Closet Confessionals

CC 145: The Hermès Convert

"I still love browsing every day, but nothing since has made my heart stop the way Kelly did"

In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we meet a well-rounded, grounded collector in her late twenties who recently dipped her toes into the big H pond. Since snagging a vintage Kelly—her very own holy grail, this collector feels like not much else compares. This attitude is in line with a shift in perspective that has come with age, and CC 145 now carefully curates her collection and truly gives thought to each purchase.

Since her teens, she has been a lover of bags, and CC 145 now shops incredibly smart and believes in paying yourself before buying into luxury brands! This collector loves shopping the secondary market, both for environmental beliefs and as a way to see how a bag will wear and tear. She advises that true luxury is meant to last, and these days CC 145 is in the market for an Hermès Barenia. Read the full CC below and check out photos of CC 145’s stunning Kelly now. Don’t forget to submit your own confessional too!


The Basics

Age: 29
Gender Identity: Female
Location: SF Bay Area
Occupation: HR Professional
Industry: Tech
Salary: $135,000
Household Income: $335,00

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 25+

What bags are in your collection?

How much is your collection worth? $10k based on what I paid for these items. The original sticker prices would be higher.

What is your most expensive bag? I bought my 1998 Hermès Kelly secondhand (Ann’s Fabulous Finds) for $5,000. IMO it was an incredible deal, but it’s still my most expensive bag by far.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? My Kelly takes the top spot for sure. $5k was an amazing price for a holy grail bag in decent condition — I bought it in Spring 2020, when the chaos of this newfangled “COVID pandemic” affected the luxury resale market, however briefly. This was also a key turning point in my bag lover journey. After getting my mitts on an arguably “cream of the crop” bag, now I think many designer bags are too trendy or of mediocre quality for the price. What do you climb after summiting Everest, you know? I still love browsing every day, but nothing since has made my heart stop the way Kelly did 🙂

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? Coach was in its absolute heyday when I was in my middle school, so my mom endured a lot of begging and whining whenever we were at the mall. To her enduring credit she didn’t give in at the time — I wouldn’t have appreciated it then, and what on earth would a 12-year-old with no money, phone, or keys have done with a designer bag??

But when I was about 16-17, my mom and I found this gorgeous Juicy Couture (another 00s icon…) leather purse at a TJ Maxx or Nordstrom rack. I dug it up at my parents’ house last weekend — it’s not the most trendy design by today’s standards but the quality of the leather and construction is still noteworthy. I think my mom (whose ability to scoop outrageous deals from unexpected places remains unparalleled) recognized something enduring in this bag and pulled the trigger for me that day.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? Hermès Barenia is the most gorgeous leather because it’s so close to a cowhide’s natural state and ages beautifully with its glorious patina. It’s also quite rare and pricey, so I stalk resale websites like the RealReal and Fashionphile with the “Barenia” keyword in hopes of chancing upon a Barenia Birkin or Kelly in a perfect combination of design, condition, and price.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Gucci Soho Disco was my first “premier” designer bag. I bought it at a steep discount (something like 40-50% off) from the Gucci website when they were clearing house for Alessandro Michele’s arrival in 2015. I was so proud to buy this with the money I had saved from my first full-time corporate job and I have gotten so much use from it. I learned about this secret sale from PurseBlog of all places, so that ~insider~ feeling adds to the sentimentality of it all.

The Bally Quilted Flap Bag was my mom’s. It’s 20+ years old and dragged across 3 continents but still looking pretty sharp!

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? SAs absolutely hone in on my designer bags as an indicator that this athleisure-clad shopper with boring hair and no makeup does spend money on nice things sometimes, and today could be their lucky day. If I see a girl in public with a cute outfit or nice bag, I like to tell her so — it’s fun and gratifying to see and be seen, even if you are ultimately dressing for yourself.

I love that “if you know, you know” moment with fellow fashion lovers! But I am careful about where I choose to make a splash. I tend towards more casual or unbranded stuff for work because I don’t want coworkers to make assumptions about how much money I have, or judge my competency, based on my spending (some would say) insane amounts of money on frivolous things.

Have your bag-carrying habits changed since Covid? Definitely. I am way more reticent about wearing nice things out on public transport or out in the city unless I am with a big group or with my husband. I had a close call with an attempted mugging earlier in the pandemic…I had to drop by my office alone and downtown was so sparsely populated that no one was around to help if the mugger had been more aggressive. I wasn’t even carrying a purse and it was broad daylight.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? More often in my early 20s, but I think through each purchase more critically now. I’d say not more than 1-2 a year at most, including high-end and contemporary bags.

Has the Coronavirus pandemic changed your shopping habits or overall attitude towards luxury? It’s hard to buy a bunch of new stuff when you don’t know when/where you’ll wear it! Also, there are still many people going through truly hard times and it seems rather crass to be walking around gutted city blocks with an outfit whose sticker price can be tallied up by any passersby who know their brands.

Which stores do you frequent the most? I browse Fashionphile and RealReal almost daily, just for kicks. Shopbop has amazing customer service and speedy shipping with Prime, so a lot of my clothing purchases tend to be from there. I’m also an eternal sucker for a good deal, so I do enjoy consignment stores and Nordstrom Rack-types. If I’m browsing IRL, I head to San Francisco for the designer boutiques and Saks.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I’ve had great experiences with Fashionphile and Ann’s Fabulous Finds. I’ve also purchased from RealReal locations in SF and NYC (their online return policy is…not friendly to just trying it and seeing how it goes). By my definition, true luxury and good design MUST age well, so secondhand shopping really helps separate the wheat from the chaff.

To be completely honest though, I have a small secret (irrational) fear that my Kelly is a fake and I’ll only find out when I send it off to Hermès Spa and they burn it on a shame pyre. AFF is a very reputable reseller and I have no actual reason to think it’s not genuine Hermès, but I suppose you can never be 1000% certain unless you bought it directly from the brand.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I’ve sold some old bags that I just outgrew on Poshmark and Fashionphile. Aside from a Chloé Faye Day Bag, I didn’t get enough money out of those to meaningfully fund a new bag purchase. I just wanted them out of my small closet.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I enjoy browsing Instagram and fashion mags, so I do get *inspired* by all the amazing stuff I COULD be wearing and carrying! But then I think about whether a certain bag shape or size works with my actual lifestyle, and usually they don’t actually match my needs and habits. I very much enjoy daydreaming but rarely pull the trigger.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? I feel like I could sell my Kelly for more than $5,000 now, but I also love it too much to let go. A good bag is an investment in the same way that a high-quality power tool or a well-made pair of shoes is an investment — you’re not going to sell it for more than you paid, but if you can afford it upfront you’ll use it for a long time and not have to buy 5 flimsy versions.

Who influences your buying decisions? I might run it by my husband or some friends, but it’s mostly a solitary pursuit. I deeply enjoy reading about y’alls bag experiences and opinions on PurseForum. I also browse Insta to get a sense of how a bag looks on different body types and outfits — I’m agnostic to who’s carrying it, just interested in how it’s styled. The research and anticipation that goes into a purchase is honestly the best part of everything!

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? I don’t buy anything often enough to establish a meaningful sales relationship. Plus I’ve tended to prefer secondhand for environmental and cost reasons. A good SA can certainly enhance a live shopping experience, but it’s not a big factor for me.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? It’s a way to try on different identities: poised professional, sexy maneater, lady who lunches, hypebeast, hipster, artsy eccentric, Gwyneth Paltrow…it’s fun to switch things up at a surface level. It’s an accessible source of novelty and adventure in an otherwise highly regular life but I wouldn’t say I’m a shopaholic since it doesn’t negatively affect my life.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? No, if anything people are way more solicitous and welcoming towards Asian women in designer stores.

One notable exception pre-COVID: I walked into SF Hermès and asked an SA if they had a certain scarf in stock. She said she’d go check and I was sitting around waiting. She was gone for a really long time and I had the strange sensation of being watched by closely by the other SAs so I felt a sudden burst of awkwardness and left the store. I’ve since gone back there and to other Hermès locations without incident, so I’ve chalked that up to a weird fluke or paranoia on my part. Still, I hate to think that’s anything like what other POC or less-than-snazzily dressed people experience in a store, because I felt off-balance the rest of the day.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? After age 18 I’ve paid for all my bags, save for a couple contemporary bags that were gifts from my now-husband. I bought my precious Kelly before we got married and pooled our money, which was another source of pride (and if we get divorced, it’s a pre-marital asset hehe).

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No, I go by feeling “when the time is right” mostly. We max out retirement savings, put savings aside, and make sure all the bills are paid. After that it’s open season to spend what’s left on whatever we want.

But one thing I didn’t expect as I got into my late 20s and got married was that I would start to value other things *more* than buying new bags. $5,000 is a lot to spend on a bag. But it’s a drop in the bucket if you think in terms of a financial safety net, starting a family, or real passive-income generating investments. I was 22 when I got my first work bonus — it was $1,000 and I immediately spent it at Tiffany’s on a piece I still treasure today. Recently I got a $10k bonus and was like, welp…half of it went to taxes and I’d better set the rest aside in case our roof suddenly caves in and we need to replace it entirely :/ When did I become so boring and responsible?!

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? I bought a fake Balenciaga City bag in Asia, while traveling post-high school graduation. I felt weird when I got it, and it has not seen the light of day since.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? Never, he’s quite supportive. If anything, I’ve turned him on to the joys of a nice designer SLG 🙂 In all seriousness, we’re pretty well aligned on our approach to money and trust each other to make the right choice 90% of the time and appropriately treat ourselves for the other 10%.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Nothing too wild, but I guess the sheer amount of time I spend researching and deal-hunting contributes to making an outlandish discretionary purchase seem “affordable”.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I’ve never gotten into credit card debt or anything like that, but I do have purchases that I regret because the ratio of price to usage/enjoyment didn’t pay off. We all have stuff we look back on and wonder, what was I thinking???

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I love cooking and have darkened the doorway of my local Le Creuset outlet many times. We enjoy traveling too, which always sounds so basic but it’s true — who doesn’t like being on vacation??

I’ve gotten more interested in fine jewelry as another form of self-expression and a decent store of value in case society as we know it completely collapses and I have to buy my way onto the last spaceship off of Earth. It’s a rough hobby though…$5,000 will get you almost any bag out there, except Chanel and Hermès. But $5k is barely a jumping-off point for a nice watch or 18k gold jewelry! Oh well, back onto the hedonic treadmill I go…


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