Today we’re taking a look into the life of a young professional hailing from our nation’s capital. She has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is in her career. Like many of us, this confessor has celebrated big life events by purchasing new bags. Though this confessor has purchased many bags on her own, her most beloved bag was handed down to her by her mom, whose mother was the previous owner of the bag.
Her collection varies and she has her fair share of different designers, but today’s confessor’s attitude towards bags and shopping is pretty down to earth. This confessor owns, and loves, bags at all price points. Additionally, she recognizes that bags are “just bags” and shouldn’t impact how others are treated. While she admits that she went through a bit of a frivolous spending period in her 20s, today’s confessor shops mindfully, often planning out higher-end bag purchases in correlation to big life events. While her overall attitude towards bags and shopping is refreshing, so is her knack for the sweets she keeps stuffed in her bags. Read the full confessional below and don’t forget to submit your own!
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Washington, DC
Household Income: $400,000
Are you a PurseForum member? No
How many bags do you own? Approximately 30
What bags are in your collection?
- Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM (Damier Azur)
- Louis Vuitton Boulogne 35 (Classic Monogram)
- Vintage Gucci Boston Bag
- Vintage Gucci GG Monogram Small Crossbody
- Mulberry Bayswater (Heritage) in sage green
- Mulberry Dorset Tote in bluebell leather
- Balenciaga Medium Classic City in black with silver hardware
- Prada Nylon Crossbody in black
- Marc Jacobs Stam in turquoise
- Kurt Geiger London Rainbow Stripe Kensington Bag
- Kurt Geiger London Mini Kensington in red tweed
- Annabel Ingall Large Isabella Tote in black
- Tory Burch Gemini Link Tote in Orange
- Tory Burch Leather Foldover Crossbody
- Rebecca Minkoff Cupid Satchel in Camel
- Rebecca Minkoff Mini MAC in Grey
- Rebecca Minkoff Mini Affair in Teal
- Longchamp Large Le Pliage in Olive
- Several vintage Coach crossbody bags
Additionally, I have several unbranded bags from local stores and Amazon, and a few bags from fast fashion places like H&M, Aldo, Target, and TJMaxx
How much is your collection worth? Roughly $12,800 at retail price (before depreciation)
What is your most expensive bag? In terms of retail value, probably the Balenciaga City, but I paid way less. Out of all my bags, I paid the most for the LV Neverfull.
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection?
Almost all of my bags listed are important to me, but I am most sentimental about the following:
– Mulberry Bayswater – this was my “high end” designer bag that I purchased for myself
– LV Neverfull – I purchased this after a hard-won promotion at work. I fought hard to get that promotion – I was working in a very competitive office within my firm where it could be difficult for women to get promoted, reporting to a boss who fostered that environment. I worked really hard to get that promotion, but I know I couldn’t have gotten there without the support I received from a network of fantastic women within my firm that I am lucky to call colleagues. Not only did they give me the support and guidance to help me get to that level, they went to bat for me when push came to shove.
– The LV Boulogne – this was originally my grandmother’s, and my mom handed it down to me for my 30th birthday. I didn’t get to know her well since I was really young when she passed, so it really is special to me.
– The Balenciaga City – I had wanted this bag since it came out, and finally got this last year to celebrate getting a new position at my company that had been a goal for me for some time. It represented a real stepping stone in my career for me.
– Kurt Geiger Rainbow Stripe Kensington – I got this in Scotland when I was there on an anniversary trip with my husband. He got this for me as a surprise when he found out I got an interview for my current role.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? The first name brand designer bag I got was probably a Coach logo’d purse I had saved up for in middle school. I’m not sure what the exact model was, but it was a big deal to me at the time! In terms of higher end labels, the first “luxury” bag I got (I take that label with a grain of salt, since I have bags I love at all market levels) was the Mulberry Bayswater. I had wanted it for some time and found a pre-loved one on Tradesy that I didn’t buy immediately, but kept my eye on. I finally bought it during a disastrous trip to New York, where we had gone to visit friends and it was a complete disaster – the couple we were staying with had just decided to divorce and were trying to keep the plans together anyway, I got pulled into a work emergency and spent much of the weekend in their second bedroom on my laptop…I pulled the trigger in the midst of all that!
Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I really am very happy with my current collection, and honestly, given the state of the world right now, I would just be happy to spend more time using the bags I own and love as frivolous as that sounds. While I had been thinking about a Stella McCartney Fallabella, I’ve put that on indefinite hold and may or may not revisit that thought when things improve. With all that said, MZ Wallace Small Sutton for a time since I wanted something that was packable, durable, and also cute, and the price is reasonable. I may get that one when things go back to normal, assuming that happens!
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? The bags that are most important to me are those that hold a sentimental value!
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Not these days – my couch doesn’t seem to care what I am carrying! Back when we could go outside, I would say only minimally. I think my most recognizable bags like the LVs or Guccis are a dime a dozen where I live, so I haven’t noticed much difference when I do carry those as opposed to where I don’t. While DC isn’t the most “fashion-y” area (though there is a really emerging presence), I do notice that a lot of women in my office carry designer bags but it is rarely a topic of conversation. Some of my friends are into bags – some more so than others, but for those that are it is more like a fun topic of conversation to us than a status thing, which I really value.
I think I see the most change in perception when I carry something a little unusual or off the beaten path (particularly the Kurt Geiger Rainbow Stripe Kensington). Honestly, I like it that way! Bags are fun, but at the end of the day, they are just bags, and I don’t think they should impact how people are treated.
How often do you buy new bags? Maybe a few times a year, give or take. Most of my higher end purchases are well planned out and made in relation to a life event, but there are times where I will take advantage of a good deal when it comes up. I did go through a period in my late 20s where I bought new bag more often than that, mostly in the mid-range/low end scheme of things, but since then I’ve tried to be much more mindful. I’m lucky in that a lot of my friends will ask me to help them shop for a bag, so I get a lot of my shopping impulses out that way!
Which stores do you frequent the most? I buy most of my bags pre-loved, so really a lot of consignment stores, both in-person and online. If I purchase new, I will go to Nordstrom or South Moon Under, and I love a good TJMaxx deal. I think Aldo is really underrated as well – I got my wedding clutch there!
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Very frequently! I prefer to buy pre-loved if possible – it feels more sustainable to me, and you can find a great deal if you know where to look. I also tend to gravitate towards bags that seem a bit more unique (at least to me), which can include bags that aren’t on the market anymore. If it was popular in 2005, its probably on my wishlist! In-person, I like Current Boutique, primarily the Clarendon location in Arlington, VA. I have found some amazing deals there – I paid $15 out of pocket for my Prada Nylon Crossbody (it was $115 and I had $100 in store credit). I also frequent online stores like Tradesy, the RealReal, and sometimes eBay (though I get those authenticated). A friend of a friend runs an luxury goods consignment store (primarily through Instagram, but she also has a storefront), so I have gotten some great bags from her at good prices, including the Balanciaga City, the Neverfull, and the Gucci Boston.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I have infrequently sold old bags, but not to pay for new purchases! If I do sell a bag, it is probably to Current Boutique since they make it so easy (if I have to mail something, I will inevitably forget to do it). I’m more inclined to give old bags away to friends or family, or to donate.
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Less so these days, but I used to. Instagram definitely doesn’t help, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more secure in my choices and tastes. These days, the pressure is not so much to me the idea that I should have more bags in terms of numbers, it comes more from sheer number of great options out there – the more you scroll through Instagram, blogs, marketing emails, the more you see things that you may want. With that said, I am lucky enough to have several long-term dream bags in my closet already, and given the state of the world these days I just want to enjoy what I have.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Not at all! At least not regarding my own bags, for me I think they’re something to enjoy that I am lucky I am able to afford. Maybe an investment in my happiness? I do see how they can be viewed as investments, and I like to think about the investment side of things from an economics perspective due to my profession – I have used handbags as an example of explaining market level and value drivers when teaching junior colleagues! I also really like monitoring popular styles and prices in the retail market to see how things change over time.
Who typically influences your buying decisions?
Who influences your buying decisions? I am not sure! While I think Instagram influencers and celebrities probably have some subconscious impact on things, I tend to buy what I like, which includes both styles that are really popular and mainstream, and styles that are not. I am drawn more to recognizable styles more so than logos, if that makes any sense, and I think I get that from my mom, who loves luxury items but absolutely hates logos. I don’t mind logos myself, but I have to like the style as well. While I’ll sometimes ask my friends or husband what they think when making a purchase decision, I’ll probably just go ahead and get what I like because I’m the one carrying the bag! I hope that doesn’t sound callous!
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Not in the traditional way, since I buy a lot second-hand. While I always appreciate the insight of boutique or department store SAs if they are friendly, I don’t shop at those stores for bags enough to really develop those relationships.
I would say that these kind of relationships are instrumental in terms of secondhand purchases. I’ve developed a good relationship with my friend’s friend who runs the luxury consignment business – she’s tracked down a certain bag I’ve wanted or reserved a style for me she knew I had been wanting. She’ll also reach out sometimes if a style comes in that she thinks I may want, and she has also helped me authenticate an eBay purchase. I’ve also referred people to her, and I’m always glad to send people her way. I’m also close with the staff at my local consignment store – I miss them now that things are shut down, and I can’t wait to support them when things reopen. The manager is on my Christmas list!
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I’ve always been a shopper – the hunter-gatherer impulse was already strong in me, and capitalism definitely doesn’t help! Maybe it is retail therapy, but I enjoy the experience of going to stores, looking at things, talking to the salespeople, and seeing what is out there. I also really enjoy helping my friends and family shop for themselves – I’m the go-to in my family when someone needs a prom dress or something!
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I’ve definitely seen some not great customer service in some places, primarily a few luxury boutiques, but I don’t think it was attributable to my appearance, ethnicity, or gender. I think it was just bad customer service from some snobby sales associates, which definitely happens! That said, I do know that this happens, and I think it is abhorrent, and I know that I am inherently privileged not to experience it.
Who pays for your bags? Mostly me, though my husband has bought me a few. He got me the Mulberry Dorset tote for my birthday one year and the Kurt Geiger Kensington as an anniversary present. A few were gifts – the LV Boulogne was handed down to me from my late grandmother from my mom for my 30th birthday, and my dad got me the Tory Burch Gemini tote for a birthday, but for the most part, I do.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not on a regular basis. My workplace has a recognition program where we can send people “rewards points” which are redeemable for AmEx giftcards (among other things), and I have used that for a few bags. Otherwise, I don’t have an amount set aside specifically for bags – it would come out of my greater shopping budget.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Yes, regrettably. I had a fake LV I got in high school before I knew more about the ethical issues there, which fell apart pretty quickly. I haven’t – and wouldn’t – do that again.
While I don’t know if this counts, I once ordered a black plain tote bag on Amazon and got a blue bag instead that looks a lot like a Goyard – it may fall more into dupe territory, but I am not sure. (It doesn’t say Goyard on it, but the print is very similar). I actually really like it and ended up keeping it, though sometimes feel a bit silly about it!
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? Not regularly! He doesn’t quite get the bag thing, but will tell me what he likes and what he doesn’t, so its more like I may just not try to show him what I just got, if that makes sense. I wouldn’t say I actively hide things, but I don’t alert him to everything I buy if that makes sense. While he’s not really concerned about spending, we live in a city and do have space limitations, so there has been some friction in the past about the size of the collection in terms of taking up space. We bought a two-bedroom condo about a year ago and have more space, and I have developed a pretty good organization system so this has become less of an issue.
I do admit that I hide candy/sweets from my husband all around the house, but that is with his full support – he has an inability to control his sweet tooth and will devour everything in a matter of minutes if I don’t hide it all! I’m very creative with this – I have a giant bag of kit kats in my Mulberry Bayswater that helps it keep its shape (all individually wrapped, and inside two ziplocs so the chocolate won’t damage the bag), wrapped candy bars in my suit jacket pockets, candy bars taped behind the frame of my law school diploma, Rolos in an empty frozen vegetables bag in the freezer…I may have taken this too far.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I had to think about this – nothing really! I begged my mom to buy me a professional looking bag in law school for an internship since I didn’t have one and couldn’t afford one, and she got me a really nice plain leather bag that I still carry every so often.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I do consider myself a bit of a shopaholic, and there was definitely a time where I went a bit overboard – I didn’t have a credit card until almost a year I graduated from law school and made some decisions I regret since I was finally making money and not great about handling it. I still struggle with the impulse here and there, but I’ve calmed down a lot and taken steps to reform, and gotten to a really good place financially.
Right now I do feel an impulse to “do my part” to keep stores in business, but I do try to be mindful about where I shop and what I buy. I’ve also taken some of the money I would have spent on things like dinner out or commuting during non-pandemic times and used that to treat friends or family periodically – things like sending my cousin something off her Sephora wish-list or sending a takeout credit to a friend. I don’t know how healthy this is, but it helps my shopping urge and I do feel good about it.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? A few! Shoes were my first love – I spent my first tax refund on a pair of Louboutins, and I loved building my shoe collection, which includes designer shoes (particularly Tods flats, heels from Sophia Webster and Sergio Rossi, and Stuart Weitzman booties – though I rarely pay full price) and more affordable brands like Aldo and Sam Edelman. (I also love the Sketchers Cleo flats – they look like Rothys and they’re a lot more comfortable on me!). I am also a beauty product junkie, particularly with makeup and fragrance, but like with bags and shoes, my collection is a mix of high and low – I like what works and prefer cruelty free brands. I’ve found makeup and fragrance to be very calming to me during the pandemic. As silly as it sounds, doing my makeup every morning has really helped my stress level.
I also really love wine, particularly California wines. My husband and I joined a few wine clubs when we went to Napa a few years ago, and love that we can continue to enjoy the wines we had on that amazing trip. We’ve also developed friendships over time with the staff at those wineries. I do like to travel, but I don’t have particularly expensive tastes when it comes to that. I’m pretty boring – I am really passionate about my job in tax of all things, and absolutely love reading treatises on my subject area in my spare time.