Closet Confessionals

CC 178: The Student

"I think next would be Hermès, but I'd rather save that for when I get my own income- my dream bag is a 25 Kelly in Sellier"

In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we meet CC 178, a student from LA who is a longtime reader of PurseBlog. This fashion lover only recently has begun his foray into the bag world. His modest collection consists of pieces mostly from Acne Studios, a bit of Lemaire, and a Balenciaga. New to the game, CC 178 is in the exploratory phase, working on nailing down an aesthetic and discovering which brands and pieces are most important to him. This newbie might not have the funds to purchase his own pieces yet, but when he does, his sights are set on Kelly Bag — relatable!

While CC 178 is not even 20 yet, his attitude towards shopping and bags is refreshing. He has done a lot of inner work to understand how his former lack of self-esteem and negative views of his appearance directly impacted his shopping and view of fashion. Because of this, CC 178 now has a great head on his shoulders and believes that while, yes, fashion is wonderful, it should only come second to who you are inside as a person.

Read the full CC now, and don’t forget to submit your own.

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The Basics

Age: 19
Gender Identity: Male
Location: Los Angeles, CA/Chicago, IL
Occupation: Student
Industry: VC/Biotech
Salary: $0
Household Income: $1,000,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? No.

How many bags do you own? 9

What bags are in your collection?

CC 178
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How much is your collection worth? $5,800 at retail about

What is your most expensive bag? Balenciaga Graffiti Belt Bag (explorer style).

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? I think the Musubi is the most important part of my collection- past bags, Acne Studios is a staple in my RTW selection, and the simplicity and quality of their designs make their pieces timeless, in my opinion. That bag has gone through hell and back with me, and its fluid design makes it practical, given how small it actually is.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? My first designer bag was probably my Balenciaga- I got it for my 17th birthday, from a friend. I had never spent money on bags, and this was the first expensive bag I bought (though not with my own money). It singlehandedly changed me from a pockets person to a bag person. I remembered wanting to own a designer bag, but living in LA made me shy away a lot from it- I already got looks as a chubby, not that fashionable teen in stores, and with parents who were not into mainstream fashion I didn’t really have an avenue to finding a bag.

However, after my first purchase, I found that my selections were heightened by the sense of quality judgement and attention-to-detail that my father engrained in me. He has a penchant for bespoke suits, specifically Loro Piana, and I gained the ability to discern what materials possessed longevity past their style. I also valued the subtlety of designs for that reason- logomania was something I did my best to stay away from (though the graffiti explorer was an exception), and to this day I am thankful I did.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I have started to focus more on my RTW selection, but I have had my eye on the Celine classique Triomphe in black. I have started to build my RTW with Celine clothing because Hedi’s designs are imbued with the practicality and simplicity that Phoebe Philo left from her tenure at the house- the idea of simple but Californian, in a way, enamors me and I have started to settle on the brand as my chosen aesthetic. I think next would be Hermès, but I’d rather save that for when I get my own income- my dream bag is a 25 Kelly in Sellier black Epsom with silver hardware, but my first purchase is probably going to be RTW and fine jewelry! I find that clothing is starting to hold more importance for me than accessories alone.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Definitely the Lemaire- I wore that bag the entirety of summer 2021, which was my pre-college post-high school summer. It was probably the most memorable period of my life so far, and that bag traveled everywhere with me. The leather is immaculate- it sustained only one scratch under the flap, even with how much I tossed it around.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? For me, I don’t think so- I wear very neutral bags, and for that reason they can be interpreted in a more gender-neutral way. I think bags in general, are becoming more gender neutral as time goes on- generic opinion, but I’d say that bag wearing can have a varying interpretation based mostly on the wearer and the bag style. In terms of treatment, I don’t notice too much of a difference. I think its mostly my own appearance that changes the perception- none of my bags are obviously branded (though I think the Balenciaga brings on a few eye-rolls at this time for obvious reasons), so they serve more as a complement to my outfit than as a staple of my outfits.

Have your bag-carrying habits changed since Covid? During the start of Covid was when I first started carrying bags on my mini coffee outings just to get out of the house (mask on and precautions taken, no fear). I think they became more of a staple since Covid- there’s no way I can fit my hand sanitizers and new staples (hand cream, perfume mini, wallet, disposable camera) in my pocket without looking certifiably insane.

CC 178 1

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? Barely ever- I always go for clothing first. Bags are much harder for me because I fear that buying one I am not fully in love with will make it easier for me to shove it to the back of my closet, which I oddly find happens less with my clothing. I only bought my Musubi after about a year of deliberation, and with how much my style changed I am happy I did; had I bought it earlier, it would not have fit my aesthetic at all, and it would likely have gotten locked away to gather dust quite quickly.

Has the Coronavirus pandemic changed your shopping habits or overall attitude towards luxury? Definitely- with the release of restrictions, I realized that there was still a large pull on in person activities to an extent. I now like to put my best efforts forth when dressing to even step out- it helps me feel like I’m making my best effort to be presentable. I think I also realized how RTW staples were more important to me- I’d rather spend more on a jacket than on a bag because I have started to see RTW outerwear as the element that a lot of my outfit-building and style choices revolve around now. I like bags to fit my looks, as opposed to making them.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Acne Studios (Weho- the staff there are amazing), Celine, Maxfield, and Saks (mostly when I’m out of ideas). I like smaller boutiques to browse, though I buy there less frequently as I treat them like art galleries; among my favorites are Terminal 27 in Los Angeles, and Nøtre in Chicago.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? No, but I am not opposed to it!

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Haven’t had the opportunity to, but I definitely would consider a cleanout when I shift my focus to bags.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Definitely, but I rarely give in. Social media marketing is rampant, and I feel the biggest influence is luxury endorsements by celebrities. Celine drew me in when Lisa was announced as one of their ambassadors, but I fell in love with the clothes for other reasons after this initial foray. I think that societal pressure is trend and status-driven, but I don’t think it is necessarily bad – it allows consumers to expose themselves to a variety of style paradigms and to find what fits the best. I think societal pressure does not get to me as much because I have a specific taste, and I tend to seek purchases out on my own before. However, seeing items in the wild definitely stokes my interest, and I have been sent on a couple of wild goose chases from catching a passing glance at somebody’s outfit!

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Investments in my own development stylistically? Yes. Monetarily? Not yet. When I get to Hermès status, I probably will, but for now, I’ll stick to my money market account. I think for right now, my priority is finding pieces I enjoy using and wearing- I want to imbue the items I own with all the memories I can so that when I pick them up years from now, I’ll remember the times that I spent with them fondly.

Who influences your buying decisions? Influencers and celebrities do to some extent, but my own boredom can often play a large role. When I really feel like my aesthetic requires a new accessory set, a new bag is part of that, and so those are the only times I’ll really buy.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Not really- most are lovely people, and I definitely have disliked my fair share of them, but I can do both with and without because I generally am set on something before coming into a store. Maybe once I start my journey up the Hermès trail I’ll be a bit more dependent on them!

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? It’s escapist in a sense for me- I love trying on something I wouldn’t normally wear and feeling like a Ken doll of sorts. beyond that. I like reminding myself that I deserve nice things occasionally. I’m a bit of a workaholic, and I often use arbitrary criteria to determine if I’m deserving of anything, to the point that sometimes if I don’t reach a certain standard I set for myself, I’ll feel as if I don’t deserve a good meal. Shopping is a way I remind myself that everybody deserves nice things, whether they be big or small.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Definitely, but more notable is the fact that my mother has had bad experiences. She is much less of a fashion-aware person than I, but she went to buy herself an Evelyne at the Hermès on Rodeo, and I was appalled by the way the SAs treated her. Personally, I think before losing weight, I was often given a side eye at stores because almost every curated store or boutique besides the department store never put large sizes out, and the SAs always took other customers over me, even if they entered a store after me. Since losing weight and changing my style, I’ve stopped having as many bad experiences- but I think that speaks to just how shallow some salespeople are at stores.

If my shopping experience at a luxury store is not made pleasant, and if the SAs don’t assist me when I ask them to (obviously except when they are assisting someone else; my one rule is to treat SAs with kindness because you never know how bad their previous customers may have been), I leave within ten minutes. I think my cardinal rule is that you can’t change others, especially salespeople, by force. You should be in control- if you’re having a bad experience, you leave. No bag, no piece of clothing, and no accessory is worth sacrificing your pride, standards, or self-respect for.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? My parents.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not really, because I don’t buy bags frequently.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? I think I did, unintentionally; I had an Amazon phase, and I paid what seemed like retail price for a Fendi bag bugs cardholder. To this day I’ve never attempted to get it authenticated out of fear for the most part, but I haven’t intentionally purchased a fake item ever.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? See, if I had one I would not. But I do not have a significant other. The one thing I want but cannot buy, along with a Kelly!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Placed my order on SSENSE right after the fiscal quarter ended, so it wouldn’t show up on the quarterly balance statement when my parents reviewed it 😉 To be fair, it was too good a steal to pass up, but I had done a wardrobe reset and knew a new bag wouldn’t be approved.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Less an addiction, but I felt at one point around 2020 I was using my clothing to define myself and compensate for what I felt I lacked in appearance. I realized my shopping was a way of avoiding the harder thought process of finding out why I disliked my appearance so much. After taking time to introspect, I was able to tone down on my shopping sprees and take more time for pure self-care and self-appreciation. Recognizing that I was worth more than what I wore was important as it allowed me to develop a healthier relationship with style- clothes are now clothes to me, as opposed to tarps to hide the body I had a deep hatred for previously.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Travel and Food. My parents always made sure to show me as many places as they could growing up, and they still do. My family is split across the world, so I spend US summers in Australia and winters in India; besides that, we plan a lot of other trips. My favorite has to have been Italy or Japan- Sorrento, Rome, and Tokyo have an absolute chokehold on me to this very day. My next destination is France, and I am quite excited for it! In terms of food, I always choose restaurants that end up being expensive, and I always make an effort to try Michelin-star cuisine everywhere. For that reason, My weekly budget is generally saved for Friday, where I spend most of it at dinner; the rest I leave for a coffee and some light groceries on Sundays. If anybody is in Rome, or is going to visit, do try Il Pagliaccio!

Anything else you would like to include? Fashion is amazing, but I always view it as something that is only an accessory to who you are as a person. Emphasize yourself first and foremost- you aren’t any brand’s billboard, and you are a thousand times more beautiful than any piece of clothing you wear. For that reason, never let anybody judge you based on what you’re wearing!

As long as you do you, you’ll always shine. Never let anything stop you from trying something new. Not the most unique parting words, but my best attempt. Also, I have been a PurseBlog reader for quite a while, and these CCs have always been fun to read- I got in trouble for reading one during tenth-grade history, so thank you to all previous writers (and all the PurseBlog writers in general) for the memories 🙂

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SlurmLoco
SlurmLoco
1 year ago

I love this post! You’ve given such thoughtful responses to many of the questions. The bit about your father teaching you about quality materials, tailoring and the like is very reminiscent of my own moments with mine. Treasure those moments, carry those lessons, enjoy those bags and live joyfully!

Kaly
Kaly
1 year ago

I wish I’d been this sensible with my shopping at this age! What a great read—thanks for sharing!

Adangerousbeauti
Adangerousbeauti
1 year ago

so fashionable at a young age; and hope my household income was 1mil dollars before i started earning for myself.