If we had to choose one category that we’d consider our “specialty” here at the Penny Pincher Boutique, we might have to go with purses and handbags. Of the many item types we consign in our Westchester store and on our website, handbags are the only items we sometimes purchase outright. And I think we’d all agree that the right handbag can, in many ways, make or break an outfit.
But aside from selecting a quality handbag made by a top designer, how can you make sure you choose the purse or handbag that’s right for you? Let’s start by asking what the difference is between the the two terms most often used to describe what’s arguably your most significant accessory.
Definitions and Prohibitions
Really, according to technical definitions of the words, you could easily use the terms “handbag” and “purse” interchangeably. But when we’re talking about dictionary definitions, we’re not really considering connotations. And some style bloggers make a pretty decent case for using one term above the other. In fact, the one earlier linked to mentions learning that in the department store where she works as a personal stylist, she’s discovered that one of those terms is “strictly prohibited for reasons seemingly impossible to explain.”
While she couldn’t get a straight answer for the rule against using the term “purse,” she acknowledges that “there’s just something slightly smug about the word ‘handbag’ in comparison to the word ‘purse.’” While technically either of those words could be used for an identical accessory, the term “purse” is considered to be old school.
Clearly, though, “purse” hasn’t always had a negative connotation; in fact, ever-the-elegant Audrey Hepburn has often been quoted, from the iconic movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” as saying,“Hand me my purse, will you darling?” But that was a few years ago.
While Hepburn’s little black dress is still a classic wardrobe staple, the term “purse” is arguably passe. If we were playing a word-association game, we might expect the word to conjure responses such as “outdated” and “unsophisticated,” relegated to “older moms.”
The term “handbag,” by contrast, tends to conjure images of celebrities, models, and young fashionistas everywhere. Unlike boring, utilitarian purses, handbags are “luxuriously high fashion, emblazoned with coveted logos.” So what’s in a name? When it comes to what you call that bag in which you carry your wallet, phone, and other necessities, evidently there’s a lot more than you might think.
Of course, the most significant feature of your handbag is not what you call it. Depending on who you ask, it might be the size or shape or even where or how you carry it. We’ll explore those topics in future posts.
Penny Pincher Boutique
We’re Westchester’s luxury consignment shop offering women’s designer clothing, jewelry, shoes, handbags and much more. Visit our shop at 184 Harris Road in Bedford Hills, New York or visit us online at www.pennypincherboutique.com. You can also find a selection of our items on sale on eBay. We ship throughout the United States.
Images are from the Penny Pincher Boutique Instagram page and may reflect items which are no longer available.