You’ve probably seen them used in movies and shows but may never have known their name. Chatelaines were the 19th-century woman’s solution to a problem that seems to transcend time and space: a lack of decent pockets.
Chatelaines of the 1800s were most often worn by women who controlled the household. Their many chains held the keys to every nook and cranny of the home, and with this responsibility came an undeniable air of importance. Many women wore less useful chatelaines as a fashion statement to project the appearance of this same importance, with their chains holding perfumes, scissors, nail files, and other eye-catching trinkets.
Some felt the use of so many trinkets got a little out of hand, and chatelaines were sometimes spoken about in the papers with a sort of fond mockery. But without other means to carry their things, what are women to do? They became a charming accessory that was all the rage.