SENREVE's Place in Clutch Bag History

by Alice Shen / Apr 30, 2020

Just as Our Story states, SENREVE is inspired by the women who do it all. And, like all women throughout history, our brand is built upon the coexistence of dichotomies: every day and fantasy, tradition and innovation, design and versatility, creating an elevated experience that defies trade-offs. We believe women can have it all, without compromise.

Senreve's Clutch Bag Fashions

The SENREVE Aria Belt Bag is a luxurious interpretation of the classic fanny pack. This versatile, convertible belt bag can be worn as a belt bag, a sling bag, a crossbody, or a clutch. The Aria Belt bag features three interior pockets and is available in 100% Vegan or Italian leather.

Our SENREVE Leather Crossbody Bags have you covered for a casual day trip or an evening to remember. Our bags come with swappable chain straps and leather straps, a paneled clutch, and a removable Bracelet Pouch.

The SENREVE Bracelet Pouch is an elegant Wristlet at night and a removable pouch to your Crossbody by day. The Wristlet's removable strap also transforms into a leather bracelet.

SENREVE’s Red Carpet Clutch was designed for the 2019 Met Gala. This luxurious, decadent take on our classic Bracelet Pouch features exotic materials such as calf-hair and iridescent snakeskin.

With curves in all the right places, SENREVE’s Italian leather Coda Belt Bag is an upgraded version of the classic fanny pack. The convertible bag can be worn as a belt bag, a sling bag, a crossbody, or a clutch. It features an exterior card holder and two interior pockets.

SENREVE’s  elegant, leather-bound Envelope Laptop Sleeve is designed to be perfect for your laptop, work documents and other daily essentials. It can also serve as an evening bag, computer case, and portfolio clutch.

An accessory for your accessories. The SENREVE Card Wallet is the perfectly sized wallet, coin purse and card holder, all in one.

Interested in learning more about clutch bag history? Read on below! Otherwise, you can explore modern clutches and other styles for yourself by clicking here!

What is a Clutch Bag: Origin and History

The term "clutch bag" often describes a wide range of small handbags with a multitude of shapes, colors, and other defining characteristics. Because of changing trends, manufacturing processes and even seasons, many different styles of clutch bags have been developed to meet a wide range of specific needs and styles, ranging from suede, to leather clutches, to satchel style small clutches.

In modern times, we think of clutch bags as a much smaller, flat version of a handbag, functional for holding small items such as an ID, cellphone, and credit card. Clutch bags are often also synonymous with formal occasions, with an evening clutch, most often a box clutch, almost guaranteed to accompany an evening gown in place of a more casual tote bag or bucket bag. With new trends in creative fashion offering a variety of designer bags, the definition of clutch bag is ever-changing, especially with designer clutches that can come with chain straps, tassels, and even drawstrings. 

Clutch bags come in such an enormous variety that they're often used to personalize an outfit. We might choose a vibrantly colorful vintage clutch to add pizzazz to an otherwise conservative outfit, or a more utilitarian style with a shoulder strap for a busy event that requires extra storage. As clutches are relatively inexpensive, most of us own multiple clutches to match our styles, moods and needs. Each of our SENREVE styles come in a variety of colors, from bright hues like Tangerine and Lemon, to more classic shades like Storm and Sand.

Handbags Throughout History

Handbags and purses have been mainstays of ingenuity, practicality and fashion since the dawn of humanity, and provide a solution for our need to carry items with us. Up until the 16th century and the addition of pockets to men's clothing, handbags were a universal tool and everyone used them for transporting life's necessities. The historical references are numerous and can be quite beautiful as depicted in stone statues, hieroglyphs, tapestries, and museum collections.

For example, a stylish leather purse was discovered by archeologists at an Anglo-Saxon burial mound in Great Britain. The highly fashionable handbag was dated to the year 625 and was decorated with gold, silver, and garnet ornamentation. The purse still contained 40 gold coins.

The Courtauld Gallery in London owns the most ancient, yet easily identifiable, clutch bag. The 700 year old handbag originated from the city of Mosul in northern Iraq and leaves no question that the bag was designed to signify wealth and status. Completely modern in appearance, the clutch has a solid brass body and is inlaid with scenes depicting courtly life in gold and silver. Its front flap is even fastened by a modern style catch just like contemporary envelope clutches.

The clutch purse went out of fashion in the late 1800s, until the 1920s introduced slim, plain handbags. Then, in 1923, feed and saddle bags were transformed into creative styles with the addition of army surplus cargo zippers and fasteners.

In the mid 1920s, clutches and pochettes (a large clutch with a short carrying strap) grew in popularity among flappers as well as socialites. Small enough to be held in the hand or under an arm, the clutch bags of that time were modern in every sense and were often crafted in casings made with metal, leather, alligator, snakeskin and many other materials considered luxurious for the period. Women in the 1920s enjoyed their new freedoms and independence, and from opera houses to dance halls, they individualized their styles with a sleek clutch and its bare essentials design.

The popularity of ostentatious luxury waned in the depression era until clutch bags returned during World War II. As men left home to fight, women went to work, and because of wartime rationing, the clutch required less materials for production and it fit in nicely with conservative wartime attitudes. The clutches manufactured during the raging war were larger and more practical for everyday life. They were also made of less expensive, more readily available materials like wood and plastic, because leather and metals were in high demand and rationed for efforts to win the war.

The true clutch bag reclaimed its former glory in the 1950s with glamorous fashions reigniting a passion for the minimalist handbag. At the conclusion of World War II and the Korean war, the age of jet travel enabled international trade in new and more exotic leathers, metals, and even the rare mother of pearl. The 1950s also saw the rise of a golden age for the silver screen, and Hollywood starlets often flaunted the latest clutch fashions in popular movies and spectacular red carpet events that were regaled in print and radio as well as broadcasted on a new medium called television.

How to Wear and Style Clutch

Because a clutch bag does not typically include a handle or straps, the art of holding a clutch is just as important to the outfit it’s meant to accessorize. When using a clutch, here a few helpful guidelines that will help you dress to impress. 

  • If you want your clutch to stand out on its own, it’s best to pair a bright, colorful clutch with a monochromatic outfit. For example, a bright pink, Fuchsia clutch would pop nicely against a little black dress. Or, opt for black pants, a strappy white tank top, and a pale yellow, Chiffon, clutch. 
  • A clutch bag is also a great accessory to use when stepping out of the office for lunch. To achieve a professional yet classic look, pair your classic-colored clutch with a blazer and jeans. 
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to pull out the clutch to pair with a more casual outfit. A sequin clutch or other fun pattern goes nicely with a graphic tee and sneakers!

Now that you’ve chosen your outfit, let’s talk about the best way to hold the clutch. The most common way is to hold it from the bottom and let your arm hang down, loosely. This keeps the bag looking secure, but allows you to keep one hand free. Another way is to tuck the clutch under your arm, near your waist and keep your arm pressed tightly against your body so as not to let the clutch fall. This keeps both of your hands free and is a great option to use when you’re floating around a cocktail party and need your hands open. Finally, you can also use both hands to hold the clutch in front of your body. This method should be used sparingly and only when standing or preparing to transition. Otherwise, the look can come off as uncomfortable and awkward. 

Clutch Bag Alternatives

  • Clutch vs. Purse: The dimensions and contents are what set apart a clutch from a purse. A clutch is often much smaller, with fewer pockets or zippers and is meant to hold a few small items. A purse, on the other hand, is typically larger and contains items you use more frequently and would need access to during the day. Looking for a more traditional purse to store all your larger essentials? Check out our beautiful, best-selling Maestra Bag.
  • Clutch vs. Tote: A tote, also known as a shoulder bag,  is characterized by being larger than both a clutch and a purse. Usually with one pocket and longer handles, a tote is used to carry larger items such as notebooks or a computer and should be used for the office or the beach rather than as a go-to for a night out. If you’re looking for a tote, you might just love our Voya Tote, with it’s removable laptop microsuede compartment.

Other Sources:


(2) Carried Away: All About Bags by Fared Chenoune

(3) Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion; edited by Valerie Steele