If you’ve been following this blog for a few years, you know that I am a huge CHANEL fangirl. Over the years, I’ve gotten many emails from readers who also love CHANEL and want to buy a bag, but for a variety of reasons haven’t pulled the trigger just yet. Questions range from “when is the best time to buy” to “how can you afford all these bags”. Well, today’s post is all about buying your first (or second, or tenth) CHANEL bag, and how to do it without going broke and having to eat ramen for a year. If you’re the type of person who believes that it’s insane to spend thousands of dollars on a designer bag, then this post is definitely not for you, but if you are seriously considering this major purchase and need a few helpful suggestions, then keep reading.
1. Choose Your Style
A classic CHANEL bag is an investment. Year after year, prices of CHANEL products continue to rise, and with each increase, it becomes more and more difficult to get your hands on a coveted bag. Back in 2008 a friend of mine picked up a medium CHANEL 2.55 bag for around CAD 2,000.00. At the time, I thought she was crazy. Fast forward to 2010, and I was picking up my own 2.55 wishing I’d done it much sooner. The lesson here is that if you can afford a bag now and know exactly which style you’re after, then waiting around is not the best strategy. As ridiculous as the price may seem initially, these bags are supposed to last you a lifetime (with proper care) – an heirloom for your future kids, and a bag that looks great on 20 and 80 year olds alike.
But in order to commit to spending a ton of money on one item, you first need to know which style you are crazy about. Are you a classic flap girl, always dreamed of having a CHANEL Boy bag, or are you more of a backpack girl? Choose a style that suits your personality, and one you can foresee yourself proudly wearing a few years down the road. Carefully consider the colour of hardware (silver, gold, gunmetal), the length of the strap (do you prefer cross-body, over the shoulder, or both?), the type of leather (lambskin is more fragile, caviar is less scratch-prone), reissue or classic, and of course the overall colour (black is a no-brainer, but maybe you’ve always dreamed of one in colourful tweed). Go to a nearby boutique and ask to see a few bags. Try them on, look inside, see how versatile each bag is and whether it’s comfortable to carry. Don’t be shy, it’s better to be 100% certain that the bag you’re buying is the one for you, especially when it’s your first.
2. Save Up
If you’re not one of the lucky few who can afford to buy a bag right away, then saving up is key. Go to your bank and open a savings account with automated weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly contributions. Little by little, your savings will add up, and perhaps with the help of your yearly bonus (or maybe lotto winnings?) some day soon you’ll be able to march into the nearby CHANEL boutique and finally buy the bag of your dreams. It should go without saying that if you’re saving up for a big purchase, then another way to save your pennies is to reduce the number of times you eat out and get take out coffee. Bringing lunch to work may seem like a chore, but in the end, you’ll be able to save faster. Another way to beef up your CHANEL fund is to ask your friends and family for CHANEL gift cards for your birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or whatever other holidays you celebrate. At the risk of sounding completely out of touch, let me just say that CHANEL gift cards are available in many denominations – you can get one for as little as $20! So if you’re comfortable telling your parents, your spouse, or your friends that you are currently saving up for a bag and would appreciate a gift card from CHANEL in lieu of other gifts, I am sure they won’t judge (or maybe they will, but that’s a different story). This is especially handy for those of us who are really tough to buy for, so really, it’s a win-win for everyone.
More after the jump!
3. Stop Impulse Shopping
Another way you can buy your CHANEL bag sooner is if you stop (or limit) spending money on impulse purchases like fast-fashion bags, clothes, and accessories. Sure, that Zara bag may only be $50, and is super on-trend right now, but if you are only planning on wearing it once or twice (wedding, night out, etc), or if it’s way too trendy, then it’s best to skip it and deposit the money you would’ve spent to your CHANEL fund instead. Borrow a dressy clutch from a friend if you need one for a special occasion, think twice before buying something just because it’s on sale, and just altogether skip those tempting super trendy items that will end up at the back of your closet after the trend is over; in other words, keep your eyes on the prize. Sales in general can make even the most sensible person spend too much money, so my rule of thumb is to only buy the things I need or love. If it’s neither, and I’m only into it because it’s “cute and on sale”, then I put it down and walk away. Impulse shopping may not seem like a big deal, but if you gather all of the no-name bags in your closet and calculate how much money you’d spent on those, the number may shock you. So shop smart, and that CHANEL bag will be yours in no time.
4. Go to Paris
Even though CHANEL has harmonised prices worldwide, from what I hear, it may still be more affordable to buy your bag in Paris than in Canada thanks to the currency exchange and VAT refund. But while you will likely save a good chunk if you buy your bag in Paris, of course, you’ll have to consider the price of the trip as well. If you were already planning a trip to France, then it’s a no-brainer, but if not, then you can also ask a trusted friend to pick up a bag for you if Paris is on their travel itinerary. Another perk of buying a CHANEL bag in Paris (other than the feeling of buying a CHANEL bag in Paris) is that Parisian stores (especially Rue Cambon and Avenue Montaigne) are almost guaranteed to have a much better selection than your local boutique. Obviously, this is not an option for everyone, but as someone who saved money by buying two of my CHANEL bags in Paris, I had to mention it.
5. Buy Vintage
Lastly, if you’ve thought about it and still cannot justify the price of a brand new CHANEL bag, then buying vintage or second-hand may be for you. While some vintage bags can cost just as much (or even more) than a new bag, there are plenty of online (and brick and mortar) shops that offer gently worn bags for a steal. It may take a bit of online stalking and a lot of patience, especially if the specific bag you’re after is hard to find, but with some persistence, I am sure you’ll eventually find the one. Here are a few of my favourite vintage shops: Portero, The RealReal, Rewind Couture, What Goes Around Comes Around, and of course, eBay. I’m sure you already know it, but I’ll say it again, you’ll need to be very careful when shopping on eBay. From making sure the seller is reputable and has great reviews, to looking closely at photos (and maybe even posting them on an authentication forum), you should be 99.9% sure that the bag you’re buying is authentic. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is, so exercise caution and use common sense when deciding whether to buy or not to buy. Having said that, I’ve had good luck on eBay in the past, and absolutely love the vintage CHANEL backpack I bought on the auction site years ago.
And there you have it, my 5 tips on buying your first CHANEL bag without going broke. Hope you find this post useful, and it helps you get your hands on that CHANEL bag sooner rather than later. Do you have your own designer bag shopping tips? Share in the comments!