I’ve currently got my eyes on the most amazing handbag (ok maybe not the most amazing, but pretty amazing!), and it got me thinking: why is it that handbags are so important to women? Most men don’t care about putting their belongings in their pockets or in OUR handbags, but we have to have a real (gorgeous) one to carry all the things we need (and more)… Why is it that we feel “naked” without it? We often say that a handbag is the extension of a woman’s arm, so where does that woman-bag relationship come from?
Ok, so I did a little research on how it all started, and guess what? The earliest handbags in history were small sacks carried by gentlemen! You heard me: it all started with men! They date way back to ancient history and were used to carry spices, flint and money. While the term “handbag” didn’t exist until the mid-nineteenth century, “pouches” were used by men to carry their valuables. We can even see men wearing purses on Egyptian hieroglyphs. Throughout the centuries, these purses took various forms: women would attach them to their girdles, wear them under their skirts, peasants and travellers would wear large bags across their body, and some even used them to carry sweet smelling material (hygiene was sometimes underrated…). The term “handbag” was coined in the 19th century when railways developed and a need for travel bags emerged. Many famous brands started by creating luggage (Hermès, Louis Vuitton…) and it soon became a sophisticated accessory! After the Second World War, the purse became a cult accessory and a sign of femininity. Designers would play with colours, sizes and shapes, which would allow women to create their own style and convey different messages.
There is something sexual about a handbag and wearing one conveys a message. According to Freud, the contents of a bag symbolise the unconscious and can even be interpreted as female genitalia or a womb. It is said that what’s in a bag reflects the owner’s personality, hence the paradox: a bag is used to conceal and to signify. Do the contents of a bag really reflect our personality? I like to carry more than I actually need (you know, just in case), what does that say about me? So, I’ve completed a little online test and it turns out I’m a very emotional person (true), and my handbag is a treasure chest that reflects my dreamer and sentimental side (also true), wow this test is good! Maybe next time, I could analyse the contents of my closet? On second thought, I don’t think that’s a good idea, it would take me ages…
Now let’s get down to business: my favourite picks for this season, from designer brands to high street!