This is one of my all time most popular blog posts so I wanted to give it a little refresher and bump it up! This blog post was inspired by a reader email that I received last year before Christmas. I wrote her back immediately as I had a lot of thoughts here but was inspired to write a little post about this. I had no idea how popular this blog post would be, but it’s a great post to bookmark or come back to if you’re considering purchasing a Chanel bag.
“I searched your blog before asking this question and didn’t find a post on this topic – I’m sorry if I missed it! I am starting to think about buying my first investment purse… maybe a classic Chanel. I’m a little older for a “first,” almost 33. But it took me awhile to have the salary to do so which I imagine is true for a lot of people. But I feel intimidated and uneducated. I can read simple posts on how to buy a Chanel (flap vs boy etc) but what I really want to know is— Is it worth having those kinds of purses?
Are you scared to use them IRL bc they are so expensive? And I’m intimidated by the stores—will Barney’s think I’m gross bc I’m going in with a Madewell purse to shop and obviously don’t know how this works? What do I do/say? I don’t know why this scares me so much but it does! An insightful post would be great!”
Buying Your First Chanel Bag
First of all, if I had to pick one investment item that I love most, it would be my classic black Chanel bag, pictured above and below.
Should I Buy a Chanel Bag?:
Honestly, I don’t think that 33 is a little older for such a purchase AT ALL. I was a long time Chanel fan but didn’t get my first Chanel until I turned 30, and even then it was a gift from my boyfriend at the time. Also, I didn’t buy my next one (with my own money, finally!) until I turned 33. I think your early/mid thirties are the best time to treat yourself to something like this. You are most likely more sure of your personal style, likely have more spending money, have worked hard to buy it for yourself, and will appreciate it even more.
If you are in your twenties and can afford it, good for you and definitely do it, but I definitely couldn’t afford a bag like that until I was in my thirties. A Chanel bag is an investment and not to be taken lightly. Same goes for all designer bags.
With regard to shopping in the store, do not be at all intimidated! I love the experience at the Chanel boutiques and it is literally these people’s jobs to cater to you and if someone is even remotely rude to you you should absolutely leave and go elsewhere. (Also, Madewell is nothing to be ashamed of!) I would go in, and just very sweetly tell the salesperson that you are looking to invest in your first Chanel bag. They will most likely be really excited to help you out and share their expertise.
Is it worth buying a Chanel bag?
This depends on your style, your income, spending money etc. To me, a Chanel bag is worth the money. It’s timeless and elegant. That being said, I work in fashion in a big city and have a somewhat fancy life where I’m always at events and so on and so forth. I cannot honestly say to you that spending $2-$5k on a handbag is “worth the money,” because that is crazy. It’s beautiful but it’s just a purse. You can’t drive it or live inside of it. But if you are looking to indulge and treat yourself to a beautifully made bag you will have forever, it’s Chanel all the way. Buy the bags. I will also add that I am a firm believer in using your good things everyday and not saving them for a special occasion. Life is too short!
I have a few shopping tips, but keep in mind that these are all personal preference!
What size to get?
I think that the Chanel classic flap bag is the most timeless of all. I have a mini and recently bought myself the maxi in tan but my classic is still my favorite. It holds just enough, it’s not too bulky, it’s appropriate for literally any occasion from brunch to black ties… it’s just timeless. For a long time I thought the jumbo and maxi were a little bit tacky (only because the bags are SO big!!) but I’ve come around to them.
Caviar leather all the way, especially if you are hard on your things or (to her question above) will. It’s a little bit more expensive but it’s so durable. My lambskin leather mini was not my smartest purchase, as it’s gotten quite dirty and the leather shows more scratches. The caviar leather is basically bulletproof. My black caviar double flap bag is in perfect shape and I’ve had it for nearly ten years. I do love the lambskin leather so much (it’s buttery smooth) but the caviar is way more durable.
What about hardware?
This is totally subjective. It’s strange because I generally wear mostly gold jewelry but tend to prefer silver hardware to gold hardware on my bags. I have no idea why. My black and tan bags have silver hardware and my two vintage bags have gold hardware. I like both! The metal chain is durable and holds up really well.
Are you scared to use them IRL?
The short answer is no, absolutely not (again, I’m a big believer in using your fancy things every day), BUT there were definitely some mistakes I have made, which I’m going to share with you as I walk you through my little collection. I’m going to be really honest with you about what I love (and don’t love), with the hopes that any person reading this won’t make the same mistakes I’ve made.
I do want to stress that I am 37 years old and have slowly been building a collection. I think we all have this natural tendency to compare. A friend of mine once tweeted “don’t compare your early twenties lifestyle to my mid thirties.” Late thirties for me, but same. I also don’t have kids, a car, a mortgage, or any of that!
I bought my vintage mini in the summer of 2014.
As I mentioned above, it was the first Chanel purse that I bought with my own money. I was 33 and so excited! But this one was a mistake. I guess I (justly so), figured I had a classic black one so wanted something light and a little more “fun.” I LOVE it, don’t get me wrong. But it gets dirty so easily and needs to be professionally cleaned so I find myself not using it very often. It’s relegated to special occasions (and never with jeans because the dye rubs off, no matter how careful you are.) The lighter bags are so beautiful and I love how the gold hardware looks against the cream lambskin but just don’t do it, and if you must, get the caviar – it’s way more resilient.
I’m not planning to sell it, but I hate that it’s only a special occasion bag.
The next one I bought was a year later in 2015 (I think.)
I absolutely love the color but the lambskin leather is really soft and shows every scratch, etc.
The caviar leather would have been so much better for a long term investment. I get a lot of wear out of this bag but worry about it constantly when I wear it. I’m hard on my things and am nervous that I will ruin it. It is one of my favorites (I love red) but I wish I had waited until I could find a good red caviar one with gold hardware (they’re realllly hard to find!!!)
Since I’m always going to be honest, this pink velvet Chanel boy bag (and okay let’s be brutally honest… This whole outfit!!!) was a BIG mistake. I bought it in the airport in London in 2016. I ended up selling it on The RealReal. Shopping fail.
I loved it so much at the time, and it’s a great bag that someone else will cherish but I bought it because:
a) I was v. v. emotionally distraught about boy stuff. (lolz).
b) The dollar was extremely strong so I got a great price.
The bag isn’t me AT ALL though. The pink velvet is fun but it goes with very little in my wardrobe, and I am not really into the boy silhouette. I also don’t like the color of the metal chain. I’m a silver or gold gal, not gunmetal. It’s great, and so chic on someone else, but I’m more of a classic flap kind of girl.
Also, I just gotta say it. Don’t ever make a big purchase at the airport. Unless you’ve really thought it through.
This is my newest addition to the fam and quite possibly my favorite next to the classic black flap. This one is the classic flap maxi, in tan caviar leather.
In all honesty, I was not planning to buy a new bag this year but I sold my Cartier love bracelet on The RealReal and bought this with the credit. I knew I was going to treat myself to something special (I was originally thinking jewelry) with the credit. But when I saw this bag I knew that it was just perfect. As I mentioned above, I really wasn’t sure about the maxi or the jumbo but they’ve really grown on me. The biggest reason there is that it can hold a book, which if you know me/read here at all, is obviously a very important priority for me. I do love a little bag though, and think maybe the wallet on chain will be next!
I really hope this post was helpful – if you have any more questions, leave them in the comments!
photography by Felicia Lasala, Lydia Hudgens, Trent Bailey, and Carter Fish.
I really, really want a classic black Chanel bag. It’s pretty much the only luxury brand bag I’ve ever wanted (I’m not really a luxury brand kind of girl – too expensive!). It’s soooo cute, sigh! ❤️
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
I love mine so much.Thanks Charmaine!
I am happy for all the ladies who have the opportunity to purchase an iconic classic! Well that’s not me. I am disabled and went through a lot in my life since 2008!! I admire from a distance enjoy ladies. I love to see people happy
I have a black like shoulder strap/ tote and I was wondering if I could sell it.
I love that you’re writing about Chanel bags but l’d like to respectfully disagree about a few things. I recently sold my classic (medium) black lambskin double-flap with gold hardware- not because the leather wasn’t strong enough, l just never used it. It was in perfect condition, l’d only used it a handful of times. I got top dollar because it was lambskin, NOT caviar leather and gold hardware, NOT silver hardware.
I am not here to get in an argument, but if you had used it more, the wear would have shown more than the caviar would! That’s all!
Oh I can’t wait to finally get myself one one day!
x Lisa | lisaautumn.com
Love this post Grace, I have a Chanel bag & its a classic I love it. Your comments on all your other purchases are so helpful too definitely something to keep in mind when on the hunt for a new bag.
So happy it was helpful!
I love this post! I have my mom’s Jumbo and it’s so special to me. Adore your collection, your honesty, and you!
The best!! And how special that it was your mom’s. Thanks Teddi! xo
Great story Grace.. I have a turquoise Chanel wallet and although it was like $700 more than 7 years ago it is barely showing signs of wear and I use it everyday!!
A wallet is next for me once I sell the pink velvet one!
Excellent post! I love the walk-through of how you acquired them over time and the open honesty about each style.
Thank you KG! xx
I love this post, I’m 27 and really just starting out in my career, so I haven’t purchased a luxury bag yet, but it’s on my list to start slowly saving for. I love these tips!
I’m so glad to hear that – thanks Meghan!
It really is so amazing to be able to slowly save for something special like this!
Love this! Very helpful info. Would love a post/follow-up on why you sold your love bracelet. I’m dying for one and always thought they were a classic investment. I’m now curious if the time for love bracelets has passed? Would love your thoughts. Xx
Love bracelets are definitely a classic investment – I don’t think they’ll ever go out of style. I only sold mine because it was from my ex and didn’t wear it anymore. I took it off five years ago when we broke up but wasn’t really sure what to do with it. I finally bit the bullet and sold it and decided I’d buy myself something else (was originally thinking I’d get the gold nail bracelet) but then I saw the bag.
What a great post. This is what sets your blog apart from others! And I appreciate your thoughts on the Love bracelet!
aw thank you!!!
Very helpful post! Would love to see a follow-up guide on how to make luxury purchases on sites like The RealReal, etc. Sometimes the price points are great, but it’s hard to know what you’re getting.
Thanks Samantha! The RealReal is great because they authenticate everything – you’ll never find a fake on there. That’s why I choose to shop with them vs. other sites I trust a bit less.
This is such a great post – love the tip on straight up telling the customer service rep that it’s your first!
Right? Any good rep will be SO excited to help!
Loved this post – thanks for sharing and thanks to the reader for reaching out with the question.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I’m 42 and do not own a Chanel bag. Someday…maybe. I don’t see any need for one. Maybe when my kids leave home and I have extra spending money, because right now we are saving for their university education and spending money on all the sports.
These are super pretty though, and maybe someday 🙂
Thanks Shelley! Yeah, I think it definitely just depends on your own priorities and budget! I’m 37 and don’t have any kids so it’s just me and my cat 😉
I concur and great post Grace! My first Chanel was classic black caviar with silver hardware and I am pretty sure I looked like white trash the day I purchased it, but $ is $. I would add some advice that the reader with the original question should head to Chanel ASAP because they usually implement their annual price increase on Feb 1st. I can vaguely remember when the large classic flap was priced around $3K back in my mid-twenties and now in my mid-thirties it is upwards of $5,700! Also, always ask for champagne because it makes the experience that much better and it’s free. I still have the Chanel branded napkin that was served with my champagne to commemorate my first purchase. If any readers are in Chicago and looking to invest in some pieces, go see my girl Winnie at the Chanel on Michigan Ave. She is the most welcoming and honest luxury brand rep. Actually she has talked me out of purchasing a light colored bag for the reasons Grace mentioned above!
I could not love these tips more! And how crazy is it the way the prices increase!? I guess they’re “investment bags” for a reason!
The price increase helped justify some of my purchases because I could now sell my classic flap for almost what I paid for it 6 years ago. The wallets are a great investment too, so I am excited to see which one you end up with!
It’s really crazy, right? We were joking around (completely joking, LOL) that Chanel is a better investment than most stocks!
Hi Gina, I am in Chicago and am looking to purchase my first Chanel classic flap soon (I’m debating between black caviar or beige caviar & classic/medium or large/jumbo size), and I am looking for a kind, knowledgeable person to work with at the store. Winnie sounds wonderful! Do you know if she is still working at the store in their new location on Oak St? And do you, by chance, know when their next price increase is, so I can try to make my first purchase before that? Thanks so much!
Great post, Grace, and perfect timing for me as I am in the market for my upcoming 40th birthday. I have been dreaming of the lambskin black leather classic but your thoughts on the caviar have me swaying in that direction now.
What is your thought on buying your first Chanel second-hand vs. at retail?
I have romanticized the purchase at the boutique as you get the whole buying experience but you can save money buying from RealReal or other online stores.
Okay a bunch of things! I know the lambskin is dreamy but please please do Caviar – it will last so much longer, especially if you want to use it every day!
Second, another reader commented that Chanel has their annual price increase coming up 2/1 so do it soon!
As for secondhand vs. retail I actually prefer to shop secondhand for my luxury bags whenever possible (I can’t do it for shoes, but wearing someoene else’s shoes grosses me out a little). I really trust The RealReal (their authentication process is comprehensive!!) for secondhand bags and I can usually find the bag I want. They’re also meticulous about talking about any defects or flaws – I will only buy something from them if it’s in pristine condition. That being said, I totally get romanticizing buying your first one at the boutique – it’s such a special experience!
Thanks so much for your detailed response! My birthday is at the end of the month so will definitely buy before February…just have to decide between retail and pre-owned!
Agree on Real Real, I have only bought clothes on their site but have worked with them through my job and was impressed with their very qualified authentication staff.
keep us all posted on what you get!!!
Hi Grace!! Purchase update….I ended up buying a new bag at the 57th St store and my experience could not have been better! They even indulged my friend and I in a photo shoot in front of the pearl installation. My salesperson, April, was so friendly and answered all of my questions and even encouraged me to sleep on it and come back when I was 100% on which size.
Also, their price increase was Oct 2018 so the prices will be flat probably until later this year. Also, I had my bag shipped to my friend’s home in NH to save the tax since I am heading up there next weekend for a girls trip. Every little bit helps 😉
Looking forward to more helpful articles like this on your site.
That’s amazing!! THank you for sharing!
I loved this post because I haven’t purchased a luxury bag yet but I definitely want to now that I’m into my career and these tips are so helpful! As well as the regrets as well to know what to look for.
Thank you Ashley!!! I hope it’s helpful! xo
Thank you so much for this post. I inherited my mother’s vintage Chanel which was flawless but I wanted to invest in my own. I love the tan Chanel. Tres chic.
thanks Victoria! (And lucky you!) xo
This was a really interesting read! In general, do you use any sort of leather conditioner on your nice bags? Or just get them cleaned as necessary? Thanks!
I don’t trust myself! I have gotten the cream one professionally cleaned but none of the others so far.
Such a great post, lady! In terms of bags, they really are a unique investment. Crazy to think that the retail price has doubled on the past ten years!
It’s really so crazy!!!!
This is super interesting, thanks for sharing! I know its not the same thing, but I bought myself a classic Burberry trench for my 30 birthday. I was so nervous to spend all the money but its turned out to be so worth it. I’m a lawyer that dresses up for work and and honestly every time I put it on I just feel great! I went to Saks and told the saleslady I was thinking of taking the plunge and it was my first designer coat and she was super nice and excited to help. Now I’m thinking maybe I’ll get a chanel bag for 35!
I feel the same away away about my trench!!! Bags and coats are worth the investment to me (and shoes too, as long as you stick to classic styles and take good care of them)!!!
I hope you treat yourself for 35!! xo
In case anyone finds this helpful – I just purchased a classic medium flap in black caviar leather/gold hardware at the Chanel store on Rue Cambon in Paris last month. The salespeople were incredibly kind and helpful, they walked me through everything from how to store the bag to filling out official ownership paperwork. If you have the opportunity to purchase it in Paris, it was definitely worth it because goods are cheaper in the country where they are produced and you can get a VAT tax refund (mine came 10 days after purchase). With the refund, the purse was $1000 less than it would have been if I purchased it in NYC and pretty comparable to purchasing a gently used one from a site like the RealReal.
That is so helpful! Thanks for sharing!!!
Love this post! I am not a Chanel girl so thought maybe I would chime in on two other examples? I bought my Givenchy Antigona in oxblood around age 32 – my first big girl bag. the salesperson was SO nice and I TOTALLY agree if they are not extremely extremely nice to you move on – they should not be judging you! I bought my Givenchy on a whim wearing spin clothes (well on a whim after thinking about it for years).
I was a little reticent about the RealReal but recently bought my second investment bag on the site, a black Celine luggage tote, it is in spectacular condition, exactly as portrayed and a very good discount from retail. The Givenchy at first I didn’t wear very much at all only on special occasions, now I will wear it for a week or two, then put it away for a bit and repeat the cycle – it makes it still feel special and will hopefully increase its life – it is so sturdy that it looks brand new after a few years. It even came out unscathed from a recent trip and fall on Boston’s cobblestones AND a time I hit a cab with it after the cab nearly ran me over, ha!
I love that!!!! I should have caveated that these bags are so subjective. I’ve bought a lot of nice bags but the Chanel ones (for me) are the ones I never get tired of and wear again and again and again!! And a lot of people feel that way about Givenchy + Celine (or Fendi and Gucci for that matter!)
I really love The RealReal. It’s such a good resource!
But yeah, if you take proper care of your nice bags, they will increase in value over time. Also that fall sounds scary – glad you (and the bag!) are okay!!!
LOVE this post! I just got my first Chanel bag in the past year; bought it for myself for my 30th birthday. While the store can seem intimidating, as you said I went in and told them it was my first bag and I was buying it for myself and they were SO HELPFUL. And excited for me too! The actual experience of being in the store and trying on the bags and finding the one that I loved was one of the best experiences ever, and a treasured part of getting my bag.
GOOD FOR YOU! And yes!!!! They really do get so excited to help you. It’s such a special moment and any good sales person would be excited to be a part of that!
I loved and appreciated the honesty in this post! I see so many bloggers posting pics of their very beautiful, designer things (which, is not a bad thing! Especially given the industry they work in) but typically with no context. It’s nice to read your thought process behind buying your lovely Chanel bags. I am still in a Madewell phase of life (could be forever tbh) but I will appreciate your pics of your lovely purses all the more.
TBH 90% of my wardrobe is either Madewell or Topshop!!! I love a good splurge from time to time but have learned the hard way (hello pink velvet Chanel) to make sure any investment piece is really well thought out and something that will stand the test of time! XOXO
Ah! This was my email! Thank you for writing this post and going through each one!! I am feeling so confident to get the exact kind I want and make the investment because I know I really want it, my husband gave me the green light to spend the money, and I’ll use it for YEARS. Also, I am glad to know the caviar vs lambskin difference is so real. I also really think a classic black flap can go with almost anything, so even though my style is a lot of jeans and sweaters/blouses with flats/booties, I think that’s ok and I will feel confident investing in this. Thank you!
YAYYYYYYYY please please send me a pic when you get it!!!!
(Another reader commented that prices are going up in February, so maybe try to get it before then – or do The RealReal!) xoxoxo
Thanks for this insight, Grace! I’m 27 and have dreamed of a Chanel bag for longer than 10 years. I’m a crazy person! Starting to think the big 3-0 will be when I purchase for myself! My parents gave me a navy caviar wallet for my college graduation and at first I was thrown a little by the caviar. Now, I absolutely love it! (Also, my grandmother gave my mom a luxury navy wallet for her graduation. Love that it became a tradition) For the next 2.5 years I will continue to save for the bag while debating navy to match the wallet or black to go with everything?!
You’re not crazy! I love it!!!! And love the idea of treating yourself for the big 3-0.
And what a cool tradition!!! wallet is next on my list – I think a red one, as I’m less concerned with it going with everything! I too was thrown by the caviar at first (if I had been left to my own devices when buying my first Chanel, I would have chosen lambskin) but am SO happy with it – it really endures well, which is a must for something so expensive.
(Oh and personally I would choose black over navy but if you wear more brown than black I’d say navy! Though I mix navy and black quite a bit.)
Love this post! Thank you for sharing! Why did you sell your love bracelet?!
I replied to another commenter with a longer response, but I sold it because it was from an ex. 🙂 xo
This is a great, truthful guide about buying your first Chanel. I think it’s SO important to weigh all of your options. For me, I wanted a Celine and Saint Laurent bag for years, so when I finally had some $$$ to purchase, I didn’t hesitate! As for Chanel, luckily, my sister lets me borrow hers…but I’m eyeing a Chanel wallet!
The Champagne Edit
YES it absolutely is!!!
(And you’re so lucky to be able to borrow your sister’s!!!)
Grace, I love this post! I recently turned 35 and have been wanting to treat myself to a Chanel bag, but have been hesitant to pull the trigger. Glad to know about The Real Real! Hoping to get back to Paris in the next year and purchase it there!!
happy belated birthday!!! Hope you treat yourself. (If you do, let us know what you get!) XO
Great post Grace!! I didn’t know about the caviar leather… So many good tips from you and in thr comments. I don’t own a Chanel but have always wanted one. Now I know what to look for my future anniversary gift!
I’m so happy it was helpful, and agree – the comments here have been SO helpful!!!
I really love this post! Thank you for giving us all the pros and cons. I’d love to read similar posts like this about other brands and high ticket items like, shoes, too! That would be so helpful.
Love this! I own a few nice purses (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci) but still found this very helpful am me insightful in thinking about my next purchase!
I’m so happy it was helpful!
I know TheRealReal authenticates everything, but I’ve had a hard time trying to find the age of items on there! I can tell some items are old (not vintage, just old/out of style) and I don’t want them, but others I have a hard time finding the age. I’m wary of spending a decent amount on something only to find that it’s older than I wanted it to be. If you have any insight on this, let me know. Thanks so much for this post Grace!
Sometimes they list the years that things were released (happened with a dress I just bought!) but they don’t always share. I wish I had better advice!
What are your thoughts on a neverfull Louis Vuitton? I would definitely use it everyday, but is it worth it?
I am not really an LV girl! I know they’re really popular though. Personally I just can’t pay that much for a laminated canvas bag, but honestly, to each their own! Similar to the Chanel boy bag, not for me but so chic for others! XO
Great point, thanks Grace! A valid point I will consider when I buy my first investment purse
Grace, what a great blog post! My future mother-in-law gave me two of her vintage Chanel bags this Christmas, and I’m hoping to find a great cobbler to bring them back to life a bit (although they’re both in great condition considering they’re from before my fiance was born!). I can attest to lambskin showing signs of year much more though–I’ll definitely be getting caviar leather when I eventually invest in my own Chanel!
Ahhh so lucky!!! And amazing that they’re still in such great shape! XO
Thanks for your sharing. I always wonder how a channel bag would turn out after years. Before bought my 1st channel, i searched several vlog about a channel bag after years, but only found 1 review after 7 years, and the others only 1 year review. When i read your review, i breathe a sigh of relief because i got a right decision.
Love this post! It’s funny because I came across an old post with your pink Chanel the other day and thought that it had been a long time since I’d seen that on the blog. I would love to see another post where you break down thoughts/regrets/dos and don’ts on other big ticket purchases. I own a handful of designer bags but none of my friends or my sister are into that kind of thing, but I really love comparing notes and hearing what items people love and which ones they could have done without.
Thanks so much Lindsey! xo
I bought my 2.55 on a trip to Paris with my mom. I still love it and it makes me think of Paris every time I use it. The sales people at Chanel were incredibly nice. And, I have to agree with Grace – get the caviar leather.
One of my favorite memories from my trip was when I showed my bag to French customs to get a tax refund slip, the customs agent literally said “oh la la”!
So happy you agree! And love that little memory – thank you for sharing!
Thanks for the thoughtful post on this. I think that in today’s blogosphere, it seems like everyone is buying expensive accessories without a moment’s thought, so I appreciated your candor about your purchases. Buying an investment bag isn’t for everyone, but it’s such a personal decision. If you can’t spend your own money how you want, what’s the point?
I’m so glad it was helpful! I completely agree that it is SUCH a personal decision!!!
Such an informative post, especially about the in-store aspect of shopping. I too can feel quite intimidated when going into designer storefronts or expensive department stores like Barneys, but you’ve helped me realize that I’m the one with the power in the store and if I’m treated rudely, they don’t deserve my business!
Also, I’m curious to know how much can fit your black classic flap?
It really just fits my essentials – wallet, phone, lipstick, business cards. There isn’t a ton of extra room but I love the size – it’s neither too big nor too small and encourages me to regularly clean out my bag!
This is such a great post! Thanks for the tips and lessons learned! I just bought my first Louis Vuitton, but thinking about an even bigger splurge on a Chanel next.
I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks, Brittany!
As a handbag obsessed individual, I loved reading this post and your perspective on the bags you’ve purchased and good/bad decisions. I was able to snag a pre-loved Chanel mini in crumpled calfskin (black hardware) and it is one of my most treasured handbags in my collection. I also purchased a pre-loved Chanel mint green surpique flap and I’ve found it to be so versatile for the spring/summer and winter months (winter pastels for the win!). I’m hoping to purchase a vintage classic medium double flap this year. Thanks for the inspiration!
Kara | Politics of Pretty
Thank you so much Kara. Both of your bags sound amazing. Mint green -eeeesh, love!
Great read! Very helpful for purchasing any luxury bag, from doing the research on what style, leather, color, etc… Chanel is amazing though. Also love the whole outfit in the tan cavier pic
I’m so glad it was helpful! xo
Hi Grace, I loved this post – I’ve been hoping you would do a post like this for years! If I may ask, what size classic flap do you have (the small or the M/L)?
I’m honestly not positive! It’s the classic 2.55, whichever that one is! Didn’t realize the classic came in different sizes.
Adding to this:
1. Do it BEFORE you have a kid! Honestly it’s SO hard to justify spending that when you’re also like “daycare costs HOW MUCH?”
2. An alternative – and this is what I did – is the Chanel wallet! It features the same beautiful quilted leather and logo but it’s not always visible, for those of us where the very visible purse may not be ideal.
HAHA yes!!! I always say that I have all my handbags now. So if I get married, have a kid, etc. I feel like I already got all the big purchase out of the way!
A wallet is next on my list once I sell the pink velvet boy bag! XO
Thanks for this post! Would you consider writing a post on your experience buying from The Real Real vs other luxury consignment stores? And why you chose to buy the bags on consignment?
I’m not sure it would really warrant a whole post! I love The RealReal because they have the best assortment (from what I’ve seen) and they do a good job listing out every single flaw and detail.
And as for consignment vs. new, it was purely a money thing – because I sold my love bracelet, I had a little credit (a big credit, haha) to do some shopping. But I’m definitely not opposed to buying new!
I really enjoyed reading this post! I also love that first picture/the entire outfit with the green dress and the black accessories and that black watch especially! I have been on the hunt for a square faced watch, I looked through the post but couldn’t find that item tagged-do you mind sharing details on that watch?
It’s the Cartier tank watch! It’s actually the men’s one which is a little bit less dainty than the women’s one. xo
I had a dream that I bought myself the black Chanel bag. Then I see that you’ve written a post about it. I’m taking both as a sign! lol
Haha it’s definitely a sign! 😉
This guide was perfect, and I loved getting to see your entire collection, and your thoughts on each!! I definitely love the classic flap in black. So gorgeous and timeless!!
I’m so happy it was helpful!!!!
Hi Grace – just wanted to be clear, your classic black is th medium size? Thanks!
I think so – I’ve always referred to it as the classic black 2.55!
These are all great tips! I loved reading this post as a fellow handbag enthusiast! You can never go wrong with Chanel bags — I always find myself constantly grabbing my Chanels on a daily basis. I think they’re worth $$!
thanks so much 🙂 xx
Seconding everything you’ve said here! I am lucky enough to own a lot of nice designer bags and accessories, but my Chanel pieces (I will include my brooches and flats here too) are the pieces I love and use the most (and never regret buying). And I am evangelical about making everyone I know buy the caviar because it is just SO much more durable!
One thing I will say though is that Heathrow is the best place to buy Chanel, but only on the basis it is a planned (rather than impulse) purchase. When my first Chanel bag was stolen, I bought the replacement at Heathrow (the tax-free discount helped offset the amount it had increased in price since my first purchase), and I have bought a lot of my brooches there over the years. And my best tip is that if there is something you know you definitely want, you can actually call them 48 hours before you fly and order it in and they will hold it for you. I do sometimes buy things in the Rue Cambon store if it’s the last one or to remember that trip by (my blush bag always makes me think of you and our trip!), but Heathrow is definitely the most cost-effective way to buy new pieces.
P.S. I was similarly sceptical about the maxi bags, but am also coming around to them for purely practical reasons and LOVE this tan one on you!
That is all so true! Thanks for chiming in, B!!! Xoxoxo
The sales lady at Goyard in NYC was so rude to me at first that I will never buy a Goyard purse. Will stick with Louis Vuitton. Being nice goes a long way.
Ugh that’s terrible – I’m glad you left. (Sorry you had that experience!!)
Hello – what a great post! maybe a dumb question but what is the difference between the single flap vsdouble flap maxi? When I compare pictures of both I can’t seem to tell the difference. Thank you!
This was a great post!!! I just bought my first luxury bag (a LV never full) on a trip to Paris and couldn’t be happier about it. I couldn’t agree more with the idea that you should enjoy the luxury. I’d saved for months and have used it every day since so I feel pretty good about my cost per wear already. every time I look at it it brings me a little smile thinking about our vacation!
That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing, I’m so glad you’re enjoying your new purchase!!
love this! I bought my first Chanel in Paris over Christmas. I had a great sales person (actually bounced to a couple Chanel boutiques before I found a lovely person I was excited to work with and who was happy to help me with my selection). It is boxed so beautifully I still haven’t taken it out though.
I love that! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Grace! Thanks for this great post 🙂 I bought my first Chanel, a black classic flap in caviar, two years ago at Rue Cambon and it was a magical experience! I’m on the hunt for a boy bag now. A couple of questions for you –
Have you had any experience with Tradesy or heard from people who’ve used them? They’re better stocked than the Real Real but I’ve never done online consignment, so I’m trying to do my due diligence.
Also, do you insure your bags?
Thank you so much! Your blog is my 100% favorite.
Aw I’m so glad!
No I have never used Tradesy, and I do not insure my bags!
Oh wow it’s a really nice collection. I am very impressed from this bags. I am searching on google for new design leather and i get your blog. It’s beneficial blog i got it. I am really happy I have this information. Thanks!
Love the post! Want to buy a Chanel bag. Is it best to buy it in Europe or buy it in the States? Been to Europe a couple of times with intentions to buy one but always chicken out because of the thought of having to deal with it through customs and the VAT return lines.
I really don’t know! It sounds like Europe might be the better idea after having read through the comments!
Hi Shannon, yes, it is cheaper in Europe. I have bought a Chanel bag in Europe and claimed back the VAT. It was really easy to get the VAT back. You can get a good price indication on which country is the cheapest at handbag-prices.com
for a couple years i’ve wanted a chanel bag. the mini rectangular lambskin is available to me in champagne hardware, but i hesitate to get it. i wanted to get one that looks like the classic at a lesser price. i feel the hardware is not going to stand the test of time. any thoughts. also, after reading your info. i don’t know about the lambskin anymore. i’m thinking i should wait for the mini caviar in regular gold to come out. would love your feedback.
I’d hold out for the caviar – it holds up so much better!
I love this post! And your honesty. After going through a lot of thinking, reading reviews and etc., this post just made me decide what Chanel purse to buy. I’m 47 and it will be my first time to buy. A little too old, yes. Although I have other purses ( LV, Prada) I regret not buying Chanel sooner but then I have kids and mortgage.
Yay – congratulations!!!!
(And it’s never too late; you’ve just had different spending priorities… no kids, no mortgage over here!)
I just got a black jumbo in caviar as a push present and I am so addicted now. I was planning on getting a beige one next but now that I’ve read your post, maybe I won’t. I wonder if the blush pink will be just as difficult to keep clean. Thanks for the advice and the post! It is very helpful!
Well said. The reality check is very fair–we can’t drive or live inside a Chanel bag but it’s definitely pretty. Also, so cool and helpful of you to share your thought process around different Chanel styles. After getting debt-free, building an ER fund, and 401King like crazy, it was finally time for my first vintage classic flap in my thirties and it’s a pretty liberating feeling. Maybe this is just the beginning or my only Chanel investment, but exciting either way!
Loved all the comments, I’ve been wanting a Channel bag for a long time and I found a black classic Maxi in lamb skin . Should I wait to find a caviar leather bag?
Just bought my first Chanel bag as a 30th birthday gift to myself and this post was my bible! Thanks so much for giving your honest opinion of size, leather type etc. I was going back and forth between lambskin or caviar. I got the classic flap in black caviar and cannot wait to slowly build a collection! <3
Great post, I have a Chanel Woc but my dream bag is the medium classic flap(caviar with silver hardware. I also love the Boy bag. My question is are the flap bags always in stock and easy to get?
I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Chanel purses.I have purchased a different variety of purses for my wife. I know I’ll benefit from your post when I make my next purchase. Thank you
I’m thinking about buying my first name brand purse. I’m way older than you I’m 57 years old. I read your article and thank you so much it was good advice. Through your opinion it was very helpful so thank you so much .
I’m really glad the post was helpful!!! Good luck with your new purchase! 🙂
Kudos to you for this truly honest and well written post!! You’ve answered all of her questions truthfully by drawing on your personal experiences including the do’s and dont’s. I’m sure she will appreciate your insight and made the right decisions. To the. Chanel seeker, best wishes on your search. Sounds like you did everything right leading up to this moment. It’s funny how we always think were the only one in a certain situation but when we open up we find others in the same boat!! I’m sure being armed with this information, you’ll be ready for anything! Best wishes and Happy New Year to you both.
Thank you for your candid thoughts! I’m thinking of buying my first one for my 30th bday this year so I really appreciate your insights
You can never have too many Chanel bags. They are investment pieces and great to carry no matter what you are wearing. I have a jumbo in Black and Tan and the small one in black lamb skin which I only use in the evening. I carry my other ones every day. I don’t work so I’m often in jeans or work out clothes but as long as I have my bags I feel that redeems my otherwise dressed down look.
I also have two 35cm Birkin Bags. One in black with gold hardware and one in tan with silver hardware. I purchased them from the Hermes store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan and buying the bags was a fun experience in itself. They brought me a glass of champagne which I drank and then asked for a refill. Those bags are exquisitely made by hand and they’re worth every penny of the almost $15,000 I paid for each of them. They are gorgeous. Depending on where I’m going I don’t carry them as often as the Chanel’s because I like to have my hands free and you must carry a Birkin in your hand or on your forearm.
I’m fortunate that I can buy these bags whenever I want. I have bought my youngest daughter an Hermès crossbody bag and a large Chanel bag as well. I’ve always said, “Buy it once and buy it right”.
You won’t be sorry that you did.
And don’t buy those horrid tacky knockoffs. If you can’t afford the real thing wait until you can. They’re fake and I can’t imagine wanting to pretend you have the real thing when you know you don’t. I suspect that people who buy the fake bags buy them to impress others whereas those who buy the authentic bags from Chanel and Hermès buy them for the sheer joy of owning such beautifully crafted bags. I don’t buy them to impress others. I buy them because they make me happy and the hell with what others think!!
I feel if you can afford it get it you only live once,life isn’t a dress rehearsal
Thank you a lot for sharing this with all people you actually recognise what you’re speaking about!
Bookmarked. Kindly also discuss with my web site =).
We will have a link trade contract among us
I have a vintage double flap Chanel bag that I would like to sell. It has never been used. Where would be the best place to sell it?
Maybe give The RealReal a try! That’s where I sell my things!
I totally agree with you. I have the same classic black bag in caviar. It holds up so well. I don’t worry about rain, etc. I have many Chanels, but save the lambskin bags for nights out or perfect weather days. I’ve collected different colors and sizes, with a special one of a kind black with stars, moon, etc in various colored crystals, that somehow works with just about everything. I picked up the prettiest color purple mini in Houston that I wore to the LSU National Championship football game! I find Chanel flaps in the various sizes and styles seem to work with just about every type of outfit.
I bought my first Chanel in the late 80’s.. It’s a black caviar tote. The purple leather interior.. It’s still my knock around bag.. I’ve had the leather straps repaired 3 times.. last time my repair guys says that will get you another 20 years out of it..lol I doctor up the corners with leather dye but truly this bag is indestructible! I have others but it really is my favorite.. Wish I could find a new one just like it..
Are you ever too old to buy your first Chanel purse? I’m 50 and finally ready to indulge. I have admired Chanel as a person since high school. I have a few fakes and I want the real thing now.
Never too old!!!
Thanks! I found the classic too expensive so I bought a black caviar WOC and a gorgeous purple wallet. I’m looking on resale sites for an almost new classic flap.
Love the post. I am looking to buy my first Chanel bag after years of dancing around. I am 38 and having my first child in mid may. I asked my husband for the purse as push gift. I am still debating on the hardware. gold or silver? Any suggestions?
if you love the modern, silver is the best choice. Silver is harder to wear and tear than Gold ( I means that the silver do not shows obviously the wear and tear). If you love the elegant, classic GHW (gold hardware) It will never let you down. Personllay i bough a lady dior and channel WOC, all of them is GHW, I feel that the black leather and GHW is the counterpart of another.
I have a question on other Chanel tote. I hope you can answer me. I am thinking about buying a Chanel Deauville tote in size medium. Do you think it is a good investment? I am trying to decide between Chanel Deauville bag vs LV neverfill bag and I don’t know which one will keep the value for me. Please advise. Thanks. Julie
I love your advice and defiantly your bags. At 62 my husband bought me the larger then life black caviar. I love it.i have other Chanel bags but this is my first brand new one. I take everywhere I go. It’s fun and classy.
Love coco chanel hope to own one item from chanel.
Hi Grace I really hope you reply to my post! I’m nearly 45 and it has been my dream to own a Chanel bag for years and years. We have our 20th wedding anniversary coming up and my husband wants to buy it for me(money is tight but he really wants to gift it to me). I know it will be a caviar leather bag but I don’t intend on using it everyday so I’m confused between the mini/small and beige/black(though your article has made me sway towards the black). It retails in Dubai for over 7000usd. So you’d recommend I find a friend in the U.K or France to pick one up for me?
Half the joy and experience is gone if someone else picks it up for you. If it’s a gift from someone that is different. I suggest you buy it yourself.
I like your post. Now in my 50s, I have not owned a single designer bag. I’m deciding to buy my first Chanel classic black flap bag on my own. Being a little on the plump and taller side, is a medium size good enough? Is black the best choice? I reckon so.
I’m making a trip to Dallas in 2 weeks, and
I’m really considering buying my first Chanel bag. I’m kinda nervous, but yet very excited. What are your thought?
I’m making a trip to Dallas in 2 weeks, and
I’m really considering buying my first Chanel bag. I’m kinda nervous, but yet very excited. What are your thought?
Thank you so informative, I want to buy my first Chanel bag for my 37th birthday.
Thank you for sharing these amazing tips!!
I can’t wait to one day buy my first x
Lisa | lisaautumn.com
All power to anyone who wants to buy one but to me they are just….ugly? It seems so wrong to say that!
Love this entire blog! I love 3 hours from my closest Chanel and have never tried any on. With Covid, getting an appointment to shop is dang near impossible. Anyways, can you tell me if the classic can be worn as an appropriate crossbody? If not, which bag would?
Depends on the size. I think the maxi and jumbo are too big to be worn as cross body. Better to go for a Small. They don’t make mini’s anymore.
Love the maxi tan, I’ve never seen it before!
I really love your post!! Keep buying your bags I live through you maybe one day I can afford one or hell just be in a room with one,it will be like meeting Mr Obama I would go crazy keep posting!!!
Hi – I really enjoyed this blog! I have a question. I’m looking to “buy” my first Chanel bag, but I have 3 others that I received as gifts. I found a bag that I really like, mini-flap 2.55 Reissue, but the lock doesn’t have the CCs. Do you think it’s not worth spending so much if you can’t obviously tell that it’s Chanel. Thanks so much for your advice!
I personllay love 2.55 Reissue look but I don’t like the lock because 2 reason: 1-CC lock is truelly fine & signature; 2-Yes I couldn’t agree with you more, you can’t obviously tell that it’s Chanel, it may be a Charles & Keith 🙁
What is your experience with buying luxury handbags second hand? Do you have a preference? You mention TheRealReal a few times and I’ve been on their website. Sometimes I think their bags are a little pricey and I might as well spend a few hundred more to get it brand new. Would love to hear your perspective on this.
Hi. I have bought from LXR & Co. a gorgeous like new Chanel folding wallet with one small mark on the bottom that is hardly noticeable. They package the shipment very well and offer free delivery. I have only bought an ‘A’ item which is the highest category under ‘never used’. Reluxury is definitely more affordable. Still, I would never buy an item that was well worn and shows. Why pay thousands of dollars for a worn item. Good luck.
Omg I’m dying for just one!
Love your blog. I haven’t purchased my first Chanel bag. Thanks for the info.
Love this post! Do you know the official color of the caviar maxi? I love it so much and it would be my dream to find exactly this color.
Thanks for your info on buying an investment purse. Love the variety of colors.
I feel like me in the anonymous letter. I was 33 when I purchased my 1st black lady dior mini by an inheritance(for my daughter’s birthday – cause this occasion is a mark in my life: a part of me and how painful i gave birth, and it was chirsmast month, and i felt as you said below: know my style which does not change any more…) And 1 month later, i bought my channel WOC classic (caviar, black, GHW) by credit. I feel really happy, enough…and derseve it (i was 33 but do not have salary to treat me well like that cause i have 2 daughters, and live in a country that the salary is modest). I also think life is to short, why don’t i purchase it soon to enjoy it earlier. And by several honest review by you, i think I’ve got my right purchase. I’m a classic type and i love the timeless thing and infact, i use my 2 loved bags all days.
The latest season’s mini flap bag with top handle is a must purchase and suits your style perfectly!
I ended up getting this for my wife instead of the coco handle and she loves it, no complaints 🙂
Loved your story , I recently bought a limited edition flap bag that I have fallen inlove with but I didn’t realise bright white doesn’t go with a while lot in my wardrobe ! So now I’m buying clothes to accommodate my new bag ♀️. Maybe I should have gone for classic but I feel everyone has classic so my purchase is more special and unique for me. I heart Chanel !
Hi, love this post but I was also wondering based on your experience the 2009-2010 Petite Shopping Tote is worth buying now? It won’t be new and it was discontinued in 2013 but I do like the look. I’m not sure if that type is still worth spending the money?
I’m on a search for advice about an investment. I just came across your post and want someone else’s opinion who has a love for Chanel. I recently got into buying and reselling luxury bags. I love it. Started as a hobby with 2 small kids at home and became more of a business while I was pregnant with #3. 🙂 I buy more LV because they are a lower price point and seem to sell so much faster. I want to invest in a pre-loved Chanel for myself but with the option of selling it if I don’t love it like I think I will. I currently have a black Ruthenium Medium Boy Bag sitting in a dust bag in my drawer because I just don’t want to mess it up. I decided I want a Top Handle Flap Bag. I am 6ft tall so I tend to want larger bags. I found one that is a Mauve color (kinda pink kinda beige) and it is a large one in Caviar with the Ruthenium hardware (my favorite kind). I know colors will rub, I can avoid or get it reconditioned later. The girl selling it will sell it to me for $3600, I may be able to talk her down to $3500. Is this a smart purchase?? Should I hold out and save about $1400 more for a black one??? I just want your personal opinion. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Side note: I have 3 step-daughters and 2 birthed-daughters so I figure 1 of the 5 will love it one day if I don’t sell it. 🙂 Thank you so much.
What color would you suggest for summer as the light colors get dirty?? Black seems too much..??
Thank you for sharing and congrats on your new handbag.
Firstly, i do have to say that the quality of Chanel in many years back is superb as compared to now. Now with the massive production to meet the demand, there are quality issues. And not to mentioned with their crazy yearly or twice yearly of price increase. Ok i do now own a Chanel yet am in the midst of getting one soon but that day i went to the store to check out the classic small and found out tht the leather on the strap is jutting out like unfinish work. A lot of Youtubers says it is like that. Is that so?? Wow…to my opinion a comtemporary brand can do a better job and the price is far from Chanel. Fingers crossed let see mine if i got one.
Having said that, now we are still in pandemic if not the whole world, at least half still are in, the stocks for their handbags are so so low even the classic one have to wait. Worst still while waiting, there will be a price increase soon.
Also lucky you and those who can get their Chanel even in their 30s or end of 30s with no hse, car mortgages and kid to care for. I am in my end of 40s only am thinking of it now after taking care of all the mortgages and really glad that i am now ready to pamper myself after many years of working and am still working. Anyway with the classic piece, good that is evergreen. I do love the Mini rectangular but again Caviar is hard to come by given that nowadays Chanel do not produce so much in Caviar even for the classic ones like Chanel 19.
Thanks again for sharing. Hope to get mine soon.
I was recently given a vintage Chanel and can’t find the same one on line. I would like to sell it. How do I go about doing this.
Thank you so much for the great post! I just recently bought mine after I 1) did research on what color wardrobe i have to ensure i don’t get bored of the colour i choose for my first Chanel 2) size i would enjoy more of based on my own needs and purpose of the bag 3) unfortunately i been searching for caviar mini but they informed me they are all lambskin now.4) after debating back and forth with myself whether to get it or not because of the functionality vs affordability vs should i settle with another designer that is lower in price or on sale. I finally understand Chanel is a category of luxury on its own. I refused to spend less money but also expensive on a brand i do not gravitate to and wish i had stumbled onto your post earlier lol. It was during the pandemic so i couldn’t really use my bag besides in my living room to the kitchen but i also agree i will use it and not just let it sit there for occasions. But because mine is lambskin the care i need to give it is a bit more tedious and that’s the down side.
I’m enjoying reading these posts….good advice! I’m 61 and think of purchasing my first Chanel bag. My concern is the weight/chain. Are the bags heavy? Does the chain dig into your shoulder?
Excellent article. I too am thinking about buying my first Chanel bag. I am 56. Thanks for the great advice.
This was a fantastic post; thank you so much for your help.
This has been a fantastic article. I am 52 and have just secured my first Chanel (pre loved but authenticated) . It’s a lilac woc. And I LOVE it.
Thanks for the tip of Caviar over Lambskin. Will definitely think about that if and when I make a second purchase.
What a great Chanel blog. I actually giggled a little because I am 63 tomorrow and do not own a Chanel bag. My 31 year old daughter has a Channel for 2 years. I guess college money for my kids was more important to me years ago. We’ll everyone not anymore. I am going to a Chanel store in NYC this weekend and making a big purchase for ME! My daughter is thrilled. I will wear it when walking my new grandson. The world is all good. Masks on, vaccinated and moving forward! for all!
Warm wishes, Amy
I loved this, found it so helpful. I’m 35 and thinking of buying my first Chanel piece. A wallet, because I still can’t justify to myself paying a lot for a bag. However, I work damn hard and spend so much money on my kids so I feel I deserve it.
Chanel currently has a pale purply-pink calf skin wallet. Would you recommend a light colored wallet and is the calf skin durable?
I love your review! Your assessments are spot on; very honest and practical. Appreciate the honesty and sharing your experiences with the channel handbag collection you have acquired over time.
This was such a helpful post as I debate when I can make this purchase (just turned 30) – thank you for the refresh and for sharing your experience!
Aww. Such a perfect moment for me to stumble upon this post as I’m deeply contemplating on getting my first luxury bag too. It’s for my 30th birthday this February and right now it’s still pretty much a toss-up between a Speedy 30 or a small BOY. The LV one leans on the more practical side but also a cute reminder of this milestone. On the other hand, an all black Chanel BOY is a personal dream of mine. If I were to choose it though, I may have to wait until Christmas. It will be my birthday + Christmas + all 2022 occasions gift to myself. Hahaha! So this is a really insightful read.
Great article and I have three bags and caviar leather is best option for your first Chanel bag!
Hi! Where would you suggest buying new Chanel bags, online?
loved your blog!
i was hoping someone can shed some light on my new mini rectangular! i just received mine in mail today! I see some creases on side of bag. is this normal? Thanks for your inputs!
I have no idea, I would try a bag forum and share photos… or reach out to the boutique!
I dont think mentioned here but am wondering what your thoughts are on the LV bags, like the Neverfull? Sometimes I think I’d like to purchase and then sometimes I think how is see it everywhere on everyone…do you have an LV? Would you consider a post, as this one was great, thank you!
Hi! I actually don’t have any LV bags~ sorry!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on tweed Chanel bags!
Thanks for this article! What size is your black classic? Small or Medium?
Hello, I love your advice. I’m looking for my first Chanel handbag and looking for the Trendy CC in gold what’s your thoughts on that bag please? oh, I’m 45yrs old by the way. yes, it took me that long to think of finally getting a Chanel as most of my bags are LV.