Why You Never Forget Your First Nice Bag

On top of treating ourselves to something special, these big purchases often come with priceless memories.

Why You Never Forget Your First Nice Bag
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

Unless you're living that capsule wardrobe life, chances are you won't remember the story behind every item in your closet — but it is possible that a select few have solid tales to tell. There's that sequined sweater you thought you 'needed' at the time, only to realize it's actually a tad impractical when it comes to frequent wear. The Amazon find you bought on a whim and now, admittedly, wear way too often. And, of course, you probably own a few investment pieces — designs that you saved for and splurged on, as a way to enhance your wardrobe, and, more importantly, treat yourself.

For many people, a nice bag is often their first big buy. Sometimes, it's an "It" style purchased purely to keep up with the trends of that time. In other case, it's a well-made classic, aka something you plan to wear for many, many years. In both cases, these bags are no doubt special, and valuable beyond however many zeroes are on the tag. Whether you filled that baby with flavored lipgloss and flip phones, or it carried your first 'adult' paycheck, these bags also hold memories, and that's worth way more than what money buy.

And now, some of InStyle's editors are sharing their own stories surrounding their first nice bag.

A Tax Return Treat

"My first really nice bag was a Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q tote, which was everywhere at the time. I was in my early 20s, and I remember I used by first tax return from my first 'good' job to purchase it. I wanted something leather that was classy and would hold up and last me a long time. I was so excited to get it, but I also had a bit of buyer's remorse because it was the first expensive purchase that I had ever made. I didn't actually use it for about two months after I first bought it, but once I settled into it, I wore that bag religiously for years. It meant a lot to me because I had used money that I had earned to make that purchase.

"Then, one fateful day, my apartment was robbed. Luckily, I was not home when it happened, but many of my belongings were taken, including that bag, which is really unfortunate. What I learned from that experience is that these are just things, and thankfully, I was okay and unharmed. But I did lose this item that I had had for years. My Marc Jacobs bag, which I had worked so hard to get, had been taken from me, and even though it's just a material item, it's still really sad that I don't have it anymore. However, I won't ever forget how special that purchase was for me. I was proud that I was able to treat myself to something nice after working really hard for it — and it was very trendy at the time!"

— Justine Del Gaudio, Senior Video Producer

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle wearing the crossbody version of the Classic Q bag in 2012, proving it was indeed an "It" item. Michael Kovac/WireImage

The Bakery Job Boho

"My first bag was the LAMB Gable Hobo Bag, and I actually still have it — I found it at my parents' house. I got it in 2008 or 2009, around my senior year in high school, after saving up money from my bakery job. I think I spent maybe $200 to $300 on it, which is a lot of money for a high schooler, but also a lot of money for what I would spend now. At the time, Gwen Stefani was this alternative icon. She was on her solo career after being in No Doubt, and she came out with a collection of bags for her LAMB clothing line. I just knew that this bag would be the way I would elevate my style, and become more 'adult' and fashionable. It was also my first leather bag that I owned; I normally would take the subway to Chinatown, go into sketchy warehouses, and buy knockoff bags. But this was the first time I bought the real deal, and you can tell by looking at it. It's still in really good shape because I absolutely babied this thing — it was my prized possession.

"Back then, I was probably styling my hobo bag with a long, horizontal striped tunic top over a pair of low-rise, flair or cigarette style jeans, with one or even two leather belts with metal studs, which were worn over the shirt but around the waist. Also, a lot of eyeliner all around the eye, and maybe a slouchy beanie over my hair with side-swept bangs. If I wanted to go for more of a cute, flirty vibe, or even something dressy, I'd maybe wear it with a denim skirt over cropped capri leggings with Jessica Simpson platform pumps, since that was kind of the shoe of the moment. It was a dark time for my personal style, but a lot of those trends are coming back, so maybe the hobo is coming back, too. But this LAMB bag was definitely the biggest deal to me at the time, and as far as a first bag goes, I'm actually pretty proud of it. It's not super embarrassing, and I kind of love it."

— Erin Glover, Photo Editor

Hearts For Hard Work

"My first bag was a Dooney & Bourke Rainbow Heart Bucket Bag and I got when I was about 12 years old. I typically received chore money every week for doing laundry, unloading the dishwasher, and giving our dog a bath, but it took me a long time to save up enough to buy this around-$100 Dooney & Bourke design, which had a bunch of little hearts on it and was really trendy at the time."

"My mom was, and still is, a big Coach and Dooney girl, so she took me to Dillards to pick it out. I'll admit the bag was a little too big for my 12-year-old body, but I threw everything in there — tissues, lip gloss, those really bright eyeshadow palettes. Everything I owned went into that purse, and I carried it everywhere because I was really proud of my first designer bag. I wore with it my Victoria's Secret fold-over sweatpants with the little rhinestones on the bottom. I styled it with my DC sneakers, which is so embarrassing now. I also went to private school, so I definitely carried it around with my plaid skirt — and, yes, I'm aware of how ugly that sounds.

"I unfortunately don't have the bag anymore, but buying it taught me how to save money since I had to work so hard to get it, and as a 12-year-old, it was also my first investment piece. I don't think I'll ever splurge on a huge, huge $1,000 dollar bag, but if I do, I think I'll opt for something timeless instead of the "It" item. Plus, I know how much that bag will mean to me, because at 12, my Dooney & Bourke was my prized possession."

— Jackie Frere, Social Media Editor

The Idea of Indulgence

"My first really nice investment bag was a YSL Shopping Tote, which I bought for $1,500 a few months after I started working at InStyle. I styled it with my work outfits, but it goes with anything really since it's a classic, standard black bag. For me, it represented a new beginning where I wasn't afraid to treat myself to something nice every once in a while. It was like a lightbulb went off, and I realized, yes, you do work hard and you do deserve to indulge."

— Kayla Greaves, Senior Beauty Editor

The classic YSL tote. Courtesy

Two Second Chances

"My real first-ever nice bag was Coach's Signature Jacquard & Leather Demi Baguette, which was gifted to me by my parents when I was in the 8th grade or freshman year of high school. The reason I wanted it soooo badly was because everyone else in my grade had it, and I'm actually ashamed to admit that when my bratty-self opened up the beige option, I felt a pang of disappoint, since the 'cool' color was black. At the time, I definitely didn't understand how much nice things cost, or that my parents went out of their way to buy a 13-year-old a purse she didn't even need.

"Years later, however, when I began working as an assistant fashion editor, I learned firsthand what it meant to save up and invest in something special. Sure, I was making very little money, but I wanted to buy myself a nice sleek, structured bag that would elevate every outfit and never go out of style — especially now that I was attending fancy fashion events. Eventually, I splurged on a secondhand, black Prada Saffiano Lux tote from The Real Real. Despite being used, it was still great quality, and I ended up carrying it everywhere, styling it with dresses, jeans, suits, and sweats.

"To this day, that Prada bag is still my go-to whenever I want to take my look to the next level or feel like a 'fashion girl,' but in recent months, I've also found myself feeling nostalgic for my old Coach bag. Unfortunately, my parents have no idea what I'm talking about, and although they assume it's in storage, I have a feeling it's now buried under years' worth of stuff. I finally decided to just make another investment — a $40 one, on Depop, for the very same beige Coach bag I had way back when. This time, it's not exactly the 'cool' thing to wear, but it's my unique way of keeping up with Y2K trend while staying true to my personal style. Plus, every time I slip it onto my arm, whether it's with shorts or a sweet sundress, it brings me joy and reminds me of my millennial childhood — which, in my opinion, is pretty darn priceless."

— Samantha Sutton, Senior Fashion Editor

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