In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we meet a handbag lover from Chicago whose love for bags has taken her on quite a journey. Over the years, she’s built a nice collection of bags, including brands ranging from Coach and Tory Burch to Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Her most important piece is a Chanel Wallet on Chain that holds a lot of memories thanks to when (and where) it was purchased, but CC 184 still hopes to add her holy grail—a Chanel Backpack to her collection one day.
A lover of jewelry and fine dining as well, CC 184 is unafraid to spend money on the finer things in life, but when it comes to handbags, she painstakingly thinks through each purchase, honing in on a particular bag and finding out all of the right information. Her first luxury bag-buying experience may be to blame. After getting a once-in-a-lifetime deal on a Chanel Tote, CC 184 got home and suffered major buyer’s remorse, realizing the style did not work for her.
Read the full CC now, and don’t forget to submit your own!
Your Age? 33
Your Gender Identity? Female
Where do you live? Chicago, IL
What is your occupation? Senior Analyst, Procurement
What industry do you work in? Food and Beverage
Your annual salary? $105,800
Total Household Income? $200,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
Onto The Bags
How many bags do you own? 16
What bags are in your collection?
- Chanel: WOC Boy in Black Caviar (my holy grail purchased in Munich, Germany for my 30th!), Vintage Navy Blue Lambskin Camera Bag (1980’s)
- Louis Vuitton: Epi Alma BB in Indigo, Monogram Neverfull MM, Keepall Bandouliere 45 Damier Graphite, Pochette Felicie in Monogram, Mini Pochette Accessoires
- Balenciaga: City Anthracite 2012
- Tory Burch: Baby Pink Robinson Satchel
- MBMJ: Small Blue Crossbody
- Coach: 1941 Willis Top Handle, Vintage Coach Turn-Lock in Black Leather (Station bag maybe? from my Mother, 1990’s)
- Issey Miyake: Bao Bao Beige (this was a gift)
- Vince Camuto Black Clutch
- Rains: Backpack Purple
I just sold off 3 months ago: LV Trevi PM in Damier Ebene, Balenciaga City in violet prune and Alexander Wang Inside Out Rocco in Ink
How much is your collection worth? $15,000-$20,000
What is your most expensive bag? Chanel Boy WOC in Black Caviar. I knew I wanted to purchase it on my 30th birthday trip with my best friend in Germany. I think I got really lucky with them having one in stock (I did prefer GH, but am fine with either).
Did you ever regret any of your bag purchases? If so, which ones and why? I regret the Trevi PM I purchased in 2015. It was way too big of a base for me, and I never found it easy to carry. I also think it aged me at the time, but this is when the Tivoli PM was also extremely popular.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? My very first bag was a Coach Outlet Patchwork bag that was $125 which I got as a gift from my parents when I was 16.
My first luxury designer bag that I consider my own first bag was Balenciaga City in Anthracite at 21 after I started my first “big girl” job. I remember being OBSESSED with Nicole Richie and Vanessa Hudgens and just LOVED their bobo, relaxed style and wanted to be them.
Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I would love to own another Chanel bag, but I’m learning I gravitate more towards backpacks now or very small crossbodies. Kourtney Kardashian owns a Chanel Backpack (probably vintage now) that I know will be out of my budget going forward…but a girl can dream!
Do you have a ‘holy grail’ dream bag you’ve always wanted to own? Chanel Backpack.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? WOC Chanel because it’s like angels sing when I wear it (and it reminds me of the most amazing girl’s trip!) and also my first Balenciaga since I felt like I could spend that money without hurting my finances.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Among my friends, they all know me by now and know my love of handbags. They compliment it or gawk at it in a nice way, but they don’t make rude comments. At work, no one notices my LV Alma in Epi Leather, but I’m sure if I brought a Monogram piece, people may notice.
I’m currently in Chicago, where beautiful bags typically stay downtown and at dinners/nightlife. Outside of downtown, I see them, but they are very under the radar.
When I lived in San Diego/OC for years, it was EVERYWHERE. Almost thrown in your face like a clique you aren’t a part of. I’m sure growing up in SoCal has created the handbag monster that I am, but I like to think being in the Midwest for 7 years has calmed it down. I’m about to move to a MUCH smaller town, and I’d love to share my experiences on wearing these luxury items there. It’ll be very new to me how people may react to my clothing, handbags, and jewelry.
How do you take care of your bags? I’m the worst! I try to stuff them, and I do place them in the dustbags, but if I don’t see them, then I forget I have them! So, currently they are out in my bedroom on a rack. Even then, I still forget what I have due to the dustbags. I may need to start a polaroid collection of my handbags on the rack so I do not forget!
I used to be nitpicky about placing it on the floor/table/wherever, but I stopped caring about it a few years in. I never purchased bags to resell, so I figured every mark or scratch will be my doing and a part of the bag journey. I try to be mindful of food and drink, of course, but I have no problems placing my bag on concrete ground/airport ground.
How often do you buy new bags? Typically 1-2 a year. It has slowed down since COVID since I’ve taken a liking to Jewelry and have sold off some bags too.
Do you prefer shopping for bags online or in-store? Why? Online. I spend MONTHS typically researching PurseForum, PurseBlog, reviews, Reddit, anything I can get. I slowly hone in on styles or silhouettes I like and eventually fixate on one purse until I take the leap. My in-store transactions are like 10 minutes if I shop in-store, because I know exactly what I want.
Which stores do you frequent the most? Nordstrom, LV, Abercrombie and Fitch, Quince
Have you ever returned a bag after purchasing it? Why did you make that decision? This question brought up my worst memory! Remember how I said my first bag was a Balenciaga City in Anthracite? I actually first purchased a Chanel Petite Shopping Tote 12 years ago. If I recall correctly, it was priced online at $2,000, and the Chanel inside Neiman Marcus brought me one out with a tag of $1,600. They decided to give it to me with the $1,600, and I took it. I went home, and while I was like in awe of my Chanel bag, it just didn’t feel right with the structure and open top. The handles also were at a weird length for my arms. I painfully returned it, and even the associate said “Wow, you got such a great deal on this”. I slightly regret it, but I also know it was the right decision for my lifestyle.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Rarely. I just purchased a Polene Numero Un thinking it was a backpack style….and it’s not. I’m sending it to a handbag restoring company to turn it into a backpack strap. It was purchased on Poshmark.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Typically. I sell mine on Fashionphile
Do you ever donate or gift your old bags? If so, to whom? All the time. Everything typically goes to my sister, with an occasional one or two to my mother.
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No. I feel more comfortable now. Being in Chicago, people don’t care about those things as much as my hometown of San Diego, where I felt immense pressure.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? No
Do you follow the latest fashion trends when deciding on your next purchase, or do you prefer classic styles? Classic, all the way. I am into the pink trends, though lately!
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? I’ve never quite had a SA relationship, but if my SA in store is nice to me and patient and not annoyed, I’ll buy with them. I have no problem working with someone else in the store or going to a different store to purchase.
Do you enjoy shopping beyond just acquiring something new? I definitely find excitement in searching for the right thing. I do love to put together an outfit that works for a certain event, so it definitely feels like retail therapy to me.
Have you ever felt you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Not inferior, but I noticed the Asian SA in Germany approached me versus all the others standing closer.
What are some factors that may dissuade you from buying a bag, even if you like it? Heaviness, too much metal which makes it LOUD when setting on a table. Sometimes if it’s too trendy and everyone has it, then I don’t want it (Givenchy Antigona).
Is there a brand you outright refuse to buy? Why? Hmm…none that I can think of.
On Budgeting & Perceptions
Who pays for your bags? I do!
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No, but I do take note if I have any big budgets events or items coming up. Last year, we had our wedding, and I bought a new car (all cash), so I had to slow down on any bag purchases last year.
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, he knows I love my bags. He has asked me why I need another one though.
Have your friends or family ever criticized your bag-buying habits? If so, how did you respond? My mother and husband have. They ask me why I need so many or why I have to buy such expensive ones. I usually respond that I liked it and I’m doing fine financially. It doesn’t go further than that.
Have you ever made a significant sacrifice to afford a bag? If so, what was it? I don’t drink alcohol, and I haven’t in over 10 years. I like to think that money goes towards my love for bags.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I do, and I have. Especially right now with my current job ending soon and a big move to a new state where I don’t know anyone. I can tell that my brain wants to find spurts of happiness lately to override the sadness of my comfort (job I’m familiar with and the city I’m familiar with). Or maybe it’s to curb the anxiety that has grown. I tell myself I need to reign it in, and slow down when wanting to purchase something like clothing, a handbag, or even food! In order for me to do that, I’ll just scroll the PurseForum threads and try to start from page 1.
Let’s get personal…
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Michelin Star Restaurants, Tasting Menus, and Traveling. I hope to start horseback riding in my new city!
What is your greatest fear? My greatest fear is losing people I love. I also have body dysmorphia which is why handbags have been my go-to fixation. I can wear any handbag however my body looks like no matter what.
Which living person do you most admire? My mama! A refugee from Vietnam. The 3rd of 10 children. The designated cook of the entire family, and she is the hardest worker. She still doesn’t have any designer handbags, but she won’t let herself have any! She likes Tory Burch a lot though, so I’m happy she’s found a designer.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband! He is a fantastic human being that I met during COVID. We got engaged just 3 months after meeting and knew we wanted to be together. We have built a beautiful life together thus far, and I can’t wait for more years with him. Also, my cat UNO who is 8 years old and is the funniest, laziest, and loving boy. I cry thinking about the day he’s going to get super, super, super old, and all that.
What is your favorite journey you have taken so far? My career. I went from a Dance major at university to Fashion internships to corporate retail to corporate pet supplier to Dairy Industry to Food and Beverage. I’m doing very well in my career for someone whose own parents didn’t think they could finish undergraduate. I enjoy proving people wrong with my career. My handbags have been by my side throughout the whole thing!
Any parting words you would like to share with our readers? I think it’s important to wear what you like, no matter the fabrication, logo, silhouette, etc. Also, your bag is MEANT to be worn, or else it’s just rotting away in your closet. They are meant to be used!!! Keeping them in pristine condition will drive you nuts.