Today’s installment of Closet Confessionals is a truly fascinating one. We meet an Advertising Account Exec in her late thirties who has purchased all of her bags secondhand on a very, very strict budget. For CC 160, shopping for bags is all about the thrill of the hunt and finding that rare diamond in the rough. This confessor’s extensive collection of designer bags is pretty impressive, considering how she shops, but it just goes to show you that patience and persistence will take you far.

CC 160 frequents estate sales, secondhand shops, and online retailers like eBay, Fashionphile, and Poshmark to build her collection while scoring some insane deals! This bag lover believes in selling to buy when it makes sense. Despite getting some crazy deals on bags, CC 160 shops thoughtfully and mindfully, choosing to get rid of a similar bag if she’s acquiring something new she believes she will wear more. Read the full CC below, and don’t forget to submit your own!

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The Basics

Age: 39
Gender Identity: Female
Location: USA
Occupation: Account Exec.
Industry: Advertising
Salary: $95,000
Household Income: $180,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 20+

What bags are in your collection?

And more…

CC 160 4

How much is your collection worth? Oh boy, not sure. Everything has been purchased secondhand at $500 or less per. Actual value? No idea.

What is your most expensive bag? Well from a resale perspective, it’d be the Chanel.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? I don’t know that I have a favorite brand per se. Honestly, I’m history driven on my love of LV. I’ve read and own several books on the heritage and love how it was born from necessity and a creative lark to differentiate themselves from the competition created this brilliant and simple logo.

However, I feel the same about some of my very vintage bags, like the Crown Lewis from the 50’s-60’s. I have a deep admiration for older things as they were made to last. Consumer culture is a thing of today in terms of its widespread acceptance, but in the past you may have only been able to afford 1-2 bags and they needed to last for a very long time. Manufacturers understood this and rose to the occasion.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I moved from a middle-class suburb to one of the wealthiest enclaves in the US as a teenager. I was introduced to Kate Spade at that point. The simplicity of the boxy nylon bag, the colors and clean design appealed to me.

That was my awakening, but just because I lived there didn’t mean I could afford one.

Subsequently, I purchased a Ralph Lauren Polo handbag (thank you TJ Maxx) that was very sporty as well as a no name patent leather black/tan combo shoulder bag for dressier occasions.

That silly cheap black/tan patent leather bag apparently looked like a Tod’s bag at the time because the wealthy socialites/cool moms about town would ask me if it was. I didn’t know what a Tod’s was at that time.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I’m a secondhand buyer always, so I have extreme patience. It’s damn near pathological. I set parameters in my mind about condition (what I can fix if it’s in so-so condition) and how high I’ll go on price. I don’t go outside those boundaries. It’s half the fun. And as I have a hard $500 or less rule, it’s very touch and go on finding the unicorn I’m hunting.

That said, I’ve been looking for an LV St. Cloud GM (the practicality of my small one is so satisfying and so I need a big one because of course)…other than that I’m content.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My husband at Christmas will ask what I want and over the years, he’s bought me the two Givenchy’s, which are mainstays in my collection and I love to use them because they remind me of him while I’m out and about touching fancy things in stores.

I’ll add, that when we first got together he bought me a vacuum for Christmas. I realize many would die inside at this, but not me. It was an equally brilliant gift as I adore the sound of things getting sucked up while I use it. It’s the little things in life.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Yes. My friends know how I shop and they’re no longer surprised by me and even buy the bags I’m wearing off of me sometimes. I’m never one to say no so long as there’s not sentimentality attached. Because of this, they really look me up and down now and ask about everything I have on. As to strangers, I only think so if they ask me about the bag I have on and are familiar. Otherwise I assume not. Who knows though?!

Have your bag-carrying habits changed since Covid? I work from home now, which began during 2020. I struggled greatly with this and really battled some inner turmoil for a good while. I sold a lot of what I had because I felt like there was nowhere to wear these things to and also I felt guilt for having so much that wasn’t being used while so many suffered.

I’ve been working hard to shake all of that, and I now carry whatever bag aligns with my mood when I leave the house. They bring me joy once more or perhaps I’ve allowed myself joy again. Hard to say.

CC 160 2

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? It’s sporadic. I have basic bags too, like some of those TJMaxx Italian leather bags with no logos or anything, so I do pick things up like that from time to time. However if I’m buying a new designer, I do try to determine whether the current bag I’m purchasing will be used more than its closest comparison in my closet. If the answer is yes, I will sell the other. I’m getting past novelty and shifting towards reality with regards to using what I have, not having duplicates and so on. Love what you have and have what you love. This is my approach.

Has the Coronavirus pandemic changed your shopping habits or overall attitude towards luxury? I’m a luxury shopper on a small budget with a penchant for estate sales, thrifting and secondhand. I’ve become more thoughtful in my purchases but haven’t dramatically shifted one way or the other.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Secondhand and estate sales are it, honestly. I go to a big box retailer for house supplies and toiletries otherwise, I seldom go to a normal store.

I’m also decent at sewing and pretty damn good at rehabbing clothes, bags, shoes, and so forth. The secondhand project path is my preference.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes. Estate Sales, vintage shops, secondhand shops, consignment shops, etc. I have used TRR, eBay (amazing scores here), Poshmark, and Fashionphile.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Sometimes I do. Mostly I sell when I have two bags competing in purpose with one another. I ask and ponder which bag I’ll turn to more. Once that’s determined, the path ahead is clear.

I’ve sold on the sites in the previous question as well as to consignment and secondhand shops that do that kind of thing.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Absolutely not. Societal pressure is of little consequence to my wallet or mind when it comes to buying things or style. I appreciate the style of others and love to see people who find joy in dressing and bags, but it doesn’t make me run out to copy them. I also prefer vintage in general, so the new new thing doesn’t typically titillate me, though I appreciate it on others. Or perhaps their excitement is what I appreciate.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Sometimes it can be, but that’s a byproduct as opposed to a motivating factor.

Who influences your buying decisions? I ask myself questions if I’m drawn to something.

-Would I use this daily or for events only?
-Do I have something similar?
-Would I use this more than X?
-Will I like this in a year?

And so on.

Those questions make me overcome the inner 5-year-old stomping their little feet screaming, “NOW!”. I have to temper my need for secondhand fancy things with practicality or this whole thing would spiral into a dumpster fire and I’d end up as a very fabulous A&E Hoarders episode.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? I’m on a first-name basis with many of my estate sale companies and secondhand stores. Honestly, though, my secondhand haunts know my preference and text me now if they have something they know I’ve been looking for now.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I love to admire quality, and examine things closely. It’s fascinating – the overall construction of an item be it a beautiful bag, shoe or wonderful clothing item.

That aside, I love to touch things and understand the items in person. It’s not even so much buying things but more like being in a museum that if you see something extraordinary, you can buy it. I hope that makes sense, otherwise, it may seem a little nutty.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I’m overlooked sometimes. Especially if I am dressed like a scrub. I’m petite, and with a baseball hat and some gym clothes it’s easy to overlook me, I wonder if I look like a kid at times. I really don’t know. People’s eye level is above my head though, so maybe that’s it?

My husband who’s built like a Viking doesn’t have this problem and we’ve discussed it. Whatever the reason, I don’t take it personally. You never know what’s happening in someone else’s life.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? I do.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No.

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The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? As a teenager I bought a very terrible Coach knockoff in all pink because it matched a jumpsuit I had. I recall thinking it was real at the time, though.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No. He knows I’m a lovable semi-degenerate, and he still married me.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Nothing crazy. I sell and buy. Generally, I’ll make money more times than not because of how I buy them, to begin with.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? In the past, I think so, albeit briefly. More because of how hard I had struggled to even eat many years back or keep my electricity on, or not get evicted. If you’ve ever been impoverished, you don’t forget the feeling of an empty fridge or the fear of not being able to keep your home.

I vowed to never let that happen again and to fill my home with things that I thought a normal home should have. It was brief and fleeting. I needed to deal with my experiences instead of covering them up with home goods and such. I began reading about how to deal with things and went to therapy to deal with my root issues instead of masking them with shopping. I’m grateful for therapy and would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who is struggling.

CC 160 5

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Coincidentally, I’m also a huge lover of antiques. Again at unreasonably low prices. Knowing things were made by hand by true artisans is just something that warms me and the opportunity to care, and cherish that item is too enticing to pass up. As such, I can sand, stain and repair furniture within reason. It’s cathartic.

Anything else you would like to include? Do what brings you joy, always say please and thank you and never take yourself too seriously.

Editor’s Note: We wanted to hear more about how CC 160 snagged a Chanel within her budget, so we followed up with CC 160 to learn more. Here’s what she had to say:

Ohhhh the Chanel – well, this is a wild one. Given my secondhand or death approach, I try to get on a first-name basis typically with the employees (be it thrifting, estate sales, consignment stores, and so on – know your peeps). Infiltration is key. Over time they know what you like and that if you don’t shy away from a project, that’s even better. This was one of those scenarios.

The Chanel was a crumpled, sad, white heap. They had it marked low and as-is because they couldn’t figure out the model and it needed work but they were fairly certain it was legit. I took a chance, bought it, sent it off, got it authenticated, worked on and here we are. Definitely my best score. Still can’t believe it, honestly.

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Lala
Lala
12 days ago

This might be my favorite CC ever! I love her sensible, un-stuffy approach to buying bags and using/having what she loves. The Chanel was an amazing score!

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
11 days ago

I enjoy reading about someone I can relate to when it comes to spending. All of my luxury bags are secondhand as well as ready-to-wear. Comes from my upbringing of wearing expensive hand-me-downs (grandmother cleaned the houses of the wealthy). I also have a strict budget.

Anything I buy new is deeply discounted. I’m extremely patient. This has to be my favorite Closet Confessional.

Olivia Penzey
Olivia Penzey
11 days ago

This CC is a breath of fresh air! I’m glad they shared their collection. Love the appreciation for giving new life to worn, but beautiful things that come into one’s life with their own history.

jiljenner
jiljenner
11 days ago

Joining the praise chorus: this was THE most interesting Closet Confessional I’ve read to date! I love her commitment to finding well-made goods of days past, as my collection has been built the same way (though, admittedly, via inheritance). I agree with her (and the many on tPF who have expressed the same) that the heyday of luxury has long-since passed, but the goods from those days are so incredibly well-made that they still have a lot of life to live.

J B
J B
11 days ago

Love the collection and they are in fantastic condition. Some of the styles are new to me but are now on my list. I like your method of shopping and reusing.

Terri
Terri
11 days ago

I thoroughly enjoyed this CC. Thank you!

psny15
psny15
12 days ago

Looks like these bags have all died and are now in a morgue

Laura W
Laura W
7 days ago
Reply to  psny15

Your comment belongs in a morgue.

Kaly
Kaly
4 days ago
Reply to  Laura W

Right!!? So rude!

ElpyEss
ElpyEss
11 days ago
Reply to  psny15

This is a charming, levelheaded, and witty piece by a very serious collector who does NOT take herself too seriously. Loved this. Seeing this comment makes me sad… she deserves better after taking time to share with us.

J B
J B
11 days ago
Reply to  psny15

Miserable human 🚨 alert

Sam
Sam
11 days ago
Reply to  psny15

Can you just stop? Idk why so many posts trigger your negativity button!

Tiffany
Tiffany
11 days ago

This is a great story – thank you! Love her sensibilities and how grounded she seems to be.

Last edited 11 days ago by Tiffany
J H
J H
11 days ago

I love this CC. This person likes what she likes and enjoys the hunt of her finds. That is great. Love that she has a max price that she sticks to; it’s a good lesson. I am the brand new bag type but I totally appreciate and admire those who purchase from the resale market.

Catherine
Catherine
7 days ago

Most level headed, not to mention delightful CC I’ve read. Her husband must adore her.
Also, my first married Christmas, I asked for a space heater for the master bath in our newly built home, so I get you!

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