THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF HANDBAGS
“Handbags speak volumes about the women who carry them – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was no different.”
According to the Daily Beast’s style and culture correspondent Robin Givham, it’s no surprise that a handbag should feature so prominently in the Thatcher bio-pic Iron Lady; after all, it’s both symbolic and functional.
“During Thatcher’s tenure as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990, her handbags came to signify femininity and toughness. Their style was unassuming: slender, structured, solid, and ladylike. They looked perfectly at home with Thatcher’s dignified suits and oh-so-British hats,” she says.
“Thatcher didn’t need to wield a gavel. She could place her bag on the table to announce her presence. This swaggering announcement of womanhood was a way to consume space and demand attention. It marked her territory. To be sideswiped by Thatcher was to be ‘handbagged’.”
“The fashion industry has long known that women – even those who shun clothing fads and have little interest in navigating life in impractical shoes – share a certain illogical passion for handbags,” says Givham.
“Pocketbooks can signify a common touch among the most rarified. And the ‘right’ bag can make a woman of humble beginnings feel as though she has achieved a level of success.
“Queen Elizabeth II regularly carries a handbag although she clearly does not need to carry keys, cash, or identification. Reports have suggested that she keeps lucky charms, family pictures and a makeup case in her handbag.
“First Lady Michelle Obama can often be seen with a handbag. A blue Reed Krakoff tote is a favorite. What could a first lady–with Secret Service only a few steps behind–possibly need to keep so close? (A lipstick? First ladies don’t put on lipstick in public.) The handbag is part of being regular–a way of staying real inside the bubble.”