More in vogue for style than utility, evening bags have evolved a long way since their first recorded existence in Egyptian hieroglyphics centuries back. You might be surprised to know that in those times handbags, as they are called today, were used by men rather than women. These were known as “girdles” and were worn around the waist. These ancient Egyptian bags varied widely in size, range and functionalities. They were mainly used for storing spices and grains. What a contrast from the designer evening bags of today that carry cell phones and cosmetics!
Anyway, it didn’t take very long for women to take over the industry and make handbags an indispensable part of their wardrobe. By the 14th century, these bags had become symbols of social status based on the amount of embroidery and ornamentation they carried upon them. They started being made in complex shapes and elaborate designs. Though men still continued to use them, these evening bags had by then become the monopoly of women. They were carried as pouches under their skirts. In the 15th century the bags were made out of leather and had fastenings on top.
By the 16th and 17th centuries, handbags became exactly that, that is, bags that are carried in hands rather than underneath the robes. These were called reticules. Women had also started having more than one, each for a special occasion. These bags were mostly used for carrying rouge, face powder, a fan, a scent bottle, visiting cards, a card case, and smelling salts. The 18th century saw the beginning of a more fashionable purse, again women possessing multiple purses to match their different robes. The handbags started being referred to as “handbags” from 20th century. It was around this time that they started being made from materials like metal, wood and plastic.
Today, evening bags are ubiquitous and range from the local ones that you buy on the streets to outrageously priced designer handbags. Whether to carry cosmetics or laptops, these bags have now become part and parcel of women’s lives. Many women possess a range of handbags for each occasion dependent upon their wardrobe. Many psychological studies have proved that carrying a much loved and carefully chosen evening bag brings more confidence to women, especially in this age when they go out to work as much as men. Even different professions have different kinds of bags. An Evening bag has now become a way for your voice to proudly shout to the world. “Take note of me, I am an individual”.