Chatelaines – When Purse Meets Charm Bracelet

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.

ChatelainesThe chatelaine Sun, Oct 23, 1938 – Page 25 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com

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.

All About the Woman of FashionAll About the Woman of Fashion Sun, May 23, 1897 – 3 · Davenport Morning Star (Davenport, Iowa) · Newspapers.com

The The “Woman of Fashion” must wear a chatelaine Wed, May 26, 1897 – 3 · Davenport Weekly Republican (Davenport, Iowa) · Newspapers.com

The Summer Girl of 1897, with a chatelaine at her waistThe Summer Girl of 1897, with a chatelaine at her waist Wed, May 26, 1897 – 3 · Davenport Weekly Republican (Davenport, Iowa) · Newspapers.com

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.

Chatelaines make quite a dinChatelaines make quite a din Sat, Dec 4, 1897 – 16 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

Find more on chatelaines and other 19th-century fashions with a search on Newspapers.com.

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One thought on “Chatelaines – When Purse Meets Charm Bracelet

  1. I wouldn’t have thought of these as a Victorian accessory. I teach American Colonial Lifestyles – 1700s or so – and have a chatelaine I wear with my costume. A needle case, a pair of scissors, a magnifying glass, all the items you need “right now” and don’t want to rummage around in your pockets.

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