1960s Clutch Wallet with a Strap

I’m hoping that my somewhat vague title brought forth a distinct memory in any Baby Boomer readers.  That’s because this post is a bit of a memory check for me.  When I was a young teen, or maybe even a preteen in the late 1960s, the little bag shown above was carried by every girl in my town.  I don’t know how fads get started, but I do know how quickly they can spread.  By the time this one died out, all my peers had one.  Mine was black “patent leather”.

I remember getting it for Christmas, but I just can’t come up with a year.  I’m guessing it was sometime between fifth and eight grade, which would mean from 1966 to 1969.  Growing up in a small town in North Carolina, girls were always lamenting that we were at least two years behind the times.  That was true in some cases, but looking back I can see that for the most part the clothes we wore were pretty much in keeping with the styles of the day, if a bit more conservative.

After finding the little clutch bag above in a local antique mall, I spent a good afternoon doing “research” in my stash of 1960s Seventeen magazines.  I thought that would be the place to start, as this was a fashion I associated with the young.  In spite of the overwhelming practical nature of this type bag, the only people I remember carrying them were girls and teens.  It didn’t seem to appeal to our mothers.

But I was not able to find a single photo in Seventeen, so I turned to that great American selling place of the past – the Sears, Roebuck catalog.  I have several editions, dating from 1964 through 1970, and so another afternoon was pleasantly passed.  Unfortunately, I was again unsuccessful in my quest.

So, I’ve decided to turn to you.  Do you remember this type bag, and if so, what years do you associate with it?  Did you have one in the 1960s?  Were they a fad at your school?  Do you remember what it was called?

Here’s a look inside.  There is a snap purse with a clear vinyl separator.  The sides are lined with a cotton print that looks a bit dated even for 1965, but the magazines and catalogs for that year are surprisingly full of dresses made of this type print.  There is no label of any sort.

Each side has a pocket for cash and papers.  The strap is attached to the purse in the center of the bag.

Considering how popular these were, I’ve run across only two in the past fifteen years or so.  I didn’t buy the first one I found so many years ago, mainly because I thought there must be thousands of these just waiting to be found.  When that turned out not to be true, I put this style on my shopping list.  It made me happy that the one I finally did find was such a bright, cheery color.

So what has happened to all these little bags?  It could be that my experience with them is not usual, and there are literally millions of them in thrift stores across the country.  Or it could be that when the fad had run its course, these went into the donate for charity pile.  They were cheaply made, and no longer in style.  I can almost guarantee that is what happened to mine.

26 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing

26 responses to “1960s Clutch Wallet with a Strap

  1. Yes I remember these, don’t see them in the charity shops, not many survived.

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  2. The liner fabric is pure Villager, don’t you think? I kind of mentally group this item with the same looks as Etienne Aigner accessories of the same period. I am the same age as you but I don’t recall any purses like this. My first purse I seriously carried was white patent leather shoulder bag with a multicolored grosgrain ribbon down the center from the flap hem to the back hem. (Hem?) There was a turn clasp in the center, and it was rectangular and very Carnaby Street.

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  3. I saw the modern equivalent of it today in a shop and it was labeled “Wrist Clutch” At the time I thought it was a strange name – then I saw this post from you. Good Luck — hopefully one will turn up in a 1960s catalog so you can get the correct name.

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  4. I remember them but I think they were most popular in my area a little earlier than when you said. I did not have one but I remember some of the girls did. I turned 13 in 1965. I often associated with girls a bit older than I was and I think they probably had them. I also remember that clutch purses were popular and many of them had chain or plastic type handles that could be folded down and hidden inside. One of my aunts gave me a small red leather change purse that was on a long chain to wear around my neck when I was 9 or 10. That is how I carried my money around as I could not lose it that way! I hope you find out the answer. On another note I am thrilled to know someone besides myself has a stash of old Seventeen magazines!!!!!

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  5. Yes! I remember them from my high school girlfriends in 1965 (graduated H S )that year-my girlfriend I was dating always lost hers or left it in my car- thanks for the memories-what a beautiful girl!!

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  6. I don’t remember them (born in 1969), but I do have on in my shop that is “black patent” (like the one you owned). It’s very similar to the one you’ve posted here, but has nifty big metal buckles, and a similar, colorful print lining. The only label in it is a “Made in Hong Kong” tag.

    It’s funny–though I haven’t been looking for this particular style of bag–I can’t remember ever running across one similar before. I do think this wristlet clutch-type bag has recently come back into style (as Agnes posted).

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  7. I have no memories of these, but I’m older than you and was in California.

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  8. barbara moore

    Just have to tell you how much I enjoy your blog or whatever they call them. My niece has recommended several blogs and I have not found one I liked. However, your has so many varied topics, and I especially like the links down the right side where you can go to different subjects. Keep up the good work.

    Sincerely,

    A fan: Barbara Moore

    ________________________________

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  9. Ruth

    Oh wow, I had forgotten about those things. Mine was the same as the one you show, but in a screaming yellow (it was the 60’s, after all). I think I had a thing for yellow then as I painted my room a sunny yellow with yellow striped curtains, and my mom and I shared a yellow two piece dress. I remember rolling the skirt top up so it was a short dress on me! Even had pale yellow nail polish. Seems like this was when I was in Junior High, some time between ’66 and ’69. Probably closer to ’69 as I wasn’t really interested in purses until then. Must have bought it at a local store called T.G. and Y. (Toys Guns and Yoyo’s) it was our version of WalMart back then, but better merchandise. The older women probably didn’t care for it much as they usually had to carry more in their purses than we did, I know my purses got bigger as I got older!

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    • I’ve seen ads for wildly colored nail polish in 68 and 69 magazines, so that pretty much supports your thinking. I was another skirt roller!

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      • Ruth

        I would have loved the neon colors they have now. Ours were more pastel-y bright. The usual reds, browns, etc, but pale blue, lime green, and sunny yellow are the ones I remember most girls wearing. With matching eye shadow and lipstick, of course. I actually have a picture of me wearing white lipstick. It was an odd color but worked as most of us were tanning in those days, too.

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  10. I’m a couple of years older than you. In junior high (1865-66) our purses were similar “wrist clutches” but they were madras with leather trim. Madras was very, very cool. They zipped closed — some with zippers, some with wide chunky zippers. I remember packing so much into mine (what, I don’t recall–pre-phone, pre-license, pre-credit card) that it was like a brick.

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  11. tigrrrl

    I had one of these in that same timeframe–a Christmas gift from my great-aunt. Brown leather with beige topstitching, and in addition to the sections for coins and cash, it had a zippered compartment that accommodated my compact and a skinny hairbrush (the sort generally used for teasing hair). It was perfect, and I’ve long wondered what became of it (best guess is Mom had a yard sale while I was away at college). I also had the madras version, but it was more of a wallet–it would hold money and that was about all.

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  12. Cheryl Harrell

    I had a couple of these back then. One of them had a shoulder strap on it. It was a big trend back then. Haven’t seen these in yrs. Just came across your blog and some interesting stuff is on it.

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