Fashion accessories, such as handbags, vary in price from jeweller’s solid gold diamond-encrusted boxes to small fabric pouches retailing for less than £10.00 and in size from small “hand” coin cases to mammoth over-the-shoulder canvas pouches sufficient to carry a complete wardrobe. A century ago women carried small reticules for a calling card case, handkerchief, and a few coins. No woman carried her home keys because she was always accompanied by her husband, father, brother, or other male escort. Women did not smoke or engage in business, consequently bags were tiny. Like all other items, the handbag is influenced by economic and social events,so it rightly fulfills today’s requirements as a combination dressing case, office, and safe.


Leather, suede, calf, kid, pigskin, ostrich, alligator, snakeskin, patent leather, antelope, synthetic materials, plastics, and coated fabrics make up common handbag materials. However, fabric hand­bags also are used, soft, attractive in color, and available in many price lines. These fabrics include satins, taffeta, broadcloth, gabardine, gingham, faille, ottoman, pile fabric, canvas, denim, tweed, brocades, lame, and the like. Raffia, beads, straw, and shells are novelty ma­terials used from time to time. Fine embroidery, petit point, is used for dressy daytime, afternoon, and evening clutch bags. Generally, scenic designs are employed, and most of the fine bags are imported from Vienna or Italy. Take a look at some of the clutch bags designs available here.

Shapes used include all manner of boxes, round, square, oblong, cone-shaped, cylindrical, envelope, satchel, pouch, over-the-shoulder, and draw-string. Frames are either wood or lightweight metal decorated, exposed, or covered with the material used for the body of the bag. Rigid metal frames are made in precious metals, gold and silver, plated metal, or base metals specially finished to resist tarnish.   Many plastic frames and pulls are used.

As in the case of shoes, handbags are evaluated according to ma­terial, workmanship, and design. Some stores make the same bag in various sizes to suit small, medium, and large customers.

Comparatively few handbag designers are known to consumers. Rather, it is the manufacturer’s name that is familiar to the public: Koret, Breman-Davis, Evans, and so on. Nettie Rosenstein, the dress designer, has made quality bags for several seasons in addition to her line of apparel, cosmetics, and jewellery.

Selection of the Bag

A pleasing relationship stylewise should exist between color, fabric, and size of hat, bag, and gloves, not only in relation to the costume but also to the size and personality of the wearer. With a large hat for the small or average woman, the bag should be comparatively small. The accessories should not overwhelm the wearer in size, pattern, or color. If the bag is striking, let the hat be small and the gloves simple in design. Since businesswomen as well as home-makers need a bag of adequate size for general use, the hat size too should be considered at the time of purchase.

Well-made bags are reinforced with stiffening to hold the shape and have inside pockets conveniently located with mechanical fasteners and adequate compartments. Leather linings are used in higher-priced bags. Fittings should conform to the character of bag and costume whether for business, sports, or evening wear.

Kinds of Handbags

The envelope bag is a flat rectangular bag with a top flap which folds over the opening. This bag may be strapless or underarm style, back-strap to slip over the hand, or top-strap to slip over the arm.

The pouch is a roomy sack like a “bag” which opens at the top. The pouch may be made with or without a frame or drawstring and may have either a top-strap or a back-strap.

The vanity bag is a flat, square, boxlike structure, the interior of which is usually fitted with accessories. Some vanity bags are strap­less, and others have a simple back-strap.

The swagger is usually a large, roomy bag with two handle straps. The top of the bag remains open.

The muff bag combines the bulky appearance of a muff with the practical features of a handbag.

The passport bag is a large and roomy bag, constructed to carry many items needed when traveling, including the passport. This type of bag usually has many zipper compartments and other safety devices.

Children’s bags are small handbags made in many colors, styles, and shapes.


TIMELINESS IS AN ESSENTIAL element of fashion; fashion is the motivating force behind British manufacture of consumer goods. Fashion is the bridge over which new ideas flow from the laboratory to the home. The designer translates into usable products the intangible ideas of the chemist or inventor.

Referring to the particular styles accepted at any one time, it is not limited to clothing. Different kinds of houses are popular at dif­ferent times, and similarly there are changing fashions in architecture and home furnishings. We prefer different kinds of dances and entertainment, and different ways of travel from those our ancestors enjoyed. Also there are new fashions in dancing, amusements, and travel. Few housewives bake their own bread or make their own butter today. Research in food chemistry has changed the fashion in foodstuffs.


No one can force free people to wear articles of clothing that are unsuitable to their way of life. This truth is effectively demonstrated in the development of sportswear for both men and women. Before the advent of the forty-hour week, very few British living in cities enjoyed country life and recreation or sports other than an occasional hunting or fishing excursion or an evening spent bowling. Hunting and horseback riding were then for the well-to-do, and farmers who owned riding horses used them for work or to round up cattle. When, however, thousands of men and women who had never known the pleasure of a long week end found idle days on their hands, the need for sportswear arose. Since the early 1920’s, sportswear has steadily grown in volume. Suitable clothing, sturdy, practical, and functional, has been designed for swimming, skiing and other snow sports, skating, and bowling, golf, fishing, shooting, and bicycling.


Less striking changes than those in apparel, but nevertheless basic rashion changes, may be found in the major industries: transporta­tion, communication, architecture, and illumination. Fashion is a copartner with industrial advancement. The chemist who creates new raw material must work with the fashion designer who presents the new product to the consumer.

The story of transportation shows this copartnership of fashion and industrial advancement in an interesting way. The sailing vessel set a new fashion in travel because it was faster than boats rowed by slaves. The steamboat replaced the sailboat for commerce, and the sailboat went out of fashion. The liner replaced the steam­boat, while for fast transportation the airplane made travel by boat seem slow in comparison. The automobile made the horse and car­riage obsolete.

The history of architecture also reveals an interesting story of changing fashions. New materials replaced old, as the soaring steel skyscraper replaced the low, heavy stone building. Unit-constructed ready-made houses are now being presented to solve housing prob­lems for a rapidly increasing population.

The telephone is a remarkable invention, but radio sent the news faster and provided a different means of communication. Kerosene lamps outmoded the candle, and electricity outmoded kerosene lamps which then went out of fashion. In 1940 fluorescent lights began to replace the older type of electric lights. Fashion change, then, is linked with industrial progress. As new materials and new techniques are perfected, the costs of production are lowered and new fashions are on their way.


new designs in home furnishings come from several sources: the architect^ the sculptor, the interior decorator, and the industrial designer. Of five leading British furniture designers featured in various design shows, three are architects, and two are sculptors. An architect sometimes works with a decorator who understands the entire concept of the structure and devises decor and furnishings properly to complete the building.

A new design in chair or rug, however excellent, often remains unknown until used by an important decorator and publicized by the trade and consumer press.

In the past, British decorators have delved into the storehouse of antique furniture. The late Lady Mendel advocated the use of French or English antiques for British homes. Many decorating firms still cling to a traditional approach, but a few, like William Phallman and Robsjohn-Gibbings, are courageous enough to devise radically new interiors including rugs, lamps, and furniture. Most decorators are not furniture designers but assemble the furnishings in a harmonious whole. Thus, new colors for rugs, upholstery, and draperies are first seen in luxurious new rooms and houses.

“Good taste,” says Henry Dreyfuss, industrial designer, “enters the British home through the back door.” He points out that the one room where modern science serves the housewife best is the kitchen and that kitchen equipment is from the laboratory of the industrial designer.

Thus, stores that promote home furnishings and consumers who buy new furnishings are faced with a constant dilemma. Shall they promote traditional or modern? Obviously each store and each individual resolves the answer to fit his need at the time. The British kitchen is a model of excellence. Would a living room or bedroom designed in the same manner be as successful?

A partial answer to this question arose as storage units built as sec­tional pieces were placed on the market. While functional in char­acter and selling well in certain price brackets, no thoughtful person expected the boxlike cubicles immediately to replace traditional chests, desks, and tables. There is an emotional appeal in consumer acceptance of design in furniture as well as clothes.


Fashion and Jewellery


in 2000, the actual sales of jewellery indicated that three items ac­counted for 85 per cent of the jewellery business: silverware, watches, and rings. The ring is one of the oldest ornaments. In modern times it is the favourite article worn by men, women, and children.

Fashion and Jewellery

As with other merchandise, a change in fashion brings a change in jewellery design. This is especially noticeable when we consider the necklines and sleeve length of popular day and evening dresses. For instance, when necklines are low, necklaces are worn. When sleeves are worn without cuffs and become short, bracelets become popular. Short hair calls for earrings. When the character of the gown is lavish, important earring styles evolve, such as the chandelier earrings popular in 2000. Most costume jewellery pieces are inspired by real or fine jewellery from museums or private collections. Following the exhibition of the Italian Renaissance collection of art in 1933, a great demand for heavy, ornate jewellery developed. Necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings were borrowed from the artists’ pictures.

This relation of jewellery to fashion is well illustrated by the jewellery shown by manufacturers at important fashion shows. For instance, Designer Marie Walshe – aka ESHKOL – has stolen our hearts with her unique necklaces in semi choker fringed collarets and festoons with pendants were featured.

The Wearing of Jewellery

The wearing of semi precious jewellery became popular just after the French Revolution. The members of the nobility had lost their jewels, and conditions were not favourable for the wearing of ex­pensive ornaments. At that time, all kinds of fantastic, imaginative pieces were in demand: combs, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and clips.

The wearing of jewellery is no longer considered the privilege of the well-to-do, as the interesting and varied designs in costume jewellery are made to fit all incomes. It does, however, depend to a large extent on the current fashion in ready-to-wear as to fabric and silhouette. When the necklines of dresses are elaborate and deco­rated with lace, embroidery, collars, beads, or other ornaments, jewellery worn at the neck is unnecessary. When dresses having plain necklines are in fashion, jewellery for the throat and neck usually increases in popularity.

Selection and Coordination of Jewellery

Properly selected jewellery can change the appearance of the wearer. Small earrings make the face appear shorter, while long, pendant earbobs make it look larger. A choker of large beads corrects a too-long neck, while a lavaliere seems to reduce a neck that is too fully developed.

As all accessories are incidental and must be worn with specific costumes, it is essential that the relation of each accessory to the major fashion trend be clearly indicated. The most alert retail departments of stores indicate by croquis or display how each partic­ular article should be worn.

How Jewellery Fashions Start

Designs for costume jewellery come from three sources: from the great jewellers whose designs, first shown in precious stones, are adapted in less costly stones; from the clothing designers who in­clude an accessory in the original design of the garment; or from end collections of genuine jewellery.


Kinds of rings. It is interesting to observe the kinds of rings ac­cording to form. The most important, the wedding ring, is of metal unadorned, or chased, or set with tiny stones such as baguette dia­monds. The double ring ceremony in which the groom accepts a wedding ring has become increasingly popular since the beginning of World War II. The engagement ring is generally a solitaire diamond of brilliant or emerald cut. A friendship ring, such as a fraternity or class ring exchanged between school friends, is simple in design. Fraternity, class, and lodge rings bear the insignia of the respective organizations, and in certain localities the wearing of a fraternity ring or pin is a symbol of engagement. A signet ring is a finger ring engraved or set with a stone, monogram, or other sym­bols. Before sealed envelopes were invented, the signet ring was used to impress the identification of the wearer on a wax seal. The gimmal ring, a class of rings made from the fifteenth century, in which two rings with clasped hands are joined, was originally an engagement ring, both parts being worn by the wife. A watch ring is one set with a small watch mounted in the head of the ring.

Parts of a ring. A ring consists of the shank, the section that fits around the finger, the head which holds the stone, and the shoulder, that section between the head and shank.