It’s the thing you burned out when you were trying to learn how to drive stick. Just kidding. Well, it is that. But, we’re talking homonyms here, and the clutch you’re after is a strapless women’s purse that is small enough to be carried by hand, as opposed to slung over the wrist or shoulder. A clutch may also be called a pocketbook, or in its more formal state, an evening bag.
The clutch arrived around the same time as the red carpet. Starlets who put hours into hair, makeup and gown fittings didn’t want to carry their essentials in a regular purse, so the evening bag was created as a necessity to complement formal styles. Over time, the clutch or evening bag became an accessory in its own right, often attracting at least as much attention as jewelry and shoes.
Clutches come a huge variety of styles for nearly every occasion, from the everyday to the very formal. Because they are so small—petite enough to be carried by hand—it’s possible to make them from a wider variety of materials, ranging from supple, like leather and satin, to rigid lacquers and metals. The size of a clutch purse allows for a huge amount of creativity when it comes to embellishments, like crystals, fringe, studs, quilting, clasps, and other unique hardware. Some clutches are even shaped like miniature animals or other familiar objects. Closures include zip top, envelope, fold over, clasp, hinge, button and tab. While most clutch bags are strapless, you may find clutches or evening bags with a simple strap that can be hidden when not in use.
When it comes to the clutch, less is more. Sure, you could carry everything you own in a large tote, but that’s not really the style you want when wearing a cocktail dress or formal gown. Clutches or evening bags are perfect for carrying the essentials to weddings, cocktail parties and other formal events. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a clutch for daily use as well. A casual leather clutch looks great with jeans, booties and a blazer.