August 7th, 2012
Accessories, Bags, Fashion Discussion, Fashion News
Fashion Discussion: Would You Spend a Few Week’s Salary On a Bag?
By Faith

Marie Claire Fashion Director and Project Runway judge, Nina Garcia made quite the splash on Twitter last week, linking to a Hermès handbag auction on Moda Operandi and stating, “This is the bag that you can spend a few week’s salary on and not feel guilty.”


People fired back at Nina in a major way. Some wondered why anyone would ever use a few week’s salary on a handbag and others were outraged Ms. Garcia believed a $3,800 Hermès Birkin would be within most people’s budgets, even if they saved up a few paychecks.

Nina is in the business of aspirational buying, creating fantasies with each glossy page and making us drool over things we know very well that we cannot afford. Staring at four figure prices all day can make editors and bloggers a bit insensitive (and delusional), but I was still surprised by the response: aren’t most people who are following her on twitter in some way interested in fashion? Which fashion-minded woman doesn’t know what a Birkin is and its astronomical price? Or have luxury handbags in some way lost their allure and appeal?

Kyle Anderson, Marie Claire’s Accessories Director, also shouted out expensive handbags in a cheeky way a couple of weeks ago.

One might find the above funny, but those of us who work in fashion know that it is all too true! From late rent to weeks eating nothing but Ramen noodles, many women and men are going to extremes just to carry their favorite luxury handbag. In a #blogtrends chat last week, blogger and beauty vlogger Kim Porter gave some advice to “not go broke trying to be something you’re not.” Does this really hold true? In a world where status means so much and luxury reflects your status, what is one to do?

We feature pricey handbags everyday on the arms of everyone from reality TV stars to renowned fashion stylists.

We even compiled a list of Ten Fly Investment Handbags to guide you when you should you make the splurge. The response was positive, though often on “Accessories Lust” posts, we get comments stating that some of the bags aren’t worth the price and that you’d never spend that much money on a bag. Others often even point out that Zara and H&M have similar styles for less.

Personally, I own bags from most of the brands mentioned above, but a large majority were either bought on consignment, sale, or are vintage, meaning I didn’t shell out $2K for the full retail price, though I have on a couple occasions. I still browse the pages of ASOS, Zara, and others for great handbags for less and I will wear them with as much confidence as a more expensive brand, even mixing them with a pair of expensive shoes for a high-low mix.

So were Nina Garcia and Kyle Anderson totally wrong? Should we be using our hard-earned money on luxury handbags, even if it takes us weeks or months (or a few skipped meals)? Or should we simply aim for bags in our price range? And how much would you spend on a luxury handbag?
~Faith

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68 Responses to “Fashion Discussion: Would You Spend a Few Week’s Salary On a Bag?”

  1. EshaDiva says:

    I am SOOO glad the people called her out, I have said it on this very blog before and I will say it again: Don’t go broke trying to look rich smh! if your rent is late because you saving to buy a new bag your priorities are WAYYYY out of order, you’re not chic you’re ghettofab! #fail

  2. Esh SoGlam says:

    Back in my 20′s I would’ve sacrificed something to get the bag of my dreams. Now that I’m over 30 and much more experienced I would never. I love a great bag but I am not all about what everyone else is buying at the moment. As a matter of fact the only reason I have a collection of Coach bags is because I was once was an employee.

    These days I can find better things to spend this type of dough on like…. a fabulous vacay. A lot of people walking around with these expensive bags and don’t even have a passport…

  3. Jennifer says:

    I go back & forth about it mentally. I look at such pieces as investments, that I’ll be carrying for DECADES. But I also acknowledge that there are far more important short-term needs, such as conference travel & tuition.

    I think, as with most things, it’s a personal decision—but you have to be REALLY honest with yourself about the opportunity costs of these purchases. For every luxury buy, there’s something else that has to be sacrificed. Just make sure it’s worth it for YOUR lifestyle & financial situation.

  4. mary says:

    if your rent is late because you bought a new handbag NOT ONLY are your priorities out of wack, but you are IRRESPONSIBLE. this is why we will never BE wealthy, trying to hard TO LOOK WEALTHY. smh

  5. robyn says:

    cosign x10000 @ EshaDiva. I guess these chicks that eat Ramen Noodles (and live in unfurnished studio apts) think pulling insulin out of their new bag must be cute too when those ramen noodles give them high blood pressure with its’ 8000mg of sodium. It’s never that serious! EVER.

  6. KimberlyLove says:

    Defiantly not for a bag I’ll be happy with a knock off or something similar now shoes… that’s a whole different story. I’ll save up for a pair of Lounoutins

    KimberlyLove.net

  7. EmilyKennedy says:

    If you love something, you should have the right to manage your money to make the purchase (even if it took years). A great purse that you will use a majority of the year for several years might be worth that devotion. We are talking about a needle in a haystack type of item. The thing is, I wouldn’t trust a Twitter message to reveal a needle in a haystack. There isn’t enough information in 140 characters. So while her sentiment might have merit, it doesn’t make sense to me as a tweet.

  8. uh huh says:

    No because I don’t consider bags investment pieces. I don’t care if my bag falls apart. I’m not attached to a look enough to invest in a bag I’ll probably be tired of in a year. I really consider clothes disposable items in general so I don’t believe in spending thousands of dollars on ANY one time. Maybe shoes being the exception.

  9. erika says:

    I agree priorities first! If you have the money to spend without sacrificing any of your necessities in life then why not. However it is no reason to go hungry or homeless for a handbag or any other fashion staple. there are plenty of affordable and fashionable brands (not knockoffs). As much as I love the look,I have never owned a luxury brand anything simply because my budget does not allow. I would rather buy a house, pay off my car, and send my son to college. I never have a problem with finding fashionable finds within my budget

  10. krystllyght says:

    I think it’s great that these people have a ton of money to blow on a handbag. I, personally, have higher priorities in my life so a handbag is low on the list. I can’t get on anything more than $200. But here’s the thing, there are a lot of great handbags for less than $200 out there. Besides, I wouldn’t feel comfortable carrying more than $200-$300 inside the purse so certainly the purse itself shouldn’t be more than that in my opinion. As far as missing meals to save for a purse, that is just insane to me. Your health should be more important. But, hey, I guess a nice purse is still nice on a corpse. :/

  11. Mads says:

    I’m surprised folks are not eating or paying their rent to get a designer bag/shoe. In my 20s I wasn’t bothered and would quite happily get something from River Island, Dorothy Perkins, heck even Etam!

    Now I’m in my 30s and have a bit more disposable income, I am more interested in quality. I also see them as investments. For example, I bought a D&G bag reduced from £700 to £350. Looked after it and sold it 3 years later on eBay for £185. I used that £185 to buy a one season old Mulberry bag from their outlet (in Bath, well worth the trek) reduced from £595 to £295. I’ll keep that for a while and sell on again most likely.

    I’m all about mixing high with low; I’m not a celeb with their gifted/reduced items so I’m not going to buy something I can’t afford (which is why I don’t believe in credit cards for everyday spending).

    Next on my wish list is a Chanel bag but I’m gonna have to get one heck of a bonus from work before I splash out £2k on that baby!

  12. Lainea says:

    No. The bag will be in the back of my closet with the rest of the crap I don’t want within 2 weeks. My money look prettier in the bank.

  13. Kris says:

    No I obviously don’t make enough to have a bag if I need to take a few weeks salary. I will still to the cheaper bags. It’s not that serious. Women wear expensive bags and shoes but don’t have health insurance.

  14. Jessica says:

    You can find these bags on sale. You dont have to be late on rent ot skip meals. I found some Hermes Birkin discounted bags for less then 250$ online off a Hermes site. Just shop around, because these bags are very worth the money but be smart. You can pay the rent, eat lunch and sport a stylish bag :)

  15. CaribbeanQueen says:

    not weeks worth of paychecks! no bag is worth that to me.. and don’t even get me started on missing meals.. lol

  16. Lita says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t care how nice it is, a bag is not an investment! It amazes me that people worry about bags and shoes but RENT an apartment, drive a piece of s*** or don’t even have a car, and have close to nothing in the bank. I like fashion just as much as any other gal, but im not going hungry or broke to keep up with it….that’s basic!

  17. Loni says:

    This website is becoming the Evelyn Lozada of the internet. Nice to look at but full of worthless dribble.

  18. Ms.Missy says:

    This right here says it all—> Nina is in the business of aspirational buying, creating fantasies with each glossy page and making us drool over things we know very well that we cannot afford. <–its a business!

    ** I look back on all the things I just HAD to have….sacriface for..sitting right in my closet… worthless! *as i got older, i got wise!!

  19. Tiffany says:

    My mother always said this and I take this statement as the gospel: “Never buy a bag that has a ticket price worth MORE than the value inside of it”. Meaning if you can’t keep a floating balance on your debit card/bankstatement/etc, that bag isn’t FOR YOU! The average person not totally into fashion/industry will not care or be impressed by your purchase.

  20. Natasha B says:

    There is nothing less fabulous than women spending their entire paycheck on brands to which they truly can’t afford. It’s irresponsible, reckless and materialistic to say the least. It saddens me to see some women without a pot to piss in but are walking around town with the latest and greatest LV, red buttoms and everything else. Let’s start truly building our own wealth and stop living check to check while we contribute to these designers financial success. I see it all the time in our urban communities…the women are dressed to kill but are BROKE as hell. Our priorities are soooo out of order. Sad. Sad. Sad.

  21. Denise says:

    Coming from a woman in her early 20′s that has bags from major designers, I see no wrong in saving up for your dream bag. My first designer bag that I bought with my own money was a Givenchy Nightingale. It’s one of my best purchases ever and it will never get old, same for my Celine, Chanel and others. I’m a fashion lover and collector. I’m also one of the many woman who can’t wait to own a Birkin one day. Everyone has a vice, mines is handbags and shoes. Don’t down someone because they would rather a 2k handbag than something else. As a young girl, I dreamed about owning things from my favorite designers and when I was old enough to work, I worked my ass off to attain it all.

    I guess this is something only real fashion lovers can agree with. You’ll act like people who spend a lot on pieces don’t have their priorities in check. I can’t remember when I ever missed a payment on anything. That’s why we save and do what’s necessary to get what we want. Hell, I wish every time I walked in Barney’s I came out with everything I wanted! I’d rather a few good bags and shoes than a million cheap ones that probably won’t hold up.

  22. Mimi says:

    @Loni then why are you on it?

    I must admit I have saved for a few expensive bags however I made sure bill were paid first. I read in Essence that saving for one splurg purchase actually saves you money bc your only focused on saving for that one thing and not other items . I look at them as something I can pass to my daughter or just sell on eBay when I’m done with them. life is short have fun!

  23. Siyam says:

    People will spend exorbitant amounts of money on things THEY love and not care about other things. I know there are people out there who spend thousands on tackle boxes for fishing because it’s something the really love, but shop at Walmart and Target for everything else. For every person that says they wouldn’t spend that much money on a handbag, looking at your actual budget may reveal that you spend that much on Starbucks or home crafts or travel or hair care and skin care. It’s not do much a matter of priorities as it is a reflection of what people like to indulge in. Times are tough for a lot of folks, but until Starbucks goes out of business or they stop making $2500 leather sofas for dollhouses (!) I think folks should look at the person or context in which the comment is being said.

  24. Kriss_Styles says:

    I feel like if that’s your thing go for it. I work hard everyday to buy things I want. If I have to eat Top Ramen for a month. That’s fine. My soul was fulfilled when I purchased that Chanel bag I’ve been wanting for a long time. Life is too short. Live a little. Make a few sacrifices for things you enjoy.

  25. Siyam says:

    And to her credit: Nina Garcia DID write a book on to be frugally fashionable so don’t write her off just yet.

  26. Alison DiLaurentis says:

    Grown women need to get their priorities straight. If you can easily afford expensive items like buying bag of chips, go for it. But if it requires you to not pay rent, utilities, etc you are delusional. I also believe that when you’re grown, it’s always wiser and better to invest in a house (ownership) than in a Hermes bag…just saying.

  27. Alison DiLaurentis says:

    June Ambrose looks stunning on that picture.

  28. Elle Wills says:

    @ Robyn, you are a fool and I love it

  29. Kahalia says:

    A whole article about the bag and no picture of the actual bag? Also there are some discrepancies. Is the bag $3,600 because one of the featured tweets says its $38K. Can you clarify, please? One is expensive and the other is ludicrous…

  30. NellyV85 says:

    I think Miss Jia said it best. “Act your wage!”

  31. Faith says:

    @Kahalia the auction features a number of bags from $3800 – $74K and you can get to it from the Moda Operandi link in the post or here – http://modaoperandi.com/heritage-auctions-special-collections/2012/accessories-708/items/

  32. Soul Touch says:

    I would rather spend the money on a trip…experience = priceless.

    I have too many obligations (mortgage, expenses…GAS) to concern myself with. Always handle my responsibilities first. If someone has that money to splurge, good for them but make sure you have your ducks in line first cause that purse won’t look cute when you’re living out of your car cause you didn’t pay rent/mortgage or your child doesn’t ave the appropriate needs…it happens all the time.

  33. CrimsonDiva says:

    Unfortunately society and the media make those without financial discipline believe that in order to be thought of as “somebody” one has to have the latest and greatest. If someone in the spotlight is seen wearing or carrying designer items, regular people do all they can to do the same. Many, especially some African-Americans, live too far beyond their means and have the “I’ll look good and drive good at any cost” mentality. Completely screwed up IMO. Those of us with a little common and financial sense would not spend or save a few weeks salary on anything that won’t bring more value…such as a home, IRA, college education, etc. There are very few things that I pay regular price for so a handbag, I think not.

  34. anon says:

    Thousands of dollars on a bag?

    I realize that some view these as investment pieces. But good investments generate return and, frankly, I can’t imagine any situation where a 1,000+ purse would be worth the amount of money that’s put into it.

    As others have mentioned, I’d prefer to go on a out-of-country trip, pay off student loans & other bills, save the money & invest (in things that will bring me monetary return.)

    I’m all for treating yourself to something nice every now and then, but definitely don’t go in debt or neglect responsibility for something of so little value.

  35. tt says:

    thank god i believe that a mortgage, traveling, & the theater is more important than a designer anything. i don’t believe in spending full price on anything because it all goes on sale eventually.

  36. Savage says:

    I think the problem at hand is that there are so many people (men and women alike) who’s priorities are out of wack. Trying to wear the same things as people who 1. Get it for free, 2. Have the money, 3. There living is made off of looking a certain way. You can’t base your actual life that way. My Dad tells me by the best things YOU can afford. So if the best you can buy is Coach and MK and not LV or Celine then so be it. I work in invesment banking and it is a shame how many young people who have the latest shoes or bags but whose credit is shot and they don’t own anything that appreciates with time. But don’t fault a wealthy person for speaking HER truth. Bc if I spent $300-$500 on a bag, which may not be much to me, but to the next person it may be unheard of.

  37. the difference is this, those people are at a place where they are able to spend Mulah, normal people like myself who’s still working a 9 to 5 can only be inspired by these people. I’ve been known to spend a dollar or two on really nice shoes, but in the end, I’m not spending 32K on anything that isn’t going to yield me some sort of personal gain. 32K can buy a condo in certain parts of DC, and I’d rather do that, rent it out and more more money from that.

  38. BougieHippie says:

    Nina is a whole nother tax bracket than most “fashion followers” its not her fault its the idiots who listen. If you have to save for it you cant afford it.

  39. Soul Touch says:

    @Savage

    “Trying to wear the same things as people who 1. Get it for free, 2. Have the money, 3. There living is made off of looking a certain way.”

    Amen to points 1 and 3. Most of these celebs get this stuff for free and many celebs, when things get slow, go bankrupt because they didn’t handle their finances better. So true.

  40. Siyam says:

    Thank you Savage for stating the truth :)

  41. binks says:

    Hell no! I always side eye the statement “it will last you years or you will use this forever…” um…anything can last you years if you take care of it properly and keep it up weather it cost 30k or 10 dollars and fashion always changes the bag I brought that I thought I would use for awhile is sitting at the bottom of my closet ready to be shipped off to my niece. I understand splurging but I can’t see spending X amount on a bag or any clothing item really, that is just crazy to me. At the end of the day a bag is a bag you are going to throw you stuff in it and tote it around regardless of who it is from and what you paid for it, the same with shoes, etc.

  42. DivaFabulosa says:

    I will never understand why people would sacrifice their health and financial priorities for materialistic items. I also think it’s equally ridiculous for females to walk around with knockoff LV and Gucci bags and think their a celebrity. If your not a high earning executive or millionaire, their is no reason you should be sacrificing everything for a bag. Get a passport, travel the world, invest in a good quality leather handbag, and shift your focus to nice shoes. Also make sure your rent & bills are paid and you have quality food in the fridge.

  43. Deb says:

    She’s an idiot. You can’t buy a birkin new for under 13k. That is not a few weeks salary for most folks. Just a shockingly stupid statement given her new relationship with JCPenney.

    I do think people should consider buying less pieces, but higher quality. Alot of people buy clothes that they expect to wear for only a season or a few times as a habit. That’s not a good way to build a great wardrobe.

  44. Soul Touch says:

    @Deb

    That’s a point I will agree with, timeless pieces. I’m not a big shopper, but my mother raised me to know there are some items in your wardrobe you should spend a bit more on. I perfer articles that are timeless and versitile. I am not one to purchase things that are ‘in’ this season and by next season you are wondering ‘why’.

  45. t-fal says:

    I’m all for splurging for a quality investment bag. Like others commented, i’ve bought and sold pre-owned handbags and actually made money more than i paid on one. Either way, I think it should be about quality, not just the hot “IT” bag. cause the hot bag is not always synonymous with a quality bag that you’ll use for years.

  46. EshaDiva says:

    @Robyn thanks girl and yes they probably do have high pressure and diabetes! lol
    Btw budgeting for a bag is NOT the same as being irresponsible and not paying your bills (rent, light, water, ect) to buy a bag! Trust and believe Nina Garcia OWNS her ish and doesn’t rent!!! smh we have to do better

  47. Jen says:

    I know ppl spend their whole welfare check on bags and shoes and then have no food to feed the family. Anyway, if i was to put aside money that I would normally spend on little things each paycheck, I will have enuff money within a few months to afford a pair of red bottoms or great bag. Still havent tested that theory but i think it can be done. i wouldnt sacrifice my rent money etc tho.

  48. makeeasweet says:

    first of all,who are these people that can buy a hermes,louis vuttion and bottega veneta bag but cant pay rent.i think some of yall are exaggerating other people finances.im so sick of other woman judging because some of us choose to rock a expensive purse.you dont see men get criticize for having a expensive watch,car or suit. if you can afford it without skipping your bills and still put away money for saving,then go for it.screw what other chicks say,if they hatin asses had the money they would be rocking those bags too.

  49. Star says:

    The irony of posting the picture of Sheree Whitfield with the Birkin bag. Last season of ATL Housewives she always bragged about luxury items but wasn’t paying her bills (ex. the lawyer fees with Phaedra). It’s a good example of priorities being in the wrong place. Stop spending money to impress people that you don’t even have to spend. I do agree however on spending money on a good handbag. But not periodically it’s not needed, and as fast as trends change the bag will lose its value.

  50. Jen says:

    Who wants to really have the same bag for decades tho? I know I get bored real quick

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