Buying my first Chanel (or two!) was something I have wanted to do my whole life. When I was kid, my mom did not have a lot of money and we couldn’t afford designer things, so I told myself I would buy one when I ‘grew up’. When I grew up, I saw it as a career and life milestone and made the goal: ‘A Chanel by 25‘. For me, this purchase was particularly meaningful because I felt successful for having accomplished a goal I set for myself years ago. I have always loved Chanel, not only does it have my initials on the bag, but it was also my first job out of college at the Rodeo Dr. store! Every time I sent off a bag, I would dream of one being mine. However, as one might think, purchasing you first Chanel is no small feat, I planned it out for months.
Saving for the Chanel
Around this time last year, I made two goals for 2017: 1. Pay off my student loans and 2. Buy a Chanel bag for my 25th birthday. Every monetary decision I made thereafter was aimed at those two intentions. The best advice I can give if you want to make a big purchase, is plan ahead and make a decision to exercise major self control in the name of delayed gratification.
Before I allowed myself to even save for a Chanel, I made it my personal goal to pay off my student debt first. Then, I reasoned, the Chanel would be my reward (and motivation). This was easier said than done. Even though my upbringing has made me incredibly good at saving money, paying off my student loans was a very frustrating experience. I wanted to do it as quickly as possible which meant, for about a year, I dedicate the majority of my income to it. This was frustrating because even though I was making money (sorry for all those #spon posts btw…), I wasn’t getting to use much of it. But, in the long run it was worth it, the day I paid off my loans I felt SO accomplished!
In early 2017 Alex and I also decided to take a trip to Europe. After doing some research, I determined it made the most sense to purchase a bag while traveling. Chanel is less expensive abroad compared to the US and you get a VAT refund. (If you want to know more about Chanel prices abroad read this article ). So even though buying myself a Chanel for my 25th birthday was my goal, it made more sense to wait for the trip, and because we decided to go to Paris, the experience was even more memorable!
Once I had paid off my loans midway trough 2017 and was saving for the Chanel, I began thinking seriously about which bag I wanted. I was between the classic flap and the boy, and I truly couldn’t decide! As soon as I would definitively decide on one, I would think about how much I liked the other…
Buying the Chanel
The first day we had in Paris, Alex said ‘let’s go to Chanel.’ He knew how long I had looked forward to this and so we took an Uber to the Rue Cambon store first thing. The Rue Cambon Chanel store is special because it is the flagship store, the very first Chanel boutique opened in 1910, and was also where Gabrielle Coco Chanel lived. Truthfully, it is entirely enchanting and simply a beautiful store.
I walked in and went straight to the purse department where I asked for a small and medium Flap with gold hardware and a small boy with silver hardware, ‘all in black please,’ and crossed my fingers they were in stock. For my first Chanel, I knew I would be getting black and was pretty set on the hardware pairings: gold for classic, silver for chic. As I tried them on, the sales associate kindly showed me the rest of the color selections, but I didn’t need to see them off the shelf.
I went back and forth for about a half hour before I realized there was no way I could choose…. So I made the decision to get both. C’est la vie, right? I decided on the small flap, because I’m a small bag person, and the boy. A bit of Coco and a bit of Karl.
This however, was when we ran into a small hiccup. If you are not a resident of the EU, you cannot purchase a bag without a passport with you, and you can only purchase one bag per passport. I worried this meant I would be forced to choose, but luckily our sales associate explained one would technically be Alex’s and one would be mine, though I could still pay for both. Unfortunately we had left our passports at the apartment… so Alex reluctantly agreed to go get them as I sipped champagne at the Rue Cambon boutique. 🙂
Once Alex came back with both our passports, we were allowed to purchase the bags, one at a time. And as my sales associate handed me my white Rue Cambon bags, she asked if I wanted to see the steps to Coco Chanel’s apartment. (Probably because I had been gushing over how excited I was to be there from the moment I walked in the door). For any Chanel admirer, this is a very exciting experience, but personally, it was remarkable to stand where Chanel stood. Her legacy and influence in fashion is more than just a top fashion house. She created clothes for women’s comfort instead of men’s eyes. She pioneered making pants fashionable for women. She made suntans popular. Women’s suits? Coco Chanel. Button front cardigan? Yes, that too. Even more ubiquitously, the little black dress. She even popularized the concept of black being stylish in general. Legendary.
Even if you don’t own, wear, or like Chanel, I can guarantee you have at some point worn something she inspired. And truly, it felt surreal to stood where she stood. And to finally own a piece of that history.
My dream bags
Once we took about 500 photos (lol) on the steps and in front of the store, Alex and I proceeded to walk around Place Vendome and grab some wine and fromage. I can tell you without a doubt, I smiled ear to ear the rest of the day and have never been more proud of a purchase. And as for the bags, since carrying them, I’m quite happy I got both… if I had to choose though, the classic flap is definitely my favorite, but still they are just so different in their style. They honestly do not compare. Where the classic flap is classic, timeless, and elegant (and every girl in Paris has one, by the way), the boy bag is chic, trendy and cool-girl (and more spacious). Each has their own personality and I appreciate each uniquely.
One last thing I will say though, is that usually after getting a bag, as much as I love it, my mind is onto the next one thinking; ‘what should I get next.’ But, the one thing I’ve noticed since buying these two, is that I haven’t really had that thought. Yes, of course there are still bags on my wishlist, but with these I feel like I don’t need any more bags. Particularly the Classic Flap, I feel as though it is the ultimate handbag, that I could really just have this and never need anything else! In a way, it made my wardrobe feel… complete.
Before I sign off, I’ll share the prices I paid for the bags in Paris, since Chanel bag prices vary all over the world, as well as the VAT refund price incase you are traveling internationally. For the Boy Bag I paid $4,909.33 total and received a $573.95 return. For the Classic Flap I paid $5,526.08 and received a $646.06 return. Ultimately, I paid an incredible price for brand new Chanel bags compared to the US, so not only is the buying experience worthwhile in Paris, but also the grand total. (However, I do believe since traveling, Chanel has increased their prices).
Thank you for reading this article and sharing this meaningful experience with me!