How I Stopped Shopping

I used to have a problem with purses.

I still absolutely love them and imagine that I always will, but at my worst, I was acquiring a new purse every month, feeling overwhelmed and guilty, and when I wasn’t spending every minute checking the delivery status of my online order, I was researching my next purchase. Suffice it to say, it was a giant waste of time, energy and money and I’m going to share with you what helped me break that cycle. Maybe this information will help you and although this information is specific to purses, I’m hoping that it can apply to other types of over-consumption of material goods.

1. Identify the why behind the action

This was the most challenging but most crucial step to overcoming my shopping addiction and it is vital that you take the time necessary to uncover and understand your own why. I knew that every addiction had a psychological compulsion to it and if I wanted any chance of changing my behavior, I had to figure out why I felt compelled to continually be in the cycle of obsessing and acquiring purses.

For about a week I didn’t focus on changing my behavior, but instead simply checked in with my emotions before I was engaging in the behavior I wanted to remove and wrote it down in a journal with the date and time.

I found that for the overwhelming majority of the time my primary emotion prior to engaging in the cycle was boredom. And evidently I was bored a lot of the time and purse shopping was my automatic reaction to snapping me out of that uncomfortable state.

2. Make it hard

After I understood that this was an easy distraction that I was getting sucked into, I made it not so easy by blocking all of the sites that I was stalking on my phone and laptop, unsubscribing from marketing emails, unsubscribing and unfollowing people on social media who promoted the type of lifestyle I was trying to eschew, and removing apps such as eBay from my phone. This forced me to get up and find something else to do when boredom hit.

3. Yield temptation

Everyone has certain things they like and that’s what makes us different and interesting. I love purses and I’ve come to accept that. I wasn’t attempting to completely remove them from my life and come out of this a one bag lady. I simply needed to find a more satisfying and sane way to engage with them.

There’s a quote by Oscar Wilde from “The Picture of Dorian Grey” that applies directly to this step, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.”


If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I am all about allowing oneself the pleasure of what delights you and curating a life of elegance and style. Resisting and denying are very uncomfortable and exhausting states of mind that can only lead to  buckling under the burden and ultimately engaging with what you’ve attempted to resist in a way that is unpleasant and vulgar.

This is why I’ve allowed myself any bag purchase (in cash!) once a year. For me it was important that I give myself full reign to consider any bag I wanted because once I started putting limitations, I could start to feel the temptation beginning to pull me into make a decision that I may later regret. I can’t tell you how many times I would fall in lust with a bag because it was “exclusive” according to someone, purchase it and then turn around and sell it in the space of a couple of months. Giving myself the time to consider my purchase and make the right decision for me and not what is trendy was going to allow me to enjoy my purchase with only joy and excitement.

It’s so freeing to be able to see a beautiful bag and not feel that twinge of temptation gnawing at me. I can feel that admiration and love and then simply let it go either because I know I can eventually have it if I really want it (once a year!) or because I know that just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s for me. Now, when I purchase a handbag the experience is completely rewarding and fulfilling in a way that hundreds of my previous purses never could be. I hope that if you are struggling with a similar issue that some of these tips will help you see yourself out of that.

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Purse Rehab: Balenciaga Work Bag

There’s very few things in the world I love more than purses.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a full obsession with them. Despite my insatiable love for them, I don’t love the prices that come from buying them at retail. It is always much more satisfying to have a designer purse without the designer price. Not only is it more economical, but purchasing pre-loved goods is also environmentally friendly since you’re essentially recycling existing products.

Some of the best deals to get are ones that require a little more patience and elbow grease. I’m going to share my most recent purse rehab with you today: a black Balenciaga Work bag. I’ll show you what the damage was, how I fixed it and a before and after comparison.

The Damage

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Good leather but could use some conditioning and a fresh dye

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All 4 corners had the black rubbed off from normal wear
Resin was rubbed off from both handles
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More resin removed
 

The Materials

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Tarrago Black Leather Dye was used to touch up the corners and to dye the entire bag

I followed the instructions on the box and dyed the corners and the entire bag black. The good thing about repairing a black bag is that the dye is very easy to match. I dyed the bag in the evening and let it sit overnight to make sure it dried. The dye was not overly messy — it seemed to dry within a few minutes of the application, but I left it just to be safe.

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Fiebing’s Black Edge Kote was used to repair the resin

While the bag was drying from the dye I started touching up the handles. Again I followed the instructions on the box and let this dry overnight as well. This was probably the most time-consuming part of the process. The consistency is between glue and water so it would set into the crack where the leather met in the handle and I would have to apply more coats on top of it. I used a thin paintbrush to apply the Edge Kote and I lost count of how many coats I applied to get the right thickness, maybe 20 or so coats.

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Leather Honey was used to condition the leather as a final step

The next day once the Edge Kote and dye were dry I finished the job by applying Leather Honey to the entire bag. It really made a difference in the condition of the leather. It because much more supple and brought richness and depth to the color of the bag. I used a foam brush to apply the thick conditioner. Unlike others I’ve used that are very watery, this conditioner is truly the consistency of honey. Despite the thickness of the conditioner, my bag soaked it right up within a few minutes so I applied three coats all over and let it dry overnight.

The Final Product

The picture on the left is the after and the right is before. The pictures don’t show it very well, but the leather is more supple and moisturized and the color is richer and more pigmented.

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A larger after picture

Below is a picture that shows the difference better; I did not condition or dye the leather patch that is inside of the front pocket. Compared to the rest of the bag, the leather patch looks drier and faded.

The Edge Kote completely replaced the missing resin. Now the handles are properly protected from any further damage.

The dye worked perfectly on the corners.

The leather tassels often become bent and scraggly with time. I simply conditioned the tassels with the Leather Honey, let them dry overnight and then ironed them straight on the medium setting while protecting them between a hand towel. Worked like a charm!

And that’s it! I paid $275 on this pre-loved Balenciaga and invested about $25 into the leather dye, conditioner and Edge Kote to bring it back to great condition once again. For $300 I found myself a beautiful designer purse, saving a bundle and helping the environment by reusing what was already there. I hope this helped you see how these products work and maybe will encourage you to purchase a purse that you think is far too damaged but just simply needs a little repairing.

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Book Review: Deluxe, How Luxury Lost Its Luster

I’m sorry to say that after reading this eye-opening book that I won’t be able to look at the luxury and fashion industry the same ever again.

Ever since I’ve been taken with purses, I’ve had a suspicion that certain high-end brands with their liberal annual price increases and tasteless limited edition releases were not necessarily in the business of luxury, but rather in the business of making a profit. I know that I am not alone in this perspective; a brief conversation about the topic with any aficionado will bring a similar line of thought.

These suspicions were what drew to me reading this book and with facts, figures, and interviews with owners and designers themselves, Dana Thomas has proven those suspicions to be true.

In an informative and engaging manner, Thomas takes us from Hong Kong to France to South America, into replica sweatshops in Guangzhou to Miuccia Prada’s concrete office in Milan to the vibrant Daslu, a rare and true luxury shopping experience in Brazil. She brings us into the intimate details of the series ruthless and shrewd power moves taken by Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, that changed the direction of luxury forever and through this, narrates the demise of the made-to-order, old world luxury companies and the rise of the democratization of luxury.

But all is not lost even in today’s money-driven and fast fashion environment. Thomas shows how luxury still persists in a few brands such as Hermes, Chanel and Louboutin. Most of the book was horrifyingly candid for such a lover of designer goods like me, but I did enjoy the latter parts of the book that allow these wonderful brands to shine and stand against the dizzying avarice of others.

Christian Louboutin explains that “luxury is the possibility to stay close to your customers…about subtlety and details. It’s about service…Luxury is not consumerism. It is educating the eyes to see that special quality.”

Cristiane Saddi, a marketing director in Sao Paolo says that clients who frequent Daslu, a luxury fashion emporium, “don’t need the logo entry-level handbag or to wear labels or logos. We buy from luxury brands, but not ordinary products. You can see what is mass and what is special. Luxury is not how much you can buy. Luxury is the knowledge of how to do it right, how to take the time to understand and choose well. Luxury is buying the right thing.”

I recommend this book to anyone who is ready to truly grasp what luxury means and stop being fooled into throwing money away on mass glamour. It’s not about how much money you have or how much or what you buy. One can be more luxurious than the richest socialite in all the world by understanding quality, selecting timeless pieces, and above all an unpretentious naturalness in one’s surroundings.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Karl Lagerfeld that sums it up quite candidly,

Luxury is the ease of a t-shirt in a very expensive dress. If you don’t have it, you are not a person used to luxury. You are just a rich person who can buy stuff.

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Minimalist Challenge: Finale

I love my closet.

I’ve organized my clothes from light to dark, my purses are very prettily arranged along the wall and my jewelry is placed at eye level where I can easily see all of it.

To be honest, I don’t have many articles of clothing. I’ve found a good number of different outfits that I rotate and subtly change with accessories. I found a couple of dresses that I choose to donate because I didn’t absolutely love how they looked on me and so I barely wore them. I also don’t own a lot of jewelry. I choose simple pieces that I can wear with almost anything so I was happy with everything in my collection.

But my purses are a different story. Anyone who knows me knows that one of my most favorite things in the world is a fabulous handbag. So, my collection has more than just a few! This was where I knew I had an opportunity to sell down my collection.

There were models that I loved and had two colors of and I really couldn’t justify having two different colors of the same bag. For example, I had 2 Jerome Dreyfuss Billy bags (one in black and one in cognac), 2 Goyard St. Louis totes (black and blue), and 2 Gerard Darel 24 hr purses (beige and dark chocolate). I had to make a decision to get rid of both or at least one. I ended up selling the black Jerome Dreyfuss, the blue Goyard, and the beige Gerard Darel, along with a crochet Gerard Darel, a grey Gerard Darel Besace purse, a black Ralph Lauren purse I just never used, and my YSL muse bag. Selling all of these put a tidy sum back into my pocket and while I still have more purses than the average lady, I truly love each and every one of them.

With my closet cleaned out, that concludes the “Minimalism Challenge” for my house. I made a goal to finish this before the end of the year so that I can start off 2017 already streamlined and I feel so good that I did it. Now that I’ve got all of my material things under control I can focus on improving other areas of my life.

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