Closet Confessionals

CC 174: The NYC Physician

"Buy bags that make you happy; if you're buying bags for any other reason, then maybe take a look at what's driving that impulse."

In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we meet a Doctor hailing from NYC in her early 30s who is reaching almost a full decade in her collecting journey. CC 174 got her first bag at age 25, a Chanel Flap from the resale market, after breaking up with a boyfriend who questioned why she always carried the same no-name leather handbag. This handbag lover dumped the guy and bought the Chanel—for herself!

Since then, CC 174 has amassed a large collection of some of the handbag world’s most covetable bags, including Birkins and even an elusive Mini Kelly. Her collection is vast, and she does wish to to pare down her collection a bit. While this collector does admit that sometimes her shopping habits and her views on why she carries designer bags aren’t the healthiest, her candor is something we can all learn from. Read the full CC below and get a look at bags from CC 174’s stunning collection.


The Basics

Age: 33
Location: NYC
Gender Identity: Female
Occupation: Physician
Industry: Medicine
Salary: $375,000
Household Income: $375,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? No

How many bags do you own? > 50

What bags are in your collection?

CC 174 5
CC 174 4

How much is your collection worth? I don’t want to even think about it 🙈

What is your most expensive bag? Most expensive bag would be my Kelly 32 rouge casaque because I bought it on the resale market when I had poor impulse control. Most expensive bag I’ve bought from a boutique would be my Kelly 32 jaune ambre. Most expensive bag by resale value would likely be my mini Kelly, as the mini bag trend seems to still be going strong.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? The past few years, I’ve been drawn into the Hermès game so I’ve been focusing my attention and purchases on quota bags. My highlights have been getting offered my mini Kelly and Kelly 28 Anemone.

However, I recently pulled the trigger on the seasonal Chanel black satin flap that’s covered in all pearls from a reseller. I still don’t know if it was worth the price, but it is such a beautiful bag.

I do still cherish a handful of bags that are connected to certain life events and memories (first designer bag, first time living out of state, graduations, presents, etc.), but I fear that I’ve diluted their significance by overexpanding my collection which makes me sad. I’m actively trying to streamline my collection.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? My first designer bag was a small vintage Chanel double flap in black lambskin and gold plated hardware that I bought when I was 25 from Yoogis Closet for 2K.Prior to this purchase, my most expensive bag was a genuine leather bag I got on sale from old navy in high school and used it up until my third year of med school. What triggered the change?

I dated a guy who frequently made comments about why did I always use the same bag and why didn’t I buy a Chanel. His sister apparently had a few Chanel bags and looking back, the guy was also into designer labels. He even offered to loan me money to buy a Chanel, which I found offensive. After we broke up, I decided that I don’t need a man to loan me money, and instead, I set out on a mission to buy my own. Of course, I didn’t have the money to buy new, so I researched the secondhand market and came upon two vintage Chanel bags in excellent condition on Yoogis Closet that I promptly purchased (one black and one navy). Felt sick for spending so much money on bags that I tried to justify by saying that I didn’t have undergrad loans, but I ended up just keeping the black. In hindsight should’ve kept both as the prices have skyrocketed!

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I’m trying to pare down my collection, so not actively looking to purchase any more bags unless it’s a quota bag from Hermès and even then, I’d only be open to a size or color or leather that I don’t already have in my collection.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? One of my regrets in my bag journey is that I get caught up in the thrill of the hunt and end up purchasing a lot of bags simply because they’re hard to get and not for any special occasion. I now have a sizeable Chanel Classic Flap collection, but don’t feel any excitement when looking at them, even the bags that previously brought me great joy when my collection was smaller.

If I had to pick one, my Chanel tweed mini in sunset colors with iridescent/oil slick hardware still does get me to smile because my fiance really loves it, and we call it his bag.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Living in NYC, I don’t think my bags change people’s perceptions of me for the most part just because designer goods are so prevalent. Sometimes I feel a bit basic for carrying obviously designer bags vs. some unknown label that’s very unique.

The only times I think I’m treated differently with a specific bag would be when shopping at designer boutiques where the SAs would easily recognize the bags.

Have your bag-carrying habits changed since Covid? I’ve stopped carrying as many bags since covid for a few reasons.

1. The crime rate in NYC has increased, and I take the subway to work, so just for my own peace of mind and safety, I carry Longchamp totes or, at most a Neverfull as my daily bag. For fun, I might still wear a Chanel, but I’ll flip it or wear it underneath my coat. If I’m carrying Hermès, I uber.

2. I don’t carry as much since covid so I don’t really use my larger bags, and most times, I’ll just stick my essentials in my pockets.

CC 174
CC 174 2

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I’m an emotional shopper, which is bad. So it varies.

More recently, since I’ve honed in on Hermès, it’s really based on when I’m offered…. so 1-2x a year.

Has the Coronavirus pandemic changed your shopping habits or overall attitude towards luxury? I feel like the overall trend is that people have a lot more discretionary income from the lockdowns and more hunger for designers due to feeling like life is too short not to have fun, so there’s been an uptick in everyday designer goods. However, this has actually had the opposite effect on me and largely due to a personality flaw that I’m working on.

A big component of my love of bags is the love of the exclusivity of a designer. I’ve struggled with low self-esteem and imposter syndrome for most of my life, and being able to have and wear exclusive bags made me feel better about myself. Now that so many people have designer goods, I’ve lost interest in shopping as it seems almost boring and basic to be carrying a designer bag, and I no longer feel more superior, as horrible as that sounds.

Working through the pandemic has also made me want to focus more on gratitude and internal happiness, so I only shop when I need to or see something that I love that’s a great quality that I would buy even without a label.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Hermès for luxury. Van Cleef and Arpels for jewelry. Nordstrom for clothes.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? My bag journey started with secondhand bags, and the majority of my collection up until 2-3 years ago when I got into Hermès were all secondhand. My favorite was for the good deals and return policy, but they don’t have a high volume of new inventory. I still think the prices are mostly fair, and descriptions are most accurate on here.

I used to frequent as well before they started marking up their prices so so so much. These days I am just angry browsing their inventory. I’ll usually take a look whenever Christie’s has their handbag auctions, but again the demand is so high these days that good deals are hard to come by. I’ve also bought from a few Instagram resellers like finklepuff, juliaroseboston.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I’ve sold a handful of bags as I’m trying to pare down my collection, but I don’t think it breaks even with my purchases. I’ve tried to implement a one-in-one-out policy, but that’s not going great, mainly because a part of me is trying to “time the market” and convincing myself the longer I keep it, the more it’ll appreciate. I only sell on a Facebook group of luxury-loving physicians.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? At this stage in my bag journey, I don’t feel much pressure as I’ve realized there’s always going to be a dream bag out of reach, and keeping up with the joneses only hurts yourself. Buy bags that make you happy; if you’re buying bags for any other reason, then maybe take a look at what’s driving that impulse.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? I hope so! That’s how I’ve justified such a large collection. I think they were investments in the past when you could get good deals on the secondhand market, but these days I think the only bags that are investments are Hermès quota bags bought at retail or if you’re really quick to jump on a new release that gets hot and you’re able to flip it real quick.

Chanel, I think, is reaching a ceiling in both retail and resale prices, so I don’t see much investment growth in them.

Who influences your buying decisions? When I first started, it was the people I was surrounded by in the NYC social scene. I wanted to have the bags they had. As I got older and stopped partying as much, it was influencers like Tamara Kalinic, Mel In Melbourne, etc.

Now it’s mainly my desire to have one of every size of every Hermès quota bag, and I’m telling myself that will be the end of it. Though realistically, long-term financial planning is playing the largest role as I’m looking to settle down and start a family.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? For most of my journey, I would say no because I bought online, but the past 3-4 years, absolutely!
I’m not sure if we’re allowed to drop names or contacts here but hit me up if you want.

Having a good SA that you have a rapport with gives you easier access to new releases, hard-to-get items, and a more luxurious shopping experience in boutiques. I had a great Louis Vuitton SA at the fifth Ave store, and after she left, I just stopped buying Louis Vuitton. SAs can be dangerous, though too, because some are so good at tempting you that you make a lot of impulse buys. Having an SA at Hermès is essential to building that profile.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new?
1. The thrill of the chase. Love hunting down a seasonal piece and the sense of accomplishment it provides.
2. Literally retail therapy. Don’t follow my lead but being able to purchase a luxury item in the moment makes me feel better about myself that I’m at least at a good enough spot in life that I can spoil myself.
3. Appreciation of beauty. Just walking around and seeing the beautiful pieces can improve my mood.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? When I’m dressed sloppily and not wearing anything labeled then, I sometimes feel like I’m ignored, which I’m fine with because I’ll just ask if I need help, and I’ve never had an issue after asking. I think a part of the reason I’ve never been treated poorly beyond being ignored could be because I’m Asian, and our demographic has become big luxury consumers.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? Technically, I do. However, my parents supported my living expenses up until I graduated residency and got my first real doctor job, so I attribute my discretionary income to them.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No, I’ve fortunately and unfortunately never had to budget, and now I’m trying to be more strict as inflation and cost of living have crept up in the city, and I’m looking to start a family.

CC 174 3

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No, my fiance is so sweet and understanding, but it’s also my own income, so I wouldn’t expect him to be opposed without good reason. I have hid purchases from my parents in the past as I feel guilty for not putting my extra money into an investment account vs a bag. I also struggle with guilt that I live a comfortable life with the ability to afford designer bags when my immigrant parents were struggling at my age.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? This was mainly a mistake on my part for not fully realizing how online auctions worked, but when I wanted to buy my first Birkin I bid online and ended up with 2 and then had to dodge the auction houses’ emails for a few weeks until I had the money to pay them for the bags.

1. I didn’t realize how risky it was to bid on multiple items… you really need to keep track, so you don’t end up with more than you intended!
2. I didn’t factor in the hidden auction house fees into the final price.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I’ve considered this as I’ve definitely felt like I’ve made irresponsible and impulse purchases quite a lot in my life, but I’ve never gone into debt, thankfully, because of them. So not sure if that qualifies…. hopefully not. I’ve slowed down on shopping just because of the size of my collection and different priorities these days.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Fine dining and any dining, really. I love to eat and try new restaurants. Planning a wedding and buying a condo, and potentially having a child in NYC are expensive hobbies that I’m currently working up to.


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