Purses in Fashion

At Radley, our luxury leather purses, card holders and ladies’ wallets are perfect for keeping your coins, keys, and cards all together. An ideal gift for a special friend or family member, or as a treat to yourself, our designer purses make the perfect everyday accessory. Radley's intrinsic craftsmanship and quality makes each of our women’s purses unique and eternally stylish. From chic leather card holders to tiny coin purses and full-sized zip around leather purses designed for keeping cards and cash safe all in one place, we have ladies’ purses for every occasion. Browse our full selection to find the ideal designer purse for you today, each with the iconic Radley branding. Whether it’s a handy small coin purse or a colourful zip around, we have the perfect leather purse for you in our superb selection.

What is a Purse ?

The term purse can be used to describe many different things- small bag, pouch or wallet. The defining factor is that the ‘purses’ purpose is to carry money. A purse can come in a number of different colours, sizes and styles, the features depend on the size. For example, a purse will have a variety or all of the following main features: card slots, section for notes, separate coin section and a secure zip or clasp fastening.

The term purse in the past was usually associated with women and wallet would be the male equivalent. However, the gender barriers are breaking down and wallet could be associate towards a larger styled women’s purse now too.

Whilst the purse is still popular many men and women are opting for card holders instead. This is because people want to carry less, and with improvements in technology and the popularity rise for online banking cash is becoming less prevalent. As a result, a small card holder that fits a credit / debit card and any other essential cards such as a railcard or driving license is much more efficient and smaller enabling it to fit inside a pocket rather than needing an entire bag.

A Purse vs a Handbag

In American and Britain, a purse is two very different things. As mentioned above, in Britain people think that a ‘purse’ is a small bag or pouch that is designed to carry money, whereas, Americans would use the term ‘purse’ when describing a handbag.

Where did Purses Originate?

In America, a purse and a handbag are the same thing, unlike in Britain where a purse is used exclusively to carry money. Purses and handbags, therefore, share a very similar origin. Women would carry their possessions in a piece of material which they would tie up at the top. Due to a purses main function being to carry coins, it can be said that they coincided with the invention of coins in around the 5th or 6th century.

Prior to the 16th century, clothing did not have pockets which meant that a purse was a necessity for people to carry around their coins with them. In the 17th century, girls were taught embroidery as a necessary skill for marriage; this also helped them make pouches. It wasn’t until the 18th century that designers around Europe started to create these pouches with more slender styles. For example, leather was used as the material, which was then stretched over a metal frame with a clasp for a fastening. This is very similar to what we see as a modern purse.

Global Trends of Purses

Before the 16th century, clothing did not have pockets, which meant between the 5th and 6th century, when coins first became into circulation and before the addition of pockets in women’s clothing, coins needed to be carried. This was done with just a piece of cloth tied at the top. It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th century, when women started embroidering, that these purses became and fashion accessory, and designers across Europe were making their own and selling them to women who required one.

Moving into the 19th century, there was huge demand for purses due to the rise of women in the middle class. These women would encounter more leisure and travel opportunities, which would mean that they had to carry cards, coins and tickets. It wasn’t until the 20th century that innovations such as zips, Velcro and other materials were incorporated into purses. This was also around the time that purses became an essential daily item for most women.

Small Purses such as card holders are becoming increasingly popular for several reasons mentioned above- the rise in card popularity and peoples desire to carry less. However, it is expected that in the future the demand for small purses will decrease due to improvements in technology which has enabled cards to be stored on phones and make contactless payments. Even loyalty and rail cards are being stored in apps forgoing physical cards.

Radley Purses for Women

Larger Purses for Women



Winter Holidays- Large Zip Around Pouch


The travel pouch was inspired by our much-loved Pocket Bag and it’s ability to keep you organised. The large purse has many internal compartments which enable you to quickly grab and store all your travel essentials.

Arlington Court- Large Phone Wristlet


Arlington Court is a beautiful leopard print purse which is crafted from premium leather. The leopard print large purse features an external zip compartment and also multiple internal compartments which enable you to stay organised throughout the day.

Stay Magical- Large Bifold Matinee


This beautiful and fun picture purse will add a dose of magic and style to your everyday. The classic zip finish purse is jazzed up by metallic star and a traditional Radley dog. The inside features both multiple card slots and a separate section for notes and coins.

Medium Purses for Women



Alba Place- Medium Bifold Purse


The staple Alba Medium Purse has been given a modern on trend update with a bold patchwork print. It’s large enough to feature multiple internal compartment with enough room for all your daily essentials but small enough to not take up a lot of space inside your bag.

Arlington Court: Medium Flapover Purse


The Arlington Court snakeskin print purse is the most on trend timeless accessory you need. The premium leather and the animal print exterior give a luxurious finish whilst the internal compartments and zip finish allow for organisation all day long.

Small Purses for Women



Pockets- Small Zip Top Coin Purse


The micro pocket bag purse is the perfect accessory for your evening. The zip pocket allows for space to hold any extra cards for some cash and the exterior pocket gives you easy access to your most used cards. The size clasp allows you to attach your keys or attach your small purse to the inside of your bag for extra security.

Radley and Friends: Small Zip-Top Coin Purse


The Radley and Friends micro pouch is full of fun and style. The iconic Scottie dog design is given an extra fun touch with the use of stitching and material placement and the zip top fastening ensures your daily necessities are kept safe.

Wood Street: Small Card Holder


The simple and elegant card holder is the small purse of the moment. The compartments allows to store all your essential cards and is small enough to pop in your pocket for easy access.

Radley Wallets for Men

Cannon Street: Medium Bifold Wallet


The sleek Cannon Street medium bifold wallet has space for all your essential cards and a seam free compartment for storing any notes as well as a internal coin pouch. The perfect size to store all your essentials and still small enough to fit in your pocket.

Cannon Street: Small Card Holder


With improvements in technology card holders are becoming more popular and our Cannon Street Card Holder is the simplistic and elegant card holder you need. The minimalistic design feature enough small to fit nine cards easily.

Different Types of Purses

Coin Purse


These will help you keep all your daily essentials in one convenient place. On those occasions where a large purse isn’t required, our small zip purses are the perfect alternative for keeping all your money and cards – perfect for holidays, festivals and evenings out.

Flapover Purse


A typical flapover purse will open like a book. Once opened, you will see that on one side there will be a number of card slots and sometimes a window for an ID card of photograph. The number of card slots depends on the size of the purse. Underneath these card slots there is also likely to be one larger slot designed to fit your notes. On the other side of the purse is a zipped section for coins to go into. Some flapover styles will slightly differ from this traditional style.

Zip Purse


These purses can come in any shape, size or colour. The feature that defines them to be a zip purse is the fact that they have a zip top fastening for added security. The zip could go around the whole of the purse or just the top. When opened the zip top purse will feature card slots and often a section for notes as well as a coin section. Some Zip Purses will feature a clasp holding the main body together and then an external zip around purse compartment.

Card Holders


Perfect for anyone on the go, our leather card holders can help you keep your essential cards handy whilst you’re travelling. With a number of internal slip pockets that can be used as ID card or credit card holders, you can keep your important cards safe with our card holder wallets. The Card Holder is quick becoming the purse of the moment and our on trend yet timeless designs will last a lifetime.

Which Size Purse is right for you?

Large Purse


Say so long to cramming your everyday essentials inside a too-small purse by exploring our collection of large leather purses here at Radley. These large purses are designed to hold all your daily necessities with plenty of pockets and slots for all your cards, change and receipts. Streamline your handbag by shopping from our collection of large women’s purses, featuring plenty of storage space for all your essentials, keeping you organised all day long.

Medium Purse


The perfect size to keep all of your everyday essentials, our medium leather purses feature plenty of useful zip and slip pockets so you can keep your coins and cards well-organised when you’re on the move.

Small Purse


Keep your cards, coins and keys in order when you’re on the move with our collection of small leather purses. The perfect size for all your essentials, our small designer purses should be one of your handbag essentials – they’re even compact enough to fit into a clutch bag, so you’re fully prepared for any occasion.

Different Features of a Purse

Overtime purses have evolved and gained many new features to meet the needs of the people using them. The first purses were just a pouch used to carry coins, which at the time of the 20th century were large and heavy. Due to this, these purses were made of leather and had a clasp closure on them. More commonly now, purses still have a coin pouch which is usually not as large and closed with a zip or snap fastening. This is because coins are not as essential in daily life and therefore aren’t carried as much by people, and when they are, they are much smaller and lighter, and therefore do not need as much storage space.

Purses nowadays are primarily designed to carry cards, and consequently contain multiple slots to insert cards. This is because people tend to have lots of cards that they need to carry around with them on a daily basis, for example, credit cards, debit cards, travel cards, store/loyalty cards, driving licences, and many more. Another development in purses is that many of them now have a zip fastening for extra security, rather than having just a clasp closing, in which coins were prone to fall out of.

Security is an important feature of a purse, and as well as fastenings improving, many purses now also contain RFID-blocking within the lining of a purse. RFID-blocking stops thieves skimming debit cards and other important documents inside of your purse whilst in public. Most contactless cards now will have a tiny chip inside them that emits radio signals. When put in close proximity to a card reader, these cards can be scanned, and payments usually up to £30 can be taken from the cards.

How to Choose the Right Purse for You

Choosing a purse can be a tough decision, it is a very personal thing, as it can hold your identity and your everyday valuables.

The first factor to take into consideration is to think about how much space you require. How many cards you have, how many notes you carry and how many coins you carry. Once you figure this out, you will be able to work out which size purse is right for you and whether it contains all of the compartments to carry everything that you require it to.

If you are only looking to carry a couple of cards, then a card wallet will be best for you, as it doesn’t take up much room and does the job well. On the other hand, if you carry a lot of cash, then a coin purse will be best, as it can hold all of your change and it is easy to access everything inside.

Another factor that you may not originally think of is whether or not you want your notes to be folded whilst they sit in your purse. If you do not want to have folded notes, then it is best to go for a large purse, which allows you to place your notes in it flat and stay flat when the purse is closed. The size of the bag that you are carrying is another factor to take into consideration when choosing a purse. If you only have a small bag, then you don’t want the majority of the space inside to be taken up by the purse, therefore it is better to go for a smaller one. The best time to go for a larger purse is when you want to carry a lot in it. You don’t want to have a small purse that is bursting open.

If you’re going to carry your purse outside, it would be better to go for one that is made of a waterproof or water-resistant material to protect it from rain or snow. Leather generally looks smarter than other materials and is more durable meaning it will last longer, however, you can get a non-leather purses that looks smart too.

Giving a Purse as a Gift

Giving a purse as a gift is a lovely idea, as it is something that can be used everyday and kept for a long time. There are so many different styles of purses available, so you can be sure to find something for everyone. However, if you are thinking of buying a purse for someone as a gift, you may have heard about the tradition of putting a coin in the purse before you give it to the person.

This is a very old tradition turned superstition, that was done to ensure that the purse or wallet that you are gifting was never empty. However, many other people also believe that putting the coin in the purse can bring good luck to the recipient. Another myth is that the coin placed in the purse must be silver otherwise it will bring bad luck. All of these are just superstitions, nonetheless, if you are a superstitious person, then be sure to put a silver coin in the purse that you are gifting.