In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals we meet a 65 year old handbag obsessed woman who favors Chanel over most other brands. She’s a loyal member of the PurseForum, and even purchased a rare Chanel bag from another member. Though she purchases bags all on her own she often has to hide bag purchases from her significant other and sometimes still wonders whether she’s struggling with a shopping addiction. Though she’s a self proclaimed Chanel collector (she loves to acquire jewels and jackets too!) one of her first loves was the Chloé Paddington Bag.

Read on for the full confessional and don’t forget to submit one yourself!

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The Basics

Age: 65
Gender Identity: Female
Location: St. Louis, MO
Occupation: Retired Shoe Designer
Industry: Footwear
Salary: $75,000
Household Income: $175,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 20

What bags are in your collection? 7 Chanels including a Grand Shop Tote, 4 classic flaps, 1 classic Boy and a silver metallic Luxury Line Shopper, 2 Guccis, 1 Louis Vuitton – a Stephen Sprouse Neverfull GM, 1 Prada, 1 YSL, 5 Balenciagas, 3 Chloes

How much is your collection worth? $32,000.00 at current resale market value. Over $45,000 new.

What is your most expensive bag? It’s a toss up between my Large quilted Boy bought new at over $5,000 or my rare copper coated oxidizing Chanel that originally retailed for $7,000.00. I bought it from a TPF member for $5,000.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? I guess I’m a Chanel collector and gravitate to that brand. Hermes isn’t my style or so I tell myself, I’d rather have a collection of assorted colors and styles of Chanels to wear instead of one or two Hermes bags.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I was a newlywed in 1980 at 26 when I first purchased a little Gucci bag. I think my daughter still has it somewhere.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My mother’s generosity was instrumental in helping me afford my bag addiction. I think of her when I tea certain bags remembering how she gave me a no-strings loan to hide a Bag purchase from my husband!

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Absolutely.

There’s no getting away from the advertising of wealth and whatever reactions come with that. In my head I’m saying I want to be a member of the fashion girl club and that’s what I’m signaling – not “preserving the distinction of rank” to quote Jane Austen. Doorman respect makes me feel qualified to enter certain retail establishments.

It’s all so silly.

I have to contrast this snob appeal with how my rich friends react to my purse habit. One gal who collects houses all around the country shops for her clothes at Walmart and is thrilled with her $10 jean leggings from Walgreens. She thinks I’m crazy. She wouldn’t buy a Chanel or any expensive bag even if you paid her to.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I am thinking of purchasing one now. It’s been a year since I bought one. The stream of bag purchases has slowed down to a trickle after the funds have somewhat dried up. This means I have to resort to recycling and selling jewelry and clothing. I rarely sell bags anymore.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Saks, Neimans, Chanel Boutiques, Nordstroms. This doesn’t include online shopping.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes I do! I have made several fabulous purchases through TPF. Ebay is risky but I’ve successfully gone there. I happen to have a world famous resale boutique right in my town – The Women’s Closet Exchange, now called The Vault. I’m friends with the owners who are charming ladies you might remember from their reality television show. I’ve gone crazy there. I’ve only made one purchase from a professional resale online outlet – Bag, Borrow or Steal – and I’m not sure why so few?

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Yes but not that many. I sold a Valentino clutch and lots of Chloes – one to a friend. Otherwise I sell through eBay to get the most money. I started out my purse obsession with Chloes and the Paddington series. I still love how well made they are.

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Not really? I’m just an obsessive collector. Maybe there is a slight pull to own the latest It bag from Chanel but that works only if I truly adore the style and feel I would wear it forever. I’ve seen the death of too many trends and learned my lesson from that to care about keeping up.

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Somewhat they are investments in that I look to be able to resell them at the most money I can. It makes me feel more comfortable to know that I could have cash if necessary. And I think of passing on my collection to my daughter and granddaughter.

Who influences your buying decisions? It very much used to be Karl Lagerfeld. I’ll miss his vision for sure. I can’t think of any celebrity whose style I try to emulate? My sister Susie who is also on TPF definitely influences buying decisions. We have spent days agonizing over decisions. She has more bags than I do!

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? My St. Louis Chanel boutique within Saks just closed down. I will miss working with my favorite SA who was kind and extremely good at her job. She knew just how to give us (Susie and me) access to all the latest Chanel goodies without pressuring us.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I love the thrill of the hunt! It adds to the overall thrill of scoring the latest addition to a collection and this is especially true if I get the thing at a great price. Maybe I am a shopaholic since I do believe that there is an escapist element for me. I spend too much time shopping online as a way to avoid facing the uncomfortable realities of the world.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Not really? I’m a striking six foot tall platinum blonde woman. People always pay attention to me. Most of the time I am fighting off attention.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? I do. An inheritance from my mother gave me that freedom after I retired.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No. I ran out of the inheritance money and now I have to resell items. I wait to do that at the best time – holidays, etc. – so is that budgeting?

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No way. I’ve accidentally purchased a counterfeit bag from eBay and took the steps to call it out. It makes me furious to have vendors try to fool innocent people with fakes.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? Oh yes.

My husband thinks its practically criminal to spend that much money on bags when we have other important things to save for. Once I had my own inheritance money it was a different story. He doesn’t notice what I wear anymore purse wise as he’s come to, what I think, harbor a secret pride in me having them! So I’ve squirreled away grocery money in the past, waited while sweating for the delivery man to pounce before the DH did, etc. It would have been really tricky to explain why I had a package from Bahrain be shipped to me.

One time I had to be out of the country for work and a bag was due to arrive at home. My sister drove into town an hour and a half away to wait for it for me and was prepared to hide under the bed if my husband came home unexpectedly. Luckily it all worked out seamlessly.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I borrowed money from my poor widowed mother! She offered interest free and unlimited time terms. Luckily I did repay her fairly quickly!

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Well, I still struggle a little bit. But the older I get the less I’m interested in material things. Instead of buying I’m only thinking of selling. Maybe the hobby/business I’ve been doing for seven years has helped me to see that it is easy to buy but very difficult to sell? Working a couple of cases at an antiques mall that I stock with both items I want to divest myself of and with items I’ve bought to flip at a profit forces me to see the depreciation so I think twice about splurges and more about resale value.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? The fashion part isn’t only restricted to bags. You should see my Chanel jewelry collection. Most of the pieces are stored in an actual Chanel display box I found for $15 at a country antiques store of all things. And I have some very nice Chanel jackets. I love interior design and shop obsessively for antiques and unusual decorative pieces for my home. Also, my husband and I are doing the traditional retirement route of travel – cruises and land tours.

Anything else you would like to include? You should see my sister Susie’s purse collection. We’ve been enabling each other for years!

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