Purse or handbag? Today we tend to use these two words interchangeably without ever batting an eye. But, should we look back, we would find that that was not always the case. So join me in a brief look into history to find out where these two words originated and what they started out meaning. The term purse came about from more formal, advanced in age, ladies. The purse was considered to be very small, almost pouch-like, about the size of a mans wallet. They usually had a metal clasp and were not able to carry much at all. Hence, came the coin purse or change purse.
These were non gender specific, as it was very common to see a man carrying a purse, usually dangling from his belt. Women would have them tied to their girdles. They were most commonly associated to those of a higher social status, were hand-made and it was not uncommon for a crest or family symbol to be sewn on them. Eventually, purses became more common and were being carried by folks from all social and economical backgrounds. As the world of travel evolved, so did the arrival of the "handbag". People started wearing large cloth bags slung across their chests to carry their personal belongings. These were not very attractive, but were very convenient for toting a larger amount of necessities. These, "handbags, ' a larger bag worn over the shoulder or held with ones arm, became the norm. Still being used by both men and women.
Women found they now needed to carry more items with them and so the looks of these bags started to become more fashionable. Ladies were crafting them to match their attire and the colors and designs started to change too. The arrival of luggage came into play, and men were seen less often carrying a purse or handbag of any kind. Today, whether it be large or small the use of a purse or handbag has been designated as a woman's accessory. They have become a necessity and a very essential part of a woman's outfit. Colors, shapes, sizes and textures all must be taken into consideration when it comes to selecting a handbag. They have over-saturated the fashion industry, while still serving the purpose they were invented for. So no matter which term you opt to use when talking about your most prized accessory, these two, once completely different, specific terms, are now very much seen to mean, one in the same.