Closet Confessionals

CC 183: The Realist

"I am aware of my financial limitations. I would never choose a bag over the comforts of home and food on my table."

In today’s CC, we meet a nurse hailing from the UK whose attitude towards bags is incredibly down-to-earth. CC 183 was 27 when she got her first designer bag, a Classic Chanel Flap bag that she purchased secondhand. Eventually, she realized the bag didn’t suit her well, so she ended up selling the bag to purchase something she would get more use out of. Unafraid to sell off bags that she’s no longer using. A lover of finding a good bag bargain, CC 183 doesn’t shy away from the resale market either.

While today’s confessor is not a big budgeter, her attitude towards shopping is incredibly down-to-earth and real. She believes in spending mindfully and never shopping outside of your means. CC 183 also states that it’s nice to have a loved one keep you in check, and because she never hides purchases from her boyfriend, he can encourage healthy spending habits. Read the full CC now; don’t forget to submit your own.


The Basics

Age: 31
Gender Identity: Female
Location: London
Occupation: Senior Nurse
Industry: Healthcare – UK
Salary: $60,000
Household Income: $100,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 16

What bags are in your collection?

I first started collecting bags from Longchamp, Coach, and Kate Spade. Then when I started earning a good salary, I moved to luxury bags. I’ve listed below the most notable bags that I own:

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How much is your collection worth? Probably more than $10,000-ish if we are going with the market price. However, I got most of my bag with discounts, so I am just estimating.

What is your most expensive bag? Chanel Business Affinity Bag, definitely. Even this one, I got a discount – thanks to the power of Tax Refunds.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? Chanel Business Affinity bag and Tory Burch Emmerson bag.. for sentimental reasons.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? For my first high-end luxury bag, I think I was 27. It was a vintage Chanel Medium Classic Flap Bag that I got from Xupes. It was in a very good condition and cost around $2500 (this was probably before vintage bags became too expensive). Since it was in lambskin, I was so scared to use it. Sadly, it did not suit my style at that point, and sold it to my close friend for the same price. It looks good on her and better suits her. It still makes me smile when I see her use the bag.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? Well, I am not in a rush to buy my next bag, but I have two Chanel and one Hermès bag that I hope to purchase in the future – as long as the prices are still reasonable and not crazy!

For Chanel it is another Business Affinity bag in small size and a CC Day backpack from the 2019 Cruise collection.

And of course, the holy grail for almost all bag lovers…an Hermès bag. For me, it would be a Kelly 25 Retourne, Noir, and in Rose Gold finishings. Also, I refuse to play the Hermès game of buying tons of Hermès stuff to even be offered a quota bag. I’ll just take my chances with the wish list and visit Hermès stores when I travel – cos, again, Tax Refund.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Two bags, one is a Tory Burch Emerson bag – my boyfriend’s first-ever bag gift. Second is my Chanel Business Affinity bag which was the first and, at the moment, the only time I ever bought from a Chanel store.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Yes, especially if you work for healthcare services (except for doctors though). A lot of people know that nursing does not pay well, so if you carry a very expensive bag; people tend to raise their eyebrows. Some friends and colleagues poke fun of me whenever I wear one.. like how many extra shifts did I have to do to afford one. I just straight up tell them the truth of how many extra shifts and most of the times, they back off and other times they just go round in circles making fun of it. I love my job and luckily, it helps me afford life’s necessity and my affinity for bags.

Have your bag-carrying habits changed since Covid? No, nothing has changed with my bag-carrying habits since Covid. I worked through Covid, and managed to keep my essentials pre-Covid exactly the same. Yes, even pre-Covid I would bring sanitizer, masks, and wet and dry wipes.

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The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I promised myself, only once a year on my birthday. However, I keep breaking that promise whenever I find a bag that I like for a good price.

Has the Coronavirus pandemic changed your shopping habits or overall attitude towards luxury? Not really. I have always been conscious when I buy luxury items. I still do lots of research and am always on the hunt to get a good bargain. Like taking advantage of tax refunds and the joy of patiently waiting for a second-hand to show up in Vestaire or Xupes.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Selfridges and Bicester Village, can’t say no to an outlet shopping.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Big YES! I have bought two Chanel Gabrielle bags from Vestaire Collective for a total price of one Gabrielle brought from a store. I’d say it was a good deal. Also, can’t deny the endorphins that come when you are in a bidding war.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Yes, that is exactly what happened with my first Chanel bag. I sold it to my close friend and used the money to fund the Business Affinity that I really love. However, I would only consider selling if I can see myself not using the bag anymore. Other than that, I am keeping all of it. If ever, I will probably sell it on Vestaire or through a consignment store.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No. I have never been one to give in to societal pressure to purchase more bags. I am aware of my financial limitations. I would never choose a bag over the comforts of home and food on my table.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Not really, since most of my bags where bought from second-hand or outlet stores I don’t think they are of investment value. Add to that, I would never sell my bags for the sake of selling. I’d like to pass it down to my future kid.

Who influences your buying decisions? Myself. Since I am the one about to do the extra shifts. Maybe, in the future, my boyfriend – if he dares though.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? I don’t know. I have never had enough purchases in one store or brand to have a relationship with a Sales Associate. Unless, the one-off time that I purchased at the store, which was okay, not spectacular as the TV shows portray.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? Maybe retail therapy. It’s hard to explain, maybe because it’s a tangible manifestation of all my hard work. I know coming in to nursing is a vocation, you want to help people, but sometimes we forget to help ourselves. It’s probably my own way of remembering to take of myself, too (aside from the basic human needs). My boyfriend considers me a shopaholic, I don’t.. guess who’s right?

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? This is tricky to answer, but I do experience every now and then. For example, in Chanel Paris 31 Rue Cambon, the SA was definitely a one-line answer. Contrasting to Chanel in Amsterdam, where the SA was really friendly to me. I do not want to call someone that they might be racist or discriminatory. They could be going through something at that point, hence the inferior service. I could not be more bothered. I’ll go in store with jeans and a t-shirt or in all Chanel outfit, if they provide inferior service, it’ll be inferior regardless of my appearance, ethnicity, or gender. There will always be SA who will size you up and decide if they will help you or just want to get rid of you as soon as possible.

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The Money

Who pays for your bags? Most of them is by me. One and a half from my boyfriend, he split the Dior mini backpack with me and got by himself the Tory Burch. A Polene bag that was gifted by two of my close friend for my 29th birthday – those are the exceptions.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not really. Unless I have something in my head that I want to get, then I do not particularly set aside a budget for a bag. There are also other things in life that I’d like to splurge on.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No. I’d be too scared to buy counterfeit, what if they get my details and/or my identity. Too many movie plots in my head that I do not want to risk just because of buying a counterfeit. I’d rather wait until I am able to afford a real one.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? At the start, yes. I fear that my boyfriend might find me materialistic or shallow for wanting to spend thousands on a bag. I was insecure about it; however, he talked me into it and said that I deserve to spend my hard-earned money on things that make me happy. He keeps me in check and makes sure, I do not spend more than what I earn. So now, it’s a no, I never hide purchases from him.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I wanted to get a Dior Cannage mini backpack, but I missed out when it was launched. Luckily, I saw the bag at the Dior outlet store in Bicester Village. I used some of my annual leaves (they were about to expire, and I have nothing planned) and took some nursing agency jobs. That got me the money to buy the bag, and I paid much less than what I would have paid if I got it during its season. I think that is the craziest thing I have done to afford a bag.

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Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Luckily, no. I have not reached to a point where my shopping escapades have put me in a position where I am struggling. It also helps that I actively keep myself in check for signs of shopping addiction. And it is also fully supported by my boyfriend, who would not shy from calling me out if he thinks that I am losing control with shopping (this is not with bags alone, this applies to every form of shopping like food and home shopping, etc)

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? I do like my monthly reformer pilates class. They are expensive classes, however, if you work weekdays for 12 hours and up, you need to take care of your physical body. Pilates helps with muscle and body aches. They also correct your posture. I also like to hike and travel, which can also be expensive.

Anything else you would like to include? Never spend more than what you can earn. It’s not good for you, financially, mentally and physically too. I have seen people whose physical health was affected because they are struggling after putting themselves in a financial predicament. Some of it was for a good reason, and some were also very unreasonable.

It is also nice if you have someone that will remind you and make you accountable for your luxury spending. It could be family, friends, or special someone. If you don’t have any of these, you can always seek help (there are a lot of organizations offering free help to those who are struggling).
If you are in a good position to buy luxury items, don’t be shy in looking at the second-hand market, or outlet stores, or if you also tend to travel a lot, make sure to take advantage of the tax refunds.
Love and enjoy your luxury bags or items, everyone!

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1 year ago

This is so refreshing. When I was younger, I was focused on getting “status bags” and did use credit that at the time I couldn’t afford. Ironically, now that I can afford more expensive bags I tend to go for function and comfort like Longchamp and MZ Wallace. It’s totally ok not to have the most expensive bag in the room!

1 year ago

I loved this confessional! I found it nice and refreshing, and a reminder that handbag lovers can always come together and unite, regardless of income, handbag brand preferences, and views on purchases. Well done!

1 year ago

I’d love to know the name of the pink kiss-lock bag! 😍

1 year ago
Reply to  Samantha

It’s the Coach Frame Bag 23

1 year ago
Reply to  Samantha

Coach Nora kisslock maybe. It’s definitely a Coach bag- I see the hangtag😊

1 year ago
Reply to  Samantha

same here, it’s precious!

1 year ago

Mature and sensible words! A lovely and insightful article! Sounds like me in many ways. So important to prioritise purchases such as food and home over luxury items. I also hid things from husband at first, but he is nothing but supportive also, as I don’t go overboard and he likes me to treat myself now and then. Interesting about her friends. I used to hide things from those I knew would be snarky. A shame people are like that. Glad CC has such a great bf and a job she loves! Shop-wise, I also love Selfridges. Harrods and FarFetch are my other go-to’s, sometimes Harvey Nichols. Must look into those tax refunds though!

1 year ago

2 things-
I’m a huge fan of the Business Affinity, because of that top handle.
Selfridges, it’s my giant regret that I didn’t go into the store. And there I was, standing right in front of it.

1 year ago

Wish i had a nonjudgemental BF/partner. Im also a nurse. Come to the US. They pay better especially with overtime or as a travelling nurse.