An investment bag or an "it" bag is a statement maker and an outfit game changer. I often follow the fashion philosophy that a pricy bag — I'm talking approximately $600 and above— can be paired with an outfit comprised of Old Navy, American Eagle Outfitters, or Forever 21 and still look completely luxe. Buying an expensive handbag or an "It" bag can be an emotionally taxing experience and whenever I plunk down the cash for one, I zip through a myriad of conflicting feelings and a variety of stages, from buyer's remorse to reminding myself that I will get so much use out of it, making the cost-per-wear add up to mere pennies. I go through elation, doubt, and mental mathematics in the span of 20 minutes. It's exhausting.
I will say this. You have to go into the process of purchasing an investment bag by telling yourself that you deserve it. Because you do. You've worked hard. You've saved some money. A good bag is your right as a fashionable dresser and anyways, it's not like you buy a new bag every month. Still, it can be a bit panic-inducing to spend an entire paycheck (or more) on one single thing.
I went through the emotional stages this weekend when I bought Alexander Wang's Rockie barrel bag. It's black. With pebbled leather. And a studded bottom. I've been eyeing it for at least six months now. It cost $840 with tax. It has a secret compartment on the side, which was my total "Oooh!" moment as I inspected it while thinking about the purchase. It's roomy as hell. It has has a detachable strap, so it can be worn many ways, as a crossbody (which I don't see myself doing, since it's too round, but I like having the option) or hanging off the wrist or elbow.
I lurve it...but it took me a minute to convince myself to buy it. Even though I went to Nordstrom with the intention of making this purchase.
Here are the nine stages I went through when making an investment bag purchase. I have no regret whatsoever, but I still had to cycle through all these conversations with myself inside my head as I prepared to drop a month's rent on a bag.
1. The "OMG I Have To Have It" Stage
I went into this weekend's purchase knowing I wanted to invest in the bag and give myself a treat. Even though I am a bit of a bag snob, I hadn't splurged on a purse in over a year. I mentally prepared, telling myself I had to have it, that I wanted it, and that it would and should be mine.
2. The "I Have Enough Bags And Should Recycle" Stage
Once I was in Nordstrom, before I even held the bag in my hands to inspect it, I tried to talk myself out of it. When you touch, feel, and even smell the bag, that's when they "get" you. I was telling myself that I didn't ned a new bag, that I have enough bags at home, and that I should recycle. I thought, "Why not be green with your black bags?"
3. The "If I Buy All My Basics At Old Navy Or Forever 21, This Is Fine" Stage
I love to shop for clothes and accessories, and save for bags and sunglasses, I stock up on basics at places like Forever 21, Garage, Target, and Old Navy, which I pair with new pieces, vintage scores, or slightly pricier items in my closet. I love the high-low mix and I truly believe that not everything needs to be (or even should be) designer. So once I picked up the A. Wang bag and let it hang from my wrist for a few minutes, I reminded myself that I often scrimp and save on basics and that 75 percent of my wardrobe is affordable, so I could allow myself this one not-so-little splurge.
4. The "If I Use This Every Day, The Cost-Per-Wear Is Pennies" Stage
My budget-minded and mathematical mind then kicked into gear. I rationalized that I will use the bag every single day for months, if not an entire year, it is worth it. I told myself that I will return to it in the future, since it's sturdy and a classic, negating a previous stage concern about an investment bag eventually going out of style. Essentially, the cost-per-wear ends up being pennies. When you look at it that way, it's not such a splurge, now is it?
5. The "There Are Totally Worse Things I Could Spend Money On" Stage
Anytime I buy a bag, right before I take the plunge and yank out the credit card, I usually ask the clerk for five more minutes to walk around and look at myself with the bag on my arm in the mirror. This happened twice with the Wang bag. I told myself, "There are way worse things I could spend my money on. This isn't drugs. I donate to animal charities weekly. I save money and have a 401K. What's the problem? It's ONE bag."
6. The "I Work Hard, I Love Fashion, I Deserve It" Stage
I repeated this mantra this weekend: "I work hard. I love fashion. I spend more on my dog that myself. I deserve it." That's when I opened my Kooba crossbody to grab my wallet...
7. The "Eff It, Where's My Credit Card" Stage
This one is self-explanatory. When I finished the WWE wrestling match with myself in my brain, I plunked down the credit card and made the purchase.
8. The "Did I Need This?" Buyer's Remorse Stage
Immediately after I signed the credit card slip, I was bit by a tiny buyer's remorse bug. "Was that a good idea," I asked myself, even though I already made the choice and it was high time to move on. I started feeling a little panicky as the cashier handed over my exorbitant decision.
9. The "I Can't Wait To Get Home And Swap Bags" Stage
Once I headed back to my car, the fear dissipated, and I couldn't wait to go home and swap out my bags. I even texted my most fashionable friend Mary to tell her that I nabbed it and could not wait to show her. Her immediate reply? "Which one did you get? Send a pic! I bet it's awesome." Thanks, Mary! It is awesome... and it goes with everything.
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