Ask Belle: Staying the Night Essentials

Nov 3, 2011

Hey Belle — question for you:

I’ve been dating a guy and have recently started spending the night at his apartment from time to time. We haven’t reached the point where I can lay claim to a drawer or space to keep some things so I’ve been pondering the best way to carry essentials to and from his place while still being fashionable on whatever date has preceded it and not screaming “look I’m expecting to spend the night at the guy I’m dating’s house!” I’ve been using the same smallish Coach purse for non-work days for years, but I think I need to find an alternative I fit a few things like a  hairbrush and pajamas etc. in.

Any thoughts? Also, any thoughts on what “essentials” are to bring with you if you might spend the night at a guy’s house so you don’t look like you’re on a walk of shame on your way home?

Many thanks,  DCQ

First off, you shouldn’t need to bring pajamas.  If you are a person who likes lingerie, you buy reasonably comfortable lingerie and wear it under your regular clothes.  Then, you borrow one of his shirts to sleep in, maybe some gym shorts if it’s chilly. 

I always slept in my boyfriend’s clothes, it was easier than packing my own and he thought it was adorable.  Plus, this cuts down on things you need to bring.

As for the bag, this is why Rebecca Minkoff created the Morning After Bag.  Not too big for every day, but big enough for date night.  Yes, at $475, it’s a bit of an investment, but you can always wait for the Gilt Groupe sale and pick one up for 40-percent-off.

Folli Follie K Vintage Satchel ($230)

This bag is a similar size, but still appropriate for daytime.  And you can pack a clutch in it, so if possible, you leave the bag in your/his car and just take the clutch into the restaurant.

As for what to pack in it, I consulted with Miss M and we decided upon these essentials:  travel size face wash, small container of moisturizer, hairspray (or dry shampoo), small brush, contact solution (if you need it) deodorant, toothbrush, curling iron, concealer, mascara and a multiple blush/lip color/eye color like Tarte Cheek Stain or NARS Orgasm the Multiple.  Also, clean underwear.  Clean underwear is essential.  

Everything, sans the curling iron, should fit in a gallon size Ziploc container or a medium-sized makeup bag.  

Need sample sizes? Bed, Bath and Beyond in Chinatown has more travel-sized products than any store on Earth.

If you want to bring clothes to avoid that walk of shame look, buy a long-sleeved jersey dress that can roll up to fit in your purse.  (I have one that I used to roll up and shove in the Ziploc bag mentioned above.) And pack a pair of thin flats or City Slips.  That should at least get you home.

My advice, go to BB&B, pick up a medium-sized makeup bag, some travel sizes and an inexpensive curling iron or flat iron.  They even have travel-sized irons for sale.  Buy a purse big enough to haul it and call it good.  Hopefully, in time, you’ll get a drawer.  

Myself, I never waited for a drawer.  I just hid my travel sized bag under the bathroom sink and never mentioned that it was there.  No one ever noticed.  And if someone did, he never said anything.  I wasn’t “moving in” because if we’d broken up the next day, I wouldn’t have needed to go back for anything.  But these were the things that made it possible for me to spontaneously spend the night without worry.

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  1. Belle says:

    GingerR-True. My ex would never have looked under the sink, unless maybe a pipe burst.

  2. R says:

    God I wish I had had this foresight when I was interning on K Street and alternating between my house and my fall fling's in Dupont Circle a few years ago. I'm pretty sure I was “THAT intern”, and not in a good way.

  3. C says:

    “We haven't reached the point where I can lay claim to a drawer or space to keep some things” You can sleep together but he can't spare a drawer? o_0
    Great bag by the way.

  4. R says:

    Unfortunately, any way you prepare, the walk home the next day is still the “walk of shame”. Knowing what to pack so the rest of the world isn't tuned in to where you're coming from doesn't change the actions that have made it shameful. It's saddening to me that this kind of behavior has become the perceived norm so much that it is seemingly necessary to blog about it.

  5. MominHeels says:

    @C — I had the same thought. If this is a recurring dating situation and you are sleeping with him, you get a drawer and bathroom counter space. Non-negotiable. Plus, he gets the same at your place.

  6. Govvie says:

    uh oh.

  7. R says:

    The judgemental people should just back off. Belle wrote an great blog about a real issue facing many real women.

  8. e-liz says:

    there's a huge difference between the ACTUAL “walk of shame” and staying at the house/apt of a guy you're dating and needing to leave for work the next morning. i'd recommend packing up your antiquated attitude about what's “shameful” and possibly removing yourself from the internet where such horrid acts are discussed.

  9. V says:

    @e-liz you're awesome. Belle is too – and I liked this post, thank you!

  10. RMS says:

    I'm with Belle on this one. I keep the travel size bag at my boyfriend's place under the sink in the bathroom and bring the change of clothes with me. For those of you throwing around the word shameful, get over it.

  11. Jessica says:

    Shush R. Grownup ares talking. It's rude to interrupt.

  12. e says:

    woooooweeeeee the self-righteous readers love to come out of the woodwork at times like these. way to (rudely) dismiss someone for making a totally valid point, jessica. it's not 1958, deal with it or go stick your head back in the sand.

  13. BN says:

    Where was this post when I needed it!? SUCH great advice, Belle, as usual. I completely agree that you can find a way to look tidy the next morning. When I was doing this, the only decent sources of information said things like “Squirt some of his toothpaste on your index finger, and brush your teeth in the morning.” (ok, maybe there was better advice out there, but I had no idea how to get it) Btw: the toothpaste/index finger thing DOES work, on the off chance you end up spending the night somewhere unexpected. Also, a q-tip and water (or a kleenex wrapped around your pinky finger + water) will clean up mascara/eye liner smudges without removing the makeup's eye-enhancing benefits.

  14. Belle says:

    Oh for Heaven's sake…if you're still living in a puritanical world where having premarital sex is unacceptable and cause for judgment, keep your thoughts to yourself.

    Let she who is without sin cast the first stone.

  15. Jessica says:

    e- I was talking to the original R, who made the “shame” comment. But you're right, telling someone to stick their head in the sand is so much less rude. At least my rudeness was humorous.

  16. Theresa says:

    As an aside, the Morning After Bag is one of the greatest purses I've ever owned. Highly recommend it – had this bag for a year and a half now and it is holding up beautifully and always looks great.

  17. H says:

    Crest makes disposable toothbrushes that come with toothpaste on them (called Wisps, they're a couple bucks for a pack of four). Easier to slip in a purse with a fresh pair of underwear when you don't need more (i.e. are going home before work, I don't think you really need a curling iron to manage that). And I agree with Belle, no pajamas. If you've advanced to the point in your relationship when you're sleeping in pajamas instead of naked/in lingerie BUT you don't have a drawer… I think you're in trouble.

  18. mc says:

    I'll add the ponytail holder. Turn bedhead into “chic messy bun.”

  19. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    I see the need for being able to pack stuff like this for possibly the first night or two you stay at a new boy's house, but seriously, if it's a regular thing have an adult conversation and get a drawer. There is no reason for a woman to lug around clothes, curling irons, make-up like a bag lady. It's stressful and if the guy really respects you (you ARE sleeping w/ him!) it's unnecessary. That said, the bag is really cute. And, there are lots of women who do have a need to carry all that stuff who aren't floozy bimbos. 🙂

  20. Beth says:

    I pack everything I need into one 8″×6″ make up bag: concealer, cream blush, lip gloss, make up remover wipes, drug store ballet flats, a comb/brush, travel folding toothbrush, deodorant and mini bottle of perfume! But this isn't my spend the night make up bag, it also has a mini first aid kit, a mini sewing kit, and a tide pen… my friends jokingly refer to it as the Mary Poppins/girl scout make up bag, but it's a must for me. I do a lot of traveling for business and meetings involving meals and drinks so the need to freshen up it random restrooms is frequent. I could throw in the panties and call it my morning after bag, but luckily I've got the nightstand drawer and some mini toiletry bottles at his place.

  21. Whitney says:

    @ H: Oh, those little “Wisps” are awesome! I always used to keep one in my purse for mornings away from home or after a garlick-y lunch break.
    @ mc: Chic, messy buns are always the way to go 🙂 Headbands too – I have a metallic leather one that lives in my weekend bag and it's saved me from many bad hair situations.

    I don't know how anyone who survived the 90's could be unfamiliar with Salt N' Pepa's “None of Your Business”. Lyrics to live by, those are.

  22. DCGal says:

    Not that there's anything wrong with being a floozy bimbo.

  23. Ms. C says:

    S*ut shaming is a waste of time and a curse on all women. That handbag, however, is quite the opposite.

    Sleepover lifestyle or not, I think these techniques are equally useful for the gym and business travel (especially those strings of one to two-night trips). I echo Belle: invest in a medium sized make-up bag (bonus points if it doesn't scream make-up bag) that can be your dedicated travel kit. For my travel sized items, I visit BB&B, Sephora (for travel sized make-up items and roller-perfume), and my local Nordstrom counters for samples of Keihl's face and body lotion and smashbox primer. I also throw in samples from my Birchbox to spice things up. And invest in a nice set of travel-sized make-up brushes; it is totally worth not traveling with your full-size versions.

    For hair, the key items for me are dry shampoo (or hairspray if your hair is dry) and a teasing/backcombing brush. Seriously, there is nothing that makes day-old hair look more sophisticated than a little volume and an easy style. You might need to practice this a bit but I've found that a side bun, low ponytail or french twistl + some volume makes my entire look 100% more polished.

    Finally, clothes: you know that really cute structured button-up or that awesome pleated skirt you just bought? Don't bring it. Generally, detailed and/or structured items do not travel well — regardless of whether you are traveling across the country or across town. Bring nondescript, well tailored items such as a beautifully cut black sheath topped by that tweed, fitted blazer you wore with a t-shirt and jeans the night before. Also, you know what does travel well and doesn't take up much space? Punchy accessories. So rather than relying on statement-making clothes (which tend to take up a lot of space and show up looking le tired anyway), let those earrings/necklace and cocktail ring do the talking.

  24. LPU says:

    What a timely post! I just got a permanent toothbrush at the bf's house – & our relationship is great, even if I don't have a drawer yet. I like the hiding a bag under the sink idea, however…

    These are all great tips! I struggle the most with having to bring my Clarisonic; if I don't use it twice a day, my face is a mess for a week. I've seriously pondered buying a Mia to leave at the bf's. Thanks, Belle, for getting me hooked. 😉

  25. Belle says:

    DCGal-SERIOUSLY? Sleeping with the guy your dating is being a floozy bimbo? Well, how lovely of you to point that out.

  26. Belle says:

    If I had known I was setting up DCQ to be slut shamed, I'd have skipped this Ask Belle entirely.

  27. DCGal says:

    Belle – I was (sarcastically) making the point that slut-shaming is wrong – and I think calling any woman a “floozy bimbo” is slut-shaming. Sorry if that didn't come across. I am very pro- (safe, consensual, respectful) sex, with boyfriends or otherwise.

  28. Belle says:

    DCGAl-Thanks for the clarification. I did wonder that, because you comment here a lot and I've never gotten the judgy vibe from you. Sarcasm, so tough to do in text. Believe me, I know.

  29. DCGal says:

    Thanks for responding, Belle! And thanks again for bringing your pro-woman, pro-sexual health stance to blogging. The world needs more of it.

  30. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    I think I was the first one to say “floozy bimbo” and I meant it as a sarcastic joke about the people who acted like unmarried women don't sleep over their boyfriends houses.

  31. B says:

    I keep a small non-descript makeup bag full of travel sizes of all the essentials under my boyfriend's bathroom sink. I'm pretty sure he's never noticed, and if he has he's never mentioned it. I don't have to lug it back and forth, and like Belle said, if we break up tomorrow (not that we will!) I wouldn't miss any of it. My absolute essentials are toothbrush, deodorant, face wash, dry shampoo, bobby pins, hair tie, moisturizer, and contact solution.

  32. VA says:

    This is a great question and a great post. Cannot believe that there are still people CLUTCHING THEIR PEARLS over an adult woman spending the night with a man.

  33. GingerR says:

    Skip the shame thing and just think of it as keeping nosey co-workers out of your business.

    If a fellow notices you've stowed your zip-lock bag under the sink, as in he got the sponge out to clean-up, I think that's a good mark for him.

  34. B says:

    This is so timely! We just got to the toothbrush stage, and I have contact solution and case under his sink. Never thought of “hiding” other things under there-but toting around my essentials can be such a hassle! To Bed Bath and Beyond I go!

    And not to beat a dead horse on the whole floozy thing, but is it now assumed that if you're sleeping over you're sleeping with him?

  35. jackie says:

    These are great suggestions. Some of these things I normally keep in my purse every day anyway – I try to be prepared for anything. But I've honestly never thought to go directly to work right from a guys place. I always get up early and head back to my apartment to go through my normal routine. I think that since it only takes a few minutes to hike across town I've never considered it a hassle.

  36. hopemybossdosentsee says:

    erm, does anyone have any advice for the work night sleep over (i.e. im not waking up at 5 am to get home and showered before work and while i have the face and hair essentials I need to change cloths with out lugging a huge bag everywhere i go?.) i used to keep the work change in my trunk then i sold my car

  37. B says:

    Although Belle hates them, a Longchamp tote is plenty big to carry sleepover essentials (even a new skirt/top for work the next day), in addition to regular purse stuff.

  38. grlnextdoor says:

    I “clutched my pearls” and I'm so thankful! I've loved every bit of sharing this experience with only one man, a man who has also only ever shared it with me. There were times in our dating years I ended up crashing at his place, do to living on the opposite ends of DC. Even without the dirty-dirty then, Belle's bag would have come in handy and was similar to what I carried.

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