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To have and to hold: Masculinity and the clutch bag

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The recent popularity of the male clutch bag provides an opportunity to explore men’s attitudes to dress and gender. An atypical item of menswear because it is not particularly cost effective or practical, the clutch bag is a sartorial ‘handicap’. Like many items of expensive luggage and sartorial prop that have deprived men of the use of one of their hands, from walking canes to military batons, the patent limitations of the clutch bag express the financial and social confidence of its owner. The clutch bag is a specific example of a more general trend among menswear accessories that highlight a more assertive, even aggressive, masculinity. It seems no coincidence that this attitude should be expressed materially at a time when men’s societal role is being questioned and the top-handle bag, which signifies the socio-economic abilities of women, not least through its association with Margaret Thatcher, is in vogue.
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Keywords: clothing accessories; clutch bag; gender; handicapping; masculinity; sociology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design

Publication date: March 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Critical Studies in Men's Fashion examines the multi-faceted dimensions of men's appearance. It uses the holistic definition of dress as a means of examining the tangible and intangible aspects of creating and maintaining appearance. This journal is the first to exclusively focus on men's dress and topics of gender, identity, sexuality, culture, marketing and business will be discussed. Men's dress and fashion have been side-lined in scholarship, and this journal provides a dedicated space for the discussion, analysis, and theoretical development of men's appearance from multiple disciplines. All articles are blind-peer reviewed in order to maintain the highest standards of scholastic integrity. Theoretical and empirical scholarship in the form of original articles, manuscripts, research reports, pedagogy, and media reviews are welcome.
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