The history of handbags

I have always loved handbags . As a child I could be found rummaging around in my Gran's wardrobe , or my Mum's , and then walking around very pleased with myself and my oversize handbag.

And now I can chat to my own granddaughter about handbags. She even helped me with the design of our junior range of Hettie children’s handbags.

Children's handbag in multispot wine 

"Behind every successful woman is a fabulous handbag "

Hettie Ella crossbody handbag multispot lime 

There is apparently a psychology behind the way we ladies carry our handbags . Not sure if I agree with this - do you ?!

If you hold a bigger bag in your hand , you take your career very seriously , and are keen to show off the importance of your job 


Hettie Kate tote bag Gargrave lilac

Hettie Kate tote bag multispot lime 

Women who carry their bag on their elbow may be subconsciously keen to show off their bag because it is a status symbol. Do you carry yours this way or in your hands ? 

Hettie handbag in fern 

Hettie handbag lavender spot 

And with a crossbody handbag , if you are wearing one , and it is behind your body it means that you in a hurry , or unconcerned with how it looks . Always best to wear a pretty crossbody bag where everyone can see it :-)


Hettie Ella handbag in fern 

Handbags have been around in some form or another for a long time . I was fascinated to read more about it from the website

Early Europeans used handbags just as we do today—to store personal belongings needed for the day. Clothing had no pockets until the 17th century, so men also carried handbags for things like coins, alms, and relics. 
Worn attached to a belt, this 16th-century buckle bag had 18 secret compartments. For the aristocratic gentleman, it was a status symbol. The sporran played a similar role in the highlands of Scotland—part utilitarian, part symbol of wealth and status.

As pockets became an integral part of clothing during the 17th century, men no longer needed to carry handbags for anything other than the bulkiest of items—books, documents, and letters.

From the 16th century, women often wore a decorative clasp at the waist with a series of chains attached, called a chatelaine. Suspended from it were useful household accessories such as scissors, keys, and sewing tools. Crafted from precious metals, chatelaines were considered as jewellery and status symbols.

17th- and 18th-century ladies preferred to carry their particulars in small bags with drawstrings that were known as reticules in France and “indispensables” in England.

The Industrial Revolution brought steam railways and travel became increasingly popular.

In 1841, Yorkshire entrepreneur Samuel Parkinson, whose Butterscotch confectionary was appointed to the British royal household, wanted to treat his wife to a custom-made set of hand luggage.

He had noticed that her purse was too small and not made of a sturdy enough material for traveling. So he had leather handbags made for her in varying size for different occasions.

Besides durability, Parkinson wanted to distinguish his luggage from that of lower class passengers.

London-based luxury leather goods company H. J. Cave & Sons was more than happy to oblige. Its Osilite trunk became so famous that it won several prizes in the 19th century, including first prize in Paris in 1867.

But most importantly for Mrs. Parkinson, she got to own the world’s first designer handbag.

H. J. Cave’s designs are known to have inspired Louis Vuitton (1857) and a young Guccio Gucci (1910).


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