And what was in the handbags of 19th century women?

Ladies, we have prepared an interesting and informative post for you about the contents of Victorian women's handbags. Enjoy diving into history. I'm sure many of you have watched videos about the contents of celebrity handbags, which probably don't differ too much from yours: documents, favorite perfume, lipstick, phone, headphones... But what if we take a look inside a handbag belonging to a woman from the 19th century? It is believed that handbags became popular in aristocratic circles in the mid-18th century, introduced by Louis XV's favorite, Marchioness of Pompadour, and this accessory was called a "pompadour" or "ridicule." When women started wearing straight dresses in the early 19th century, they transferred all their personal belongings from pockets to their ridicules. They were usually handmade, but the Victorian era also saw the birth of mass production of handbags. Companies like Hermès and Louis Vuitton emerged.
The contents of handbags depended on the social status of the lady. The more affluent she was, the smaller the bag needed to be, because servants could carry the purchases and men would pay for everything (some things remain unchanged). The constant items in the bag were a mirror and a lace handkerchief. Victorian ladies often carried business cards with them, and leaving them required following a vast amount of etiquette rules. Frequently, a lady would also have a small perfume bottle with her. During those times, fragrances were treated with great reverence, and each note was imbued with symbolism. Even the most financially restrained girl could make sachets or soap scents from field flowers, for which recipes were published in magazines.
Modern women are no longer easily impressed, but sensitive Victorians would often faint, sometimes intentionally, into the arms of their gentlemen callers. A small vial of smelling salts (Lady Reviver) was always on hand, even carried by police officers. Before the invention of these salts, women would use a vinegar-soaked sponge kept in a small box called a vinegar vaseline.

Before the advent of messengers, women could arrange dates using... a fan! It was an important tool of seduction. The position of the fan could indicate a lady's feelings towards her suitor and establish the time and place of a proposed meeting. Additionally, an expensive fan would emphasize the owner's status.
In the 1820s, dance cards became popular - small notebooks with an attached pencil in which young ladies would list their partners for each dance. The rules of invitation were strictly regulated. A gentleman had to gallantly invite a lady to dance with a compliment. A tear vial could often be found in a lady's purse - a miniature bottle for collecting tears with a special opening that could be brought near the edge of the eye. Sometimes, tears shed in separation were collected and given as a sign of devotion to their beloved. Even men would do this!
Perhaps the biggest difference between Victorian women and contemporary women is the amount of cosmetics they used. This was simply considered improper because it was associated with actresses and fallen women. However, with the rise of the cosmetic industry by the mid-19th century, women started to carry powder cases with them more frequently and learned to completely transform their appearance with makeup, attracting men who were fascinated by beauty.
Times were changing, women were gaining greater independence and autonomy, and they began traveling alone, resulting in their bags increasing in size. They carried books and textbooks, cigarettes, and even 5 bottles of champagne in Louis Vuitton's Noé bag.
Now we don't need servants - we have couriers at our service, we can pay for our purchases ourselves and without a wallet - it has been replaced by a smartphone. Miley Cyrus claims that she can buy flowers for herself, and Shakira - that she can pay her ex's taxes herself. Women have definitely become stronger. But we still have a strong desire to look good, smell nice, and be prepared for anything, like Hermione with her small bag. And we still wouldn't mind hearing from a gallant gentleman: "You look so brilliant today. I would be happy to dance the polonaise with you."