To say that I am a handbag addict would be an understatement. Even my birthday falls on National Handbag Day. That being said, I do have quite a large collection of handbags, and I frequently get asked all sorts of bag-related questions. Although I am no expert (I buy what I like, but with thorough contemplation), bag buying is something I have years of experience with and here I will share some of my thoughts/tips which I hope can be resourceful in your decision-making process:
Q. How many bags do you own?
A. 19, plus 6 pouches.
Q. How do you afford it all?
A. The answer is simple: I work. I have a full-time job that allows me to indulge in my expensive taste in handbags. I am a career girl, fortunate to have the opportunity to build and expand my professional career, and buying handbags is simply one of the ways I treat myself after hard-work.
But, of course, this comes after taking care of all the fun grown-up stuff (bills/rents) and I think it’s really important to prioritize your spending. If you can’t afford your dream handbag right now, then that’s ok – as a matter of fact, I think it’s admirable to be smart about your finances instead of spending money you don’t even have, often times to impress people you don’t even like. Especially for me, each handbag has its own story and a memory that goes along with it: the Chanel Backpack was a graduation gift, the Gucci Dionysus celebrates my new job. I wouldn’t want a handbag to remind me of something like maxing out on pre-approved credit cards or struggling to pay rent the next month.
Just remember, if you can’t have what you love, learn to love what you have.
Q. How do you make the decision to buy the bag?
A. There are a lot of factors I consider before buying a bag, and it really is a long process before I make the purchase. Once a bag catches my eye, I will do a ton of research, look at photos, try it on in the store, visualize wearing it with different outfits, while asking myself all sorts of questions like:
- Longevity: “Would I be able to wear it next year?” – This is a big factor for me. I want to buy bags that I can still wear next year, 5 ~10 years from now, which leads me to the next question.
- Trendiness: “Is this a trend?” – I have a tendency to stay away from “trendy” bags that don’t hold their values after a season, and gravitate more towards classic pieces with staying power. This is not to say trendy bags aren’t beautiful – it is just a matter of preference. How to tell whether a bag is going to be a seasonal trend or a classic is something of an acquired sense, in my opinion. My recommendation is to research, browse through magazines and shops as often as possible, to be more “in-the-know” so you can get a sense of which bags are being advertised/over-exposed (which is often times for the trendy bags; you rarely see an ad for the Chanel Classic Flap)
- Usage/Value: “Would I be able to get a good use out of this?” – I think about occasions and outfits I would wear the bag with. If I’m spending $2000+ on a handbag, it would have to work well into my lifestyle and I would want to get my money worth and a good use out of it. Also, I’ve realized that a bag might look great on its own (or even on someone else) but not necessarily on you. Some bags are just meant to be admired from afar.
- Similarity: “Do I have something similar?” – Having a pretty big handbag collection already, I am trying not to buy handbags that overlap in terms of functionality. For instance, I have the Givenchy Angitona in black, a structured bag I usually wear on formal occasions, so I won’t be purchasing another black/structured/formal bag, unless the Antigona falls apart, which is highly unlikely.
- Availability: “Is this going to be available next season?” – If the bag is something that’s always going to be available, season after season, I would probably save it for later and instead prioritize on getting other bags on my wishlist, whereas if the bag is a seasonal piece or relatively hard to get, I would take the plunge.
- Resale Value (Investment?): This is not so much of an issue for me as I don’t buy bags thinking I would re-sell it at some point, but I know it can be an important factor for some. Basically this is how much profit you’ll get out of if/when you are to sell your used handbag. Chanel is one of the brands that has a high resale value, meaning you will definitely get close to what you originally paid for or sometimes even more, as their prices increase periodically.
+ Trying to decide between two or more colors? My best advice (I received from my Store Associate from Céline) is to just keep trying them on, with different outfits until you can make a decision. I don’t see this as bothering the Sales Associates, but more so as being careful in your decision as you don’t want to regret your purchase. It’s your money you’re spending so you have the right to take your time until you can be fully confident in your decision.
Q. How often do you buy bags?
A. I have no set period of time, but it seems like the average has been 7 bags per year. I know this is a lot, but it’s not something that’s going to happen every single year, as my collection has grown and there are only a few handbags left on my wishlist.
Q. What is your favorite bag brand?
A. Céline, with no hesitation. I love the brand’s aesthetics and Phoebe Philo‘s artistic vision, so much so that people ask me if I work at Céline (I don’t, but I should at this point). The minimalistic and understated design just gets me every time. Chanel is a close second.
Q. What is your most worn bag?
A. Definitely my Céline Luggage Nano. I’ve gotten so much wear out of it that I would consider getting it in another color. People thought the luggage would be a trend that would phase out, but I think this nano size has proven to be a classic. It holds a lot, and is so functional and practical (can be worn cross-body/shoulder/by hand). This is also a very rare color combination that I always get compliments on everywhere I go 🙂
Q. And the least?
A. I would say the Chanel Classic Flap, mainly because it’s such a beautiful “special occasion” bag, at least for me. During the weekdays I wear workbags and on the weekends I like to dress more casually, so I don’t really reach for this Classic Flap, which is a bit more formal, unless I’m going to special events. Nonetheless happy to have it in my collection!
Q. Which bags have you sold and why?
A. I’ve sold 4 bags, all for the same reason being that I wasn’t getting much use out of it.
- Celine Trapeze: I had initially wanted a beige/navy combo, but this hot pink color caught my eye which resulted in an impulse decision. Had I bought the beige/navy, I might have kept it, as the Trapeze really is a beautiful bag. Would I buy it again? Maybe not.
- Prada Saffiano: Long story short, this one I didn’t necessarily “sell” but was defected so I returned it to Prada and got a store credit, with which I bought their double bag. I ended up selling the double bag, and vouched myself I won’t buy Prada bags, at least for awhile. Would I buy it again? No.
- Celine Luggage: I use the nano version of this luggage way more frequently, so I sold this big size, as I didn’t want to just sit in my closet and thought it would be better if someone else could get a good use out of it. Would I buy it again? No.
- Balenciaga City: I thought the classic City was too dull so I opted for the metallic edge, to give it a bit more.. well, edge. The leather was more durable, and therefore making the bag heavier. The bag also has no firm structure, and I, being more of a structured-bag person, wasn’t reaching for this bag (I only wore it twice). I sold it and got the mini version (which is more structured). Would I buy it again? Maybe. But in the classic version. Not at full price.
Q. What do you recommend for a first designer piece?
A. For the first designer piece, you definitely want something you can get a lot of use out of, so I recommend classic pieces that go well with many outfits like the Givenchy Antigona, Balenciaga City, Louis Vuitton Speedy.
Q. For girls on a budget?
A. I think Mansur Gavriel makes some great quality handbags, and even after thieir revolutionary “bucket bag” phase they still continue to release beautiful pieces and remain relevant in the handbag industry. Other brands I recommend are Proenza Schouler, 3.1. Phillip Lim, and A.P.C.
Q. What is next on your wishlist?
A. Definitely the Chanel Boy Bag, but I haven’t come across the combination I want just yet. I always seem to want the leather/hardware/color combination that doesn’t exist, but I am in no rush and no position to settle for anything else but the combination I prefer. It’s a waiting game, as it’s always been for me!
Shop my bag closet
by clicking on the photos below: