Real Talk

Are You Collecting or Are You Hoarding?

The fine line between method and madness...

As purse lovers, nothing is a more preferred pastime for us than to scroll through various online retailers and resellers, browsing for the next piece of singular sentimental significance that shall grace our closets and crown our collections.

Alright, maybe sans the melodrama of it all (at least, for most of us). But the feeling is there, alright. After an unexpected episode of inclement weather rendered yours truly feverish and bedridden for the better part of the weekend, I realized the true extent of my condition. One that may not be a problem yet (I hope) but is well on its way to becoming one.

Of course, working in fashion means whiling away the hours curating your wishlist with a motley assortment of paraphernalia technically counts as work (in that I can delude myself into thinking they’re potential fodder for future assignments). The flip side, however, is that often, a bigger-than-normal portion of your ever-expanding laundry list of wants actually manages to make it to your doorstep.

And it’s only once you come to the dreaded point where you’re required to take stock of your possessions that you realize those shoes in the oven à la Miss Carrie Bradshaw, aren’t quite the most ingenious use of the cooking apparatus.

I hate to break it to you, honey, but you might have a hoarding problem.

Collecting Versus Hoarding – Know the Difference

An ongoing media narrative paints hoarders as anything from chaotic and idiosyncratic to lazy and unsanitary, thanks, in no small part, to shows such as MTV’s True Life or A&E’s Hoarders. Further characterizations seem to postulate that much of what is amassed is virtually useless and often of little monetary value to anyone besides the hoarder.

Only recently has it been reclassified as a mental disorder, distinct in effect and exhibition from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association still do not consider it an illness as much as an impulse-control problem.

And, of course, we, as the level-headed handbag buyers we are (aside from the occasional retail therapy), are certainly no hoarders, right?

Well, think again.

While we may be proud collectors, the difference between the two sometimes boils down to mere intent. As Christos Garkinos, of consignment store Decades and Bravo’s Dukes of Melrose, confides to Glamour, “The hoarders will have three of the same Chanel blouse in different colors—all with the tags on and never worn. Collectors gather important pieces from designers and are not full of the consumption urge; they’re more like editors.”

Too Many Handbags
A collection is generally well thought-out

In fact, though generally not as selective, the line between collecting and hoarding can only become apparent a long way into the problem, as the buyer realizes that they may be accumulating multiples of the same simply to fill perceived holes in their collection.

At that point, not only do their possessions no longer spark joy, but they may even result in distress and distraction!

You have Issues, Attachment Issues

As hunter-gatherers from the very beginning of time, it’s not entirely surprising that we’re still prone to uncontrollable urges to buy and gather, even if it means dropping copious sums of cash on things we’re likely to use only sparingly.

In fact, much of the hoarder mentality arises from our need to have things “just in case,” often as an emotional response to major life changes. In several of these instances, like divorce or death, weight gain or loss, childbirth, pandemics, or in any such stressful scenario, we’re likely to associate memories with inanimate objects – perhaps a pair of high-school jeans we no longer fit into, perhaps a handbag we no longer use, but our kids might – you get the point.

And this object attachment makes getting rid of things infinitely more difficult.

Hermes George V store Paris
Brands like Hermès, that require buyers to build spending profiles, implicitly seem to encourage hoarding habits

Add to that the pop-culture phenomenon of YouTube haul videos since 2008 (now fully blossomed in the form of TikTok), where Instagram cloffices are standard thoroughfare. The idea of constant novelty, as author Wendy A. Woloson posits in Crap: A Cheap History of America, means everything is basically a form of “flex,” a case of internalized FOMO is not only to be expected but is often more than enough to get you started on your hoarding habits.

But Fashion is Cyclical, Right?

Now, at least on paper, the solution to a hoarding problem is fairly straightforward – simply sell or donate what you don’t need, right? And when you’re going about on your purging spree, it always helps to have someone as the objective voice of reason, forcing you to consider whether that pair of Juicy Couture track pants circa 2003 deserves to stay in your closet.

Dior Saddle Bag
Vintage Dior Saddles increase in value with the return of logomania

But even if you’ve managed to guilt-trip yourself into selling off some of your prized possessions, velour or not (and for minimal return, might I add), who’s to say that Juicy Couture (or as many purse collectors painfully realized, a vintage Dior Saddle or Fendi Baguette) isn’t going to be hot again a couple of years down the line?

Well, that’s where the concept of an investment purse comes in. With their tell-tale monograms, emblematic hardware, and signature silhouettes, some handbags witness a resurgence in popularity every few years, owing to the cyclical nature of trends, whereby you may receive a slight return on your sale if not strictly a profit.

Of course, you might also hold onto the bags and get extra use out of them while the trends last. And that’s fine, too. In a century of careless consumption, perhaps the real flex lies in using a handbag you’ve unearthed from your mom’s closet.

After all, it isn’t hoarding as long as it isn’t taking up active living space in your home. Or at least, that’s how I justify my high-school collection of geeky novellas.


Leave a Comment

  1. psny15 Avatar

    If you have more than 10 bags you are hoarding – unfortunately so am I 🥰🥰

  2. Evergreen602 Avatar

    I would say 10 bags or fewer is a minimalist collection. I have 40 bags, and would not say I’m at the point of hoarding. The number where it crosses from collecting into hoarding depends on your comfort level, storage space, wardrobe needs, etc. I like a good variety and like to “shop” in my closet. Working from a wish list helps me curate. Yes, there is the occasional impulse purchase, but those are some of my favorites.

    It’s a hobby I enjoy. If at any point the size of my collection causes stress, then I know it’s time to curate and reduce the excess.

    1. jac Avatar

      Love your outlook and perspective🌻

  3. Tanja Avatar

    I have to admit, I have never counted how many bags I have. I do have multiples of some of the bags I own in different colors including the Celine Belt and Luggage – as well as in different sizes. It’s not so much that they fill a gap in my collection, but that I really like the size, style and color. I did hoard bags a few years ago – I owned probably 25 Jimmy Choo bags alone. I bought on a whim, I’m much more selective now. I’ve also started to sell off a number ofl bags and will continue to do so. My collection shrank by approx. 50%. The current logo and book bag craze is not for me, so it makes it much easier to abstain buying new bags.

  4. Tana Avatar

    I think if you have the same bag more than three colours you are hoarding.

  5. Fabuleux Avatar

    I used to have 30-40 designer bags: Prada, Gucci, Vuitton, etc. I considered myself an avid collector. One day, I walked into my closet and thought “why do I have all these bags? I barely get to use them!”. It was also during that time that I bought two Hermès bags and decided to drastically downsize. This was an incredibly freeing experience and I never looked back. Now, my collection is 8-10 bags. I never want more than that again. Usually, when I buy a new bag, I sell another. I feel much more at peace and satisfied with this strategy.

  6. Terri Avatar

    I used to have Lady Dior’s in the same color but different sizes and variations,
    and same sizes in different color: micro all the way to XL.
    Then I finally had an epiphany that I do not need all of these as some even remained in the closet ever since I bought it.
    So I sold the majority and finally felt “free”!

    1. jiljenner Avatar

      Having owned all sizes, Terri, which size(s) do you recommend?

      1. Terri Avatar

        Personally I’d recommend medium and large. They’re more practical and fits your essentials. Micro is cute but only for a night out, while XL can be used when traveling!

  7. jac Avatar

    However many bags a person chooses to have is their choice, based on budget and space. Many people collect a variety of different items. But it seems as though its ok to collect certain things and not others, like bags. More then 10 bags means you are a hoarder? Who determines how many bags are too many? I do, for myself. This is the purse forum. We are here b/c we love our bags. I ignore trends and carry/purchase bags i love. If i only carry a certain bag once a year, its like that special Christmas platter that also is only used one day each year. I happen to have a lot of bags like that, and i love having the variety to match a bag to each daily outfit/outing. I also enjoy having multiples in styles i love carrying. My perfect collection sits at 100 bags, perched on a long wall of shelves – to be admired, enjoyed, and carried. If you enjoy only having 10 bags, wonderful. But for those of us who enjoy much larger collections, please let us do so without imposing your own judgments and biases!

    1. Cheryl Avatar

      Well said! Let us decide for ourselves. As long as we’re not putting ourselves in financial peril, why judge? Well said JAC.

      1. jac Avatar

        Thank you! I can tell my friend i think she has too many tattoos lol, but she can do as she pleases, and she may think i have too many bags, but thats my happy place🌷 you do you and i will do me!

  8. Claire Avatar

    Hoarding is a mental illness; it’s serious; and it’s not funny. (Your link is literally to the American Psychiatric Association, and they DO consider this an illness.) Three unworn Chanel blouses is not hoarding. It might make more sense in this context to talk about shopping addiction (also a serious issue) – but please don’t make light of mentally ill people, or mis-define this disorder. Very sad about this article.

  9. Cheryl Avatar

    Why judge and label someone from a very general perspective? It’s unfortunate. Admittedly I have more than 10 but that’s fine for me. I purge bags that don’t get used and buy others that I will enjoy. I don’t put myself in financial peril to buy a bag so why the judgemental label? I applaud those with minimal collections, you do you and let me do me, sans judgement.

    1. jac Avatar

      Love your insights and everything you said🙌

  10. OnlyModa Avatar

    What is the point of this article? To shame people with lots of bags? In a Purse blog?
    And what qualifications do you have to determine if someone has mental illness or not.

    1. jac Avatar