Whats In Your Handbag


I think the oddest thing in mine is a four-inch nail. No – it’s not for emergency repairs to the dancefloor after I’ve been dancing, but more of that in a bit. First, a few things which are not in my handbag…

Once upon a time, when I had a larger handbag, it always contained a hairbrush. My current one does not.

Before putting on my wig I brush it thoroughly. However, touching up the wig (once it’s on my head) is better done with the fingers. Brushing can leave the wig with a flat, unnatural look. Fingering creates a more untidy appearance which looks much more natural. So – when I’m out strutting my stuff I don’t need a hairbrush.

I sometimes carry a spare stocking or two in case of ladders, but there aren’t any in my bag at the moment. The darker the stockings one wears, the more important this is – the slightest damage to a black stocking is glaringly obvious.

Currently, mine are pale – a shade the manufacturer calls ‘natural’. With these, the sort of damage stockings pick up on the dancefloor is very hard to see. They don’t last forever of course, but they are wearable in a worse state than black ones. The down side to this is that the paler the stockings, the better job you need to make of shaving your legs!

Another thing absent from my handbag is money. It’s hard to dance with a bag flapping about on your shoulder. For disco numbers, there’s a kind of teenage charm about dancing around your handbag, but it’s a bit limiting – having to keep to a single spot on the dancefloor. When it comes to ballroom dancing, the bag is just a nuisance. It’s best just to leave the bag where you’re sitting, but an unattended handbag containing money is not a good idea.

My money goes into a little purse on my belt – it looks a tad like a hand grenade, but it is very useful!



handbag3.jpgAlso absent are most of the make-up products I use – foundation, blusher and eye make-up are all missing. I’ve tried carrying these, but found that once they were on they were on for the night. The only make-up items I carry with me are a couple of products genuinely useful for repairs during the course of an evening.

One item of make-up I do carry with me is face powder, with a couple of little pads to apply it. Dancing in a wig is a hot business. They say that horses sweat, men perspire, while ladies only glow. A night at the disco can have me glowing like a pig. As the glow trickles down my face, a little extra dab of powder can fix a multitude of sins.

I also use the powder as a base for lipstick – the other make-up product I carry. I tend to suffer from slightly greasy lips and used to have a lot of difficulty in getting the lipstick to take, especially on the lower lip. A bit of powder (not too much) leaves my lips dry and ready for the colour.

Actually, I use the lipstick more often during the course of the evening than the powder. A little bit of extra lippie can do wonders to a face that’s starting to lack something or other. More – there’s something deliciously feminine about sitting down and putting on your lipstick.

Along with the lipstick, I also carry lip-liner – invaluable in defining a sharp edge to lips that have become smudged over the course of an evening. (See our make-upguide for hints on applying make-up)

An essential accessory for both make-up products is a mirror. It’s handy for checking whether more make-up is necessary,and indespensible for putting it on.

I used to carry a plain rectangle or round mirror, but found it was apt to break if carried in a handbag. Apart from the risk of seven years’ bad luck, broken glass is dangerous and certainly not what I want to find on thrusting my hand into the bag. It also spoils the impression, sitting down doing one’s lips with a shard of broken mirror in the left hand – deliciously femme?? Get real!

The mirror I use today is actually 2 mirrors, normal and enlarging. They are in a solidly constructed hinged case which, when shut, preserves them from harm. Both mirrors are useful – the normal one for checking the appearance of my whole face, the enlarging one for work on my lips.



handbag.jpgTransgender Resources A Survival Kit for a Night on the Town, By Annie Peters

Lipstick is not the only thing that can wear off during the evening, and I also carry a small perfume spray. I think it’s important to smell nice as well as look good. Spraying it on is, of course, another action in the deliciously feminine category, but don’t overdo it – your fragrance should not precede you by too much!

Less feminine is a handkerchief – and not a delicate lacy one, at that. I have already mentioned ‘glowing like a pig’. When the glow stings the eyes something substantial is needed to blot it. Used with reasonable delicacy, the hankie can be better than a tissue for mopping up the glow without wrecking the eye make-up.

Carrying tissues as well could be a good idea – but I tend to use a bit of paper from the toilet. It does well enough, and avoids the accumulation of a layer of disintegrated tissue at the bottom of my bag. In some places the toilets run out of paper – but more can sometimes be had if one has the gumption to ask at the bar.

Much more ladylike than a hankie is a nail file in a little plastic case. Rough nails not only look less than perfectly femme, but wreck stockings. It also has a little hook at the end for removing dirt. Dirty nails – varnished or otherwise – are a real no-no.

Also metal are four small safety pins. I keep them pinned together for convenience – a solitary safety pin at the bottom of the bag is very hard to find, and when a safety pin is needed it’s usually needed in a hurry. A cluster of four pins is much easier to locate. Their purpose (need I tell you girls) is emergency repair to clothes.

At the bottom of the bag, with the pins, is a small card with a dozen or more kirby-grips. The grips can be useful for keeping a wig fixed to one’s real hair – especially if the wig’s webbing is past its first flush of youth. Another use for a hair grip is to pin back one’s real hair if it seems determined to escape from the confines of the wig. That’s especially important if wig and real hair are different colours.

And that leaves only… the four inch nail. It’s for the toilet. As a trannie out on the town, one has to be careful about using toilets at all. There are places – mostly gay – where there isn’t any great problem about using the ladies, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Be careful, and check it out first – but it is sometimes possible.

In several ladies toilets I’ve used, the sliding part of the bolt has been missing from the cubicle doors. A nightmare scenario is to be sat there with my knickers down, only to have a woman with more sensibility than sense burst in on me. At best, a trannie is only allowed in the ladies under sufferance – and there are limits one must not cross.

So… slide the four inch nail into the bolt fixings and it’s securely held. A handy tip, perhaps. Remember, you read it here first!

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