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Women's Bags Throughout History

Handbags for women are not just a modern invention. Historic paintings and tapestries show that both women and men of early civilizations carried simple bags or purses for holding coins or small personal items. With the invention of pockets in the 17th century, men's bags faded out of favor and handbags became the domain of women.

The manufacturing power of the Industrial Revolution allowed for greater production of more complex designs of women's bags, and the evolution of women's roles as travellers and workers drove the demand for bags that could be used to carry essentials on the road or in to work. In the 20th century, design-house royalty such as Dior, Prada, Gucci and Chanel introduced their work-of-art handbags, and the obsession with gorgeous women's bags was born.

Each fashion season introduces new visions for clothing styles as well as new trends in handbags to accessorise the clothing lines. Women's bags are made with a variety of pockets and compartments that meet the need for practical functionality, but the sheer aesthetic beauty of design makes arm candy very collectible. Fortunately, online stores feature women's bags of every style and colour, and collecting couldn't be easier.

The Makings of Women's Bags

While shopping online for women's bags, it's immediately apparent that handbags come in a wide variety of materials. Including exotics such as ostrich, crocodile, and snakeskin, leather plays a large part in the construction of womens bags. The suppleness of suede leather makes it an ideal material for slouchy hobo bags and fringe trims. Textured leather adds visual interest as evidenced by pebbled cowhide, the cross-hatch design of Saffiano leather favoured by Prada and the quilted leather made famous by Chanel. Women's bags are also made from metal, lightweight nylon, durable coated canvas, straw or raffia, and a variety of synthetic materials.

Handbag styles are subject to seasonal changes, but satchels, bowlers, hobos, and saddle bags are among the usual design offerings. Women's bags in neutral tones of black, brown and tan are routinely available because they go with most outfits and have great versatility. Handbags in seasonal-favorite bold, bright colours are the perfect choice for adding fashion excitement and making extraordinary outfits out of ordinary outfits. Prints for women's bags include snake-skin, leopard and floral prints, as well as iconic stylings such as Burberry's Horseferry check and Liberty London's Ianthe design.

Women's Bags for All Occasions

As women's bags are designed to complement fashion, there is a perfect handbag for every style of dress and each woman's mood. For interviews and business appointments, nothing says professionalism and sophistication like a structured leather handbag in a neutral tone. A little black bag is something that has a place in every woman's wardrobe, and several variations are easily found when shopping online. Something fun and playful like a fringed festival bag may not be an ideal match for business wear, but its on-trend styling and retro appeal add spark to casual outfits.

Delicate evening bags with just enough room for lipstick, cash, keys and mobile are the perfect accessories for full-length evening gowns and short, sparkly cocktail dresses. With so many satin wristlets, embellished leather clutches and jewelled minaudieres to choose from, it's tempting to buy several of these glittering confections.

For a day on the high street, a weekend in the country, or an afternoon at the beach, spacious totes, weekenders and shoppers provide ample room for purchases, changes of clothes, sunscreen and essentials. Browsing online will turn up a huge selection of straw bags for casual beach days and coated canvas totes for uptown shopping.

Size Matters – Proportion and Women's Bags

For a polished look that enhances individual style, a handbag should be sized appropriately for the woman carrying the bag and the contents being carried. A petite woman lugging a huge tote looks overwhelmed and out of balance, and a bulgy, overstuffed bag looks sloppy and spoils an otherwise fashionable outfit.

The oversized bag trend works well for curvy, full-figured women who can carry the size with confidence. Shoulder bags that are carried at midriff height create a flattering silhouette for women with pear-shaped bodies, and cross-body bags that hang at hip length create a pleasing balance for women with inverted-triangle body shapes.

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