Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bags and Purses

This morning on my etsyknitters list there was a great write-up on the history of purses and bags for women. I thought it was very interesting and decided to post it here. Then I thought, how much women LOVE their bags. You know, we have to get just the right one. As a knitter and spinner, I can be seen carrying 3 or even 4 bags somewhere. The joke is, "We are moving or we have enough stuff for a week," and we are only going to the grocery store or to a friend's home to knit for a couple of hours. But, we take it all. :) On a typical Wednesday, when I am leaving for spinning, I can be seen taking my spinning wheel, my spinning bag, my lunch bag, my knitting bag, an extra bag with show-n-tell AND any other bag that calls out to me.

Here are some bags that I have made over the years. I didn't put all of them on here, but just some.

I can only imagine what it was like for women before they had bags. Of course, they didn't live on the go like we do, but imagine how stuffed their skirt pockets were!

Here is the history of bags from the etsy knitters list.
good morning 11.22.2009 - Why do Women Carry Bags

good morning,from do women carry bags? History shows that, before purses, women did carry things in their pockets. Bags first came into fashion in about 1800 when the full skirts of the previous period gave way to the slender, diaphanous dress. Prior to that time, bags had been rather uncommon, since most women carried small necessities in the pockets hidden inside their full skirts. It was only when the narrow, gauzy neoclassical style of dress eliminated the space for pockets that came into vogue.A woman's life changed at the turn of the century. Middle-class women began to spend more time outside the home. Shopping became a popular leisure activity and shopping bags were more widely used. Women also traveled for pleasure. Small leather handbags were designed to be kept with the traveler at all times. In the early twentieth century, more women began to engage in paid employment.Since that time, women began to carry more and more things with them. Many women became attached to their practical bags, which function as a sort of life support system, containing items crucial to their owners' perceived survival. A woman will rarely allow her bag out of sight.When more women began working and new opportunities opened to them, their purses began to get bigger and fuller. Women began to create their own personal microcosm of 'home'. The purse and its contents often represent the three abandoned personae that once defined a woman: the survivalist, the curator, and the homemaker. The persona of the survivalist is clearly significant, since many women "boast of the readiness with which they could face unforeseen disasters." Journalist Betsy Israel says that, "With a well-stocked purse, we are theoretically set for anything." In The New York Times, Enid Nemy is quoted, "I could spend the night on the subway, if necessary. My handbag is a life-support system." What a woman considers essential is on different scale, a far grander and more imaginative level, than men could ever perceive. The purse of a woman is both a weapon and a shield. In it lurks the means for urban and suburban survival and defense, as well as the means for taking the world by storm.Nowadays men manage to walk around with the three essentials (comb, wallet, keys) tucked neatly into their pockets. Women, on the other hand, seem to carry everything but the kitchen sink. Men do, after all, carry briefcases and gym bags. A few men even carry - or wear - unisex utility bags. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that men do not habitually carry as much stuff around with them as women tend to. Society forces women to pay more attention to fashion than function. Women's clothes have skimpy pockets, whereas men's clothes have copious pockets for a wallet, glasses, keys or whatever. But even the most copious pockets would not hold everything that the average woman carries in her bag on a day-to-day basis.The bag is a kind of miniature house and a portable world which women carry with them. When asked "what one object do you travel with to make a hotel room your own?" the celebrated architect Zaha Hadid answered: "My handbag." Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously referred to her handbag as "my trusty companion." And when the rest of us might never express our relationship with our everyday bag in quite such emotive terms, deep down we would be hard-pressed to manage without it.

1 comment:

  1. J-- I sure hope Laurie reads this! It will be TOTAL Justification for all the bags she brings with her when she travels. That woman has everything!