Diana, Princess of Wales, had red carpets down pat. As “the most photographed woman in the world,” she knew how to pose for the cameras, and more importantly, how not to pose.
Every formal event she attended, the royal predictably carried a small clutch in her hand, matching her gown to a T. The tiny purses couldn’t fit more than a lipstick, but she toted them anyway for another very specific purpose.
Handbag designer Anya Hindmarch regularly helped the princess with accessorize after she opened her Chelsea store in 1993. “She was a very loyal customer and a lot of fun,” Hindmarch told the Telegraph. “She would come and see us with no bodyguards or any fuss.”
The low-key royal kept her appointments so informal, she even came up with a cheeky name for the project at hand. According to Hindmarch, “We used to laugh when we designed what she called her ‘cleavage bags,’ little satin clutches which she would cover her cleavage with when she stepped out of cars.”
The term definitely got right to the heart of it. Every time Diana stepped out of a car in a low-cut dress, her purse shielded her chest from conniving photographers. The trick worked like a charm:
The Princess of Wales wasn’t the first royal to adopt a multitasking purse. The Queen reportedly uses her famous Launer purse to send secret messages to her staff. For example, when she switches the handles from one glove to the other, she supposedly relays that she’d like to wrap up her current conversation. Putting it on the table implies a real emergency—the monarch wants the event to end within the next five minutes.
Not to be outdone, Kate Middleton uses her clutch as as safety net as well. The Duchess holds her bag in front of her with both hands when shaking hands might be awkward, etiquette expert Myka Meier told GoodHousekeeping.com.
Don’t ever assume those tiny bags are just for show—all of the royal ladies wield them just like the experts they are.
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