How many Handbags do you have?
Now I will admit to at least half a dozen (that I can think of immediately) but there may be a few more...
But do you ever think about their purpose, or even what they say about the owner?
I'm a large handbag girl- everything but the kitchen sink basically- so it's fortunate I didn't live hundreds of years ago when I would have only had a small reticule spacious enough to hold a hanky, smelling salts and some small change perhaps... just in case.
Go forward to the early part of the 20th C and the small bag might hold a powder compact, a cigarette case, perhaps a lipstick and of course the hanky/small change were probably still there too.
Whether your character is contemporary or historical look inside her bag (or his, men now have them too) and see if they have anything you don't expect, and if they have, ask them about it.
If you just want to wallow in bags from different times then here is a link to the V&A search the collections option, put bags in the search box and then click on resulting images.
Books on handbags often concentrate on the 20th century designs, but if you want beautiful images then you will certainly find them in books.
The V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) currently have a book available with images from the museum's collection:
Bags by Claire Wilcox (PB) ISBN 10: 978-1851775361
Other books available from online booksellers include:
Handbags by Anna L Johnson (PB) ISBN 10: 978-1851775361
Vintage Handbags by Marnie Fogg (PB) ISBN 10: 1847323006
Perhaps I better clear the junk out of my handbag...