In simple terms, a purse is a small and fashionably designed bag, used to hold money, keys, makeup and other items of daily use. Purses are also popularly known as handbags, although some argue that a handbag is larger in size. Purses evolved several centuries ago, and ever since, have been an essential fashion accessory. The first purses can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, who used small pouches during religious ceremonies. Later, in the 14th century, purses were fastened to the waist with the help of girdles. During those days, purses were used as status symbols and were adorned with jewels and elaborate embroidery.
Through the 16th and 17th century, purses became more practical in design and were made of materials such as leather and cotton. Several purses had drawstring fasteners on the top to keep the contents safe. Embroidery, which became a craze in the 17th century, was used to decorate purses, which resulted in beautiful and unique pieces.
Probably the greatest achievement in the development of purses was the reticule, used in the 18th century. These were miniature purses that had no handles and were carried around in the hand. The reticules further developed into today’s chic purses, more popularly known as ‘clutch’ purses.
With several top companies producing purses in a dazzling array of designs and styles, the purse industry has become a multi-million dollar business. Today, purses vary not only based on their design, but also on the material used in their manufacture. From myriad colors and embroidery to sequins and diamonds, purses have come a long way and have added a substantial style quotient to our lives.
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