Ok so I am a handbag junkie .. There I said it .
But it’s not what you think .
First off they’re not in my “personal” collection , meaning I don’t have a closet full . I do, however, have well over 200 of them in my store . Boy just putting that on the page makes me doubt my sanity .. well not really but it is staggering.
Like all handbag collectors I LOVE THEM ! Everyone of them , truly . I love the vintage clothing I deal in everyday but it has always been the accessories that really float my boat and handbags, purses, pocketbooks and reticules are high on that list.
Like I’ve said before don’t ask me what happened in that old movie I just watched , I can’t always tell you, but ask me what she was wearing and what type of handbag she was carrying and for sure I’ll know. You see back ” In The Day” a woman really didn’t need much in her purse. A small wallet, comb, compact, lipstick maybe a couple of keys , a hanky and possibly a rain cap. These items all fit nicely in a small, architecturally designed bag that was meant to complete her outfit .
Handbags have gotten larger as the decades have gone by and women have had more responsibilities out of the home. The Victorians did have some larger crocheted reticules but they were merely for show still only holding a bare minimum of items. Most Victorian bags, whether beaded , silk or leather were fairly small and decorative . Many of these were clipped to the skirt by way of a chatelaine keeping hands free .
The 1920s and 30s bags were still small , especially the evening bags . Many of these little confections were beaded and mesh in bright colors . I am always amazed at how many different styles , designs and colors there were. I’m sure it was very rare to run into another Flapper sporting the same purse ..
The 1930’s and 40’s bags are some of my favorites . The creative designs and shapes are so inspired especially during the war years . The bags I have had are made of everything from leather, wool, silk, brocade, Corde’ and grosgrain with bakelite handles, wrist straps or as clutches . Some are so specific in color and design I know they were made to match a hat or jacket . I always wished I would find these mates but women were practical and most likely wore out or repurposed those items leaving behind the purse.
The 1950s handbags started to get larger and roomier . Lots of these bags I’ve bought are leather or Patent leather . I also have a nice selection of brocade bags from this era . Many of the bags from the 50s were also part of an ensemble and I have been fortunate enough to find their matching hat, gloves or shoes . That is always fun .
My collecting ends in the 1960s which is always an interesting era to discuss any fashion. The bags at the beginning of the 60’s were a bit smaller and more subtle . They paired well with the bulkier fabrics of the skirts and dresses at this time . As the 60’s progressed and we got into the early Hippie years the eras of defined fashions started to fall apart and we entered the era of personal style with no rules or margins .. Handmade clothing and bags were the start of the counter culture and personal expression that still exists today . These pieces aren’t as readily available as you may think , it seems they are still be cherished in attics and closets but I do still see some . The suede fringe bag is iconic and the first cross body bag . The contents of these bags have changed also but that’s a subject for another day .. lol.
There my collecting ends as I don’t normally purchase bags from the 70’s or later , just my preference. For me everyday I use a leather bag , usually black with a deep center . I don’t carry much really just essentials and I even pared down my wallet size. I very rarely buy a bag new. I thrift or exchange with friends., I have no desire to have a Coach bag but I will say that Michael Kors bags do catch my attention occasionally. I do love to observe what other women sport for their handbags though. Bright orange leather is appealing and I have seen some really beautiful handmade bags made of felted wool with vintage buttons . After all accessorizing is an art unto itself and every woman is an artist inside even if only expressed through her handbag.