In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals we’re introduced to a Philadelphian who inherited a love of bags from her mother. Though her collection runs deep and includes pieces from some of the most beloved luxury brands, her purchases are well thought out and budgeted for. Shopping for new bags overseas allows this 30-something to take advantage of VAT tax returns, though she isn’t shy about shopping the secondary market either. Her biggest purchase was a pre-loved Birkin, which she admits is what “broke the ceiling”. This confessor still shares her love of bags with her mom, and hopes to one day pass it along to a younger generation as well. Read the full confessional below and be sure to submit your own.

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The Basics

Age: 39
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Finance Director
Industry: Consumer Products
Salary: $165,000
Household Income: $200,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 100+

What bags are in your collection?

The few that come to mind…

  • Hermes Birkin 35
  • Chanel 2.55 Reissue Flap bag
  • Vintage Chanel Flap Bag Lambskin
  • Chanel Deauville Tote Large
  • Gucci Soho Disco
  • Gucci Supreme Backpack
  • LV Neverfull GM (Monogram, Damier, Damier Azur)
  • Dior Vintage Saddle Bag Trotter
  • Dior Studded Lambskin Lady Bag
  • Goyard St. Louis (GM & PM)
  • Celine Phantom Luggage Tote
  • Vintage Fendi Zucca Crossbody
  • Fendi Peekaboo
  • Saint Laurent Sac Du Jour

How much is your collection worth? $150,000+

What is your most expensive bag? The Birkin, I bought it pre-loved for $8,000 but it was the bag that broke the ceiling for me. Once I purchased that bag, it became easier to buy bags that were above $1,000. I was literally shaking from the shock and joy of the purchase. I always set that bag as one of my “bag goals” and I was able to finally get to a place in my life that I could obtain it.

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? I think it ebbs and flows depending on my mood. As I get older, classics seem to call to me Chanel, Dior, LV. The Neverfull is a staple for work, I can carry everything I need in that bag. It’s tough and durable as well – I have learned recently to be kinder to my bags. My mother always taught me never to leave them on the floor and to condition my bags so the leather/material lasts longer. Gucci is my go-to fun bag, I have a few in my collection – totes, shoulder bags or crossbody that really fit everyday usage. For special occasions I turn to Chanel or Dior to really pull together my look. The Hermes is for super special occasions. I do try to rotate as often as I can. I probably need to revisit my collection and think about the ones I probably should let go of but each bag has some sentimental significance to me.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? Gucci is the one that comes to mind at first, I was in my early 20s. I purchased a Web Boston bag with Strap and matching Wallet in Italy on a trip with my family. We were flying out of Rome and that was where my mother convinced me to “treat myself” so I purchased the item there. Since then I always try to have a matching wallet for my bag…it’s my thing.

Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I’m always on the lookout for something different, but I think it depends on my mood. I have a list of bags that I try to slowly knock off (if I can afford to). The Chanel WOC has always been one on my mind but I have a Gucci and Dior WOC so it isn’t a must buy at this time. For the price point, I would rather have a Chanel Boy (which is also on the list). I almost bought one in Florence last year but when I tried it on, I was not “in love” with it. The Hermes Kelly is on my list, I am just waiting for the right color combination to show up in excellent pre-loved condition. Lastly, I’ve been looking into the Faure Le Page line or bags, specifically the Daily Battle. Unfortunately with COVID, I will not be able to travel to France anytime soon.

Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? All of my bags have a sentimental value to me, which makes it hard to let go of them. I will say if I had to choose another besides the Birkin it would be the Damier Azur Neverfull. I just got my bonus from a new job I started, it was in NYC and working for a big cosmetics company. I felt like I deserved a new “work bag” so I walked into the LV and made the purchase. It felt really good. Of course on a trip to Mexico I had to buy a matching wallet – the Origami Damier Azur was calling me!

Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? In the Northeast, I don’t think it does since many professionals in the NY/NJ/PA/CT area have nice things. I lived in Greenwich, CT for 7 years so having a Birkin was normal there. It’s amazing because the women there would just walk around in Gym clothes but you would see their accessories and could tell they had disposable income. I do think in traveling abroad people will treat you differently but that is probably because they are trying to sell you a timeshare, haha!

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? 1-2 times a year. I typically buy one on a trip abroad to take advantage of the VAT.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes – I am not a snob to pre-loved. Living in Greenwich there was a plethora of pre-loved bags via consignment stores which was great. I slowly built my collection from the stores there – they were authenticated and in excellent condition! It was almost like it was worn once or twice and then tossed aside. I also love Vintage looks which seem to be coming back, i.e. Dior Saddle bag, Gucci Jackie.

I also visit Fashionphile, Rebag and Vestiaire Collective.

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I would love to, but they all have sentimental value. It’s on my list of things to do in my spare time (which luckily now with “sheltering in place” has increased)

Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No

Do you consider your bag purchases investments? To some extent they are, I plan on eventually selling some of my collection and leaving my personal favorites to my nieces or nephews.

Who typically influences your buying decisions? My mother…she is a fashionista and had started my love of handbags. We still have the collection of Coach bags that were so popular in the 90s (and are back in style thanks to J Lo!). She is my sounding board when I am thinking of making a big purchase. She celebrates great finds (she loves vintage bags as well) and is my biggest critic of purchases that make no sense.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? It is not a must have and since I make purchases traveling tough to really maintain. However, if I do meet an associate that I like I will reach out to them for future purchases. It makes the shopping experience so simple. I’ve kept in touch with a Gucci associate from the Las Vegas Store in Cesars Forum who is great and anytime I am looking for something specific she gets back to me. In Venice too there was an excellent associate that not only hailed a water taxi for me and my family but walked us in the rain (provided umbrellas we could keep) to the taxi. Again, we spent 3 hours in the store and walked out with some great purchases but he really went above and beyond. I have his number for the next time I visit, if Italy re-opens in the near future.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I grew up with a mother who loved to shop so I guess its our favorite past-time. I love finding deals and unique pieces to compliment my personal style and collection.

Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Yes – there were many times I walked into a store and was ignored because I was not dressed a certain way, etc. which was sad because they just let that potential purchase walk out the door.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? Me.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Yes – typically my bonus is what I use to expand my collection

The Taboo Topics

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, I usually cut the price tag by 30% but I want to try to be as honest as I can. He knows its my hard earned bonus.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Nothing really…I try to budget appropriately.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? While I admit to shopping more – lately with COVID I have been succumbing to online shopping more than ever since there is nowhere to go but stay at home – I don’t think of it as an addiction.

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Traveling with my husband and family – I love the Caribbean, France, and Italy. I always plan a trip to the beach and another for adventure. I was supposed to go to Ireland this year but unfortunately that got cancelled. I’m looking forward to when we can travel again.

Shoes are my other love! I am a sucker for the Gucci loafers and sneakers. I just purchased a pair of the LV Run Away sneakers – curious to see if they are worth it.

Watches are something I inherited from my father – he collects them. I purchased a Cartier Tank a few years ago and love the classic, elegant look of the watch. I also have a Bulgari Serpenti watch that I found in Mexico at the Boutique. It’s so unique and beautiful – its more a bracelet than watch. I am still looking for the designer digital watch of my dreams. I am an Android user so Apple Watch won’t work out for me, I found a happy medium with the Garmin Vivo but am so jealous of my brother’s Tag digital watch – unfortunately it is just so big on my wrist!

Anything else you would like to include? When you read this you probably think I am either crazy for the amount of bags I have or have tons of disposable income. The reality is like everyone else I work hard and budget accordingly. I’m a very humble person. I don’t brag about my things like a lot of people that I know.

I started my collection as soon as I began working and made enough money to afford it; more importantly its a shared interest with my mother and keeps us connected. To this day, we love to call each other to get each other’s opinion on something we saw online or share a purchase. It’s our “hobby” if you will. One day I hope I can have that same connection with my niece (or child if that is in the cards).

Sweet Summertime

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