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The History of Evening Clutches

Evening clutches first rose to popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. It was during this time that Hollywood starlets and socialites began carrying structured handheld bags to special events rather than traditional purses with straps, which they felt negatively affected the appearance of their formal wear. Specifically, the trend was started by Florence Gould, an American socialite and patron of the arts known for carrying her belongings in a Lucky Strike metal cigarette case. She inspired luxury jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels to create one of the first luxury evening clutches in 1930. (Fun fact: The evening clutch also goes by the name minaudière, a fancy term patented by Van Cleef & Arpels.) Brands like Tiffany & Co., Cartier, and Chaumet debuted their own versions soon after. Today, very few companies make luxury evening clutches. However, that doesn’t mean that the evening clutch has gone away. Affordable versions are available in the purse section of most department stores as well as from specialty stores and countless online retailers. These can vary greatly in style, material, and price point. Some inexpensive evening clutches are designed for young girls attending school dances while others are more elaborate and intended for women attending upscale social events. Some design houses, such as Rauwolf and Nathalie Trad, even still produce luxury evening clutches today. Evening clutches, while traditionally used to carry one’s belongings at night while dressed in formalwear, are also making their way into daytime fashion, largely due to their popularity among street style icons who influence modern fashion trends.

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