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Purses Through Time

Purses Through Time

Purses could be found in the Ice Age. Back in the Ice Age, they were used to carry weapons, coins, tools, and food, according to  Humans haven’t changed much in 18,000 years. To this day purses are used to store the same things!

Informationng writes that in different countries men used small pouches for similar activities. Ancient Egyptians carried small pouches around their waists, and medieval Europeans used handbags to carry seeds and other small purchases from the market to their homes.

Now, let’s jump forward a couple thousand years to the 14th century. You’ll find a history both fascinating and bizarre.

14th – 18th century

During the 14th century, handbags were given to brides on their wedding day. Ornate, these differed from the drawstring bags used to carry coins, and the “hunting purses” Knights used. Wealthy women carried purses as an accessory for special occasions, and other women hid girdle pouches under their clothing, says  Purses boasted some rather odd staples. Roses and herbs. Women carried these around to hide their body odor, says

16th and 17th-century, purses boasted some rather odd staples.  Roses and herbs.  Women carried these around to hid their body odor, says

During the 18th century, many satchels were made from leather, and were black or brown.

19th century

Handbags during the 1900’s were used by men to carry luggage. The bag was plain and only used for practical purposes. As time went on, new and more complicated designs were made for women. These had many pockets and fasteners. mentions one outrageous fashion trend in the 1920’s. During this time lighter clothing with differing hemlines came into style. Whether or not a purse matched a woman’s outfit was unimportant because of her constant companion, a doll dressed just like her was all the style!

During the 1960’s and 70’s bills and coins were used for payments. Purses came with metallic fasteners and many compartments, which helped women find their money easier. Leather really took off at this time because of its durability and pleasant look, says

After Europe introduced the first bank card in 1987 the look of purses began to morph into what we know now.

Present-day Purses

In the early 20th century clothes became lighter, and bags became less about practicality and more about aesthetics. They became a means to express individuality and it was important they matched women’s outfits.

21st-century purses come with credit card holders, vanity mirrors, and phone holders. Most women own at least two purses; one for daily needs and a smaller coin purse for fun nights out, according to Far from the black and brown purses of the past, handbags come in a variety of bright colors, designs, and fabrics.

As the world shifts to a digital landscape, purses are now coming with RFID protection to secure information on chip-enabled cards, notes

And innovation just keeps innovating. 

Bigthink discusses the ways wearable technology has transformed purses. There are now bags available that can change colors using smartphones and “app-enabled” technology. These same purses charge cell phones so busy women can stay connected!

What will come next?


About the Author

Sally Hamilton

Sally Hamilton

Sally Hamilton has always worked in the Business World. She was a human resource manager for a manufacturing company for over 41 years. Now retired, she devotes her time to the fashion world.  Changing fashions has always been exciting to her.  She is especially interested in clothing accessories, i.e., purses, shoes, scarves, jewelry, boots, shoes,  and belts.  Her main interest has been hobo purses which she became interested in as a child living on a farm in northern Ohio.  She has watched the hobo purse become a wardrobe statement for many years.

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