Just large enough to carry the essentials, the sleek and feminine design of the clutch bag has defined evening fashion for the past 100 years. The absolute must have accessory for any event from a ladies cocktail night, to formal engagements, clutches come in a multitude of shapes and colours. We all love a clutch to accentuate and elevate our outfits, but where did this classic handbag come from, and how have trends in clutches changed over the years? We’re taking a look at how the clutch went from flapper pouch to the must have accessory of today.
Before the clutch, there was the pochette. The 1920’s saw a shift in woman’s fashion like never before, gone were the days of soft Victorian frills and restrictive corsets as women raced to keep up with the rapidly changing times. Women everywhere had tasted freedom, and they needed apparel that fitted with their more independent and fun-loving lifestyles. Along with bobbed hair and sleek clothing, embellished pochettes were the choice of film stars and high-society ladies who wanted the most extravagant of accessories. The privilege of carrying a bag small enough for only a lipstick or two was the status symbol of the time. These were not the bag you needed, but the bag you wanted.
In the thirties Christian Dior sought to make the haute couture pochette of the 20’s more accessible to women everywhere, and the classic clutch as we know it was born. Slightly larger than its predecessor and made from leather, these clutches were a luxury accessory that was not priced only for the bourgeois. Dior marketed Clutch bags to forward thinking, modern women, who were eager to flaunt their newfound status.
From then, clutches became more accessible to the public, and their popularity spread like wildfire. The sixties saw clutches increase in size as bpeople adopted a 'bigger is better' mentality. and more unique shapes and vivd colours became the norm.
The eighties saw a boom in clutch sales once again, as Princess Diana sported them as her handbag of choice. The princess even had a clever use for her bags, as she entered and excited cars, she used her clutch to cover her cleavage and avoid any untimely paparazzi photos. This became such a phenomenon, the clutch found itself with a new name - the cleavage bag, a nickname given by Diana herself!
As times progressed, fashion became more about what you desire and less about essentials. Wardrobes grew rapidly and consumerism soared. Clutch popularity reached an all-time high, the rules of what constitutes a clutch were discarded and a more free-thinking and artistic approach towards bag making became the norm. Today, a clutch can be whatever you dream it to be, with endless shapes and sizes available, there really is a clutch for EVERY occasion.