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Handbags 1950’s style

August 11, 2010

So you have a gorgeous 1950’s style dress and need to match a bag too it.  If you want to keep it fairly close to the period then read on!

One of the most important things about the 1950’s was the popularity of accessories, no woman would be without perfectly matching shoes, handbag and gloves.  Potentially even a hat, so remember this when selecting your attire, it is necessary to cover all these things to match the style.

Handbags were most commonly the box style of handbag (1), like an oblong , but narrower at the top than at the bottom.  But also in fashion was the lucite purse (2) , the hatbox style bag (4), the tapestry or carpetbag (3) and the suitcase purse.

See how in the image above, the box style bag (1) and the carpet bag (3) have a very similar shape.  This was the shape of many handbags of the 50’s so one simple way of ensuring your bag matches is to select a bag that has this trapezium shape, ensuring the narrow side is the top side.

The material is not as important as there was a wide variety used during this time.  They included leather and vinyl, furs, skins, raffia, straw, carpet and velvet.

Another feature of many of the bags at the time was a place to store your gloves, so outside side pockets were also popular.  Although you cannot see this on the box bag (1), it is likely that there is one there on the other side.

Most of all, have fun with your outfit.  This Vivien Holloway dress and bolero is teamed perfectly here with an orange 50’s style bag which has been made extra fun by the addition of a waterspout making it resemble a watering can!  Note the shape of the bag is slightly wider at the bottom than the top to create that trapezium shape.  You can see also that she has matched both bag and hair accessory to the pinks and oranges on the dress.

To get another idea of how it all fits together, see the Gossip Girl post we did a few days ago.  Here she has perfectly matched her outfit, hat, gloves, shoes and bag.  The gloves and shoes are both dark navy and white which match the Bettie Page dress, and the bag provides contrast, but is matched to the fashion of the time in its hat bag style.

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