In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we’re chatting with a lawyer living in Florida who had her first foray into the handbag world when she was just a teen. Thanks to that fateful sale Coach bag, CC 214 fell in love with collecting.
These days, she has a vast collection of bags, some of the most notable being fan-favorite shapes by Gucci, The Row, Celine, and Saint Laurent. Having grown up without a lot of extra spending money, CC 214 has worked hard to get to where she is and offers an interesting perspective on bags and shopping.
Because of her upbringing, at times, she’s felt out of place carrying designer bags or being in upscale settings, which is definitely relatable to many of us who did not grow up around designer bags. Read the full CC below, and don’t forget to submit your own!
Your Age? 36
Your Gender Identity? Female
Where do you live? Orlando, FL
What is your occupation? Attorney
What industry do you work in? Law
Your annual salary? $155,000.
Total Household Income? $250,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
Onto The Bags
How many bags do you own? Too many to count.
What bags are in your collection?
The most notable:
- Celine Soft 16
- Saint Laurent Sac Du Jour
- Mulberry Zipper Bayswater
- Gucci Soho Disco
- Mulberry Lily
- Louis Vuitton Speedy
- Smythson Business Bag
- The Row Piper Hobo
How much is your collection worth? $10-15k
What is your most expensive bag? Celine Soft 16
Do you ever regret any of your bag purchases? If so, which ones and why? I regretted buying a Zac Posen Eartha bag. The top handle was attached to the flap, so to open the bag, it would have to be supported on the bottom to open the flap. I ended up selling on eBay.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? Like many, Coach was my first luxury bag when I was 17. It was a beautiful brown jacquard logo clutch with a gorgeous purple satin interior. It was on sale at Nordstrom for $50. I didn’t come from a rich family, and it was a huge purchase for me at the time, as a teen with a minimum-wage job. My friend encouraged me to go through with it by informing me that if I didn’t buy it, she would. I carried it for years until I switched to an iPhone that was too big to fit into it and sold it on eBay.
Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? Not particularly. I’m looking to downsize some of my older, contemporary brand bags.
Do you have a ‘holy grail’ dream bag you’ve always wanted to own? It was a Chanel Classic Flap, but as the price increases and increases it becomes less desirable for me.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? A red Coach crossbody gifted to me by a family friend. Someone once dropped greasy, saucy cheese from their pizza on it once, to my horror. I was convinced it was ruined. When I got home, I immediately cleaned and conditioned it, and by the next day, you couldn’t even tell where it happened.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated?
Absolutely. As someone who might be considered upper middle-class “new money,” I am very self-conscious about my working-class mannerisms (I don’t feel like I fit in fancy situations). Having a luxury bag on my arm makes me feel more confident, especially when shopping. Sales associates take me more seriously.
That being said, it made me uncomfortable when a coworker apparently recognized my Saint Laurent bag. At lunch, my bag and a coworker’s were next to each other on an extra chair at the table and another person with us knocked my coworker’s well-worn Michael Kors over, missing my Saint Laurent. My coworker looked horrified, then said, “I think she would have punched you in the face if you had knocked over her bag.”
As someone who grew up in a working-class family, we didn’t have much money, and my parents considered it very tasteless and show-offish when people have expensive things. It makes me embarrassed sometimes to show off expensive things. This is why I tend towards more classic, minimalist bags that are not as identifiable.
How do you take care of your bags? I store them in dust bags, stuffed with paper, and clean and condition them on a regular basis.
How often do you buy new bags? When I find one I like. Maybe a few times a year.
Do you prefer shopping for bags online or in-store? Why? I prefer online. Less pressure from salespeople.
Which stores do you frequent the most? Saks and Bloomingdale’s.
Have you ever returned a bag after purchasing it? Why did you make that decision? Yes, The Row Half Moon bag. It was the most gorgeous leather, but I wished it was slightly larger.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Not usually.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Yes, I have regularly sold older bags, more to make room than to pay for new purchases.
Do you ever donate or gift your old bags? If so, to whom? I have donated bags and gifted an old bag to my niece.
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Not really. I like bags because I like them. Advertisers and influencers have an impact, I’m sure, but I like to think I have a timeless sense of style and don’t follow trends too much.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Now that I am buying more luxury bags that hold their value better, I consider them more investments because I can probably sell them for a higher percentage of what I purchased them for.
Do you follow the latest fashion trends when deciding on your next purchase, or do you prefer classic styles? I prefer classic styles that are timeless, especially when paying a large amount for a bag.
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? No. I’ve had a few sales associates give me their card, email me, etc., but I don’t tend to buy from the same stores or brands frequently enough to establish those relationships and don’t want the pressure to buy.
Do you enjoy shopping beyond just acquiring something new? Sometimes. Sometimes, sales associates are nice and make it a lovely experience. Other times, they are pushy and rude.
Have you ever felt you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity, or gender? I sure have. In particular, I have noticed I receive terrible service in a certain department store unless I already have a shopping bag in my hand.
What are some factors that may dissuade you from buying a bag, even if you like it? Too similar to something I already own.
Is there a brand you outright refuse to buy? Why? Not really. I even have pieces from Balenciaga and Versace, which seem to be the opposite of my minimalist, subtle aesthetic.
On Budgeting & Perceptions
Who pays for your bags? I do.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? I generally do not buy a bag that is more than one paycheck. I’m not comfortable carrying around an item worth more than that, to be honest.
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Never, but my mom has gifted me bags that are counterfeit, and I have gotten rid of them.
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? Not really, but he doesn’t always find out exactly how much a bag costs right away…
Have your friends or family ever criticized your bag-buying habits? If so, how did you respond? No, but my parents probably would if they had any idea how much some of my bags cost.
Have you ever made a significant sacrifice to afford a bag? If so, what was it? Not really.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I don’t think so. I have a lot of bags, and I occasionally list older ones for sale.
Let’s get personal…
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Traveling, Disney, jewelry, and more recently, upgraded to a more luxury car.
What is your greatest fear? Being poor again.
Which living person do you most admire? Michele Obama. She has such a classy, classic style with modern elements.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, my career, and my bags are my greatest loves.
What is your favorite journey you have taken so far? My career journey. I have had to become a completely different version of myself in order to fit in a male-dominated field as a first-generation female attorney.
Any parting words you would like to share with our readers? Don’t let anyone let you feel inferior. No matter your age, gender, income, job, etc. If going from the working class to the upper middle class has taught me anything, it’s that having money doesn’t make you better or smarter than anyone else. While I’ve had to change certain things about how I present myself externally, internally, I am very much the same person I always was.