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Published: Oct 29, 2020

Buying a Chanel handbag is one of the best fashion decisions you can make for a number of reasons. They’re iconic and timeless, so they will always be in style. They tend to go up in value over time, making for a great investment. They’re also very high quality (and, with some leather choices, quite durable) so the bag can last a lifetime with the proper care. All these great qualities come with a high price tag, so making the choice to buy your first Chanel bag can be a big one. If you’re ready to own your first Chanel bag, which should you get? There are so many amazing options, but it really depends on your preferences and uses for the bag.

Before buying your first Chanel bag, you should consider the following:

1. Chanel handbag Styles

2. Material and color choices

3. Retail vs Consignment

1. Chanel Handbag Styles:

Chanel offers their core handbag styles that have been cemented as luxury fashion icons, like the 2.55 Reissue and Classic Flap. These bags are great choices for someone who wants their Chanel bag to also be an investment piece, as they maintain and even increase in value over time. However, depending on your taste and needs, Chanel offers several other amazing styles, like the Boy bag, Wallet-on-Chain and Gabrielle bags. 

If you want to be even more unique, you could opt for a seasonal bag, which are created only during a specific Chanel collection season. The investment value of these bags is not as well defined as in the classic styles, but certain models are rare and in high demand. 

For your first Chanel bag, we recommend considering the following classic styles, which are ultimate statement pieces in their own right and complement any outfit:

Classic Flap

Vintage Louis Vuitton Suitcase

This is the quintessential Chanel bag and it exudes class and luxury wherever you take it. From the supple quilted leather to the heavy metal strap and gleaming CC lock hardware, it is unmistakable. This style revitalized decades of Chanel heritage when fashion mogul Karl Lagerfeld conceptualized the iconic CC lock and metal strap intertwined with leather. The black caviar leather with gold hardware is the most signature Chanel aesthetic for this bag, but you can find it in other popular colors like beige, brown, navy, pink, white and more! It is also one of the most prolific Chanel bags because it is offered in a multitude of sizes: mini, small, medium, jumbo and maxi. The smaller sizes are sleek companions for your dinners and black ties, whereas the larger options make for great everyday carry bags or travel bags. 

Boy Bag

Chanel Boy Bag

Feeling romantic? The Boy flap bag is Chanel’s wearable love story: in 2011, Karl Lagerfeld paid yet another tribute to the late Coco Chanel by creating the Boy bag, inspired by her first love, Boy Capel. This bag features more masculine features, from the thick chain to the strong, angular lines and boxy, rigid silhouette. Coco was known to be a tomboy at heart, constantly challenging gender norms of her time and experimenting with masculine design cues in her fashion creations. The Boy bag comes in two sizes: small and medium, and can be found in a variety of luscious colors and material choices, making it an instant classic and one of the most popular Chanel bags of 2020.

Wallet on Chain

Chanel WOC

Cute and chic, the Chanel Wallet on Chain (WOC) is proof that the best things often come in small packages. A petite companion for your most essential items like phone, credit cards and keys, the WOC is perfect for traveling light or for a night out. Styled like a mini Classic flap on a chain, it retains much of the signature Chanel aesthetic in a compact yet fashionable package. You can carry it in your hand like a clutch or strap it across your shoulder and it works with almost any outfit. The Wallet on Chain is one of the most popular choices for your first Chanel bag because it is significantly less expensive than its larger counterparts, yet still is made of the same luxurious craftsmanship standards and attention to detail. 

2.55 “Reissue” Flap

Chanel 2.55 Reissue Bag

The 2.55 flap bag, also known as the Reissue has an interesting history behind it. The original Chanel flap bag was first created by Gabrielle Chanel in February of 1955, hence the name “2.55”. This bag featured her square lock, heavy all-metal chain, soft lambskin leather and defined a whole era of Chanel luxury handbags. It did, however, become discontinued due to the popularity of Karl Lagerfeld’s “Classic” Chanel Flap with the CC lock closure. Not letting such an iconic design die out, Karl decided in 2005 to bring back Gabrielle’s square lock and signature chain in the Reissue 2.55 bag, and it quickly became an ultra-popular design amongst Chanelistas both young and older. 

2. Chanel Material and Color Choices

One of the most luxurious aspects of Chanel handbags is of course the material from which they are crafted. Holding one in your hands, it becomes quickly apparent why they carry such prestige along with a high price tag. Every Chanel material choice offers you a different tangible experience, from the softness and texture of the material to the fragrant smell (usually associated with leathers). We recommend for your first Chanel bag to be made of their luscious leather, as this will provide you the best luxury handbag experience. Chanel’s main leather options are caviar leather, patent leather, lambskin leather and crinkled/aged calfskin leather. To learn more about each individual leather choice, please refer to our Chanel Investment Bag Guide.

The next most important decision you make besides the handbag style and material choice is of course the color. Chanel offers a wide array of colors specific to each material choice, from more standard colors like black, navy, brown, beige, white and royal blue to the flamboyant color options like iridescent and silver tone calfskin. For your first Chanel handbag, we recommend the traditional black leather option, with gold or silver hardware. This is because the bag will provide you the most use in terms of complementing your outfits and fitting into any kind of environment. A plus side of this means the bag will always be in high demand, keeping its investment value.

3. Retail vs Resale

Retail vs Resale Graph

Now that you have decided which Chanel bag you want as your first, where should you buy it? You could go to a Chanel boutique and buy a new Classic or Reissue flap bag for $6,000, or purchase a pre-owned flap bag for half the retail price. Used Chanel bags sold by reputable resellers are usually in great to mint condition, with minimal signs of wear that you yourself would put on a brand new bag within a few uses.

The reputable resellers are very strict about the condition of the inventory they accept, and have strict authenticity protocols so you know you’re buying the real deal. Another great benefit of shopping Chanel handbags on the resale market is that you have access to a wider selection of styles, materials and colors as the bags you come across will range from vintage or discontinued to just one fashion year old. With retail, you pay the premium for a brand new Chanel bag, but only have access to handbags from the current season. With resale, you buy a gently used Chanel bag yet save thousands of dollars and receive the same luxury and more value for your money. The choice is yours.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Which should I choose: the Chanel Classic Flap or 2.55 Reissue?

Both bags have their similarities but glaring differences - most notably the 2.55 having the more inconspicuous lock and chain hardware, while the Classic Flap has the more showy, branded hardware appeal. It is up to personal preference. The 2.55 Reissue comes only in aged calfskin, giving it a purposely more tumbled and vintage appearance. 

If I want to purchase a bag with the most future investment/resale value, which should I go with?

We recommend a black caviar Classic Flap with gold hardware. This is undoubtedly the most popular Chanel bag - always has been, always will be. You can love and wear it for decades, knowing the durable caviar leather will retain its wonderful qualities over the years with common-sense care. And then, when you are finally ready to part ways with it, or if you ever find yourself needing the money, you know your bag will have retained or even increased in its value. 

Buying a pre-owned Chanel bag is much cheaper, but I am afraid of counterfeits. Should I just save up for a new Chanel handbag? 

Many women recognize that buying a pre-owned Chanel bag is the best way to save thousands of dollars and still receive all the value and luxury from the bag. You will find that many, if not most Chanel handbags on the resale market are in very good or excellent condition, yet still are much cheaper than retail. Our advice for shopping used Chanel bags: be sure to purchase only from a reputable reseller with a money-back authenticity guarantee. If they are online, be sure to read their Google reviews to get a sense of the reseller’s reputation.

The Wallet on Chain is so cute! But how practical is it?

We love the WOC - it is absolutely adorable and lets you take some Chanel flair with you everywhere you go, but don’t expect it to carry much. You should use it for the bare essentials: credit cards, some cash, and your phone (depending on size). 

How do I know if it is and authentic Chanel bag? 

Because Chanel is one of the most iconic handbag designers in the fashion world, there are tons of fakes and counterfeits out there. Fake Chanel bags usually have several telltale signs that they are indeed fake. If you want to learn how to spot a fake, be sure to check out our Chanel Handbag Authentication Guide. Every Chanel item we have for sale has been professionally authenticated and is backed by a money-back lifetime authenticity guarantee. 

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