Accessories are a Girl’s Best Friend

In addition to bags, the collection of the former Museum of Bags and Purses includes thousands of accessories worn by women. The founder of Museum Hendrikje called the handbag ‘the secret drawer’, a drawer that is filled with all sorts of items we hardly ever see, because in the normal course of events the ‘drawer’ is closed.

The former Museum of Bags and Purses had a huge collection of accessories giving visitors an idea of what personal belongings women have carried with them since the 18th century. The accessories range from fans, hats, shoes, wallets, coin purses and sewing kits to vinaigrettes, matches, card holders, make-up and cell phones. They all paint a picture of a rich history, of women’s everyday life, of customs, habits, etiquette and social changes.

Until the 19th century, the sewing kit, the wallet and especially the hat and fan were the woman’s most important accessories. From then on, the variety of accessories increased and ranged from purses to all kinds of boxes such as vinaigrettes with sponges and scented water; matchbooks, peppermint boxes for small sugar mints; stamp boxes with stamps for personal letters; and card holders.

As a result of women’s liberation in the 20th century, bags and accessories called for practical applications. Fans and hats lost their importance, and bags and shoes became major fashion accessories.

After the First World War and influenced by the rising motion picture industry, women started wearing make-up and smoking cigarets. Thus, powder compacts, lipstick holders and lighters found their ways into handbags. Since the 1970s, credit cards have gotten a dominant space  into our bags. The cell phone, key ring and agenda were added in the 1990s. More recently, the smart phone reduced the weight of handbags by a kilo because it replaced our overcrowded diaries.