1950-2000: Practical Shoulder Bags

In the second half of the 20th century the practical shoulder bag became quite the thing. A major turning point were the shoulder bags Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli created in the 1930s. With their functional and military feel, they were especially popular during the Second World War. When Dior introduced his postwar collection in 1947, soon dubbed the ‘New Look’, the shoulder bag became fashionable as a more elegant bag.

Its definitive breakthrough came in the1960s, when a young generation of fashion designers such as Mary Quant, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, Courrèges and Yves Saint Laurent were inspired by the youth culture. The young and casual fashion of the 1960s required a practical and young-looking bag – the shoulder bag again. The Chanel bag, with its iconic padding and gold chain, is the most renowned example of a shoulder bag. Its official name is the ‘2.55’, for the date of its launch in February 1955.

Nowadays, the shoulder bag has evolved into a fashion accessory for the practical woman. Thanks to its long strap it can be slung over the shoulder. Sometimes it is worn diagonally across the chest, leaving the woman’s hands free for her busy, hectic lifestyle.