Closet Confessionals

CC 191: The Curator

"I also cannot think clearly on the fly. I need time to "craft" my wardrobe and give a lot of consideration to what I'm purchasing."

In today’s thoughtfully written, in-depth CC, we meet a collector in her late thirties who has been collecting bags for about 15 years. In that time, she’s developed a true love for collecting, enjoying the entire process of buying a bag. She wholeheartedly believes in buying classic pieces that you will love and speak to your true self, and her passion for curating her wardrobe is ever-apparent.

While in her younger collecting days, CC 191 was a big fan of Louis Vuitton, these days, she’s brand-loyal to the big H and has her sights set on adding more Hermès pieces to her collection in the future. A smart shopper who thoughtfully thinks through all of her purchases, CC 191 enjoys buying pre-loved bags and loves the story behind seeing a bag that has been worn and loved.

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

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Basic Bio

Your Age? 39
Your Gender Identity? Female
Where do you live? South Carolina
What is your occupation? Director of Operations
What industry do you work in? Environmental Aquatic
Your annual salary? $85,000
Total Household Income? $250,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

Onto The Bags

How many bags do you own? 5

What bags are in your collection?

CC 191

How much is your collection worth? $16,000

What is your most expensive bag? The Hermès Kelly (surprise).

Do you ever regret any of your bag purchases? If so, which ones and why? No, I take a long time considering bags before I purchase them. I have always put a lot of thought into my wardrobe, so each purchase is carefully planned. I will say that my tastes can change rapidly and vary widely, so I always make sure of two things – one, that the clothing and accessories I purchase maintain a solid resale value so that I can rotate clothing out based on my tastes, and two, that the pieces I buy are timeless and of very high quality. I do not go for trendy items in clothing or accessories.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? 23? 24? A Louis Vuitton Damier Ebene Speedy 25. I still strongly prefer a handbag to a shoulder bag, but I greatly value a shoulder strap option too. I don’t care much for canvas/patterns anymore, but I still love that design.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I have a few, but purchasing them will depend on what I can find and when I can find it. I have a lot more patience now than I used to, and I don’t mind waiting for the right pieces. I am looking forward to perusing the resale shops in Tokyo (I love a good price, and I don’t mind used pieces at all, and tend to prefer them). I would love a Kelly 32/35cm or Bolide 31cm or maybe even a HAC 32cm in havane, chocolat, gold, noisette, some deeply beautiful shade of brown. I love Swift, Barenia Fauve, Ostrich, Gulliver. I really like leather that ages visibly, darkens with time. When Ostrich bags have darkened handles from carrying, I adore that. That person obviously carried it a lot and it was well-loved.

Do you have a ‘holy grail’ dream bag you’ve always wanted to own? A Kelly Ghillies! I love the design. The color desire changes with the ebb and flow of my wardrobe taste, but right now, a 35cm fauve Tadelakt with gold hardware would just be perfection. A Kelly 32 or 35 in havane or chocolate with gold hardware, something that has seen some love and age would also be lovely, so in a box or gulliver leather. I adore the Kelly but I hate opening and closing the thing, so I have always been more “in love” with the Bolide just due to the simplicity of carrying it. But the Kelly is unbeatable in styling.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My first Bolide (35cm black clemence) was the culmination of over a decade of wanting one. That was a pretty cool moment, to finally own one. I committed to Hermès when I was in my 20’s and had a great relationship with my SA before our store closed down. I had my eyes set on a Bolide back then but couldn’t afford it yet! It was a 27cm Chevre Rose Shocking Bolide, can’t forget it, stared at it for years hah.

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Yes, I think that is unavoidable. But I think it’s equally important to remember that whatever narrative they construct in their head regarding the how/why of your bag ownership is exactly that – their narrative. It does not necessarily reflect real life. We are all guilty of making assumptions about others based on what they wear or carry. It’s important to be conscious of that and critical of your thought process.

How do you take care of your bags? I moisturize, spa, and keep my bags in their proper forms as I want them to last for ages. But I am definitely not a neurotic preservationist. I won’t let my bag get rained on and just leave the water on it, I will make an effort to protect it and wipe it down swiftly, and I keep my interiors clean, but the bags go on the floors regularly. It is meant to be worn and loved, and a few scratches and such are not a concern to me. I also do not care much for the twilly-on-handle look, and I like the wear a handle gets with time.

On Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? There is no specific criteria for this; it’s pretty much when I feel financially sound and ready to make a large purchase. I tend to save up for around my birthday, though, when it comes to large purchases that have the potential to make me hyperventilate at the amount of money I’m spending in one go.

Do you prefer shopping for bags online or in-store? Why? Absolutely online, hands down, always. I hate shopping in person, with the exception of my once-per-year birthday vacation trip. Not only is it no longer an enjoyable experience to shop in person, but I also cannot think clearly on the fly. I need time to “craft” my wardrobe and give a lot of consideration to what I’m purchasing. I can’t afford to spend money willy-nilly, and since I have expensive taste and enjoy well-made items, everything is tracked down and considered carefully. It helps to be able to find “deals” online as well, and I have shopping services in a few countries to help me obtain items at a better price. The yen versus the dollar is pretty sweet right now.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Since I don’t shop in person (we no longer have an Hermès here, which is the only in-store effort I would make), most of my shopping is done between The Real Real, Fashionphile, Matches, Mytheresa, Net-a-Porter, Yoox, and Yohji Yamamoto. Glamuse and Luckyscent as well, for underpinnings and fragrances.

Have you ever returned a bag after purchasing it? Why did you make that decision? I haven’t, and I likely wouldn’t unless something was very wrong with it. The only time I have ever experienced shopper’s remorse is when I have “social” shopped in the past. I had to set a mental note that the purchases I made during those times are frequently regretted, so I stopped doing it.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Absolutely, that is all I buy recently! Fashionphile and The Real Real, as well as Yahoo Japan Auctions.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Not generally, though I did sell my old Louis Vuitton bags that had been stored for years to help fund the first Bolide I purchased. It was silly to have them just languishing in the closet when I never planned to carry them again. They served me well when I wore them during that stage of my life.

Do you ever donate or gift your old bags? If so, to whom? I’ve given a few things to my sister in the past, but that’s about it.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No, I don’t feel societal pressure for anything, to be honest. I had the luxury of experiencing a combination of factors that led me to no longer giving a f*** about societal expectations/pressures very early on in life. I have worn a wide range of very eclectic and niche fashion over the years, including the Japanese street fashion Lolita. You are pretty much guaranteed to not feel societal pressure once you spend 20 years dressing like that in public settings.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Only as much as I consider the rest of my wardrobe an investment. I know I buy high-end items, and I know they can be resold and hold their value well enough to justify their purchase (outside of the justifications for quality, longevity, etc.) I do not look at them as significant monetary investments, however. While it’s neat that a Birkin can be compared to more traditional financial securities, I do not necessarily think that it is the wisest thought process for purchasing luxury goods.

Do you follow the latest fashion trends when deciding on your next purchase, or do you prefer classic styles? Classic for sure. I used to keep tabs on trends, not follow, but keep tabs on, but now – now everything is cool all at once, it just depends on how you style it. We are living in a wildly cool time for fashion as a whole.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? When I had access to a local Hermès, it was always a super enjoyable experience to shop there. My SA was a delight to talk to, and I do miss that interaction. I love to chat with people I click with, so even when I was in Paris last year and meshed well with an SA just purchasing small items, that made the experience more enjoyable!

Do you enjoy shopping beyond just acquiring something new? I do engage in retail therapy, but it’s a structured retail therapy of sorts. I wait until I have a few items I have considered carefully and when I am having a down week, I will make the purchase then. I do enjoy the curation aspect of shopping, it is very relaxing but also very engaging for me.

Have you ever felt you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? No, but I am a white woman, so I recognize that I have an inherent cultural/racial privilege in the USA and it is important to keep that in mind, always, and do the work to unravel that in society. The only time I have been treated poorly was if I was wearing something people do not generally understand because it’s not culturally familiar (for example, the Japanese lolita style) in America, Germany, France, etc. In Japan it is fine since it is more common to see niche fashions represented there.

What are some factors that may dissuade you from buying a bag, even if you like it? Wearability. If it is shoulder only, I won’t spend much on it, or I won’t purchase it at all. I also can’t bring myself to spend a lot on handbag-only bags, as I take my bags with me when I travel, and it gets exhausting to carry around a handbag all day with no option to shoulder it occasionally. If it is cute but feels trendy, I won’t purchase it either – I know myself and my tastes well enough to know if something is appealing for just a short period versus something with a long-term charm.

Is there a brand you outright refuse to buy? Why? Brands that won’t take responsibility for their irresponsible practices (so any that have problematic manufacturing), or engage in culturally oppressive tactics or offensive marketing, like Balenciaga. Designers that harm those that work around them. Designers that refuse to be inclusive. I will give credit to those who are at least making an effort. There are many that are not. There are brands that label/logo heavily that I do not care for either. If they make items that are of high-quality construction and leather but not covered in logos, I am ok with those items usually (Gucci and LV come to mind).

On Budgeting & Perceptions

Who pays for your bags? I do. My husband likes to gift me things occasionally as well, we do that for each other!

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? I do, but there is no set number, it just depends on the bag and the year and where I am traveling to – Tokyo trips always have the highest budget for shopping.

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Absolutely not, and I never will.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No, I find that to be dishonest. Why hide it?

Have your friends or family ever criticized your bag-buying habits? If so, how did you respond? My family occasionally balks at something I have purchased, but generally, they also recognize that what I buy is high quality, I take good care of it, and the things I purchase I occasionally trade out for other items with limited loss. They appreciate that I dress well, which is nice. Growing up, my penchant for niche fashion horrified my mother to the point that she would not be seen with me in public. Thankfully that is no longer the case.

Have you ever made a significant sacrifice to afford a bag? If so, what was it? No, I haven’t.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? In the past, before I recognized how I operate, yes, when I was much younger. Now I understand what drives me to make certain decisions so I am more logical in my purchasing habits. Therapy, a lot of reading, and observing friends’ habits got me to the point I am now in understanding myself.

Let’s get personal…

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Unfortunately yes! Food is a big one. I love to cook and bake, and I put a lot of emphasis on healthy food, sourcing my food locally and sustainably. I also cooked a lot in college, and was cooking with frequently broken tools and an ill-equipped kitchen, so at an older age, I very much value good equipment and having everything I need to prepare what I am trying to prepare. I also do a lot of food experiments that require a lot of specialized equipment (like curing meat, making miso, pickling, fermenting, etc.). Everything is made from scratch in our house, it is a point of pride. Aside from that, I love a once-yearly big international trip. I also love to read, work out, and paint. I am fairly consistent in searching for quality across all my hobbies as well, unfortunately hah, and I do tend to go “all in” with my interests.

What is your greatest fear? Losing my father, followed by losing my husband. The greatest loves of my life.

Which living person do you most admire? My father, who taught me everything I know and gave me the good taste, manners, work ethic, and limited Southern charm I possess. He is every bit the perfect Southern gentleman.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? Romantically, my husband. We have been together for over 20 years, since the end of high school. He makes me laugh endlessly; he is charismatic, charming, extremely talented, and empathetic, and takes such good care of me. I am extremely lucky to have found him; he makes life so much more fun! We do everything together and have learned a lot from our ups and downs.

What is your favorite journey you have taken so far? Travel-wise? It’s Tokyo every single time. I never get tired of it. I love a big city; I love the food, the culture, the shopping. I know living there is a different experience, but I adore traveling there. My best friend lives in Japan and I absolutely love running around the city with her!

Any parting words you would like to share with our readers? Buy what you love and only what you love. Think about your purchases before you make them! Rehome things when they no longer serve you. Buy the best that you can afford – not for the label, but for the quality. Examine the fabric, the construction, the leather, and buy based on that. Know who you are and don’t buy based on what you think others will like. If it feels *right* you will know it. Trust those instincts!

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Becky
Becky
9 months ago

Love the greens!

SlurmLoco
SlurmLoco
9 months ago

“I had the luxury of experiencing a combination of factors that led me to no longer giving a f*** about societal expectations/pressures very early on in life.”

Did we just become best friends?!

Step Brothers quote aside, I loved this. Smart, thoughtful, well rounded and grounded, wonderful write up.

Barbara
Barbara
9 months ago

One thing that really stands out is that she hates opening & closing her Kelly. I totally agree, as it is not user friendly, the same as a Birkin, unless you leave it completely open. The Kelly style is very chic, but the impracticality of using it outweighs its value to me. I much prefer a user friendly bag like my Chanel flap. Chanel once long ago made a bag shaped like the Kelly. It was too small for me, but it was a great looking bag.

sapph
sapph
9 months ago

This person is really cool and I wish I knew them. Love the awareness of privilege, focus on sustainability, and wearing cool out-there fashions, as well as having a cool environmental job and being mindful of problem designers. OP, you are rad ^_^

qmanh
qmanh
9 months ago

I will be traveling to Japan beginning of Sept. and OP’s enthusiasm for Tokyo has made me very excited. Also wish there were pictures of her Lolita style, extremely curious.

cass
cass
9 months ago
Reply to  qmanh

You can easily Google “Lolita style” for photos.

Kaly
Kaly
9 months ago

Love this, thoughtful and wise!