The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Little Black Bag: A Review

Recently I got approached by the folks at Little Black Bag to check out their new interactive shopping site, According to the press release, Little Black Bag is loosely based on a Japanese tradition known as the "Lucky Bag Sale" wherein retailers sell mystery bags of products and customers buy these bags and trade the items inside with their friends. Little Black Bag aims to bring this shopping concept to the online world.

Here's how it works: First you take a short style quiz, then Little Black Bag suggests largely irrelevant products - just for you. (Does anyone else find these style profile quizzes to be a joke?)

From the items suggested, Little Black Bag then gives you the option to pick one item you actually want, and then they pick the other two items for you for a grand total of three items.

{The contents of my Little Black Bag}

Once you've purchased your bag, you can trade your items with friends and other members of the site. This is where the fun is supposed to begin, but in my experience, no one wanted to trade anything good. I made and received offers daily but none were to my liking. Basically, you get one "good" item - in my case, it was the Olivia + Joy "Minx" shoulder bag, and then two "duds" - in my case, I got some lace fingerless gloves and a cheap-looking cocktail ring by Robert Rose. I tried without success to trade my cocktail ring but there were no takers. Smart shoppers out there, I don't blame 'em. I did manage to trade my lace fingerless gloves for some Collection 18 knit fingerless gloves which I thought was a fair trade but didn't really give me anything I loved, wanted or needed.

In terms of purchasing you have two options:
• $49.95 monthly subscription
• $59.95 one time bag purchase

As a blogger, I was given a code that allowed me to get my first trial bag for free, and I'm very grateful for that because I would not have wanted to spend $59.95 on a small handbag, cocktail ring and gloves. Granted, the bag I got retails for $72, but I saw it for $53.99 at (here) at the time this post was written. You do the math.

If Little Black Bag can improve the trading process, then I think it could have potential, but as it stands, I don't see how you'd ever be able to "trade up." Your fellow shoppers are just too savvy and I don't see why anyone would trade, say, a BCBGeneration clutch for a headband. If you bought a yearly membership, that's $600 that could be better spent elsewhere.

On the other hand, if Little Black Bag ever offers a promotional code or discount like many other sites do (JewelMint comes to mind), then it could totally be worth your while. Otherwise you're better off stalking the sale racks at Macy's for better deals on stuff you really want.

Disclosure: Little Black Bag generously provided me with a promotional code that allowed me to make my purchase free of charge. The decision to write this post was my own and the opinions expressed within this post are just that - my opinions.

I completely agree! I signed up for a one-time bag for Little Black Bag and ended up "skipping" the bad because everything I was being offered in trades was so terrible. Why spend $50 on a bunch of junk?
I'm glad they gave the option to do a one time thing--I would have been so annoyed to have to cancel a monthly subscription after that experience.
I like the concept but the items need to be way better. And I think they should have a guaranteed spread of items, like you get 1 handbag, 1 jewelry and 1 accessory. Some of the jewelry was way overpriced ($60 for earrings I could get at F21 for 4 bucks) and it threw off the whole so-called "valuation" of my bag. Ugh.
#1 Andrea on 2012-02-22 13:04 (Reply)
Great review! Jen from Fab Fatale and I were tweeting about this this morning. I'm glad you talked about the trading process because that was going to be a selling point for me to join, but you're right. Why would someone trade a handbag for a cocktail ring? You wouldn't really be able to trade up at all. Agree with you about the pricing too. I have a hard time spending $50 at F21 to get free shipping haha. I'm frugal and proud of it! The labels - I get that too, but I'm not one that cares that much about labels either, unless I get it at a killer discounted price. Thanks for the honest review!
#2 My Dressy Ways (Homepage) on 2012-02-22 17:14 (Reply)
They approached me too, I got a bag and a necklace, and a 'dud' pair of earrings which I traded for a leopard bangle, we'll see how 'fab' the pieces are in person...but i see what you mean about trading and not offering good pieces, who knows. I think if they offer promos it'll be a hit...
#3 Megan, The Frugalista Diaries (Homepage) on 2012-02-22 23:46 (Reply)
this is kind of an odd concept to begin with. i mean, ok, surprises are fun if it's a $10 risk, not a $50 one -- or if it's a surprise within defined parameters. i guess this is like the sanrio surprise grab bags that i used to get when i was a kid -- that was always tons of fun, and i could trade with my sister and friends, but it's different when you're eight years old and your mom is buying you toys and cute stationery.
#4 jane on 2012-02-23 06:19 (Reply)
I signed up on their website and took a look around and was completely underwhelmed. And you are absolutely correct -- those style quizzes are pointless.
#5 ajdematteo on 2012-02-23 09:29 (Reply)
Thank you for a very honest opinon. The idea sounds fun but seems to need to be tweaked.
#6 melissa (Homepage) on 2012-02-24 14:41 (Reply)
Hi, I just signed up a few days ago. I am a savy shopper of high end goods and have been for years. I looked at LBB's prices and then compered em all over. My first experience was (FABULOUS)!!! I got a Kenneth Jay Lane tri colored braided snake necklace/Nica-Celia Portfolio 15.5x10.5x 5" in (trade) of Kenneth cole earrings/Also got a Carol Duplaise double cuff(FAB)design. The Nica portfolio is almost thee same size as my LV speedy 35.

I am extremely pleased w/my items! You can skip any month you choose or cancel membership at your leiser. There is no commitment. Whilst I agree with the idea that you can get designer bags on sale at department stored I highly doubt that they will throw in (free extras) that can be traded. I have indeed seen trades that were extreme JKL bold ring traded for a bottle of Butter London nail polish.
#7 Marvelous M on 2012-03-11 20:19 (Reply)
It seems like the only people who think this is worth it are those who feel that 1 of the 3 items are worth the $50 by themselves and just consider the other items "bonus".

For my money, I'm expecting 3 nice items, not 1 nice item and 2 "bonus" pieces of junk.
#7.1 Andrea on 2012-03-12 11:12 (Reply)
Great review! I was planning on signing up for the Little Black Bag but changed my mind after reading your review i feel like there are a lot better options out there.
#8 Ashley R. on 2012-03-15 02:42 (Reply)
Glad you found my review to be helpful. I didn't actually submit my review to that site ( but I guess since they link back to the source it's okay. :-)
#8.1 The Budget Babe on 2012-03-15 08:22 (Reply)
I tried out the site about a week ago and now I'm addicted. You trade up by trading for things that are around the same price maybe $1-10 more than the "value" of the item you have. Offer two items for a BIG item. I ended up with 6 items in my bag that I adore, including a cute crossbody, 3 necklaces, bangles, and makeup. So far the stuff I've seen that other girls have received looks to be of good quality. You have to work at it a little more than just trying to trade a blah ring for a nice bag. It is well worth the subscription (imo) and I am actually having a hard time not buying another one before next month!
#9 Bridget S on 2012-05-26 18:58 (Reply)
Personally I have done Little Black bag 2 months now (not consecutively as I can not afford that) and I have been very happy with what I received. You're right that no one will trade a clutch for a headband, but if you trade a lot, you can trade up small dollar amounts at a time. In my last bag I hated the second two items I was given, but I traded A LOT. I even traded items for things that were worth the same amount that I liked better. It's like a game. Every once in a while someone would offer me to awful items for something I had and I would always take it. Then I traded those items up slowly to small items I liked. It's a process. At one point I had 6 items in my bag. I ended up trading three of those items for a BCBGeneration crossbody bag. I loved my 4 items!
#10 Kristi on 2012-05-27 09:47 (Reply)
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