Little Black Bag: Like Dorm Swap, Only With Better Stuff

Raise your hand if you have ever lived in a dormitory. I should probably raise both hands and a foot, as I’ve lived in six (SIX!) different dormitories. My senior year of high school I went to boarding school and lived in the dorm’s “senior hall”; my freshman year of college I had two different roommates, one with a tattoo; sophomore year I moved overseas and lived in my first co-ed dormitory with a girl who liked Sons and Lovers and Morrisey; junior year I lived with my best friend (still in England! I never came home from my year abroad); senior year I lived on my own in a tiny room at the top of an Neo-Jacobean manor house (my oldest dorm to date); the year after college I worked as an assistant dean in a boarding academy in Denmark (wasn’t ready to go home yet); and finally, in my late 20’s, I spent one more summer living in a dorm while I was getting my teaching certification. So I have a long and storied history with dorms.

One thing that a girl has to love about a dorm is the sharing environment. Hopefully, if the girls on your hall aren’t teen bitches, you make some new friends and expand your wardrobe. In high school, every chance we had to dress up got ridiculous: hordes of girls crowded into one room, doing each other’s hair and makeup, trying on shoes and dresses and accessories. And the great thing about accessories is that they’re pretty much one size fits all. Occasionally, a deal would be struck, and items would be traded, and a new look would be discovered. The dorm might have been the birthplace of my accessories obsession.

It was kind of like this.

Fast forward a couple (ahem) of years, and we come to the present. And to Little Black Bag. The monthly subscription site is not new, but this accessory site really is. I was intrigued by the concept: For about $50, you pick one item and put it in your bag. Then Little Black Bag will put 1-3 other “mystery” items in your bag. You buy the bag sight unseen, but no worries–if you don’t like what you end up with, you can pass on buying the bag. They don’t charge your card until they ship your order.

So here is my experience: I put a Big Buddha Mia satchel in my bag. It’s retail value is $90.

I am then told that two mystery items have been added to my bag, one from Robert Rose and one from Carol Duplaise. I enter my credit card information. The flat cost, no matter what I end up with, is $50.00, with free shipping. Once that’s done, I can now see my mystery items: a ring and a headband, like so:

I think, “Eh. The ring isn’t my style. The headband is, but I don’t really wear headbands–they never fit quite right. Let me trade them both.” So I go to the gallery and find an awesome coiled bracelet, and click “make trade offer”.

I want to trade my ring for it, so I click that, and then a message is sent to everyone with this coiled bracelet in their bag, offering my ring in trade. If someone likes it, they accept. If no one does, I start again with another item that I want in trade. If others are interested in my items, I get a trade offer from them, too, which I can accept or reject.

I have successfully traded my headband for a BCBGeneration iPad case/clutch already, and I am checking every minute. These are actually good discount on branded items; the retail value of my bag is currently at $156, and whether it goes up or down, I pay the same. Plus, you can vote on whether you think people should keep or trade the items in their bags! You have a week to trade, and if you can’t get the items that you want, you can opt out, and they won’t charge you anything. Once you lock in the stuff you like, you can have it shipped to you before the week is up, too.

It’s fun, it’s a little competitive, and it’s thrilling like those old dorm swaps.

Interested? Go here to get started!

Gotta go check my bag again…