Tuesday, July 13, 2021

A Big and Somewhat Impulsive Idea

Somewhat random, but I really like Julianne Moore's street style. It's totally how I'd dress if I was an extremely wealthy woman living in NYC, with lots of practical-looking shoes plus nice handbags and comfortable-looking - but also luxe - coats and sweaters, all heavy on neutral colors. 

This is totally not the best thing to admit, and I'm not exactly proud of it, but now that I'm within spitting distance of finishing off my student loans for good - I'll most likely fully pay off the last ~$5,000 with the lion's share of my next paycheck in a few days - parts of my brain have been really clamoring for some extremely fancy shopping. And it's not just for the jewelry gift to myself I've been thinking about for a few months, the impulsive part of me wants even more than that! 

I think I'll end up doing a passable job controlling these impulses. I'll probably indulge a time or two, but primarily through the secondhand market. Given that I'm currently actively seeking to take a dramatic paycut to work for the government - if only they'll have me; it's a process that could take a year or more, and I only started applying recently - there's a definite budgetary limit to how much or how often I can act on these shopping ideas that have started popping up in my mind.

With this particular specific idea I'm about to name, I'd hoped a search through my blog archives would reveal that I'd been foreshadowing it for at least a few years now. In other words, I thought I'd previously mentioned this item at least a time or two, even if only in passing. It turns out that was not the case. 

I'm pretty sure I remember saying somewhere that I think this specific handbag is pretty cool, and that people roughly around my age who fell in love with it as far back as the mid 2000s, including Jessica, had excellent taste. (It's definitely a design that's withstood the test of time so much better than many other "it bags" that were also around back then, such as the Miu Miu Coffer I was totally in love with.) Maybe I only mentioned this in comments on other blogs? 

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The item I'm talking about today is the Balenciaga City bag, specifically in black lambskin. I call it a "big and somewhat impulsive idea" for me because, up until a few weeks ago, I never seriously considered even a used one as a possible purchase for myself. At its retail price - which I think may have been around $2,050 most recently, though Balenciaga doesn't really sell this classic style much anymore? they also offer newer, more structured takes on the City design that I don't personally like - it was completely off the table for me, in part due to my highly nitpicky preferences that lead me to heavily favor extremely simple handbags (most of my collection is pictured here, I think you'll see what I mean by "extremely simple").

Even if a secondhand Balenciaga City had been available at, say, 50% off that recent retail price, it would have still felt a bit too expensive for me to consider. (I never actually looked at the secondhand prices for myself until last month because I simply assumed they'd be $1,000 or more, given that Balenciaga was still selling these new until very recently, and might even still be selling some now.) I'm not sure what the resale market looked like in past years, but right now the secondhand prices for various lambskin Balenciaga City bags are actually often a fair bit lower than ~$1,000. And that gets into a zone of prices that might work for me. 

If you've been reading my monthly shopping reflections posts for a while, you've probably gotten the sense that I can be extremely... flexible... when it comes to the maximum amount I'm willing to spend on any single item. I generally don't have a specific limit in mind for any given product category, it's more a "I know it when I see it" thing. I also don't set a firm limit on my monthly or yearly shopping budget either. Instead, I just trust that I'm good about keeping a close eye on my overall personal finance management at all times, using both YNAB and my personal spreadsheet practically every day. 

Furthermore, my student loans have always been a top priority. I've paid well over $2,200/month on my loans every month I've ever worked in the private sector as an attorney. More recently, I've been paying $5,100/month on my student loans for the past nine months. So, really, all the discretionary spending I do - including on my wardrobe - is just a small part of my overall finances. 

Since 2018, my yearly spend on my wardrobe has exceeded $3,500/year, which is a total that definitely allows for some designer items each year, particularly through sales or the secondhand market. But I've still been putting off my original "big distant future splurge" urges for a fancy designer handbag for years now, even if it's been clear for a while that my overall finances have long been in a position to allow for that kind of spending on a single handbag if I choose. With the current resale prices on the Balenciaga City, I wouldn't consider the purchase of a used one to be my "big splurge" either. 

That's all a very long way of saying I'm currently in the market for a secondhand Balenciaga City in black lambskin, most likely with the classic aged brass hardware. I think I'll be shopping from Fashionphile, given that other bloggers I follow - including Elaine, Kristy, and Kathy - recommend it as a reasonably reliable place to shop for preowned designer goods. Each of them would say that the buyer should still do their own due diligence on authenticating the item after it's delivered, of course!

I'm far more comfortable with Fashionphile's authentication processes than with TheRealReal's. And unlike with TheRealReal - where handbags are final sale - handbags purchased from Fashionphile can be returned within 30 days. (Though I'm relatively certain that if you informed TheRealReal they'd sold you a counterfeit bag, they'd likely take it back and refund you, though it might require some back and forth with them.)

I've actually already had a black lambskin Balenciaga City with gold "giant 12" hardware from Fashionphile in my hands. From that I became more confident that this purchase would work for me, though only with different hardware. I like the size and design of the bag; don't mind the very soft leather and super-slouchy look the bag can take on over time; and with the fairly short shoulder strap, the bag tucks neatly against my body when carried on the shoulder. I found the gold hardware to stand out a little too much for my tastes, however, given that most of my current handbags have minimal visible hardware. It's a little too edgy and eye-catching a look for me and my typical outfits with the highly contrasting gold hardware. Instead, I think the City with the more subdued-looking aged brass hardware would suit me much better. 

So I'm sending the gold hardware Balenciaga City back, and I'm keeping an eye out for a classic hardware one in reasonably good condition, preferably with a price on the lower end of Fashionphile's fairly wide range of prices for that specific style. (By "reasonably good" condition, I'm not actually going to be that picky. I understand the lambskin is quite delicate and prone to scratches and scuffs, or noticeable wear and tear in the corners of the bag. Light cosmetic issues like that, or scratches on the hardware, wouldn't be a big deal to me.) I don't think it'll take too long to find the right one, given how many of the classic hardware black lambskin City bags pop up on Fashionphile. 

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