In today’s Closet Confessionals we meet a young lawyer whose foray into designer bags began with a Coach obsession which soon turned into a love for Louis Vuitton and eventually Hermès. Like many of us, her bags often hold sentimental value, representing certain events and important moments in her life. Though as a teen and young adult, she was lucky enough to have parents who were able to fund her burgeoning collection, she’s fairly down to earth and very aware of the privileged life she has led so far. Now navigating life as a member of the workforce she’s able to afford her own purchases.
Check out the entire confessional below and be sure to submit your own!
Gender Identity: Female
Location: New York City
Household Income: $255,000
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
How many bags do you own? 11
How much is your collection worth? $15,000
What is your most expensive bag? I purchased* my Hermès Garden Party 36 in Bordeaux for about $3,700.
*By “I purchased” I mean that I did the legwork to track down this particular bag in this particular color, went to the store to pick it up, but my parents paid the credit card bill for the bag since it was a present for when I graduated from law school.
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? This is really tough to narrow down, because I spend what is probably and inordinate and embarrassing amount of time weighing every single bag I acquire. I also have a tendency to be somewhat of a sentimental sucker, so I associate each bag and brand with a particular event or phase in my life. While I still make sure to rotate all of my bags regularly to give them their days in the sun, the most important brands in my collection right now are probably Hermès and Ferragamo.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I started collecting those little colorful Coach patchwork shoulder bags when I was about 12. Every summer while I was growing up, my family would spend a couple of weeks in upstate New York. My absolute favorite part of this vacation was going to the outlets, where I went to town in the Harry and David’s candy store (anyone know where I can get those chewy licorice tube things filled with that white cream??) and where I was introduced to Coach. Unfortunately for my parents, after a few years of collecting Coach I discovered Louis Vuitton.
I was 16 when I got my first premier designer bag – a LV Speedy 25 in monogram canvas. My dad would go on trips to Las Vegas a couple of times a year, and would always bring my sister and me little presents. I somehow figured out that Vegas was home to some of the best designer shopping in the world, so I scoured the internet for days looking for the perfect bag to ask my dad to bring home to me when I discovered the classic speedy. I fell in love immediately both because of the aesthetics of the bag itself, and because of who I envisioned myself to be when I would carry this bag.
At 16, I was awkward, gangly, and coming down the home stretch of puberty. As misplaced as the idea was, I thought that carrying this bag would help me feel confident and sophisticated. While I realize now that relying on material things to provide a sense of self-confidence is a very flawed approach to life, I did have an extra spring in my step when I brought my bag around town.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? Definitely the LV Speedy 25 for the reasons I just mentioned, as well as the other two LV and two Gucci bags (all monogram canvas) that my dad brought home for me from his trips. It still means so much to me that my dad was willing to take time out of his day to go hunt down the specific bag I had requested. The poor guy hates shopping and avoids it at all costs to this day, so I realize how uncomfortable he must have been going in and out of these luxury stores by himself.
My Hermès Evelyne also holds a special place in my heart because it is the first bag that I purchased myself after completing my summer associate position at a law firm during law school. To that point, my parents had generously gifted me all of my bags, so my Evie marked my first foray into financial independence (even though my parents continued to support me in full once I returned to school in the fall.) My GP, as I mentioned above, was a graduation present from my parents, so it is very important to me because it represents many years of hard work, and is a tangible reminder of how incredibly generous and supportive my parents have been my whole life. I am truly fortunate.
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Very much so. I live in a very status conscious city in an even more status conscious neighborhood. It makes me feel slimy to say it, but it’s nothing others haven’t already said here and nothing everyone doesn’t already know, so here it goes – people are always going to judge everything about you, whether it is your personality or financial situation, first and foremost based upon your appearance. Now just because I play the game doesn’t mean I like it – in an ideal world, I could get on my soapbox about this being unjustified, but the truth of the matter is that this happens to all of us, and we also do it to other people. So when I am doing errands or out for a day of shopping, I like when sales staff notice that I have a nice bag or am well-dressed since this inevitably leads to better service.
However, I am very careful about what my bags could project about me while I am at work. As a brand new associate, it would be in poor taste if I showed up to the office carrying a logo bag, or a bag that is easily identifiable as high end designer. This is especially true because my office is pretty low key when it comes to fashion overall. Even though people here make good livings, no one flaunts it. As a result, I only carry under the radar bags when I come to work – LV or Gucci monogram is strictly off limits. I mainly stick to my Gucci swing tote, Hermes GP, or Burberry banner bag when I’m on duty.
How often do you buy new bags? I only buy a new bag once or twice a year. This is difficult because something new always seems to pop up on my radar what with being a member of tPF (which is a blessing and a curse). Most importantly I need to mind my finances.
Which stores do you frequent the most? I live right near some of the best shopping in the world, so it is difficult for me to walk by the likes of Chanel, Hermès, Dior, Barneys, Bergdorfs, and Bloomingdale’s day in and day out. Luckily for my wallet, I work long hours so by the time I get out of work, everything is closed and I have zero energy to shop. But on the weekends, I can often be found browsing Bloomingdale’s and popping into Hermes. Most of the time I shop online.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? I haven’t to date, but if and when I add a classic Chanel flap, I will definitely turn to the secondhand market. I couldn’t bear to purchase the same bag (of often lesser quality if tPF is to be believed) for more than double the price of what is was like, less than 10 years ago.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I’ve sold off some of my contemporary designer bags to clear up space in the closet on Poshmark, but they haven’t specifically been used to purchase new bags.
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? Only every single day. It’s really inescapable between Instagram, tPF, and living in an area with a high concentration of wealth. I constantly remind myself that no one wins at Keeping Up With The Joneses. I would be the only loser.
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? An investment in my happiness – yes. A financial investment – absolutely not. Unless you are a collector who never actually plans to use your bags, anyone who tries to convince themselves that buying a purse is the same as buying stocks or something is just fooling themselves.
Who influences your buying decisions? The women of tPF, hands down! So many people on there have such exquisite taste and deep knowledge of brands. While a bag might appear on my radar this way, I never let what other people purchase dictate what I buy for myself.
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? In some stores, yes. This is particularly true with Hermès. I’ve since moved away from the store where I began a relationship with a SA, but I continue to shop with her over the phone and via email. While I enjoy visiting the Hermès store in NYC, I have been totally snubbed on countless occasions in there. Why would I give a store like that my business?
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I love learning about the craftsmanship and heritage behind a brand. I’m a huge history and culture nerd, and shopping with storied brands seamlessly blends my love for fashion and history.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? No – and here is where I recognize my privilege. I am white, cisgender, and come from a privileged background. So long as I walk into a store with confidence and looking like I belong there, I don’t feel I have ever received inferior service due to my appearance.
Who pays for your bags? For most of my life, my parents did. Now I am an adult with a full-time job, so it’s all on me.
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? Not really. I only buy one or two bags a year, so I haven’t found it necessary to set aside money specifically for this yet, though time will tell. I’m only just getting used to paying my own bills so calculating how expensive life is (spoiler alert: very) is an ongoing process.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Never – us lawyers are pretty sanctimonious about the sanctity of trademarks LOL
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? I don’t hide them from my live-in fiance per se, but I don’t think he has an accurate picture of what everything costs. Since I use all my own funds to finance my purchases, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Can’t say I’ve ever done anything crazy. If I’m ever tempted to, that would be a good sign that I really can’t afford it.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Truthfully, sometimes. From time to time, I feel a compulsive need come over to me to just BUY SOMETHING, ANYTHING. I’ve tried cutting myself off cold turkey from shopping to fix this, but this just made me realize that my shopping energy is just like any other kind of energy in the universe; it can neither be created nor destroyed, only transferred. When I don’t shop for long periods of time, I am not destroying the shopping energy; I am only transferring it to a later point in time where it inevitably gets pent up and then releases all at once, which isn’t good either. Instead I’m trying harder to be mindful of what I buy, and thoroughly assess if it is something I need, merely want, or if it would fill some sort of hole in my wardrobe. I’ve found this method to be the most successful to date, but it is by no means fool proof.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? The better question is do I have a hobby or passion that ISN’T expensive? In addition to nice purses, I also have a weak spot for clothes and shoes. As I mentioned before I love history and culture, which translates to a love for the arts. I really enjoy acquiring art, but since wall space is limited, I try and limit this hobby to visiting museums. I’ve also been bitten by the travel bug, so there’s that.