In Vintage Inspiration

1945 Summer Handbags


I really enjoy browsing old 1940’s mail order catalogs in my free time, especially the wartime ones from Sears & Roebuck. I’ve been building a small collection of these types of catalogs because I’m utterly fascinated by what the average American woman was shopping for back then. It always surprises me when I see designs that look so modern and trendy, even though they’re 70+ years old. Could you ever picture a “flexible cubed plastic” clutch in the 40’s? Now you can!


These kinds of photos are also really invaluable for me as a WWII reenactor because all the information I need for finding an authentic looking reproduction is listed in the description. Color, fabric content, size, it’s all right there for me to cross check. Too bad I can’t call Sears & Roebuck right now and order that hand embroidered straw clutch for $2.29!

Do you ever browse old catalogs for fun? Which of these bags would you order?



  • Patricia Ahh

    I just found a red and white plastic tile clutch that has a cool, large lucite zipper pull. I’m so glad to find your blog so I can date this purse. I’ve seen others online that claim they are made out of bakelite. I’m wondering if you know anything about that?

  • misscrayolacreepy

    $2.29?!?!?! Sometimes I wish I could go to the bank, get a bunch of cash, and time travel hahaah

  • *Swoon* These are so darling! I love vintage summer handbags and really need to add more to my collection. I found a cute little bamboo handled (pale) woven raffia straw one at a yard sale last year for just a dollar and pretty much leapt for joy when I did. It’s getting more play than any other bag I own this summer and really filled a gap in my purse wardrobe.

    ♥ Jessica

  • Old catalogs are the best!! These are all wonderful. I never carry a clutch purse because I’m always afraid I’ll put it down somewhere and forget about it, but I would gladly take any of these! lol My favorite (and not just because it has a handle), is the hand embroidered one at the bottom left of the first page. That clasp is great, and I bet it was multi-colored so it could go with many an outfit!

  • I love the descriptions in old ads, can you imagine opening an H&M catalog and seeing a bag described as “gay as a garden”?

  • yes, the straw bags say summer to me! I would totally order one of those. I don’t browse old catalogs, but I always enjoy seeing blog posts about them. It is fun to imagine ordering the lovely dresses/shoes/purses; or just getting inspiration for sewing projects. Thanks for sharing Rochelle 🙂

  • If you have an membership you can view Sears catalogs from 1896 to 1993. I’ve spent countless hours paging through those catalogs and wishing I could place orders for many of the items. Sigh.

  • I just swoon for the clothing, accessory, and sewing section in the Sears and Roebucks catalogs!! Those straw clutches are sooo adorable!! I’ll take each and every one of them 😉


  • I would love to know how the embroidered cotton clutch opens! I love the wooden handles.