“Are they all the same?” We ask about handbags and design. Well, no. There are many different types of Handbags that aren’t called “A Handbag” at all. You see as years gone by in the fashion world we have forgotten what a handbag really is and what makes them all different. Although there are unique styles of designer handbags and leather handbags, most fit into a handful of catagories.
Even in ancient times, Egyptian hieroglyphics depict humans carrying purse-like pouches about the waist. During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries handbags were mainly carrying necessity items. In the 16th century during the Elizabethan era, handbags started to become more ornate and some were even concealed behind other clothing. Peasants and travelers wore cloth bags diagonally across the body, much like the cross body bags of today. In the 17th century young girls were taught embroidery as a necessary skill which led to more stitched and cloth handbags.
In the 18th century, after the French revolution, clothes were designed with fewer pockets which led to the need for larger handbags. Europeans wore purses (small handbags) for one purpose, to carry coins. Purses were made of soft fabric or leather, and were worn by men as often as ladies. By the late 18th century Women wanted purses that wouldn’t be bulky in appearance, so Reticules designed. Reticules were made of fine fabrics like silk and velvet, with wrist straps. Originally popular in France, they crossed over into Britain, where they were also known as "indispensables".
Enough of the history… Where that leads us today with the terminology is sometimes confusing, and at many times, crosses over from one term to the other as styles have infused based on the generations of manipulations. All of the examples below can be found at www.glasshandbag.com under the names given below.
The Clutch: Is a woman's strapless purse that is carried in the hand and also a container used for carrying money and small personal items or accessories (especially by women). Typically small but long bag that is sometimes called an evening bag as well. These evening clutches are popular at parties. “The Rave” from Glass Handbag is a great example of this style.
The satchel: a satchel is a structured bag with double handles and often a shoulder strap. May be large or small. The main difference between a satchel and a briefcase is that a satchel is soft-sided. As well, satchels often have straps and briefcases never do.
(History) The satchel became a fashion accessory and was popular during the 17th century. The satchel predates the backpack. The satchel can be a designer handbag or leather handbag, as well as any other material. These leather handbags can be designer handbags or more inexpensive mass production brands.
The Purse: A small bag or pouch, the opening of which is made to draw together closely, used to carry money in; by extension, any receptacle for money carried on the person; a wallet; a pocketbook.
The Shoulder Bag: a large handbag that can be carried by a strap looped over the shoulder. The burndt orange large tote from Glass Handbag is a great sample of this style.
The Cross Body Bag: Typically smaller in size, these bags are meant to be worn across the body to allow you be hands-free while on the go. The “Frankie” from Glass Handbag is a rendition of this.
The Baguette: a small, narrow, rectangular shape purse, resembling a French loaf of bread (baguette)
The Hobo: medium-size crescent-shaped bag with a top zipper and often a slouch or dip in the center; a modern, casual silhouette
The Athletic Bag or Backpack: Larger bags created mainly to carry sports equipment or schoolbooks. These bags are commonly by both women and men and are mainly functional, although has become more trendy and fashionable in recent years.
About the author
Willow Leuty was born in Manhattan, NY and currently resides in Las Vegas. Daughter and fashion assistant to the designer and founder of Glass Handbag LLC. Check out all our designs at www.glasshandbag.com