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Work Bag Essentials

10 Work Bag Essentials: The Ultimate Desk-to-Dinner Checklist

From the best lip balm to a foldable blazer, here’s what you’ll find in the bags of M.M. employees.

By Emma Steinbergs

The other morning, after enduring subway delays and waiting in an exceptionally long line at my favorite coffee shop, I arrived at M.M. HQ, plopped down at my desk, and realized I was not equipped with a single lip product. The horror! How was it possible that my Mary-Poppins-level-roomy work tote was missing such an essential—especially when I own upwards of 20 balms, glosses, or lipsticks at any given time? 

The answer is two-fold: rushed mornings (I may or may not have an alarm-snoozing problem) and owning multiple purses (as most women do). I’m not even all that into handbags, but I do rotate between a few, which means I’m constantly having to transfer items and often forget a few in the process. Luckily, I’m good about remembering the things I can’t function without—my phone, wallet, and apartment keys—but beyond that, my bag curation could be better.

In case you’re trying to master the art of putting together the perfect work bag, too, I compiled a checklist with the help of my colleagues. It turns out asking about the contents of one’s bag is a great way to learn more about them and get some fabulous product recommendations along the way. (British Vogue’s In the Bag series is another testament to this.)

Below, see a list of 10 work bag essentials, as recommended by M.M. employees.

10 Work Bag Essentials


Wallet, Keys, Phone

As mentioned, your wallet (or a credit card), keys, and phone are really all you need to function in society. If you’re low on time, make sure you’re equipped with these at the very least.


City-Slicker Essentials

If you live somewhere where you take public transportation, and therefore can’t stash stuff in your car, you might also count headphones, hand sanitizer, a phone charger, and a small umbrella as necessities.

Okay—now, onto the fun stuff. 


Lip Products

“I basically carry two products at all times because they serve different and important purposes! For color, I like Glossier’s G Suit lipstick in Lane. It’s ‘buildable’ and doesn’t disappear after a drink. For moisturizing, I’ve been using a lip balm called Baume des muses ever since my manager, Christina, brought it back for me from her trip to Paris. It’s personalized with my initials, so it feels like such a special self-care moment.”

Anna, E-Commerce Manager


A Lightweight Layer

“I hate being cold, so I never leave the house without a layer. If I’m not wearing one out the door, I’m putting one in my bag. My go-to is our Moreland jacket, which looks like a traditional blazer, so it’s conducive to formal and casual work outfits alike. Even more importantly, it’s lightweight and wrinkle-resistant, so it doesn’t add bulk to my bag or emerge wrinkled.” 

Maria, Director of Brand & Integrated Partnerships


A Planner

“I’m a sucker for any paper product (besides business cards, which I’ve never used), so I can’t live without my planner. At the beginning of every year, I invest in a fresh leather planner. Obviously, maintaining a digital calendar helps me keep my life straight, but there’s something uniquely satisfying about using a physical one, too. Also, the pages of stickers mine came with really appeal to the grown-up gold-star girl in me.”

Claire, CRM Coordinator



“In my experience, capless pens and bags do not get along (I’ve ended up staining a few purses). Muji pens are an office favorite. I also just found these erasable gel pens, which are such an adorable, unexpected addition to my bag.”

Anna, E-Commerce Manager

“I second the Muji pen rec!
I hate handwriting notes, but sometimes it’s essential, and I love this pen so much that it actually makes me want to use a pen and paper rather than my laptop.”

Maddie, E-Commerce Coordinator


Stain Remover

“As a klutz, I need some sort of stain remover with me for emergencies, and these wipes are my new favorite. Much like the gel pens I recommended, they’re definitely designed for children, but it’s insane how well they work.” 

Anna, E-Commerce Manager


Face Spray

“A couple of years ago, I discovered Iris & Romeo’s The Reset face spray, and now, I won’t go anywhere without it. I tend to get dry skin (especially in the winter), and this spray keeps me feeling hydrated and fresh. I use it under my moisturizer when I wash my face in the morning and at night, but I’ve also started filling a mini reusable spray bottle with this magical stuff and keeping it in my bag.”

Maddie, Senior Brand Manager

“My work bag must-have is my Mario Badescu rosewater facial spray. It comes in handy in those moments when I’m going straight from work to happy hour with friends and want to reset my makeup. It’s super refreshing, so I also spritz it throughout the day to help myself feel a little more alert.”

Dylaney, D.C. Showroom Stylist



“Don’t underestimate the power of perfume. Find one you love (not what’s most trendy) and see how it transforms your mood for the better. I find that most wear off after six-ish hours, so I like to keep a travel size in my bag. My favorites are Hinoki Fantome by Boy Smells and Thé Noir 29 by Le Labo.”

Anna, E-Commerce Manager


A Water Bottle

I’m trying to drink more water, and I also hate buying disposable plastic bottles when I’m out in the city on the weekend, so one of my must-haves is a great reusable water bottle. I love this one from Owala. It doesn’t leak and comes in some really fun colors.”

Maddie, E-Commerce Coordinator

Written By

Emma Steinbergs

Emma is M.M.LaFleur's Brand Manager. She previously worked as an M.M. stylist and still loves thinking through styling challenges and solutions for customers.

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