We all love designer bags for different reasons. Some of us feel as though they’re markers of success, others like to shop from brands with a sense of important fashion heritage to them, and still others just make a ton of money and feel compelled to spend accordingly. For most of us, though, some emotion is evolved, which is exactly what luxury fashion is intended to evoke: desire, jealousy, pleasure, need, satisfaction, insecurity. It depends on the person and the day! In this week’s installment of Closet Confessionals, we’re hearing from a woman whose relationship to shopping (and, by extension, to bags) has changed a lot over the years, but who still loves her Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Coach bags—just in a different way than before.

If you want to see your bag habits written up on PurseBlog, all you have to do to be considered is fill out the survey below! The more detail, the better—we’ll keep you anonymous.

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The Basics

Age: 37
Gender Identity: Female
Location: Seattle
Occupation: Nursing Administration
Industry: Healthcare
Income: $50,000

The Bags

Are you a PurseForum member? Yes

How many bags do you own? 6 bags, 5 small leather goods

How much is your collection worth? Approximately $11,000

What is your most expensive bag? Here’s a rundown of the whole collection:
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Vaneau GM ($2,760)
Louis Vuitton Iena PM Damier Azur ($1,320)
Louis Vuitton Pochette Felicie ($1,030)
Coach Prince Street ($580)
Coach Nolita PM ($295)
Coach Dinky ($295)
Chanel Compact Camellia wallet ($695)
Hermes Bearn wallet ($2650)
Louis Vuitton Empreinte Pontneuf compact wallet ($665)
Louis Vuitton Rosalie Coin Purse ($370)
Louis Vuitton Key Pouch x 2 ($205 each)

What are the most important brands or pieces in your collection? All of them. (Coach, LV, Hermes, Chanel). I am thinking of adding another premier designer to my collection. I’m thinking about getting a Celine Classic Box Bag or a Mansur Gavriel Circle Bag.

What age did you get your first designer bag, and what was it? My first premier designer bag was the Louis Vuitton Pochette Felicie. I got it when I was 37 years old. My first contemporary designer bag was Coach Hamptons Weekend Tote in white nylon twill. I got it when I was 23 years old.

The Shopping

How often do you buy new bags? I buy new bags at least once a year. However, this habit has changed as of recent since I had been culling my collection in order to lessen my closet clutter. I have adopted a more minimalist lifestyle and I am streamlining my living space by donating or selling clothes, shoes, and bags that I have not used or are not my style anymore.

Which stores do you frequent the most? Nordstrom, J. Crew, Club Monaco, and Ann Taylor for clothing. Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Coach, Hermès for bags and small leather goods.

I also like to shop for gently used secondhand clothes at Poshmark, eBay, and Fashionphile.

Do you ever buy second-hand bags? Where do you buy used? Yes!

Do you sell old bags to pay for new purchases? I have yet to sell a bag to fund another bag purchase. Most of the time, a lot of designer bags do not appeal to me and I only buy when I really love something. I love to window shop and try on bags. However, if they do not go well with my personal style, I make the difficult decision of not buying anything.

Who influences your buying decisions? I’m influenced by my personal style and what I value. Of course, there are people who I follow on instagram who I feel have similar taste and they also influence me in my choices in bag shapes and styles. While most of who I follow have large collections of Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton bags, I try to be influenced more by their bag shapes and color instead of the actual brand they carry. I’m mostly inspired by how they style their outfits and accessorize it with their lovely bags.

I try to be realistic as to what I can afford at this stage in my life and what fits my personal style and budget.

Are sales associate relationships instrumental to your shopping? Yes. How the sales associate interacts with me often “lubricates” my desire to purchase. However, I make sure that I create trust with them since I am able to say “no” if I sense pressure to buy. I also make sure to communicate with them what are my likes and dislikes.

Why do you enjoy shopping, beyond just acquiring something new? I enjoy the browsing part more than actually having the item. I enjoy trying out a bag, feeling the materials used, and also interacting with the salespeople, especially when they are enthusiastic about the brand they represent.

The Money

Who pays for your bags? I pay for my own bags with my own personal savings. I occasionally use a credit card in order to get store points and cash back.

Do you set aside a budget for your bag purchases? To be honest, I have not set a budget for bags simply because I don’t buy new bags that often. However, by responding to this survey, I feel that I need to create a budget simply because there could be unforeseen emergencies that have more importance over a new designer handbag.

If I have to start a “Bag Fund” I will use the budgeting tool through my banking app and set aside $20 dollars every week until I reach my goal.

The Taboo Topics

Have you ever purchased a counterfeit because you couldn’t afford a designer item? No. I never thought of buying a counterfeit simply because I cannot afford a bag I truly wanted. That goes against my principles of knowing what my financial limitations are. Moreover, I feel that if I get a counterfeit bag, I am misrepresenting myself to others.

Do you ever hide purchases from your significant other? No. My significant other is totally OK with my bag purchases. He knows that I love my bags and work hard for them. Also, we don’t live together. :)

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to afford a bag? Sell old books and CDs to a used book store. Got $200 for the lot and I went to Coach and bought myself a small shoulder bag that I used until it fell apart.

Do you think your shopping is ever a problem? It was a problem.

When I was in my 20s, when I hadn’t gotten treatment for my depression and PTSD, shopping became a crutch for me to feel good. Shopping or the act of hunting for something used to give me that “high.” I had become out of control in using my credit card to buy a Coach bag that was out of my budget. At the time, I also did not have a steady income, but I ignored this fact because shopping made me feel good. I used it as an escape from my depression and PTSD.

It was not only bags that I bought using credit cards and the very small income I made through a minimum wage job ($7.25 per hour back in 2006). I bought expensive skincare products, got my nails done, got expensive spa treatments, hair cuts and color, clothes, and shoes. I wanted to look wealthy even though I was working as a salesperson that did not get scheduled to work enough hours during the week.

Eventually, I quit the minimum wage job and moved back in with my parents. They sent me to vocational school so that I can get additional marketable skills. I also was able to land a job that paid above minimum wage.

I struggled for eight years to pay off the debt. While even though I had a steady job, it was not paying me enough. Living in an expensive city also did not help, as my rent kept going up. I had to stop shopping for a new bag for eight years as well. I also applied for a new and better-paying job at a different company and got the job. I’m still living in the same expensive city, but I now have room to breathe with my income.

I now learned the hard lesson of buying things that I don’t have money to pay for. I am still paying off the rest of the debt I incurred during those lean years. I am also going to therapy for my depression and PTSD and it helps a lot to put me in the mindset that shopping is not going to make my problems going away. It is teaching me discipline, self sacrifice, good financial habits, self-care and compassion, and getting rid of toxic people in my life.

Of course, I am not perfect. I sometimes give in to temptation. (I bought the LV key pouch out of impulse).

The Rest Of It

Any other expensive hobbies or passions? Tea Ceremony, art, and travel. I also love designer shoes and jewelry, but I only have a few pieces that I use a lot.

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