Originally, the term "purse" referred to a tiny bag used to store coins. It is still used to refer to a tiny money bag in several English-speaking nations. A "handbag" is a larger accessory that stores items other than cash, such as personal belongings. The phrases "purse" and "handbag" are frequently interchanged in American English. In the early 1900s, the phrase "handbag" first appeared. It was originally only used to refer to men's hand baggage. During this time, women's bags got larger and more complex, and the term was applied to the accessory.
Handbags were widely condemned when they first became popular because they were perceived as unfeminine. Sigmund Freud stated in the early twentieth century that purses were sexually suggestive because the purse's construction mirrored female genitalia and sexuality. Before handbags, a woman's dress included pockets that housed personal belongings, and retrieving them was done quietly and modestly. Because handbags are worn out in the open, they expose a woman's personal belongings.
As purses became more popular in the twentieth century, they began to evolve from strictly functional goods to symbols of the wearer's wealth and social status. Purses and handbags' styles, fabrics, pricing, and, most crucially, their brand names were just as (if not more) valuable than the bags' functioning. Handbags went from being viewed as unfeminine to being viewed as both feminine and masculine.
Men's bags were more in the realm of briefcases: square, hard-edged, plain; containing items pertaining to the "man's world": business-related items, documents, files, stationary, and pens. Women's bags were more in the realm of fashion accessories, not meant to hold more than a few personal and beauty items (feminine things).
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