In today’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we’re introduced to an almost thirty-year old from sunny California who began loving bags in middle school, at the height of the logo trend. While her logo love began with a Dooney & Bourke bag and grew from there, this small-bag lover is beginning to outgrow some of her logo bags. Though she’s drawn to designer goods due to their quality and aesthetic and not their names alone, this confessor is sometimes afraid people will look at her the wrong based on what she’s carrying. And while she has a long list of bags she’s currently after, realistically this confessor is likely to seriously consider a Celine Cabas or a mini BV Jodie as she states, “I need to stop acquiring designer bags with splashy logos”.
When it comes to the bags and how she shops, though our confessor loves designer bags just like the rest of us, her relationship with shopping is somewhat complicated. As a child, she grew up wanting things that were out of reach, but as an adult our confessor is able to afford them. She shops within her means, but there is still an element of guilt about spending money on luxury goods simply because of how she grew up. Read the full confessional below and be sure to submit your own!
Gender Identity: Female
Location: San Francisco, CA
Occupation: Product Manager
Household Income: $520,000
Are you a PurseForum member? No
How many bags do you own? 16
What bags are in your collection?
Saint Laurent Loulou small
Saint Laurent Kate chain wallet
Gucci GG Marmont mini
Mansur Gavriel Lady
Sophie Hulme bucket bag
Coach Dinky crossbody
Vintage Coach crossbody
Longchamp nylon bags (5)
Beaded bags (3)
How much is your collection worth? $7K
What is your most expensive bag? Saint Laurent Loulou
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? The workhorses of my collection are my Gucci, vintage Coach, Tumi, and Longchamp’s. I don’t like carrying a lot of weight when I’m out and about so I favor small bags – the Gucci and Coach store exactly the essentials. The Coach was also an amazing steal off eBay for $40 – I’ve worn it so much the leather strap has cracked. I also hated the look of Longchamp when I was in college but I got over that quickly when I realized how light they are and how much of a beating they can take. I use them for everything – gym, traveling, grocery shopping, hiking.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I was in middle school and it had become trendy for girls to carry logo bags. Dooney & Bourke had just rolled out a crayon heart print collection and I was enamored with it. I begged my mom for one. While she ended up buying one for me and I loved that bag, we weren’t well off and I still feel ashamed to this day at the thought of how much it cost her.
Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? I have a long list unfortunately. The Celine Cabas looks like it could be a functional work tote and I’m in love with the deep blue color. Like everyone else, I’ve been obsessed with Daniel Lee’s Bottega – the Pouch was what caught my eye first and I think the mini BV Jodie is adorable. I love the Dior Book Tote in the toile de jouy print; there’s a seasonal version right now emblazoned with the name of a European city that I’d love to have as that city is a very special place to me (I got engaged there and I’m getting married there). And I think the Louis Vuitton mini boite chapeau is so cute! All that being said, I think realistically I’d only seriously consider the Celine and Bottega Jodie because I’d get the most use out of them. And I need to stop acquiring designer bags with splashy logos – I love my Saint Laurent’s and Gucci but I always feel self-conscious wearing them.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? So many…the Sophie Hulme was my first “big girl” purchase. It was for my 25th birthday and I had collected my first ever bonus. It’s a lovely bordeaux color that makes me smile to this day. One of my Longchamp’s is the large black Le Pliage tote. My mom bought it for me when I entered the workforce after college. We were better off than those Dooney & Bourke days but it was still a sizeable purchase for her and I wore that baby down over 6 years * 365 days. The zipper can no longer be fixed and the edges are scuffed but I still find uses for it! And my Saint Laurents…the Kate was given to me by my fiancé as a graduation gift when I got my MBA. I had been eyeing the bag for a while, he was in Europe visiting family, I had asked him to pick it up for me as it’s cheaper in Europe (fully intending to pay him back), but at the last minute couldn’t bring myself to make that big of a purchase. He ended up buying it for me anyway as a surprise. The Loulou bag I impulse purchased on vacation in Europe…and then I got engaged on that trip. Sometimes I toy with the idea of reselling the bag because I just don’t get that much use out of it but the memories attached to it always stay my hand.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Not really…but I will say that while I love my designer logo bags because I truly appreciate their aesthetic, sometimes I feel self-conscious when I wear them because I’m afraid they’ll be taken the wrong way – e.g. she’s flaunting her wealth, she’s a brand whore, it’s “too much.” I am drawn to designer goods but not because of any status that’s attached to them – I simply like the style and I value the quality – and for every expensive item that I own, I also have some eccentric vintage find or a basic item that I prize specifically for its functionality.
How often do you buy new bags? Going forward, I think I’m going to aim for 1 splurge per year – provided I don’t have competing financial priorities and there’s actually a bag worth buying.
Which stores do you frequent the most? I don’t frequent any one retailer but I have recently discovered Selfridges sells designer goods for European prices and ships to the US!
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes! eBay is amazing – I love looking for vintage Coach and I went through a phase where I was obsessed with antique steel cut bead purses (beautiful works of art but really not practical). I also love trolling local vintage shops for eclectic finds. I’m not sure if I’ll get on the designer resale train though – too worried about authenticity.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I would if I can overcome the sentimentality attached to the old bag!
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Absolutely. As personal as fashion is to me, I do find myself liking a bag I was previously not interested in simply because a friend carried it or I saw it one too many times on Instagram. Bags also evoke lifestyles that I yearn for but don’t actually live.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? No. The only bags that seem to generate returns over time are blue alligator Birkin with 24 karat gold hardware types and I ain’t got no money for that.
Who influences your buying decisions? Unfortunately Instagram has really increased its pull on me but I still do my best in using my own framework to evaluate purchases.
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? No. Maybe one day I’ll build a relationship with an SA…but right now I’m only willing to buy bags when I’m abroad because they’re cheaper.
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I have a complicated relationship with shopping. Growing up, my family was not well-off. I wanted things but I couldn’t have them. Now, I make very decent money and if I want to buy nice things, I can. So in some ways, shopping is an indicator to me that I’ve “made it.” That being said, the guilt from spending money is ingrained in me because of how I grew up and so I’m in constant conflict about whether to buy something, even if I can. It makes for a lot of time wasted, browsing without pulling the trigger. I also find that shopping – especially online – can be mindless, and oftentimes I crave that because I’m so exhausted from work.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? Yes. I don’t dwell on it though – I‘ll let my money do the talking. There are far worse offenses that people suffer because of how they look.
Who pays for your bags? Aside from the couple bags I mentioned from my mom and fiancé, I do. Sometimes I think the dopamine hit comes as much from the knowledge that I can afford this as from the bag itself.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? I maintain a monthly budget for everything, including shopping. I’ll confess that I’ve sometimes gone over that shopping budget but then I usually cut somewhere else (e.g. eating out) and I don’t let the slip become a pattern. Going into my Europe vacation last year in which I bought the Saint Laurent, I carved out a chunk of my bonus for guilt-free shopping splurges. It was the most amazing feeling – buying nice things without worrying about blowing my budget and impacting my long-term financial goals.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? I got a fake LV monogram pochette when I was a teen but that was my first and only brush with counterfeit. I don’t want any bag badly enough that I’m willing to fake it. Either I can/am willing to afford the real thing or I don’t have it at all. There are too many cool bags in the world to waste time pretending.
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No. I make my own money and how I spend it is at my discretion (when we’re married and combine our finances, that attitude will probably need to adjust a bit). He thinks it’s crazy that bags cost as much as they do but he knows they make me happy and that I’m still prudent in my purchases.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? One of my most fiscally irresponsible moments ever…I was a college intern and I hated my internship. I shopped as a way to deal with it all. I brought my checking account basically to zero to buy a buttery soft leather bag. I still shake my head at the memory.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? I think the problem isn’t how much I end up buying (because it’s actually not a lot) but how much time I spend contemplating buying. I browse as a way to destress and decompress and the sheer amount of time I spend doing that adds up. A friend and I once mused that we treat shopping as a hobby. I try to regulate my habit but some days are better than others.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Thankfully not really. I love to travel but that’s not as easily accessible as shopping. I don’t like fancy food or cosmetics, which some of my friends really love. But I’m at that life stage now where I have big purchases that I need to account for – wedding, house, kids – so there’s definitely an opportunity cost to shopping.