falling hemline, and the needles have to be threaded by telepathy, but it's one of those instances where it's the "thought that counts." Before the TSA classified many useful things, including mascara, as potentially dangerous, I travelled with a stapler for hem issues. The holes that a staple makes are smaller than needle holes, so you're not damaging any fabric that wouldn't be hurt by a pin or needle.

Handbags - well, a severely edited version of the "cosmetic" bag's emergency supplies, plus a normal person's purse contents, and a mirror. Oh, and of course I don't gallop around town bearing underwear. Imagine groping for your J.Crew card and coming up with a not-so-teeny GapBody product. Evening bags tend to be J.Crew Invitation Clutches. At one time I collected these - suede, tweed, embellished, satin... These don't allow the bearer to be prepared for any emergency except one that requires flat equipment: yes to a bandaid, yes to a credit card, yes to small hanky, no to tissue pack, no to anything round, no to all reading glasses except the very expensive tiny rectangular antique spectacles. I saw a pair in platinum with diamonds on the earpieces, and did I think "What nerve! Obscene price! Bloated capitalism at its worst!" or any similar reaction? Noooo, I thought, "These might be perfect for my Invitation Clutches." Even quarters for parking meters shows through the fabric of the satin clutches. On the other hand, carrying a large satchel or tote when setting out for an evening with friends can be off-putting. To my eye, it looks like the bearer is expecting the worst, somewhere in there are tuna sandwiches, Mace and a fire extinguisher. In case you were worried, I'm now about convinced I have enough Invitation Clutches.

And so we come to the Minimergency Kit offered by J.Crew in the latest rollout. As it happens, I found one of these in my Christmas stocking, so I've had time to think about it. It's a little zipped bag, maybe 2" x 3 1/2 x 2", and is described as an:
ingenious mini-pack full of 17 must-haves: hair spray, clear nail polish, nail polish remover, an emery board, lip balm, earring backs, clear elastics, a mending kit, double-sided Shemergency tape, stain remover, a deodorant towelette, pain reliever, a tampon, breath freshener, dental floss, a safety pin and an adhesive bandage.
The doll-sized mini-tampon belongs in the medecine cabinet of a precocious child's dollhouse and bears no relation to human anatomy. Although come to think of it, it might be useful for a small nosebleed.

As to the rest: you know how some people are immune to certain otherwise well-regarded remedies? Well, I'm immune to double-sided tape. I've tried several brands, including Hollywood Tape, and there's just something about the energy I generate, when a hem decides to fall down, it stays fallen. Leaving a trail of tape pieces doesn't add to the graceful impression. Nor does this product work on shirt gaps for those of us with boobage. Toss. Although if this tape works for you, you are among the lucky, and you should keep it.
My real issues with the kit are not with the utility of the products. For each product, there's no doubt someone to whom it could be a possible lifesaver. Rather, it's that most of the products are single-use items. Even if the generic deodorant wipe is to your liking, you'll use it once and have to track down refills. Same for the single - unwrapped - bandage. Otherwise put, after the first emergency, you'll be in the process of creating your own emergency kit. And it's too bulky for the Invitation Clutch. And J.Crew is charging $18 for it, while the same thing, in an equally fetching choice of colors, is $13 everywhere else, including the Minimergency people's own website.

What a worried society we've become. My mom's preparedness advice was "Take a sweater." In Spring or Fall, she'd issue umbrella reminders. She would have been horrified that people actually had clothes that could come apart unexpectedly, or that a nice girl would leave the house without checking herself. Except, of course, in case of emergency.

What emergencies is your purse prepared for?

21 comments:

  1. Hi WFF, I was eyeing these little kits on the JC website and you touched on the very issue that i was thinking about - that many of the items are single use and if you use it up, then what do you do? Also, in a real emergency, I can imagine myself emptying the entire contents of the bag in a wild frenzy, just trying to get at the one thing I do need. It would be a nightmare trying to cram everything back in. My own emergency kit is a small fabric pouch containing a pair of mini tweezers, pack of facial blotting paper, a spare lipstick and a pack of tissues. It won't cover every emergency but it does make me feel a bit more prepared.

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  2. blotting paper! yes! and tissues and the teeny tiny vaseline jar (about an inch).

    I forgot to mentioned that the kit is very tightly packed, which makes your imagined frenzied sorting a very real concern.

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  3. OMG WFF- My bag TB Priscilla- a formidable fortress- is a repository for all sorts of emergency items. Frequent weekend travel with 3 males has taught me to be very well prepared.
    On my keychain is a mini leatherman(use it all the time). I have a tiny flashlight and some teabags(Zen) in one of those inner pockets next to the cell phone holder. In my adorable, can stand in for a clutch J Crew receipt polka dot pouch I have a tinted lipbalm, all in one makeup compact, and usb drive with important photos, and some work documents, dental floss picks, and a comb. In one of the zipped pockets I have emergency Benadryl, aspirin,antacids,contact lenses( for all) and tissues in a teeny ziploc bag. I also carry a small(Trader Joe's) bottle of water and a granola bar. It is very orderly, and has kept me sane during many hectic weekends away, or travel times for the constant away sporting activities. I always say I could pack for a weekend for a family of 4 in one small bag. I was with my niece and she was captivated by the mini kit. I thought the items were rather silly- mostly for the reasons you stated, but I can see the appeal. And no- I did not prepare at all for doomsday, or anything else. I do love those invitation clutches.

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    1. wow, I need help!
      I forgot to mention that my "cosmetic bag" always has a little flashlight. I also have a teeny clip-on booklight, which was supposed to live in a dressy bag for reading menus in dark restaurants - the emergency is not me squinting but not having to listen to Himself start the meal off with a grumble. It's a good light, thank you Barnes & Noble, but it and the Invitation Clutches are not friends.

      I always stand in front of Baby Gap windows drooling over the teeny denim jackets for probably the same reason your niece fixed on the Minimergency bag. Sooooo cute.

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    2. Sooooo cute. I always admire the Japanese toys and miniature cosmetic and stationery products too. ( Shisheido and Hello Kitty!) So cute, and ostensibly useful.

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  4. I used to carry much more than I do now.
    My handbag holds safety pins for garment failure, bandaids for injuries and shoe wounds. Hand sanitizer works miracles for many things, Tylenol, lip pencil, eye pencil, pencil sharpener, lipsticks (several), tissues, extra eyeglasses in case mine break, hand cream, Rescue Remedy drops, notebook, small knitting project.
    The car carries the big guns. Emergency hat for sunny walks. Umbrella, yoga mat for emergency relaxation, scarves for sprucing up, sunscreen, water, solar blanket, chains for snow, jumper cables, protein bars...my lord I need to clean out my car!
    Love the analogy about the tampon for nose bleed!

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    1. hi, AWSL, there was a time in my life when the inside of my car was essentially a large diaper bag, and I always felt that I and family could happily live on its various contents for a week or so if we were stranded, longer if we weren't too proud to finish the saltines and ketchup packets that accumulated in door pockets.

      and I love the idea of being prepared for emergency relaxation!

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  5. I am not really good at beeing prepared,but i do have a few things in my bag(chloe paraty):A emergency thingie for my allergies,lipstick that can be used as blush too,small comb and a cute little box with tampons.Also a few coins to get a shopping cart(very important here,because i hate when the shopping cart is locked up and i cant get one).
    I have two envelope clutches(dotted and leopard) and now i want the new diamond pattern one:)

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    1. Ina, not to enable, but I've seen the diamond-patterned clutch and it's really cute.

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    2. Nononono! I don't want to hear that the clutch is cute!!

      I thought those mini kits were quite cute, but there's no way I'd use most of the stuff in one, plus I'd forgot to refill it!

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    3. plus getting all that stuff aligned so that it will fit in the little bag is like doing one of those souvenir wooden interlocking puzzle things...

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  6. My purse is equipped well for boredom emergencies - if there isn't room for a book I won't carry it. The other issues? I never have what I need, when I need it. Sigh.

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    1. sounds like my closet between seasons...

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  7. At one point in my life I didn't even own an umbrella but I did have an extra beach towel in the trunk of my car in case there's a need to sit on the sand to watch a sunset or spread on a lawn someplace for an instant picnic.

    You have to make sure Hollywood Tape is fresh or it won't stay stuck, they should put an expiration date on it.

    Now my emergency kit is a magnifying mirror (to better see fuzz in eye that drives one crazy), lightweight puffer vest and/or thermal underwear top (I am always cold), my most comfy loafers (you never know when you can't take another step in the shoes worn for cuteness that day) and organic tinted lip balm (healthy chapstick and lip color in one). You can guess I don't carry clutches very often.

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    1. I've often thought that the ideal purse would be one of those Pottery Barn end units with drawers and dividers of different sizes, wheeled behind me by a patient assistant. In my next life, maybe, or in the one after that.

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  8. I carry a tiny LED light in my bag that has been the most used emergency item. Little sample bottle of advil I refill ( mostly for MLane). Alba lipbalm with SPF ( no lipstick for me, ever). Lots of pens,small Moleskine, Filofax and index cards. I have a collection of those little hotel sewing kits, some with prethreaded needles(highly prized). While travelling, I take alcohol wipes for the remote-- this is irrational, I recognize-- and an ace bandage in case I fall. I got an invitation clutch this spring in two tone nude and blush. The magnetic fastener doesn't seem very strong even with almost nothing in it? Maybe a got a lemon.

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    1. prethreaded needles - greatest thing since sliced bread!

      I'd call JC and discuss your magnet issue.

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  9. I rolled my eyes at this one when I saw it at J.Crew. IMO it's best left for the DIY file. You can find the travel or single-use size items at most drugstores and choose the size/shape of the pouch to fit your purse. Well maybe not the invitation clutch if nothing really fits in there but for the rest of them. Maybe the doll-sized mini-tampon is supposed to be just good enough to get you as far as the drugstore.

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    1. at least the little kit isn't bedazzled. A 28% markup over retail is enough.

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  10. Girl Scouts ain't got nothing on me when it comes to preparedness. Should WW III erupt whilst I'm out and about, I could definitely hold down the fort until the first troops arrived. That said, my handbag weighs only slightly less than my 6-year-old.

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