Your First Chanel Bag

After nearly two years of consideration, I purchased my first Chanel bag while I was in DC, at the recently opened outpost in CityCenter. I chose the Maxi Classic Double Flap Bag in black caviar leather. As with all my purchases of luxury goods, I calculated how many hours of work were required in order to pay for the bag. This put the price into perspective for me.

This post will address the Chanel handbags with flaps. There are four major styles: the Classic Flap Bag, the 19, the 2.55, and the Boy Bag. This post will not address the top handle flap style, the Gabrielle Hobo, the Shopper Tote, the ever-popular wallet-on-a-chain, or any other small leather goods.

I found that there are a few general principles that are universal amongst the four styles. Handbags are produced in leather, tweed, velvet and other fabrics. The calfskin leather, also known as the caviar leather, is the more durable option over the softer lambskin leather. (As I have a toddler, the caviar leather was the only option for me.) Black is a mainstay color and perpetually available in calfskin and lambskin. The seasonal colors never repeat. Below I will include the price at the time of posting [May 2022] of each handbag in each size in the black caviar leather option (unless otherwise noted) for the sake of consistency.

Classic Flap Bag

Though the Classic Flap Bag is emblematic of a Chanel handbag, the bag adorned with interlocking C’s was not released until the 1980s. The chain strap is woven with the fabric with which it is constructed. It can be worn doubled up on the shoulder (my preferred method) or crossbody. Until relatively recently, the style was made with a single exterior flap. These days, the handbag style has an interior flap as well, which provides extra support and structure to the bag, albeit makes the bag heavier.

The Classic Flap Bag is available in six sizes:

Classic Flap Bag SizeDimension in InchesStrap Drop in InchesPrice
Chanel Mini Square Flap Classic Flap Bag5.3” x 6.6” x 3.1”21″$4,200*
Chanel Mini Rectangular Classic Flap Bag7.8” x 4.7” x 2.3”23″$4,400*
Chanel Small Classic Flap Bag9” x 5.7” x 2.3”9″$8,200
Chanel Medium Classic Flap Bag6″ x 9.9” x 2.5”9″$8,800*
Chanel Jumbo Classic Flap Bag7.6” x 11.7” x 3.9”13″$9,500
Chanel Maxi Classic Flap Bag9” x 12.9” x 3.9”12″$10,000
All prices are for black caviar leather, unless noted * as black lambskin leather.

Interestingly the strap drop does not correlate to the dimensions of the handbags.


The Chanel 2.55 handbag was initially released in 1955 and reissued in 2005. The design is more discrete than its 1983-born sister due to the lack of interlocking C’s in lieu of a more restrained rectangular buckle.

At the time of its original release, the handbag was groundbreaking due to the addition of the straps. This allowed ladies to carry essentials hands free. Until then, more cumbersome clutches dominated the market. The chain on the 2.55 handbag is metal only; it does not have the interwoven fabric as the Classic Flap Bag does. Rounding out the design code is the quilting: it is available in both square quilting in a similar dimension to the Classic Flap Bag, and chevron quilting like the Boy Bag (discussed below).

The 2.55 is available is four sizes:

2.55 Bag SizeDimension in InchesStrap Drop in InchesPrice
Chanel Mini Rectangular 2.55 Bag7.8″ x 6″ x 2.3″20″$4.400
Chanel Medium 2.55 Bag9.4″ x 6.2″ x 2.9″20″$8,800
Chanel Large 2.55 Bag10.9″ x 7.6″ x 2.9″17″$9,500
Chanel Maxi 2.55 Bag12.3″ x 7.8″ x 3.9″19″$10,000
All prices are for black aged calfskin leather.


The handbag known as 19 was the last Lagerfeld-designed release before his death. While some deign it a new staple of the design house, I have doubts that it will stand the test of time.

The 19 is know for three Chanel design codes: metal chain strap, interlocking Cs, and quilting. The bag features both a long and short tri-color metal chain incorporating ruthenium, silver, and gold tones with a fabric reinforcement at the shoulder placement. Note that the long chain is not adjustable. The interlocking Cs are available in the three metal tone options and are interwoven with the fabric, mimicking the strap reinforcement.

As opposed to the tighter quilting on the Classic Flap Bag, the quilting on the 19 is an eight centimeter square, which gives the bag a puffy pillow-y look, not unlike Madonna’s current face. (Don’t send the Twitter stans for me, please and thank you.) This also contributes to the slouchier appearance of the 19, especially in comparison to the much more structured Classic Flap Bag.

Interestingly, each size of the 19 is significantly cheaper than it’s Classic Flap Bag and 2.55 counterparts. While it is cheaper, it remains to be seen whether the fledgling 19 will go on to become a mainstay of the house thus making it a wise investment.

The 19 is available in three sizes:

19 Handbag SizeDimension in InchesStrap Drop in InchesPrice
Chanel Medium 19 Handbag10.1″ x 6.2″ x 3.5″18″$5,700
Chanel Large 19 Handbag11.7″ x 7.8″ x 3.9″18″$6,300
Chanel Maxi 19 Handbag14″ x 9.8″ x 4.3″14″$6,900
All prices are for black lambskin leather.

Boy Chanel Handbag

In an effort to cater to a younger demographic, the Boy Bag made its debut in 2011. It is named for a former paramour of Coco Chanel herself, Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel.

Like the 19 and the Classic Flap Bag, the Boy Bag features interlocking Cs. Quilting is also a feature; in addition to the standard square quilted option, the Boy Bag also comes in a chevron quilted option akin to the 2.55. The strap is both a chunky metal chain which threads through two metal rings affixed to either side of the body of the bag and an adjustable fabric strap which falls at the shoulder. The strap may be doubled up and worn on the shoulder. Select colorways also have a top handle. Unlike the 19, the fabric does not serve as a reinforcement as there is no overlap and again, it is adjustable.

I have read frequent online accounts {from bloggers and forum members of purse sites, mostly} considering purchases of the Boy Bag being a mistake. Personally, the influx of Real Housewives carrying the Boy Bag makes it a style on which to pass.

The Boy Bag is available in five sizes:

Boy Chanel Handbag Flap Bag SizeDimension in InchesStrap Drop in InchesPrice
Chanel Mini Rectangular Boy Handbag5.9″ x 3.9″ x 2.3″21″$4,500
Chanel Mini Square Boy Handbag7″ x 6.2″ x 3.3″21″$5,300
Chanel Small Boy Handbag8″ x 4.7″ x 3.3″21″$5,400
Chanel Medium Boy Handbag9.8” x 5.9” x 3.5”21″$5,900
Chanel Large Boy Handbag10.9″ x 6.8:”x 2.9″21″$6,200
All prices are for black calfskin leather.

On the Secondary Market

What is a reputable reseller? I have read blogs that advise the reader to only buy resale via reputable reseller but they never provide examples. I get it. I would not want to recommend a vendor, on the off chance that the goods are not authentic.

If a Chanel bag is so worth an investment, it seems a reseller wouldn’t be able to provide as great a price. Ask when your potential future bag was purchased. Research the then-retail price. (Prices are obsessively tracked online, trust.) Does the owner stand to make a profit? If not, ask yourself why they could be selling at a loss.

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