(credit: Macys.com, Amazon.com, LipSmakers.com)

by Samantha McCarthy

It might be a little challenging to look great in Chicago’s 20-degree, wet, snowy weather, but if you’re prepared with the essentials, you’ll be just fine. Here are a few items you’ll find in my handbag this season.

My biggest must-have of the season is smart phone gloves. They’re fashionable, functional and perfect for those of us who love our touch screen phones. No tweet, status update, text or email will ever have to wait… despite the freezing cold temperatures outside. For reasonably priced options, try Style & Co. printed fleece Tech Touch Gloves $34, available at Macy’s.

There’s nothing cute about a drippy red nose upon your arrival to work, a date… wherever, so keeping a personal sized package of tissues in your bag is pretty key. Take it up a notch from boring old tissue and grab a pack by Sniff. They come in tons of cute designs with pictures and quotes, like the “Keep Calm and Carry On” and “She threw herself eagerly into the paths of unsuitable men” all that sass for just $1.99. You’ll find these available at most local gift shops like Papyrus, Paper Source, etc.

It’s cold, it’s dry and you’ve got wind whipping at your face. Needless to say, it’s chapped lip season. Gotta keep those lips kissable, so make sure you’ve got lip balm in your bag. My go-to is a childhood favorite, Lip Smackers. They have tons of different flavors that’ll soften and smooth. Plus, the pink ones like “Berry Peach” and “Strawberry” even have a little colored tint to your lips. You can check out the website, Color and Flavor Shop, to see your options and snag retired flavors that are no longer sold in stores.

(credit: Eucerin.com, OliverPeople.com, Newsmakers/Getty Images)

Another staple for your bag during the winter is really good hand cream. After trying about a million different brands (I mean really… you name it, I’ve tried it), I’ve come to the conclusion that Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Hand Cream is by far the best. It gently exfoliates your dry, damaged skin while protecting, soothing and smoothing. And for those of you sensitive skin types like myself, its fragrance and dye free. Available at Walgreens for $5.49.

The ground may be covered in two feet of snow with near freezing temperatures, but there’s still the odd day when the sun is frighteningly bright against all that white. Be prepared, and always keep a glamorous pair of sunglasses in your bag, like Oliver People’s oversized “Donyale,” $280 in Black with Grey Gradient. Or, for deals and steals, check out Nordstrom Rack, they always have last season’s designer sunglasses marked down, sometimes for as little as $25.

And lastly, keep an extra $20 in your purse, because sometimes in Chi-town’s winters… it’s just too cold to walk. Indulge as needed.

What are your must-have handbag essentials this winter? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!
Samantha McCarthy is a freelance writer living in downtown Chicago.