During the late 1800s, women started carrying the small handbags that would someday become collectors' items: Intricately beaded pouches that required serious skill. Queen Victoria herself is said to have inspired the trend, and beading became a distinctly feminine and highly valued talent.
The beaded purses we have now are retrospectives on this meticulous art. You'll find them as long-strapped pouches -- popular in flapper area, often further adorned with beaded tassels. Beaded frame purses have been big since the early 1900s, and the jeweled Enid Collins style bags of the '50s, with painted scenes covered in colored gems, take the shiny, picturesque style to a different end.
Beaded purses can be very black-tie, but you can wear them to top off a casual look, too -- jeans, heels and a stunning, beaded purse can be a great look. Go toned-down on your other accessories so they don't compete with your retro centerpiece.
Now, when you go looking for these retro gems…