Purse Must Haves For Dates
A well-stocked bag includes travel-sized tools, essentials and treats to keep you gorgeous all night — and turns the “walk of shame” into a sexy strut the next day. Get our top 10 purse picks here.

by Kimberly Dawn Neumann
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When it comes to dating, do you think you’ve got it in the bag? No, literally…we mean, in your bag. You see, dating success really does require a convergence of preparation and opportunity — and the woman who’s toting the right stuff around in her purse may find herself a step ahead of the competition (or properly prepped for the evening, at the very least) while she’s in search of Mr. Right.

To make sure your own bag’s sufficiently stocked before heading out for the evening, check out this list of recommended items and decide which ones are
There’s nothing worse than having chapped lips on a date.
worth weighing yourself down for — and then leave anything that didn’t make the cut back at home. After all, a good date’s prepared for anything… and that includes getting home the following morning!

Date-worthy purse pick #1: Lip gloss/lipstick
There’s nothing worse than having chapped lips on a date (seriously, who can ponder a goodnight kiss when their pout’s peeling and dry?), but research indicates that men prefer women with an appropriately colored pair on dates. In fact, in a study conducted by Manchester University in the UK, scientists used eye-tracking software to show that in the first 10 seconds after meeting a woman for the first time, the average man will spend more than half of that time looking at her mouth. The study also found that regardless of whether women have thin lips or a plump pout, men rated those who wear lipstick to be about 40% more attractive than those who went bare-lipped. A woman sporting a red-hued lip will keep him fixated for 7.3 seconds (and if you prefer pink, ladies, don’t worry; you can still get his attention for 6.7 seconds). But when the women went sans lipstick completely, the men in the study tired of looking at their lips in just 2.2 seconds. So, ladies, we’d advise you to keep at least one lip product in your purse if you’re hoping for some lip-lock at the end of your evening.

Date-worthy purse pick #2: Peppermints
Nothing is a bigger turn-off than halitosis. In fact, in a recent survey of over 1000 adults age 18-34 conducted by Wakefield Research for Dentyne, 86% of respondents said that the biggest first date deal-breaker was bad breath. So, make sure you pack some gum or Altoids in your bag — and consider choosing anything that’s flavored with peppermint for an added bonus. “Sniffing the aroma of peppermint candy or popping one in your own mouth actually induces a good mood in as little as three minutes,” says Cammi Balleck, Ph.D., author of Making Happy Happen: Secrets to Being on Cloud Nine Every Day. “In addition to peppermint’s power as a mood-booster, the essential oils found in it may also help reduce any feelings of stress,” adds Dr. Balleck. Who knew that one little mint could be such a triple threat? You’ll get fresher breath, a better mood, and anti-stress insurance — all from one tiny, delicious treat.

Date-worthy purse pick #3: Compact
Okay, we don’t really have any research backing the necessity of carrying this particular item, but after chatting with real-life daters, everyone agreed that there’s something very alluring
You’ll get fresher breath, a better mood, and anti-stress insurance.
and feminine about whipping out a compact on a date. Not only can you use it to check your teeth after eating (i.e., make sure you aren’t sporting any spinach between your bicuspids), but it’s also a great way to draw a man’s focus back to your kissable mouth (see #1 on the list above). “My husband said that when we were first dating, I’d put on lip gloss and smile at myself in the mirror, and it was a big turn-on to him,” recalls Dr. Balleck. So feel free to pull out your compact, smile at yourself, and reapply powder or lipstick as needed throughout the night. It’s sure to capture your date’s attention and keep you looking (and feeling) flush with confidence.

Date-worthy purse pick #4: Cell phone with a fully charged battery
For safety’s sake, having a mobile phone on your person is an absolute must. It’s also helpful if you’re meeting up with someone you’ve not met before in case you have trouble connecting in a crowded space (even if you’ve been chatting online via Skype or exchanged photos beforehand, spotting your date that first time in person can be tricky). Your phone can also serve as an escape route if you realize that you and your date are not a good match; simply excuse yourself to the bathroom and text a friend to call you in five minutes with an “emergency,” then make your apologies as you exit. The caveat here is to leave it in your purse while you’re with your date. A recent survey conducted by the mobile security app Lookout found that 6 out of 10 people can’t go an entire hour without checking their phones, and 30% of respondents admitted to rudely doing so during a meal with someone. “Studies show that when we look at our phones, we give off negative energy towards the people that we are with, and it implies that we aren’t really interested in them,” explains Dr. Balleck. “Turn the ringer off so you won’t be interrupted.” But do make sure to charge it up and drop it in your purse before your date…just keep it out of sight.

Date-worthy purse pick #5: Travel-sized hair products and tools
According to a recent Pantene survey, 82% of men polled said that sexy hair is a key element of a woman’s overall sex appeal — and 44% of male respondents said that it’s the first thing they notice about a woman. So tote whatever tools you need in your purse (i.e. comb, travel-sized styling products, hairbrush, etc.) to keep those locks perfectly coiffed. It’s worth the weight, since shiny tresses make such a big impression on men. “Men are attracted to women’s shiny hair, so make sure that your hair looks good and refresh it midway through the date,” suggests Dr. Balleck.

Date-worthy purse pick #6: Hairspray
| You might expect this to be lumped in with the rest of the stuff listed above, but a trial-sized aerosol hairspray can actually be used as a security device. The NYPD detective we spoke with suggested that women should always carry pepper spray or
You should always carry a little mini-pack of tissues in your purse.
OC spray (OC stands for oleoresin capsicum, the spray’s active ingredient) if they live in an area that allows it. Be sure to check your local laws before purchasing any self-defense items; in some places, carrying OC spray may be lawful, while other chemical sprays (like mace) may be prohibited — and in certain areas, none of these items are legal. But in a pinch, the detective we spoke with explained the viability of using a shot of aerosol hairspray as a defense mechanism. This could come in handy if you need to fend off your date for some unfortunate reason, but you can also use it to protect both you and your date from would-be attackers. In order to thwart an assailant with your spray, aim for the “T” (police officers are taught to imagine a “T” that crosses the eyes and descends to the nose and mouth); that’s your ideal target. The odds of terrible things happening on a date are actually pretty low — but when something as important as your personal safety becomes an issue, there’s nothing wrong with making those odds even smaller (and in your favor).

Date-worthy purse pick #7: Travel-sized tissues
Trust me on this: You should always carry a little mini-pack of tissues in your purse. You never know when you’re going to have to clean up a spill, blow your nose, use some of them as a substitute for toilet paper, dry your tears during a movie, blot your makeup, etc. Plus if your date needs a tissue, being able to supply him with one makes for a pretty sweet little gesture. Even more fun: Get a cute little pack of designer tissues and use them to break the ice. What man wouldn’t smile when he sees you pull out a tissue covered with hearts, flowers, cocktails or some other whimsical design that suits your personality? Tissues are practical, feminine and cute — so stop worrying you’ll look like a grandma and grab a pack (or two) to keep handy.

Date-worthy purse pick #8: Protection
“If you like him enough to stick around for a glass of wine, it’s possible you’ll like him even more by the end of the evening,” says Carol Queen, Ph.D., Staff Sexologist for Good Vibrations. “Women should always be ready with safer sex gear, just in case; this is not something to leave up to your date, since some guys do not think to carry protection at all times.” Condoms aren’t just a way to avoid getting pregnant or contracting HIV; there are many other sexually transmitted diseases that they can prevent or mitigate, and unprotected sex is the #1 cause of STD transmission between
Women should always be ready with safer sex gear, just in case.
partners. “One caveat, however: Don’t just throw a loose condom into the bottom of your purse where it can mingle with your keys, pens, and that one lost earring. A condom whose wrapper gets torn or pierced is no longer effective, so tuck it someplace safe,” warns Dr. Queen. “When I was dating, I got a cute, old-fashioned eyeglasses case and used it to carry my condoms and lube around. You can also buy condom holders that look just like compacts or small wallets, if you prefer.” Whether you’re just starting to date or are dating again post-divorce or widowhood, it’s important to remember that women and men of all ages and sexual orientations can contract STDs. Staying safe means carrying protection if there’s even a hint of a chance that you’re going to get intimate with your date.

Date-worthy purse pick #9: Spare undies
There’s nothing pleasant — or sanitary — about wearing yesterday’s underwear home the next morning. (Hello, bacteria!) “Whether your date ends with you on the sofa or some place a bit more interesting, have back-up bottoms on board,” advises Ali Cudby, author of Busted!: The FabFoundations Guide To Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic. “Stashing a thin thong in an envelope keeps things discreet and saves you from the humiliation of spilling your undies onto the table — which is definitely a dating don’t,” explains Cudby. For an even more discreet option, Cudby suggests trying Irely’s Sassy Squares, which are undies that fold down into a little pocket and have been printed with fun sayings, like: “If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun” (paraphrasing from Katharine Hepburn).

Date-worthy purse pick #10: Cash
Don’t leave home without it — money, that is. Not only is it good to have cash ready in case you want to politely offer to help your date pay for the dinner/drinks/tip/valet, but it’s also smart to have a tidy sum stashed away in case you find yourself in a situation where you need to get home in a cab or some other unexpected emergency. On that note, carrying at least one credit card and some form of ID is also a no-brainer for the same reasons stated above. And hey, in the off-chance that your date goes so well that you find yourselves headed to the airport and eloping to Tahiti together — stranger things have happened, you know — it definitely pays to be well-prepared!

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a popular New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Redbook, Maxim and frequently online. A certified dating/relationship coach, she’s published two books: The Real Reasons Men Commit and Sex Comes First and is the founder of She’s fairly certain she’s carried everything except the kitchen sink in her purse on her dates.
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