A Victorian lady did not need a large handbag to carry all her stuff like we do today. Instead, she carried nothing (purchases were made on credit) or she carried a small fabric purse called a Reticule. Some small Victorian purses were attached to a belt or hidden underneath a skirt, called Chatelaine bags. Other late Victorian and Edwardian handbags were square box frame handbags made of alligator skin, good for everyday uses. There were also flat envelope clutches or short handle purses that acted as a large wallet. These were often handmade with needlework, giving them the look of tapestry. Fancier dresses called for drawstring reticules made of velvet, silk, satin, and lace. Victorian beaded bags and metal mesh bags were also very prevalent for both day and evening outfits. The working poor carried woven baskets to go to market. Read more about the history of Victorian and Edwardian purses and handbags here.
There are a number of affordable options for the modern Victorian woman in need of something to hide a cell phone and wallet in. The following are the best Victorian inspired purses and handbags, wallets and coin purses, we could find online. Some Victorian era purse sewing patterns are included as well as woven shopping baskets.