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.

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