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History of Evening Bags

- History of Evening Bags

Evening bags actually got their start as a coin purse hung from a girdle around the waist. The thing that differentiates the evening bag from a regular handbag is that evening bags have always had a certain status appeal and do not take into consideration practicality.

In the 13th and 14th century, evening bags were pieced together from beautiful and elaborate wall hangings, rich with embroidery, and also vestments from religious clothing. Another influence for the evening bag was a small pouch wore at the waist of a rich lady where she would keep alms for the poor. This bag marked her as a high status person who was "showing off" by carrying around money for those less fortunate than herself. The more elaborate the bag, the wealthier the lady.

During the time of Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603), evening bags were crocheted into the shapes of clusters of grapes and animals such as frogs.

During the 17th century, gaming bags became popular for both men and women. These bags had symbols involving thrift and sayings of the day. The gaming bags were used to carry winnings from games the well-to-do played with each other.

As women started to carry around more for the evening (fans, perfumes, and calling cards), bags needed to get bigger and silk knotted bags were used. This trend, however, did not last long and smaller (and more feminine) bag once again became de rigeur for the elegant lady.

The origins of the evening bag would not be complete with mentioning the reticule bag that was first carried by the empress Josephine and soon taken up by ladies of the court and then the countryside.

Today the best example of this long line of bags is the Mary Frances evening bag, a truly unique and beautiful handbag that captures the elegance of it's predecessors!

Check out the Evening Bags at Henrietta's Handbags!

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