From high school graduation (pre-absurd price hikes) to graduating college (mid-price hikes) and turning 30 (just before the ridiculous price increase), a Chanel Classic Handbag has marked hallmarks in my life.
Now when they start at $8,200 USD, I cannot say that you need a Chanel flap bag.
Actually, with Chanel’s latest crazy price increases, I’d likely discourage you.
No one needs a handbag that costs more than an average monthly home mortgage payment.
… but, if you’re interested why I bought mine…
Let’s go through Chanel Classic Handbag’s sizes, prices, and how to decide if they’re worth it.
CHANEL Classic Handbag REVIEW
Basically, a Chanel Classic Handbag means a classic Chanel “Flap Bag” with the interlocking CC clasp or the 11.12 Handbag.
You’re probably not here for a history lesson, so let me TLDR it for you:
When Karl Lagerfeld came to Chanel in 1983, he reinterpreted Coco Chanel’s 2.55 handbag (the one without leather on the chain and the rectangular clasp) and the 11.12 flap bag (aka Chanel Classic Handbag) was born.
Older models, like my Jumbo/Large bag c. 2008, can have a single flap. These days, all Chanel Classic Handbags (except minis) are made with 4 exterior loopholes so you can adjust the strap and wear your bag cross body or over the shoulder, and an exterior flap and interior flap (double flap).
CHANEL Classic Handbag Sizes
Note: Chanel doesn’t qualify either of the mini versions as a “Classic,” but most people (including me) think of them as “classics.”
Chanel has four sizes for their Classic Handbags (i.e. the Chanel flap bag)…
1- Chanel Mini Flap Bag
a- Mini Square-ish Flap bag
The slightly more square version of Chanel’s Mini Flap bag is 5.3” high, 6.6” across and 3.1” deep and costs $4,200 USD.
b- Mini Rectangular Flap Bag
Whereas this Chanel Mini Flap bag is 4.7” high, 7.8” across and 2.3” deep and starts at $4,400 USD.
2- Chanel Small Classic Handbag
The Chanel Small Classic Handbag is 5.7” high, 9” across and 2.3” deep.
In lambskin (or grained leather), this bag starts at $8,200 USD.
3- Chanel Classic Handbag
… i.e., the bag formerly known as the Chanel Medium Classic Handbag.
The Chanel Classic Handbag is 6” high, 9.9” across and 2.5” deep.
As of 2021, the Chanel Classic Handbag starts at $8,800 USD in lambskin.
When the chain straps are doubled, the drop measures 9 inches, vs. when it’s at its longest, the drop is 16.5 inches.
This is the most classic size and bag you can get for a Chanel bag.
What Fits in a Chanel Classic Handbag?
You can not fit a full-size wallet in a Chanel Classic Handbag, but you can fit your day-to-day or nightly needs in it…
4- Chanel Large Classic Handbag
… aka the Chanel Jumbo flap bag.
The Chanel Large Classic Handbag measures 7.6” high, 11.7” across and 3.9” deep.
Today, the Large Classic Handbag starts at $9,500 USD.
At its shortest, the chain drop measures 13.5 inches vs. when it’s at its longest the drop is 25 inches.
Like I said before, you can find vintage models that only have a single flap bag (like mine) and no interior flap.
What Fits in a Chanel Large Classic Handbag?
You can easily fit a case-less 11” iPad Pro in it along with a full-size wallet and whatever other necessities you need…
5- Chanel Maxi Classic Handbag
The Chanel Maxi Classic Handbag measures 9” high, 12.9” across and 3.9” deep.
… and as of 2021, it starts at $10,000 USD (lmao, that’s absurd).
CHANEL CLASSIC FLAP BAG PRICES
In 2013, when I got my first Classic Handbag, it cost $4,800 USD.
After three price increases in 2021, Chanel’s Classic Handbag are now $8,800 USD.
In eight years, the price has gone up 83.33%.
At the beginning of 2021, Chanel Classic Handbags started at $6,500, rose to $6,800, then there was a second increase to $7,800, then the final $8,800 USD price.
So, during one year alone, they raised the price by 35.38%.
If you want to get even more “lmao, what?”, how about this?…
In 2008, when I got my Classic “Jumbo” Flap Bag, the price was around $2,650 USD.
In 2021, Chanel’s Large Classic Handbag now costs $9,500 USD.
That means in 13 years, the price has gone up 258.49%.
During that time period, standard inflation for that bag would assume a rise of (only) 28.5%.
Why does Chanel do this to us???
I have my theories…
1- Inflation — although wages would have also risen significantly if this was a legitimate reason.
2- So that folks will be more open to the Boy Bag, Chanel 19, Gabrielle Bag, or another “more affordable” non-classic bag (that “more affordable” is pure sarcasm).
3- To raise the prestige of their brand… and compete with Hermès.
4- Snob appeal — Chanel now also limits how many Classic Handbags you can purchase in one year.
5- To make up for their losses — while Chanel is a private company, they did report a 17.6% loss of sales in 2020.
6- To curb resellers — also why they are limiting the number of bags (similar to stocks, people may buy and hold Chanel bags only to resell later at a higher price).
7- So we’ll buy them before they raise the prices again.
8- Savoir-faire — there is a lot of work and craftsmanship that goes into creating a Chanel Classic Handbag…
Chanel says that “inspired by the couture savoir-faire, the 11.12 bag requires up to 180 operations and takes 15 hours to make.”
Chanel Classic Handbags do retain their resale value though.
You can find a lot of secondhand and vintage Chanel Classic Handbags online, and if you trust them to be authentic, you could even get a better price through FashionPhile, The Luxury Closet, The Real Real, or Vestiaire Collective.
Although (sometimes) pricier than those sites, if I were to buy a vintage Chanel bag, it’d be at either Resee (Paris’ #1 online destination for premium vintage goods), or, What Goes Around Comes Around (Hollywood’s favourite destination for vintage goods).
Fake Chanel bags have become nearly identical to authentic ones and it takes a trained eye to tell the difference — I believe that the folks at Resee and WGACA have the ability to distinguish the two.
YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN…
IS A CHANEL FlAP BAG WORTH IT?
With all of the price hikes, now more than ever, you need to find out that this is the dream bag for you.
Test driving one through Vivrelle before you take the plunge could be worth it.
I can’t tell you if it’s worth it, but I can share why I’ve bought three Classic Handbags…
There are 2 bags that are likely the most classic handbags — an Hermès Birkin (or Kelly) that was created in 1984 and a Chanel flap bag, the one we all know and love that was conceived by Karl in 1983.
Personally speaking, both a Birkin and Kelly are too mature at this point in my life.
… when I get older, I’m sure my opinion will change, but at this stage, I’m not in a position to be carrying either bag — like, my mom still does my laundry, those bags are for certified grown ups.
A Chanel flap bag though?
The Chanel Classic Handbag echoed my style when I was growing up and continues to follow what I like to wear today.
There is a lot of talk on the
street forums about how Chanel’s Classic Handbag quality has gone downhill.
When I bought my first Large Classic Handbag in 2008, some things were slightly off with the bag that ultimately made me exchange it for a “better” one.
Quality has always been hit or miss… and people have always complained about price increases.
While exorbitantly expensive, do not be scared to use your bag.
Be careful not to take it out in the rain, but simply use your best judgement on when/where to use it.
At the end of the day, they are quality handbags that you should not be afraid to use.
My caviar (aka grained leather) Large Classic Handbag has been worn so much that it desperately needs a day at a leather spa.
At the same time, there’s also something special about a bag that has all these memories, quite literally, ingrained in them.
I can look at these handbags and remember where each scuff came from — concerts, internships, more concerts, first dates, drunken nights (ok, maybe I can’t remember those), and jobs.
Unless you are planning on reselling your handbag, it does no good having it sit on your shelf only to be brought out for special occasions.
Wear the bag, love the bag, and have fun with your bag — it’s later than you think…
This bag’s style is the epitome of classic.
Gucci Dionysus or Dior Saddlebags come and go, but the Classic Handbag from Chanel is forever.
It will look equally subtly stylish on you today as it will on your grandchildren decades from now.
You can dress it up or use it every day for as long as you want…
CHANEL FLAP BAG OUTFITS
The Chanel Classic Handbag can fit any style.
From errands to airport pickups to an evening dinner, a classic Chanel flap bag can be dressed up or dressed down and worn any which way you want…
Left to Right: SLVRLAKE London jeans with a J.Crew tank top, tote bag, and Converse; Holiday Boileau sweater with AGOLDE Parker shorts and Repetto Cendrillons; RVCA x Camille Rowe dress with vintage earrings and Repetto Cendrillons; La Perla robe with Emme Parsons sandals and Isabel Marant earrings.
… and a few more, as seen on my Instagram.
The intoxicating smell of leather and luxury of opening up that black box with a Classic Handbag nestled between the tissue paper…
A Chanel Classic Handbag will always be the penultimate purse.
However, with the latest price increases, the jury’s out if a Chanel Classic Handbag is still worth it.
I know one thing for sure though — the memories made with my Chanel bags will always be “worth it.”
Chanel Classic Handbags start at $8,200 USD for a Chanel Small Classic Handbag from your closest Chanel Boutique.
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