It’s all in the bag
Handbags. They can do a lot for us girls.
Big, small, clutch, tote, sleek, patent leather, tasselled and bedazzled. If you can dream it up, you can probably find it and you’ll probably enjoy the experience.
And while never as coveted as a great pair of shoes, handbags come a close second in the ever-expanding bevy of things considered essential to being ‘us’.
Katherine Eisman even wrote a book about the importance of a woman’s handbag. She found 39 examples that confirm what many of us already know; what you sling across your shoulder each day says a lot about your personality.
But can your handbag also help empower the modern multi-tasking, got-to-have-it-all woman?
British department store chain Debenhams chief handbag buyer Sue Tebbitt says yes.
Speaking to the Daily Mail after the company released market researched that showed since the onset of tiny technology think ipod, itouch and iphone, women’s handbags had become 57 per cent lighter, Tebbitt remarked breathlessly:
“Finally the burden placed upon working women is falling, and it’s all thanks to technology.”
Er, really. I mean we all love a good handbag but just because you shrink the physical size of our accessories it doesn’t mean that life itself becomes simpler.
Or that debate around issues like maternity leave and equal-pay becomes irrelevant. In-fact our iphone could well be an apt metaphor for how much we’re all trying to squeeze in.
And it’s exactly this that makes Debenhams research interesting.
If you want to know about the issues that plague women, start with their handbag. Because how they look and what’s inside them says more about our progress through the ages than you’d realise.
- In the beginning Did you know the first ever handbag was worn by a man? Found in the 14th century Egypt slung around their hips and was used to hold money or tools of their trade. Back in those times women were considered to have no need for money, a job or pretty much anything really other than having children, so what would they need a purse for?
- Revolution Possibly inspired by the rebellious streak of the French, a few things started to change around the 1700’s. Well, we were allowed out of the house for a start. And women throughout Europe were seen slinging bags over their shoulders. (Long gowns don’t mix with leather-slung bum-bags).
- A new kind of ‘man-bag Girls in the 18th century used the handbag to snare a husband. Handbags were a showcase for their embroidery skills and by default, their marital eligibility. Because even back then the more decoration your handbag had, the more affluent, talented and important you were perceived to be.
- The Twentieth Century This century probably saw the biggest change in the shape of our bags. Well-bred women of the early 1900’s stuffed cosmetics, fans and opera glasses into perfectly hemmed pieces of fabric. While the shorter fashions of the 1920’s saw women asserting themselves. Bags no longer matched dresses.
- The War Years Out with the mirrors and opera glasses and in with plastic and wood. Much cheaper to find, but I’m guessing you’d have been better off with some imagination.
- Flower Power The 1950’s and 1960’s gave birth to the big design houses like Chanel and Louis Vuitton and so began the obsession with brands. And it was trend that matched huge social changes. More women were working than ever before.
- Now Big is best. And if celebrities are anything to go by, the bigger the bag, the better you’ll look.
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