The peasant, who had hardly any more clothes to carry, put them in a basket, on an open wagon, or on a yoke on the back of his horse or donkey.
However, the conveyance of the elaborate wardrobes of the aristocratic ‘Ancien Régime’ was a little more complicated with carefully stowed trunks and chests piled up on horse-drawn coaches and carriages.
During the nineteeth century transportation developed, and the feminine traveller moved with the times. On long railway journeys and Atlantic crossings the necessity of the cabintrunk meant that ladies abandoned the immense and cumbersome crinolines left over from the Second Empire. To travel serenely, by various forms of horse drawn carriage, the Victoria,Berlina, Coupé or Cabriolet, it was deemed appropriate to adopt the English style and, in particular, the ladies suit, which first appeared in 1885. This attire was accompanied by a cloak lined with otter or vicuna that could, when the occasion demanded, serve as a blanket. “The true meaning of ‘chic’ when travelling is to be comfortable” declared l’Illustration in 1889. The travellers’ guides recommended that you reduce your luggage and the traveller’s bag - a small satchel or case complete with a sliding copper fastener - should contain “only white silk lingerie that can be washed daily and requires no ironing, along with two or three suits, including one sufficiently smart to attend a dinner or an official event. A large cape in light-coloured silk would also be ideal for such an occasion”.
In the twentieth century, the automobile continued the trend towards minimal luggage. The chests attached to the back and top of the vehicle, gradually integrated with the carapace and evolved into bags and suitcases. By the end of the 1914-18 war the car was held accountable for having reduced the elegance of the fashion wardrobe. Women no longer wear extravagant hats, and corsets, crinolene skirts and furbelows have vanished as items of everyday apparel.
Nowadays, we are accustomed to comfort and simplicity, and the traveller’s bag, though it may be a precious reliquary, holds only essential items.
Illustrations Pierre Marie