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History of the Handbag

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

By Taylor Shockley

Photography by Rebekah Shook, Styled by SJ Weidner

What’s your current go-to bag? Is it the Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag, a canvas tote or a mini purse? It's hard to think that our styles now inevitably have come from somewhere else. Handbags were once an accessory designed for men but now are worn by people all over the world for different purposes. Let’s walk through memory lane at some of the most famous bags and purses from each era.

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The 1920s: The Flapper Girl Aesthetic

During the Roaring 20s, everything was glitz and glam; even their bags! Small jewed clutches were all the rave. They relied heavily on beads, pearls and feathers to add a pop to their outfit. The bag size was small or most often a clutch.

The 1970s: Boho Chic

This time period brought about many different kinds of bags. Some of the most popular bags were ones that were wickered. Wickered bags became a staple in everyone's closet at the time. The sizes of bags were typically larger and resembled picnic baskets.

Photography by Rebekah Shook, Styled by SJ Weidner

The 2000s: From Small to Large

This era served the idea of multidimensional purses. The 2000s played with the idea of size in terms of bags. The classic mini bags were in style, but there was also the iconic tote look. Depending on the occasion, the 2000s always had a bag that would make a statement.

The 2020s: Bring It All Back

The most current time period is bringing every bag from every era back. The mini purse is now a staple in everyone's closet, but so is a canvas tote. The fanny pack has also made a surprising comeback and is now being worn as a cross body purse. There are endless possibilities for purse choices nowadays.

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