this is a hotly debated topic on internet forums – the difference
between a handbag and a purse. A lot of the facts out there are merely
people's opinions. So I'll start with mine. I say the only difference
between a handbag and a purse is the way you carry it. A handbag is
more like a satchel, in that the straps are shorter and are not meant
to hang from the shoulder. A purse has longer straps so that it hangs
down almost to your waist. (These types of purses remind me of the
older style that our mom's have.) But I do tend to use the word "purse" more
often than handbag because I find that handbag is a newer term, and
purse just rolls off the tongue.
But let's discuss what the so-called experts say about the
difference between a handbag and a purse. When you search for "handbag"
on Wikipedia, it actually re-routes you to the "purse" page. From
In American English, a purse is a small bag, also called a handbag or a pocketbook.
In British English, a purse is a small money container similar to a wallet, but typically used by women and including a compartment for coins, with a handbag being considerably larger; indeed, a purse is often kept in a handbag.
A purse or handbag is often fashionably designed, typically used by women, and is used to hold items such as wallet, keys, tissues, makeup, a hairbrush, cellular device or personal digital assistant, feminine products, or other items.
In the early 1900s people began calling their bags "handbags". This
term referred to luggage that men carried. They then inspired women,
who began carrying bags with complicated fasteners, internal
compartments, and locks. In the 1920s, it became popular that bags no
longer had to match your outfit. In the 1940s, with WWII, women's
purses were made out of wood or plastic since metal was being saved for
supplies. In the 1950s, popular handbag designers included Chanel,
Louis Vuitton, and Hermes. Today these three brands are still popular,
along with Gucci, Christian Dior, Fendi, Prada, Kate Spade, and
Lockheart among many others.
Types of handbags
- Clutch: Small, yet long (rectangular), evening bag without a handle.
- Satchel: large bag with small handle that is carried on the arm rather than on the shoulder.
- Duffle: A large bag usually used for travel or sports.
- Tote: A medium to large bag with two straps.
- Messenger bag : A bag with a long strap to be worn across the body.
- Sling bag : A bag with a long strap (similar to a messenger bag), yet smaller.
So see, even Wikpedia agrees with me. There's not much of a difference!
Here is an example of what I think is a handbag and a purse. Our designer inspired white handbag has shorter handles, making it the perfect "arm" bag. It is easily held on the arm, as opposed to up higher on the shoulder (though you can fit it up there too.) The giraffe print purse has slightly longer handles that you would definitely wear on your shoulder, hence we call it a purse.
I hope you've enjoyed this little lesson on the handbags vs purse subject!