shop feature: victorian era purses

Over the weekend, I had the rare opportunity to catch one of the local Saturday flea markets (I’m usually working) and one of my favorite vendors was there selling the most beautiful collection of Victorian era purses. Of course, I couldn’t walk away without at least two. And of course, now I’ve been obsessively looking at others like them. I can’t help but swoon over the intricate beading and delicate details of these purses. As some of the forefront bags to emerge from the essential rise of the handbag in the Victorian era, it’s quite amazing to see the decor of each as they evolve and incorporate new materials.


With fewer pockets in their then more form-fitting wardrobes, purses became more prevalent in women’s fashion and the small drawstring “reticule” became a popular way to tote around cosmetic mirrors, fans, perfumes, and all manner of lady necessities. By the mid-1800’s, purses began to grow in size and decoration. Matching your purse to your outfit became much more popular, and a purse’s appeal was generally achieved with heavy beading and decoration in one or more colors. As more women were leaving their homes and more personal items (cigarettes, anyone?) needed to be brought about town, the purse flourished.

I’m a pretty big fan of the metal/mesh style bags here, but an even bigger fan of the beading on the pair I picked up at the flea market (pictured above). I was so ecstatic to find the two, especially after reading up on these bags so much. What better example of the desire to match your bag to your outfit than these? The same bag in two different colors — the lady who owned this certainly knew how to coordinate her outfits!

What’s best about these bags are the beautiful surprises you find when you open them up. I can’t get enough of these adorable satin roses that line the interior. Check out the rest of the photos in the shop!

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