Thursday, April 26, 2012

What's in My Little Black Bag?

So some of you may already know, due-in-part to various beauty/style bloggers/vloggers, of a monthly (or one-time, if you choose) subscription service called Little Black Bag. I highly suggest checking out Michele1218's video on it here where she gives a comprehensive description of the program. Basically, you pay either $49.95 (if you elect for the automatic monthly-service) or $59.95 (for one-time customers). You also need to pay an additional $4.95 for shipping. I decided to do the one-time order, because I wasn't sure how I would like it. You pick an item from their gallery which includes several designer brands (Steve Madden, Kenneth Jay Lane, Big Buddha, and Betsey Johnson were among the brands that I recognized), and they surprise you with two items. You then get to trade with other members on the site for a week until you are satisfied with your bag, and then they ship it to you.

So, here's what I picked out:

Big Buddha - Large Frame Sunglasses

I had been looking for a pair of sunglasses in tortoise shell, and these fit the bill. I appreciate this cool detailing on the side:

I was really hoping that these would provide full UV protection (otherwise, what's the point?), and I'm happy to say that these do!

I think that this is a really crucial quality of the sunglasses that should be mentioned on the LBB website. I noticed that the descriptions of the items are pretty bare-bones, and I assume that this is because there is such a rapid turnover with their inventory (there are usually only 5-10 items of a kind at once), so maybe they don't have time to constantly be updating their information. Still, this would be something very important for the consumer to know.

I also REALLY wish it had come with a case instead of a little pouch. For a pair of sunglasses that retails for $38, I expect a hard case that will protect them. I can't just throw these in my purse without fear that they'll get crushed, so I'm sure I'll be buying a case for them at some point.

Here's a shot of me wearing the sunglasses (with a scary, not-smiling face, so you can see where the sunglasses naturally rest on my face). I took a risk ordering sunglasses online, but luckily I'm happy with the appearance (perfectly bug-eyed! ;) )

Next are the items that I did not originally choose. I actually traded for them both- I originally got an iPhone 4 case (I already have a case for my phone that I like) and a necklace that wasn't really my style, so I traded with other members for several days before I was fully satisfied with my bag. First up, these Robert Rose Tri Colored Stone Open Earrings (retail: $14):

(Quarter added for scale). I was VERY pleasantly surprised by these- they are much heavier (but not too heavy) and more substantial than I expected. The craftsmanship on the embedding of the stones appears to be very sturdy and well-done. I'm really excited about these!

Lastly, this beautiful Arrow Head Necklace by Steve Madden (retail: $50):

This is another very well-made, nice piece of jewelry. It's metal is tri-colored (silver, gold, and bronze), so I can mix and match it with other jewelry. I also feel that it lends itself to casual OR more formal wear, so it's great to have a versatile piece like this.

I love this bronze linking at the top of the necklace:

Here's a pic of the necklace on...even pretty with just a plain white t-shirt!

So let's get down to the nitty-gritty of likes and dislikes of Little Black Bag:

What I liked:

  • It's an INGENIOUS idea. The trading is really fun and very addicting. I tried explaining the concept to my guy friend, and he likened it to the girl version of Fantasy Football, which I found amusing and pretty accurate.
  • Overall, the retail cost of these products would have totaled $102 + tax, which here in California would have added up to $110.93. I paid $63.62 altogether (including shipping and tax, and that includes a 10% off code that I used from one of the YouTube beauty vloggers), saving me $47.31. Pretty awesome!
  • The pieces I received were awesome quality. I think this would be great way to get gifts for family/friends for birthdays, holidays, etc, at a discounted price.
 What I didn't like:
  • I REALLY wish that there were more details on the products, models wearing them, etc. that would help the consumer make a better choice instead of just shooting in the dark (I feel like we're already taking a risk of not getting to really pick our other two items). The more information, the better.
  • It would also be cool if you could "block" trade offers on items you weren't interested in trading (like the one you picked out), or block trade offers on certain items (if I don't want that laptop case from Person A, I'm not going to want the same laptop case for the same item from Person B).
  • Again, I REALLY wish that my sunglasses came with a case. I realize that this isn't entirely LBB's fault, and rather the manufacturer's, but again, to know this information in the product description before committing to buying it would be awesome.
All-in-all, I had a lot of fun with this service. I would most certainly be interested in doing it again, though maybe not monthly ($49.95 + tax and shipping is a LOT to spend per month!).  I'll be interested to see how this company evolves in the months to come :)

Disclaimer: No products were provided for consideration, nor am I receiving any type of compensation for this post. This post contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 


  1. So glad you decided to try LBB and that you had a good experience! It's one of my favorite things that I've come across in the past couple of years. I absolutely LOVE those sunglasses, and I'm a huge fan of the necklace; you were right, it even looks good with just a white t-shirt.

    I agree about the descriptions that are (or rather, are not) put on the site for the products they have available. The descriptions aren't as detailed as I would like. Sometimes it's nice to see the size comparison, or how it looks on a model before purchasing. Maybe this is a suggestion you could send into LBB?

    Let me know if you decide to keep going with the service. I know that $49.95 a month is a bit steep. However, there is always the option to sign up for the monthly subscription and if on a certain month you don't particularly like the products, you just log into your account and choose the option of "skipping" for a month. (You do have to do this within a specific time period...I want to say there's a 5 day window at the beginning of the month.)

    Overall, great blog post. I really liked how detailed you got and that you shared your honest opinion. :)

  2. Hi Meg,

    On behalf of the entire LBB team, I wanted to say thank you for your review! We love all the pictures and the detailed feedback - calculations and all!

    Regarding the hard cases for sunglasses: Andrew Marc is the only brand that we have on LBB that comes with hard cases. Big Buddha and Marc New York come with pouches and Betsey Johnson comes with a slip in soft case.

    In regards to the product descriptions, great suggestion! We do our best to add as much detail as possible, but will definitely let our photography team know your feedback.

    Feel free to send me additional feedback or questions!

    Have a great weekend,
    Chathri Ali
    VP of Marketing
    Little Black Bag
    chathri [at] littleblackbag [dot] com

  3. Hi Chathri,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog post. I had such a fun time using your service. I love how LBB isn't just a product, it's an entire consumer experience.

    I look forward to buying my next one!