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National Handbag Day, on October 10, celebrates the piece of your ensemble that is a fashion statement and necessity all at once. Whether you’ve got an immaculate designer bag that sets you back thousands, or a massive mom purse full of snacks, tissues, and quarters, you know the handbag is an essential item for many women and even some men! While handbags started as a plain accessory for packing things needed to survive, there are now a plethora of names for the fashion piece (from satchel to clutch), a variety of sizes, and hundreds of styles.
History of National Handbag Day
As it turns out, humans have always loved purses. Before they became the fashion statements that they are today, they were used to carry necessary items on long journeys and for work. In fact, purses go back to prehistory. The first purse recorded in history belonged to Ötzi the Iceman who lived between 3400 and 3100 B.C., between what’s now Austria and Italy. And he wasn’t alone! Historians agree that it was mostly men who carried purses initially, particularly to have easy access to coins — the purse even became a status symbol for men.
The man-purse era, while long in prehistory, didn’t last in modern history. The reticule, or small closed bag, soon became a fashion item carried by many women from 1795 to 1820. No men carried reticules. After this era, handbags went out of style. Women with money began to wear large, voluminous skirts that could easily conceal pockets the size of a medium handbag. Deep pockets were sewn into gowns, and women had yet another way to carry the essentials with them. After high-waisted dresses became stylish, however, this trend ended as the dresses could not accommodate the pockets.
Off and on, women carried one type of handbag or another through the next few centuries. While the early 20th century saw more glamorous bags on the arms of flappers and wealthy noblewomen, the Second World War changed fashion and culture. As scarcity was an issue nearly everyone encountered, handbags took on a frugal, sensible, and utilitarian appearance. One type of bag that became popular in this era is the ever-useful shoulder (or messenger) bag.
After this period of understated bags, it seemed a new trend took over every decade. For example, in the 1980s, handbags were made with a variety of vibrant colors, glitz, glam, and opulence. During this decade, the first unisex bag was also launched. Today, many men carry purses, and it has become increasingly acceptable for people of any gender to carry a bag for essentials. Today, many popular designer bags and styles have already come and gone — fashion only repeats itself! Even in the 2020s, we see styles from the 1990s and early 2000s returning.
National Handbag Day timeline
The first purse in known history dates back to 3000 B.C. and belonged to a man - Ötzi the Iceman.
In the mid-18th century, handbags aren’t mainstream, so women carry the essentials in pockets that are as big as a bag.
During the Second World War, there is a cultural and fashion shift towards more sensible, less flashy items — handbags reflect this and useful styles like shoulder bags become in vogue.
Seemingly every decade of the 20th century brings a new handbag trend — the 1980s see the production of wildly flamboyant and colorful bags.
The first handbag designed for both men and women is launched — while it is met with mixed reviews at the time, today, it’s much more universally accepted for men to carry bags.
National Handbag Day FAQs
Are there other holidays on October 10?
Yes! October 10 is also National Angel Food Cake Day, National Cake Decorating Day, and World Mental Health Day.
Are there other national holidays about fashion?
Yes! June 6 is National Eyewear Day, July 29 is National Lipstick Day, and October 23 is National Croc Day.
Are there any deals for national Handbag Day?
Yes! In the past, stores like ASOS, Mango, and Net-a-Porter ran sales on October 10. Check online for this year’s deals!
National Handbag Day Activities
Buy that bag you’ve been eyeing
It’s too expensive, we know. But you’ve been waiting for it to go on sale for months, and today has to be the day to purchase it. If you’ve been looking for a sign, this is it. Happy National Handbag Day — treat yourself!
Clean that messy purse
The sign of a great purse is that it’s a catch-all. Any well-loved bag probably has a used gift card, an old key, and a half-eaten granola bar hiding in its depths — and that’s okay! National Handbag Day is the perfect chance to show your go-to bag a little love. Clean it out and organize it.
It feels great to be rocking your designer handbag on your arm — you just wish you could show it off to more people. After all, it cost as much as a month’s rent! The best way to share it with your circle is to post a stunning pic of the fashion accessory with #NationalHandbagDay to grab attention.
5 Fun Facts About Handbags
They can be worth more than $3 million
Sitting in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive purse, the ‘1001 Nights Diamond Purse’ was valued at $3.8 million.
Six per person
According to one survey, the average woman has six purses!
Purses were originally for men
While today some men won’t even hold a woman’s purse while she’s in the bathroom, historically, purses were created solely for men to use — this is clear from historical images and texts from Africa and Ancient Egypt.
Railways gave rise to the purse
As railroads became a popular method of transportation, travelers often wanted to carry with them a lighter amount of luggage — hence the purse!
Purses were in the Bible
In the Bible, Judas is the first person mentioned to be carrying a bag.
Why We Love National Handbag Day
They’re a statement
From the cheapest, sale-bin handbag to the most luxurious, high-end, designer clutch, your bag is the biggest statement piece in your wardrobe. It can display your fashion sense and personal identity in a way almost nothing else can — this must be why they have been such a well-loved fashion item for centuries!
They’re so useful!
Off the top of our heads, we can think of hundreds of problems a well-stocked purse can solve. While some purses work like a medicine cabinet, others seem to contain a whole snack bar or every cleaning product in the book. You can always count on your trusty purse to save you from a makeup disaster or from getting hangry!
They’re an indulgence
Some people pour their money into vacations, cars, luxury home items, or expensive memberships. If you’re one of those people who could easily max out their credit card on a sweet designer handbag without hesitation, you definitely understand what a satisfying indulgence a great purse can be. To each his own — if handbags make you happy, today is the day to buy one!
National Handbag Day dates