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A Place for Fripperies: The Reticule

Reticules were the handbag of the Regency era. This fashionable scrap
became popular when the slim, elegant dresses of the period lacked
pockets sewn into the skirts or seams. Few ladies left home without
their reticules, and often in fashion plates, if one exercises a
little observation, these accessories are seen on the wrists of their
owners.

These handbags were relatively small in size, no more than seven or
eight inches in height. This gave enough room for feminine
necessities, such as handkerchiefs, coins, calling cards, or a small
journal and the accompanying writing implement.

Most reticules were fashioned from silk or velvet. Lace and knitted
fabrics were other used materials. Glass beads, tassels, and ribbons
decorated the little accessory. Sometimes, rustic scenery was painted
onto the reticule.

mfaboston-reticule

Another term for the reticule was the “ridicule.” Men commonly used
the term, as they considered the items of import stuffed into these
bags feminine fripperies. Items not necessary to the more masculine
sex.

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Alas, the popularity of the reticule lasted well through the Regency
era. Carrying the reticule was vital when a lady left her house, just
as it is today when women sling their purse over their shoulder.
Considering this, perhaps there was nothing to ridicule about the
reticule.

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