My Chanel Handbag Story
It was about 8 – 10 years ago I first thought to myself, ‘I’d love a Chanel bag!’. Back then they were WAY cheaper and Lordy, I wish I had bought a whole heap of them back then. But of course, I didn’t, because even though they were far cheaper then than they are now, they were still out of my reach. I was living in London and more than half my wages were going on my rent, once I’d paid council tax, bought my groceries and topped up my Oyster card, I didn’t really have the cash for a Chanel purchase! I got my first Chanel bag one year for Christmas, my boyfriend bought it for me and honestly, I couldn’t believe it! He bought me the classic black Chanel clutch with chain. It’s adorable! It’s in lambskin with gold hardware and I didn’t know it then, but my-oh-my, it ended up being the first of many! I’m hoping I can share some of my knowledge with you all so that you can make the best handbag decisions for you! I have some things you need to consider as well as share my own findings with the styles I own. Whilst there are some styles I don’t have and can’t comment on, I have the major players; Classic Flap medium, Classic Flap Jumbo, Clutch, Wallet on Chain (WOC), Grand Shopping Tote (GST), Reissue, Boy Bag and the Deauville. Yikes Right!?
Cloth, Lambskin, Caviar or Patent Leather
I always think the first thing you need to consider with a Chanel handbag is the fabric you opt for. I didn’t really know the difference between all the different finishes for a sweet time and what it REALLY meant on a day-to-day level. The cloth Chanel handbags tend to be a season option; I’ve seen jersey, velvet, cloth, faux fur, and so many more over the years. Whilst I LOVE a velvet bag, I’ve always been too scared to buy one as velvet can deteriorate quickly and it’s not the best if it rains and let’s be honest, in England, it rains a LOT. The lambskin bags are stunning, super soft buttery leather and oh-so opulent. Because it’s leather you can polish it to keep it healthy and it does have a natural toughness, however the lambskin leather is super soft and it can damage easily with your nails or if you walk into a wall etc. A lot of surface scratches can be polished out, but you need to consider that as soft and lovely as the lambskin leather is, it’s not invincible and it can damage. The caviar leather on the other hand is much more hardwearing. It’s got a slight shine and a grainy, slightly pebble-y finish. It’s not quite as beautiful to look at as the lambskin, but it’s much more hardwearing. As for the patent leather, this is much more hardwearing than the lambskin, but it’s important to remember, it’s also not invincible. Also, I personally don’t love the look of the patent leather, I think it’s too high-shine and doesn’t look as luxe as the lambskin or caviar leather. Plus, I have to say, whilst it is more hardwearing than the lambskin, I would rather have a beaten up old lambskin Chanel bag than a tired looking patent leather Chanel bag. It’s just my opinion but when a patent leather bag gets a little old and tired, it looks old and tired, where as an old leather handbag looks well-loved and pretty cool!
Black, Beige or a Colour…
Most of my Chanel handbags are black, because even though I love a colourful handbag, I kept my Chanel’s pretty classic because a good black handbag is never going to fail you. I have the GST in red and I have the medium classic flap bag in a stunning shade of green. But here’s the thing you need to know, if you are buying a non-black lambskin Chanel bag, think VERY carefully about it. The lambskin leather is stunning and it’s super soft and beautiful, but darker colours will transfer onto it and mark the leather. I wore my green bag with a simple black cloth coat a few times and the back of it is discoloured with black now. It’s not a problem you get with the caviar leather or the patent leather, but it’s a major problem with the lambskin leather, so do be careful. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend a non-black lambskin Chanel bag, but you shouldn’t have a problem with a non-black caviar or patent leather Chanel bag. I have a red GST in caviar leather and it looks great, but I’m now a bit nervous about wearing my green Chanel bag because I don’t want to make it any worse. If you are nervous, ask your sales assistant about colour transfer with any non-black bag you buy and I am sure they will give you their honest feedback on it.
What’s The Weight?
Fun fact, I always thought my dream Chanel handbag would be with Classic Flap in the caviar leather, black with gold hardware. It’s so chic, kinda flashy and fabulous and it’s big enough to carry everything I need and I just figured it would be the perfect ‘every day’ bag. Oh Lordy! I was WRONG! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this bag, it’s stunning, but for every day use, it’s not actually that useful. Why? Because it’s kinda heavy! All that leather plus the heavy chain makes it a VERY heavy handbag! It’s got the interior and exterior flap, plus it’s leather lined and it’s got leather threaded through the chain, it’s pure quality and it’s stunning, but once you put your bits and bobs in it, it’s very heavy. On the flip side, my Deauville bag which I thought would be a handy summer tote, I use ALL the time, why? Because it’s so effortless to carry. It’s nice and comparatively light, plus it fits everything inside and it’s just a really practical bag. I’m not telling you to get the Deauville bag, nor should you avoid the jumbo classic flap, I’m just saying be mindful of the weight of the bag. When you’re in store trying on the bags, pick them up, think about the weight and think about how much they weigh compared to other bags you carry. Because honestly, I never even considered this and I do find once I’ve put all my junk in my classic flap, it’s way heavier than I ever expected it to be!
My Most Used Chanel Handbag…
Ok, so this is kinda cheating, but I actually have two most used Chanel handbags, one big and one small. And if I’m honest, neither were the ones I expected to use the most. Firstly, the Wallet on Chain (WOC) I use ALL the time! It’s great for slipping my cards inside and nipping out for coffee or the super market and just generally around town. I’ve been known to wear it cross body on the beach when I’m walking Gordon and I just use it like I would a wallet handbag. It’s small light and it fits in everything I need for when I’m out and about close to home. Oh and don’t judge me, but right now, I have empty dog poop bags in mine, a girl with a dog can’t be caught short! My other most used Chanel handbag is the Deauville Tote. It’s a simple canvas tote and honestly, I love it! It’s a nice big bag which is perfect for my days in London, it fits everything inside and it’s really comfortable to carry. Plus because it’s made of canvas rather than leather, it’s pretty lightweight so it feel really easy and practical. Also because it’s a grey tone cloth bag, it feels nice and casual. Like I said, I didn’t ever expect these two to become my most used bags, but these are the ones I find myself the most.
Silver Or Gold Hardware?
Another big decision to make, but generally I choose the hardware which I think suits the bag the best. I know some women are really militant on only wearing gold or silver jewellery / hardware and always buying that tone, but personally, I’m not afraid to mix my metals. I prefer the gold hardware with the classic black bags, but I prefer the antique silver hardware on the Boy Bag. If you are like me, and you’re fine with buying both gold and silver hardware, then I would choose whatever you prefer, but if you are quite strict with your hardware colours, then don’t comprise on your hardware. Also, I was really nervous that the gold hardware would tarnish or rub off and become silver over time, but I can assure you, I’ve never had this problem.
New Or Pre-loved
Oh this is a tough one! I love buying both new and pre-loved Chanel handbags! With pre-loved Chanel you get a MUCH better price and you can also find rarer handbags which feel more special, however, there is something so nice about going into the store, seeing everything and having the full buying experience. So it really is up to you! If you are buying a pre-loved Chanel, make sure you buy it from somewhere that you can trust. Don’t take a gamble on Ebay / Etsy / gumtree / a man down the pub. Instead think about Vestiaire Collective where EVERYTHING is guaranteed to be authentic, as well as The RealReal, Farfetch and Fashionphile. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Please don’t take a gamble, unless it’s £10 in a charity shop, then buy it and keep your fingers crossed!
It’s OK To Take Your Time…
I just want to take a moment to say something; Buying a Chanel handbag is such a wonderful experience and you shouldn’t feel stressed, pressured or made to feel less-than, you know what I mean?! I’ve always had lovely sales assistants who have been so nice, never rushed me and always given me a great shopping experience. I’ve even been offered champagne on my birthday despite telling the SA that I was not going to buy anything and she insisted it was a birthday treat from Chanel and she wouldn’t sell me anything! It was so much fun and so nice! True to her word, she didn’t sell me anything and I didn’t buy anything, but we did have a lovely look at bags over a glass of champagne! My point is, you should enjoy the moment and not feel stressed or put pressure on yourself, it’s a special occasion! Also if you go into a store to buy a bag and you spend a couple of hours looking at every bag and you STILL can’t decide, don’t feel like you HAVE to buy one because you’ve been there for hours. It’s ok! You can leave, get a coffee and have a think and go back later or go back in a week or two. I’ve always found Chanel sales assistants to be incredibly patient and kind. In fact, in my experience, they have been the nicest of any of the designer stores I’ve shopped in. So please don’t worry that it will be an intimating experience, it won’t be!
Which Chanel Bag Should You Buy First?
So, when it comes to buying your first Chanel bag, I would say do your research and really think about it. Look on Pinterest, think about your personal sense of style and think about which bags suit both your look and how you like to carry your bags. What I mean by this, is if you love tote bags and totes work well for your lifestyle, then think about a Chanel tote, if you travel light and you tend to carry small, maybe cross body bags, then look for a small cross body Chanel. Personally, I hate carrying bags in the crook-of-my-arm, I find it really impractical and it doesn’t really suit me, so I would never go for a bag which is designed to be carried that way. Think about you and your style! Also, if you are planning on wearing this bag day-in-day-out and this is your handbag investment to use every day for the next 5 years, then please, consider the caviar leather, even if you don’t like it as much as the lambskin, it will serve you much better. Finally, think about the price. It took me a long ol’ time to build up to the large classic flap bag you see in these photos, but for me, I had to take baby steps. A clutch, more browsing, a vintage bag, more browsing, some dreaming and about 4 bags in I finally got the jumbo. What I’m saying is, whilst I probably should have rocked up and just gone for a big bag and be done with it, I needed to take baby steps and to be honest, I’m really glad I did. I had so much fun buying my bags, thinking about the next one, weighing up options and actually my dream / goal / ultimate Chanel bag was always the large classic flap and guess which bag I use the most… you got it! I kinda wish someone had told me how heavy it was! Lol! Anyway! Just remember, the dream bag on paper, isn’t always the best. Go into the store, try bags on, consider you options and go with your heart. I can’t tell you which Chanel handbag is the best, but I can tell you which ones I love and I can also tell you which ones I use the most. Personally, I do think the Chanel wallet on chain (WOC) is a great first Chanel handbag, it’s really fun to use and it’s simple and elegant and easy. It doesn’t feel too flashy, but there’s something about it’s understated-ness which is pretty classy. It’s also great for the day and evening. I’d also say to get the caviar leather and keep the hardware fairly understated. I also think the classic flap in medium, again caviar leather is a great first Chanel bag. It stores a little more inside and it’s not as heavy as the larger size. It is expensive, but it’s a great classic bag which will never go out of style. I also think the boy bag is a brilliant first Chanel bag, it’s cool and edgy, I personally prefer the chevron quilting and the antique silver hardware, but obvs it’s your choice. Finally, I have a HUGE soft spot for the Deauville Tote. It’s cool, it’s stylish, it’s easy to wear and lightweight. It’s really wearable and it fits everything you need inside. I didn’t think I would love using this bag as much as I do, but honestly, it’s a dark horse of the collection. I hope that helps and if you have any questions, please please let me know! I’m always happy to help!
I have some other blog posts about Chanel bags, including this one, Five Things I Want To Tell You About The Chanel Wallet On Chain Handbag as well as Why The Chanel Canvas Tote Bag Should Be Your Next Chanel Purchase,Can You Buy A Chanel Handbag Online? and Guess What?! I Bought The Chanel GST (+ It’s RED!). I hope these posts are of help!