Today’s installment of Closet Confessionals is an incredibly honest, raw and candid look into the purse-loving habits of an attorney hailing from Detroit. While many of us began our love affair with handbags in our teen years, this confessor wasn’t able to access designer bags until well after college. She fondly remembers her first bag, a Coach Hobo, that was purchased for her by her husband on the couple’s honeymoon—so sweet! Though this handbag lover now prefers to shop mostly at Hermès and Louis Vuitton, she’ll still carry that very first hobo from time to time. Like other bag lovers, this collector has struggled with a purse addiction of sorts, though through therapy she’s done a lot of work to get to the root of these issues and reiterates the fact that it’s ok to ask for help, which is so admirable! A former trend follower who used to subscribe to influencer culture earlier on in her career, this Birkin lover has moved on from this and is as close as ever at finding her ‘purse peace’. Read the full CC below and don’t forget to submit your own!
Gender Identity: Female
Industry: Big Tech
Household Income: $400,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
How many bags do you own? 20+? 18 luxury and 5 or so high-street/other random
What bags are in your collection?
Prada Executive Tote Double Zip – Black, Saffiano
LV Speedy 30 – Damier Ebene
LV SpeedyB 30 – Damier Azur
LV Speedy 25 – Monogram
LV Rossmore PM Crossbody – Amarante, Vernis
LV Pochette Accessoires – Damier Azur and Monogram
LV Onthego Tote – Noir, Empreinte
Chanel Timeless clutch – Black, Caviar w/ rose gold hardware
Hermès Evelyne I GM – Tabac Camel PHW
Hermès B30 – Noir PHW
Hermès B35 – Gold PHW
Hermès B25 – Etoupe PHW
Hermès Vintage K32 – Rouge H
Celine Classic Medium Box Bag – Lizard
Dior Book Tote – Navy Oblique
Mulberry Seaton, Micro – Black Embossed
Fendi Peekaboo Medium – Black Monster Eyes
How much is your collection worth? $65,000
What is your most expensive bag? My Birkins are my most expensive in terms of value. I bought them all on the pre-loved market, so I ended up paying quite a premium on top of retail!
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? Again, my Birkins are pretty important to me. It took many years of saving and planning before I was able to add them to my collection, and each was purchased to celebrate a major milestone in my career and life.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? Designer and luxury handbags were not an option for me until after well after college. I think my first designer bag actually was acquired during my honeymoon. My husband bought me a beautiful Coach hobo bag that I still wear to this day!
Is there a specific bag you are looking to purchase next? Nothing on my radar right now. And given the pandemic lock-down, I haven’t been shopping much at all. When it comes to handbag shopping I enjoy going into a store to physically handle and try on bags before I purchase. Right now I’m not comfortable heading out to see bags in person, so I think it might be a while before my next purchase.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? I have a vintage beaded clutch given to me by my grandmother many years ago – no brand name, just given with love. It was one of her prized pieces!
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? I do – and it took me a long time to feel comfortable carrying some of my higher-end bags knowing what assumptions might be made about me. Here in my thirties, it doesn’t bother me anymore, but I’m still aware of the random looks and the change of tone from some SAs in different boutiques. I don’t carry my Birkins to work, for example, and tend to carry more subtle pieces in that environment. I don’t have many “purse friends” either – most of my close friends don’t care about handbags and almost all of them are in a different wealth-bracket. I know they wouldn’t care if I carried luxury items around them, but I also try not to draw attention to them when we’re together. Honestly, I’m not sure that any of them know what a Birkin is – we’ve never actually talked about it!
How often do you buy new bags? 1-2 times a year, depending on what I see and like.
Which stores do you frequent the most? Lately, Hermès and LV. I used to be a big Chanel person, but only have one piece from that fashion house now.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes! When I have trouble finding exactly what I want in store, I usually turn to places like Fashionphile. I have purchased and sold through Fashionphile a few times now and I’ve been very happy with the experience.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Not really – I did do a major overhaul of unused bags this year (mostly trend bags that didn’t fit my lifestyle anymore) and that resulting amount went toward my B25 – a classic bag that I know I’ll use and love for ages. But I worry about that slippery-slope of trying to fund more purchases by selling items that I currently have. For the most part, I like and still use almost all of my bags, so I would be getting rid of something that I’d probably miss very soon after
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? I used to for sure – influencer-culture had a strong hold on me early on in my career, and I spent a long time buying/selling/trying new bags and items, trying to figure out “who I am” in that space. But 10 years later, I’ve become very comfortable and happy with who I am and what I like; “quality over quantity” has become my motto when it comes to all fashion choices. A classic and neutral palette with simple jewelry, scarf, and a great handbag feels the most authentic to me, and I don’t really stray toward the big trends anymore.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Not really – now that I’ve come as close to “purse peace” as I’ve ever been, I don’t have a desire to part with anything or sell to make money! Plus I use the bags regularly so I’m sure their value in cash has decreased quite a bit. I do hold onto one bag that I hope to pass on to my daughter when she’s old enough – but that’s about as close to “investment” as I get.
Who influences your buying decisions? Used to be the fashion bloggers on YouTube. Now, just me. 🙂
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? No – I do not have an SA relationship in any store.
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? For a long time, I think shopping was filling a void created by a “am I enough?” mentality. I was adopted at a young age and then suffered through an emotionally abusive and neglectful childhood/young-adulthood with my adoptive family. I know that lot of my acquiring expensive things in my adulthood had to do with showing those around me that I was “worth something” and had grown beyond the child that had been abandoned and pushed aside by both her families. But that was definitely trying to full a cup that had no bottom.
To this day I still struggle with depression and feelings of loss from that time; but through therapy, success in career, through the love from my kids and husband I am able to keep working through it. So while I enjoy picking up something new for myself, “the hunt” has somewhat lost its luster. Right now, I have way more fun shopping for my kids and husband, as well as picking up new hobbies that allow me to share time with my family.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? I know it happens, but I have not experienced it.
Who pays for your bags? Me, with occasional gifts from my husband.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? I have a “fun fund” that I keep, but I only contribute to it after all bills, savings, etc. are addressed.
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? Only when they are for him. 🙂
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Saving for one specific bag for almost a decade, and then waiting several more years for the right one to become available? Sounds crazy, but I lived it!
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? See my earlier answer… it wasn’t a shopping addiction exactly, but it was fueled by a desire to be seen as a capable and successful human being by those around me. Now, those attributes are things I *know* to be true about myself, regardless of how others choose to view me, so the “addiction” seems to have calmed quite a bit. Plus I’ve completely unsubscribed to the IG and YouTube influencers and bloggers I used to follow, so there’s not a lot of chance for me to rekindle the shopping itch.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Photography – I spend quite a bit on film and equipment.
Anything else you would like to include? I would caution anyone against making light of possible addictions to shopping – it may be meant as fun, but for some it can be more harmful than helpful. For me, I joked about having a purse addiction for so long and felt enabled to keep it up after watching so many purse reviews/1st impressions/WIMB videos. But in the end, I was basically suppressing and ignoring the a lot of the real issues that I was self-treating through retail therapy. While I’m not done with that work, I am much happier and more satisfied with life now that I’ve tried to address all of this head on. There is no shame in asking for help, or in breaking away from unhealthy habits that others aren’t ready to stop!