Meet legaldiva, the long time TPF member, who works in Milwaukee as a personal injury lawyer with a deep-rooted passion for Chanel. To her, the brand represents grit, determination, equality, and personal independence. She finds utility in dressing well for her job, be it for expressing her confidence or playing mind games with opposing counsel. Due to the highly stressful nature of the violent cases she worked on, shopping became an emotional outlet for her to cope with the tragedies she was prosecuting.
Read on and don’t forget to submit your own reflective confessional at the link below.
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Occupation: Personal Injury Lawyer
Are you a PurseForum member? Yes
Your TPF username? legaldiva
How many bags do you own? 9
How much is your collection worth? $21,000
What is your most expensive bag? Chanel Black Caviar Jumbo Single Flap
What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? Chanel.
At every milestone of life, I’ve purchased a Chanel bag. When I was in college, I studied abroad in Paris, fell in love with the feminist mystique of Chanel in terms of their classic, timeless designs and Coco Chanel’s biography.
It was her triumph as a self made woman rising from family abandonment to the highest peak of luxury fashion, in addition to being a savvy businesswoman that really caught my eye. Now whenever I’ve had a huge accomplishment, I buy a Chanel piece to commemorate the occasion. When I graduated from law school, I bought a black lambskin Chanel Timeless kiss lock clutch.
When I left public service for private practice, I purchased a black Reissue clutch. For me, a piece of luxury from a company started by a woman that represents grit, determination & equality–as well as independence is everything.
What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? I was in my last year of college. Originally from a small Midwestern town, I didn’t know anything about fashion; I was truly a late bloomer! I bought a Fendi hobo bag on eBay. To this day, I question whether I bought a fake, but in my defense–it was a really, really good one.
Any particular bag that holds a special sentimental value? My Chanel clutches. They represent to me in a tangible visible way that I have accomplished a dream goal: first, becoming a lawyer. That was huge for me. I am the first lawyer in my entire family; my mom was the first in HER family to go to college! Law school was challenging for me on a variety of levels. I actually didn’t know a single lawyer until after I was in school, so I didn’t have the concept of law school being an attainable, achievable “thing.” Then I spent almost ten years in government service becoming as fearless of a trial lawyer as I could. The connections I built were ones that were genuine and authentic, and those mentors helped me (unknowingly) move into the largest personal injury firm in our state–a top notch organization with a family oriented foundation to help individuals and save the world!
Do you feel like your bags change people’s perceptions of you or how you’re treated? Yes–and I think it’s a fair one. How you look on the outside is a reflection of how you feel on the inside. Sometimes you’re trying to hide your insecurities, or “keep up with the Joneses.” Other times, presenting who you are is an expression of confidence and utility: “I’ve made it.”
I’m aware of my “Cinderella” story. I walk in with my make up on, my hair done, and my suit accessorized, and like Olivia Pope says: I’m a gladiator in a suit. Formerly, I used it on behalf of sexual assault victims in trial–I took on a beauty queen persona in order to fight really bad guys. Now I use what I’ve got to stand up for the little guy. It’s David & Goliath, but with an Instagram-worth #ootd. Besides, law is a man’s game. When I look & feel good, I own a room–the men are too busy straightening their ties for the pretty girl to notice I’ve just dominated a deposition.
How often do you buy new bags? I’m more selective now. I’ll buy a handbag if it’s special and fits an event–I bought the Louis Vuitton Damier Azur Tahitienne Neverfull when I had my daughter. If I buy a bag, it has to be forever & for a special reason.
Which stores do you frequent the most? Louis Vuitton & Chanel. I think it goes back to me being that starry eyed 21-year old getting off the plane in Paris … seeing the women bustle to and from work on the Metro with a delicately tied scarf and an air of independence.
Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes–I prefer the Marketplaza (edit: The MP is the invite-only trading point on PurseForum). There’s nothing like having or finding a personal connection with someone who’s bag you are “adopting”! It’s really special.
Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? Yes–I used to upcycle bags frequently. Now I’m a little older and know my style better, so I’m not hustling so hard. Plus, it helps having more income. I prefer Ebay or Tradesy as a seller. I love The RealReal as a buyer.
Do you ever feel societal pressure to purchase more bags? No–I live in the Midwest, so big names are not as prevalent. I love going to a gala or an event and seeing another local woman with Chanel!!! I haven’t seen a Birkin yet, so I’m working on being the first. LOL
Do you consider your bag purchases investments? Yes–I love the resale market, and I try hard to ID bags that are good investments and will make me money. I bought and sold an Hermes Kelly Pochette & made a $2,000 profit in the four years I owned it.
Who influences your buying decisions? Instagram & my closet. I have a style now & I am about to be 40, so big trends aren’t as appealing to me anymore. I like bags that fit my wardrobe, not that I have to build outfits around.
Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Not currently as I don’t live close to the places I like to shop. Plus, my kids are little so shopping online is really a godsend!
Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I think clothing and bags and shoes are forms of artistic expression. It’s my opportunity to be creative, smart and express those qualities in how I look. Plus, looking good = feeling good, as long as it’s authentic to who you are as opposed to masking who you are by pretending to be someone you are not. I also believe deeply in dressing for the job or life you want, so it’s a fine line to be authentic in conveying that through clothing.
Have you ever felt like you received inferior service at a store or boutique due to your appearance, ethnicity or gender? No. I walk fairly confidently–I think that goes a long way. I also don’t wear shabby bags, so I always look presentable (even in athleisure) with a slight nod to luxury. There’s nothing more ironic than wearing Lululemon with a Chanel flap to mail something on a Saturday at the post office with two kids in tow! But that’s what I want to convey–if you’re paying attention, you really can have it all.
Who pays for your bags? I do exclusively. My husband just left his job in TV news to temporarily be a stay-at-home dad while also helping me facilitate a significant career move. While I say “my income,” it would be impossible without his support, so I’ll rephrase that to answer: we do!
Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? No, I’m impulsive and love a good deal, so if I see a LE piece or a great deal, I’ll snap it up and figure it out later.
The Taboo Topics
Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? Never intentionally (see my Fendi hobo response above).
Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? I used to. After law school I worked in Africa for a year, and I bought things online and had them shipped alternately to my parent’s and my then-boyfriend/now-husband. Nobody was fooled. 😉
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? I started a network marketing business & fell in love with having a business of my own. It was the best decision, because it taught me about confidence, management skills and leadership that I never would have sought out for their own sake. It also led me to leave an extremely dysfunctional government job that I loved and find “work nirvana” with my current employer.
Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? Have you ever felt like you were struggling with a shopping addiction? Yes–prosecuting sexual assault cases, especially with children was very difficult. I don’t smoke or drink, so shopping at times was an emotional outlet, an escape to a world of luxury & “pretty” when so much of my daily life was extremely violent and sad. I don’t think it was an addiction, but a coping mechanism that honestly got me through some really tough times.
Shopping can be aspirational and fantastical.
The Rest Of It
Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Shoes! I used to be extremely active in the Louboutin subforum. You can wear the most expensive suit in the boardroom and cheap shoes will kill your look. On the flip side, I’ve worn suits from H&M that look baller with a pair of red soles.