The Two Most Enduring Clutch Styles Of All Time

Of all of the accessories that you have in your collection, one of the most useful may very well be one of the smallest. Listed are our top picks for clutches, chosen with style and versatility in mind.

While trends may come and go, the clutch handbag has been a steady favourite of the fashion set for some time. Whether you need the perfect complement for a floor-length ball gown or are perhaps just a person who really likes a small handbag, there is a clutch bag to suit just about anyone’s fancy.

However, there are a few clutch styles that are particularly enduring; they have stood fast against the sands of time and gotten better with age. Sure, trends in colour, pattern, and materials may change, but the design of these clutches has basically remained unchanged for decades. Here are two of our favourite, most enduring clutch handbags of all time.

#1 The Classic Frame Clutch


If you were to take a classic frame clutch bag from the 1950s and drop it into a modern department store, it is quite likely that nobody would even notice, so timeless is the appeal of this classic bag.

Classic frame clutches are traditionally rectangular or trapezoidal in shape with a snap closure on the frame. The retro appeal of the frame clutch lends a very feminine look to an outfit, and is a great choice to pair with a cocktail dress for a dinner date.

Classic frame clutches also fit quite readily into a larger handbag or tote, making it easy to transition from day to night, or perhaps to just nip into a shop without having to haul your entire day’s worth of gear with you.

Pushing The Boundaries

In recent times, designers have really taken the theme of the classic frame clutch bag and pushed the boundaries of design, coming-up with some wonderfully unique and edgy designs. Sarah Burton, creative director of British design house Alexander McQueen, has been leading the way with her design team, who seem to create some of the most covetable clutches out there every season.

Most notably is the series of Classic Skull clutches (which come in both frame and miniaudiere styles). The McQueen Skull clutches all have a brass knuckles grip at the top of the frame in which the wearer can place her fingers, thereby taking the bag from a simple accessory to full-on statement jewellery.

The juxtaposition of this edgy detail on such a feminine bag is the perfect way for a fashionista to keep her edge while maintaining her femininity.

#2 The Miniaudiere


The miniaudiere is often referred to as a box clutch. The name in general makes reference to the ornamental nature of the bag, which is actually more like a piece of jewellery with storage than an actual bag. This clutch-as-jewellery concept became popular in the 1930s, and is attributed to Charles Arpels of storied Van Cleef and Arpels Jewelers.

The purpose of the miniaudiere is multifactorial: It should be small enough to be held in the hand, delicate enough to sufficiently complement formal attire such as a ball gown or evening dress, and beautiful enough to stand on its own as a gorgeous accessory.

Jewellers and design houses alike have been known to create lavish masterpieces with their miniaudieres, encrusting them with carat upon carat of precious gems, or making them into sculptural masterpieces that are sure to be conversation starters.

Miniaudieres can be purchased at a variety of retailers, and at all price points. There are, however, some notable designers of these ornamental clutches that deserve special mention.

Designer Judith Leiber is arguably the preeminent designer of miniaudiere clutch bags, creating gorgeous designs that can be found on red carpets all over the world. Her most classic miniaudiere, the “Jelly Bean” design, is completely encrusted in Austrian crystal, and is available in nearly every colour of the rainbow.

Most Expensive

Finally, it would be remiss in any conversation about miniaudiere clutches not to mention the world’s most expensive purse, which also happens to be a miniaudiere, albeit an extreme example of one.

The 1,001 Nights Diamond Purse by Mouawad Jewellers is a heart-shaped miniaudiere handcrafted from 18 carat gold, and is encrusted with over 4,500 diamonds. The clutch, which was launched in 2011, cost approximately $3.8 million USD, and took ten craftsmen four months to make.

The purse, while as exquisite as it is pricey, does make one wonder if anyone in their right mind would feel comfortable putting their car keys and a messy tube of lip gloss inside such a lovely and rare creation.   

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About the author

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop

Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog

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