The history of cross-body: the way of wearing, not the model of the bag Fashion historian Milana Abiyeva spoke about the history and purpose of cross-body bags especially for the online magazine «Shipyards». Read more

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Fashion historian Milana Abieva spoke about the history and purpose of cross-body bags especially for the online magazine «Shipyards».

One of the most common women’s accessories today is the crossbody bag. Perhaps, such bags can be most often found on the streets of the city — after all, they are extremely convenient and reliable. But the most important thing is that, unlike their counterparts, they are not so merciless to the fragile female shoulders.

It is important to understand that such a bag does not have any specific proportions, sizes, or even a specific shape. After all, a “cross-body” is not a model of a bag, but a way of wearing it — the long handle of such a bag is thrown over one shoulder and, thus, seems to cross the body. This is where the name came from (literal translation from English — cross-body).

Interestingly, the conductor of cross-body bags in the fashion world was none other than Coco Chanel. No, no — of course, Chanel did not offer her clients to carry a bag over her shoulder — God forbid! But it was Chanel who proposed a no less provocative option, namely the iconic 2.55 handbag, which should have been worn on a long chain handle. A little later, at the beginning of the 2000s, when the Chanel fashion house became one of the most successful in the fashion industry, this handbag will experience a new surge in popularity, which has not subsided to this day.

The history of the crossbody: the way it is worn, not the style of the bag
A modern equivalent of a messenger bag from Hermès

But this time, Chanel’s clients will be not only mature ladies, but also young, dynamic, and sometimes even young people. And the most stylish way to wear a 2.55 handbag will be exactly the “cross-body” way.

As we know, couturiers and designers draw inspiration from various areas of life and wardrobes of representatives of various professions. So while crossbody bags only became part of women’s fashion in the second half of the twentieth century, they existed long before that.

The history of the crossbody: the way it is worn, not the style of the bag
Chanel crossbody bag. Source: Vogue

The so-called «messenger» bag is the true prototype of «cross-body» bags. And they carried such a bag, due to the peculiarities of their profession, couriers and postmen. Most likely, it was the messenger bag that inspired Chanel to create the revolutionary model 2.55 — after all, in her creations she often turned to the wardrobes of grooms, sailors and even the military.

Messenger bags were in the everyday life of postmen at the end of the nineteenth century, and among them, of course, there were women. But they did not enter the world of high fashion until the 1970s, when the hippie aesthetic reigned in society, which had a tremendous impact on fashion as well. Fringed suede bags, ethnic-style textile bags, messenger bags — all these options were insanely popular and, being equipped with a long handle, were worn both on the shoulder and in the “cross-body” manner.

The history of the crossbody: the way it is worn, not the style of the bag
Meghan Markle with a cross-body bag. Source: Getty

Today, cross-body bags have not lost their relevance. Moreover, most of even the most elegant luxury handbags, from Hermès Kelly to Lady Dior, are equipped with an additional long strap in order to provide their owners with comfortable everyday wear. It is versatility, coupled with functionality, that should be considered the main advantages of «cross-body».

You can safely fit cross-body bags into your looks and enjoy comfort without sacrificing style. For example, a small handbag will go well with a light dress, complemented by sandals or stilettos. A romantic look in dark colors can be combined with accessories of various red shades, and a blue handbag is best suited for jeans. And about how good the «cross-body» looks with cardigans and suits, once again you can not talk.


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