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Handbags’ History And How This Fashion Shifted From Men To Women

July 23, 2018 admin 3 min read No Comments

Handbags’ History And How This Fashion Shifted From Men To Women

July 23, 2018 AUHBD 3 min read No Comments
Handbags' History And How This Fashion Shifted From Men To Women
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TODAY’S women can’t even think about going out without a handbag. Purse becomes an integral part of their outfits. Sometimes men make fun of it since they don’t need an additional accessory while going out, but the handbags’ history tells a different truth about the users of bags. This post is created to share interesting facts with the readers.


A handbag is a small bag worn by women to carry regular personal items. The handbag has different names; sometimes they are used as synonyms of handbag, or sometimes they refer to different meanings, e.g., purse and pouch. A Purse is a small bag originally used to hold coins; it is still used in British English to refer a small coin bag. The terms “handbag” and “purse” are used interchangeably in American English, though the handbag is an essential fashion accessory holds items afar currency. Then again, the pouch is the earliest version of purse used by ancient men.

Women's handbag in 1860
Women’s handbag in 1860

Men and Handbags

Men worn pouch to carry coins in the ancient time. Ötzi the Iceman, a man who lived around 3,300 BC, was found with a pouch. Further, pouches were found on Egyptian hieroglyphs in which men wore it around the waist. Pouch or the oldest known purse used by men represented their social class and wealth, in other words, embroidered and more jewel adorned purse meant more wealth! Leather made pouch was found around 600 AD.


However, both the fashion trends and the users of handbags have changed over the centuries. In the 15th century, both men and women started to wear purses to carry coins and personal items.

Read another post The History Of Perfumes—Long And Luxury

Leather book bag in late 1500s
Leather book bag in the late 1500s

The Shift of the Bags’ Fashion

In the 15th century, bags were mostly made of perishable materials as we see the old bags in museums. People wore bags in that time attached to the strap. During the 16th century, women began to carry purses on a chatelaine. Design and used metals in chatelaines considered as a symbol of social status. Due to the popularity of chatelaines, many new models began to emerge. During the 17th century, pockets turn into an essential element of men’s clothing; consequently, men no longer required using bags if not larger items. After the change in men’s clothing, bags became a fashion accessory for women.

Chatelaine Bag, LACMA
Chatelaine Bag, LACMA

The Beginning of Real Handbag

In the 18th century, the classicism movement also impacted on the fashion of women. The first real handbag came into practice and continued up to the 19th century. Initial bags or reticules were handmade from fabrics and carried on a chain, and often made by the women who used them.

Reticule in 1800 wore by men in waistcoat
Reticule in 1800 wore by men with waistcoat

The Era of True Handbags

In the 19th century, the age of the Industrial Revolution, different new manufacturing techniques of handbag were invented. A variety of new materials were used for the manufacture of the fashion accessory, and many new designs had developed for the 19th-century travelers. The hand luggage for travels which could also be used for shopping or visiting was the prototypes of modern handbags.

Read Another Post How To Care Your Leather Goods: 6 Tips

Leather purse in ancient Roman
Leather purse in ancient Roman

The Modern Handbags

Besides art and fashion movements in the 20th century, women’s strong demand for carrying practical things evolved the designs of the contemporary handbags. Much variation has also come in purses to meet specific purposes, such as daytime bags, bags for going to work, elegant and design bags for evening use. In the 20th century, branding became necessary which resulted in the most fabulous bags and bags’ designers.

The invention of pockets in men’s clothing made the men free from using purses and bags. I guess not having pockets in the women’s clothes may be the main reason for the evolution of the handbag fashion accessories. What do you think?

Read more from our ChicStuff Category.

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Hello, I’m Linda

Hello, I’m Linda

This is my creative space. It's about having an active lifestyle, staying healthy, and making the right decisions. I hope you enjoy and come back often.

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