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Change a handbag with a brooch or two or three or more!

Change a handbag with a brooch  or two or three or more!


Hello dear Reader, welcome to Gloriously Vintage.  You know that treasure hunting is one of my most favourite activities.  I found a number of lovely brooches to add to my collection in Stratford upon Avon when I was there for the weekend.  When I saw them in the charity shops my first thought was that they would look good on a handbag. 

I know that ideally it would have to be a fabric handbag and possibly an evening bag for this to work.

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A selection of day and evening bags

As we are looking at brooches that pin on – let us extend our thoughts to flower corsages too.


This corsage is pinned around one of the handles making the bag look interesting

They can make all the difference to a simple handbag especially if you have be able you match the colour to a scarf, or an element of your outfit.

You can see what I did with a scarf and a corsage as part of my outfit for the summer wedding I went to last year.


In writing this post, I have spent some time thinking about what it is about handbags that appeal so strongly to me.

As long as I can remember I have loved to carry a handbag.

 As a child, I would copy my mother and grandmother, who always had one when they went out, to complete their outfit.  Dressing up, using the ones that my mother gave me, or that I had found in jumblesales.  Having my own handbag was always something I had with me as a teenager, student and young adult.

It is having that secret space to keep important things you need to carry, with you.  I was always aware of how a handbag fitted into an outfit.  There are so many different styles to choose from.  My milk bottle shoulders have meant that I do not really get on with shoulder bags.  Also I do not care for the way they can pull the shoulders out of shape on a top or jacket, on me.

My choice now is the grab bag or a clutch and totes without using a shoulder strap.


Navy blue envelope clutch with cream corsage and brooch with pearls and blue stones


The brooch is very sweet


All change with a contrasting corsage


A lovely combination of pink corsage and brooch with pink stones

In fact a couple of years ago an A/W trend started that it was the height of fashion to carry two handbags!  This started me thinking about how I could best follow this trend.  So now I often carry a small clutch inside a larger tote or have a lovely vintage handbag with my essentials and also have a larger modern bag that tones, in which I can carry more essential items for myself and often my husband!   The larger tote can sometimes be adorned with one or two corsages to bring it into my outfit better.

I used this tote to attend a funeral that was held in the summer months

Your handbag of choice is also a creative expression of your personality.

The handbag you choose to wear can make your outfit really soar – and will make you feel confident and happy.  In past times I have had a very, very small selection of vastly practical handbags for S/S ad A/W.  It is only now that I am collecting vintage handbags that I have many more to choose from.  Vintage and modern, day and evening styles and of course dear Reader, my collection divided into S/S and A/W handbags.

So changing a simple handbag by pinning something to it makes perfect sense.

You will have something totally unique and memorable, that goes with what you are wearing wonderfully and that cannot be copied.


A Liz Claibourne red beaded evening bag


The heavy beading calls for a statement brooch


Here I have used a chunky brooch that stands up to the beading

Those of us who delight in wearing vintage style love the fact that we stand out and our individuality is there for all to see.  This takes confidence to do and a lovely handbag is very much part of it.

Look at this handbag purchased a few years ago from a charity shop.  It is berry coloured corduroy and has an unusual closure.

There is a kiss clasp on both sides.  It is fine used as it is – but look what happens when a brooch is pinned to it.

You have changed your bag and made it into something unique and memorable.  Why stop at one brooch?  If you have a number of smaller brooches, they can be grouped together on a handbag.  2 or more larger brooches work if the styles are complimentary.


Three brooches lift this bag tremendously – here matching coral pink


The same two brooches and a turquoise addition with complimentary earings


Combination changed to match green


The three brooches from the last post, bought in Stratford on Avon

You may for example, possess more than one of a particular design.  I collect Sarah Coventry jewellery which is easy to find.  I have 2 Luna brooches.

I have the matching earings too.  They were all sourced from different places.  It is now possible to wear the brooches on a plain handbag or one brooch on a handbag and the other pinned to a jacket somewhere. So dear Reader, I say, do not worry about duplicating a design -you will be able to use it in a way that is totally unique.

Black evening bags lend themselves so much to this embellishment.


Two evening bags looking very plain

Paying attention to texture, matte or shiny finish, shape and stones on the brooch, a plain bag can become quite a feature.


Adorned with a diamante dress clip


The dress clip on the left, and a Trifari Bow on the right


Round brooch with emerald green stone on left, Attwood and Sawyer diamante on gold on the right

I have done this a number of times with evening bags.  Knowing I have made an accessory work well adds so much to the satisfaction of wearing the outfit.  It can also be a talking point when at an event, which is helpful, in a different way!


Black evening bag with finer beading adorned with a Ecco Brooch with lovely smooth and textured effect


The same bag with a Trifari Bow Brooch and complimentary earings

Every so often a bag comes along that is crying out for embellishment.  It may be a day or an evening bag.  My personal policy is to always unpin brooches, to enable them to be worn in other ways and to avoid damaging the bag.

However very occasionally you find a bag that that looks so good with the brooch pinned on that you are tempted to leave it.

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I have done this once with a small evening bag that looks so marvellous with the swirl brooch I have left it alone and always use it with the brooch on.

This is because the first attempt at positioning was so right I may not achieve it a second time.  I also use my style book to record what I do with brooches /corsages on bags for an outfit.   So having to remember is not a problem.

You have gathered by now dear Reader, that I always take pride in being original and by being inventive this can just go happening.  Over time I have definitely become more confident about what works for me.  It is the same for many things in life, with experience comes great skill and judgment.  Style does not have to diminish the older you are!


Simple pale pink envelope clutch livened up wih a jolly corsage


The same bag with a closely matching corsage


Here a deeper pink corsage adds interest and movement with the feathers

If you own some silk corsages try them on your handbag.  This is a great way to introduce a shot of colour into you outfit.  Corsages come and go in fashion terms and this can determine their availability to buy.  I love them and have built up a collection.  Some have been found in charity shops when they have fallen out of fashion and have been donated.  Take great care with size, colour and shape and you will have fun changing a handbag in this way.  I like to add a flower to a scarf sometimes.  An evening bag that does not really go with your outfit can be changed with a corsage to work in well.  The trying out of different ways is fun.


Two different brooches on a simple red clutch.  The cut out leaf works well as you can see the red colour coming through.

It is important to check the clasps on brooches.

Try if you can to cultivate the services of a local jeweller who will effect repairs, or make changes to your finds.  I am lucky to have a jeweller near my home that have replaced stones, fixed clasps and even remodelled a necklace into earings, necklace and bracelets for me.  They have also restrung pearls.

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I hope this post will give you some ideas and get you trying out your brooches on handbags!  Do share your successes; I would love to know what you have put together.  Shared experience is a great way to discover new ideas.

Thank you for visiting Gloriously Vintage!  I look forward to seeing you on the next post!


About Gloriously Vintage

My name is Elizabeth. I am so thrilled to be learning how to write a blog about my adventures collecting vintage treasures. This new adventure is to mark my 60th Birthday this February in 2016 and to start this decade with something new. I have been collecting Powder compacts, 1950's costume jewellery, vintage handbags, silk scarves, vintage umbrellas and hats for over five years now. I try to wear and use as much of my collections as possible. This has added great enjoyment to my life! As a child my "best game " was always dressing up. I kept all my dressing up clothes in a large wooden banded trunk in the spare bedroom -the third bedroom. Creating outfits and characters, wearing jewellery always with a handbag and a powder compact I would play on my own for hours. Most of my treasures then came from jumble sales and bric a brac shops browsed with my parents on holiday. Life has a way of coming round full circle. In my fifties I found increasing joy in being able to just be myself and adopt the hairstyle I wanted and the vintage look that suited me. I source all my "top clothes" from Oxfam on line and charity shops Mixing new tops, shoes and sometimes handbags with my vintage accessories has given me a signature style that is unique. I have always tried to be an individual and not follow the crowd. I find most of my collections at vintage fairs, charity shops and going to Antiques for Everyone at the NEC has been a marvellous time for hunting out treasures and learning more about the things that have sparked real passion for me.

8 responses »

  1. Pingback: Can A/W 2016 Trends “do” Vintage? | Gloriously Vintage

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  3. Gorgeous styling, Elizabeth. You have such a great eye for fashion and accessorizing. I really enjoy pinning brooches to bags (and hats), too, and find that most brooches, especially if they have secure clasps, stay put really nicely on straw and wicker bags, too (perfect for the sizzling hot summer months that we’re heading into soon).

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica


    • What a brilliant idea to use brooches on hats. I have not tried that. It is something I want to do. You are inspiring me to wear more hats – yours always look super and make your outfits look so complete. Thank you so much for your kind comment on this post. Best wishes, Elizabeth xx


  4. Oh! They are marevellous!
    I never thought of adding brooches to handbags.
    I have added in the past small scarfs to my handbags but never brooches.
    Thanks for the wonderful advice!
    By the way, I also have loved the phrase you wrote.

    “Over time I have definitely become more confident about what works for me. It is the same for many things in life, with experience comes great skill and judgment. Style does not have to diminish the older you are!”

    Have a wonderful weekend,

    Eva (from Luxembourg/Germany)


    • Dear Eva, Thank you very much for your kind comment on this post. Adding a scarf is a brilliant way to change a handbag. Brooches are great fun to play with to get the result you want. I hope you will join me on future posts! Have a lovely weekend too. Best wishes, Elizabeth xx


  5. I love them all especially pink and navy



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