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.”
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.
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.
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.