How have handbags developed in the last decades? A very exciting question, we think. In our time travel through the past decades, we go in search of handbags that became a trend and have become an integral part of the historical development of the ladies' handbag. On our first stopover we look at the models that women wore in the 1910s, 20s, 30s and 40s.


The years 1910 to 1940 were marked by two world wars and the resulting social changes. These changes contributed significantly to the emancipation of women and gender equality. Accordingly, women's fashion changed over the decades. In the early 1910s, especially influenced by Coco Chanel, the corset was abolished. Women now wore more and more trousers - a major step in the women's movement.


In addition, as women (and men) became more mobile - mainly due to the railways and a rapidly growing rail network - bags became more important. Bag designers, if you could call them that, now concentrated less on making saddlebags (for travelling on horseback or in a carriage) and more on bags that could be carried by hand and were therefore more advantageous for train journeys. Thus the term "hand" bag was born.


Due to the ever growing women's movement, this handbag fashion quickly developed in a new direction. For the first time, women wore a handbag for fashion reasons and not for practical reasons as before.


Thus, due to the social changes in every decade, certain handbag trends and styles can be found, which have become an integral part of fashion history. We have picked out the most popular models of the first four decades and would like to present them in our time travel series.




In the 1910s, the woman's style was characterized by elegance and narrow lines. Fashion was usually lavishly decorated with embroidery and, inspired by archaeological finds, decorated with patterns from Egypt and the Orient.


One of the first and thus pioneer of the style icons of the 1910s was dancer Irene Castle. At that time she made a significant contribution to the emancipatory development of women's fashion and thus also influenced the development of women's handbags.


Handbags in the 1910s were elaborately embroidered with bright colors and patterns reminiscent of carpet motifs. Often certain scenes and pictures were also depicted on the bags to give them a special, striking and unique look. In addition, the handbags were usually bag-shaped, made of leather or fabric and closed with an ivory or metal frame. Metal net bags (so called because they were woven from filigree metal) also became increasingly popular. Because they were made by machine, they could be produced more quickly and more cheaply. Since the bags were usually very small, the fashion-conscious women of the 1910s used them less as everyday bags, but rather as elegant accessories for evening events.


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Handbags in the 1910s: Delicate, narrow and richly decorated.

Reference:, seen on 27.06.2017, unknown author



The 20's were marked by the Jazz Age - which required one thing above all: agility. Women wore dresses in which they could move freely and easily. The fashion of the time was exciting, dramatic and, above all, a drastic break in style from the Victorian era, which was not so long ago at the time, and its stiff and restrictive designs. Clothing was now lavishly embroidered with glitter and sequins.


Due to the First World War, leather became very scarce and expensive, so that synthetic materials were increasingly used for the production of clothing and accessories.


Strong women also shaped the progressive emancipation during this period: Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker and Pola Negri are considered the greatest style icons of the 1920s.


Until the 1920s the handbag was not a must-have for women. However, this changed in the course of this decade. But which handbags did the style icons wear back then? Once again, small silver net bags were particularly fashionable, some of which had modern geometric patterns inspired by Art Deco. Also very popular was the so-called "Dorothy Bag" for the evening - a small bag made of fabric or leather with a short handle, elaborately decorated with pearls, sequins, precious stones or embroidery. The second most popular bag model was the "Pochette" - a kind of envelope bag that could be clamped under the arm. The design of the bag even lasted into the 50s. However, Art Deco was also very popular as decoration, with Egyptian patterns such as golden cats or palm leaves.


The development of the zipper can be seen as another important bag revolution in this decade. Originally taken over by the US Navy, which used the new product for the first time on a large scale for weatherproof uniforms, the zipper also very soon revolutionized bag production, influenced the shape of the bag and gradually replaced button and lace fasteners.



Handbags in the 1920s: Art Deco elements and Egyptian ornaments are very popular.

Reference:, article from 14.09.2013, seen on 27.06.2017, unknown author



In the 1930s, elegance was at the forefront of fashion. Clothing was now again a little more figure-hugging and feminine. Especially popular were long dresses, which were cut tighter at the hips but had a wide and bell-shaped hem. For the first time, shoulder pads, popular until the 80s, also came into fashion. Women, who shaped the fashion and therefore also the trends of the 30's, were Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo or even Jean Harlow.


At the beginning of the 1930s the world was in an economic crisis, which also influenced the development of women's fashion in general and bag fashion in particular. The majority of women could not afford high-quality bags and so most of them chose models that at least looked expensive. The focus of fashion attention was on richly decorated, almost overly glamorous bags, which were, however, made of inferior material. As in the two decades before, bags were rather small and light. Towards the end of the decade, however, the bags became larger and the straps longer. In addition, geometric patterns and shapes were replaced by playful, sumptuous and artistically high-quality designs. A popular bag model, which already established itself in the 1930s and is still indispensable today, is the Noé model by Louis Vuitton.



The fashion of the 1940s was very similar to the fashion of the last decade. Due to the prevailing Second World War, hardly any new designs or trends were developed, because fashion exaggerations or unsuitable clothing were not desired. Only after the war did women begin to become more fashion-conscious again and towards the end of the 1940s new trends developed again.


So what developments could one observe in handbag fashion? The bags became more and more square and box-shaped during the 40s. The envelope-like bag "Pochette" from the 1920s was most likely the model here and was further developed. The needs of women, who were increasingly entering the labor market, also had to be taken into account. Functionality determined this time. Bags became larger, more practical and had a long carrying strap that women put over their shoulder to keep their hands free.


A time travel through the decades: Part 2 - Handbags in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s

In the next part of our time travel through the decades the topic "handbags in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s" awaits you with all trends and important topics around the handbag of the different decades. Stay tuned - and as long as you are curious, take a look at our website, because here you will find the hottest handbag trends of 2020.

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