A clutch is a small envelope-shaped handbag. This is an evening accessory that complement an evening garment. It resembles a larger version of a purse that can carry a small number of items but looks elegant and fashionable.
Clutch means grip or grasp. A clutch usually accompanies its owner to the theater or to a social event. Usually, this type of handbag is carried on a strap over the shoulder, but this is a kind of a modern invention. The conservative opinion towards carrying a clutch – it must be under the arm or just held in the hand. And be complemented with pumps shoes and a formal suit (or an ever-relevant little black dress). Such dress code has long been an eternal classic for official events.
The history of clutches dates back to bags, which were originally used for storing money or small items, such as needles or jewelry. Handbags resembling a clutch can be seen in ancient paintings and tapestries, but they haven’t survived to our time since they were made of undurable materials.
Magician's bag on the painting by Rogier van der Weyden
However, near Mosul city in northern Iraq, archaeologists have found a bag that is more than 700 years old, which is now exhibited in one of London museums. It is a brass clutch, inlaid with gold and silver, which is contemporary in design and proves that such accessories were a symbol of wealth and status even in ancient times.
Late in the 19th century, clutches got their modern look — an oblong shape and a special strap used for hanging the purse on the wrist.
In the 1920-30s, clutches were believed to be a luxury item and a status accessory. Then, these handbags used to be made of snake or crocodile leather, so not every woman could afford such an accessory. Moreover, at that time clutches were decorated with gold or pearls.
After the Second World War, Christian Dior strived to “make the clutch public” and is ceased to be a solely upscale accessory.
Recently, clutches have become of incredible interest again. Demand begets supply, so nowadays these handbags have become more diverse and amusing. It’s no longer just an austere flat rectangle. Modern clutches can look like, for example, a tube. There are transformer clutches, which can be unfolded and become more spacious than their ancestors. For carrying them easily, handles are made in form of chains or thin straps.
Braccialini's Caramel Shaped Clutch bag
A modern clutch is no longer an accessory for going out in public only, but a complement to a business suit or even to casual clothes. For the evening and business style – a small classic clutch, for everyday life – its more capacious version.
Clutch bag with chain strap by Armani Exchange
Indeed, a clutch looks appropriate with any style of clothes, even with sports garments.
Sporty look with a clutch bag
Today, you can find a clutch to suit every taste and made of any material. The material range include genuine leather or suede, faux leather or textile.
The same applies to decor – it can be expensive (already-mentioned pearls) or affordable (metal fittings or appliques).
Variants of velvet clutches by Ermanno Scervino