The Best First Chanel Bag?

Hello! It’s been a bit quiet over here on the blog for the first couple of weeks of 2019 but I thought I would kick things off again with a post on what the best first Chanel bag to buy is. I get a lot of questions from first time buyers, often very confused about what to go for as their first Chanel bag. This obviously depends a lot on your personal circumstances, style and lifestyle but even with all that in mind, they are a few general recommendations that I think are true regardless of preference and circumstance. So with that said, here are some of recommendations and tips for those of you considering taking the plunge with your first Chanel bag!

Style

Now obviously, any bag you like can make for a good first Chanel purchase but generally speaking, there are certain bags which are popular go-tos for many looking at buying their first Chanel. The most common ones I hear about are the Chanel WOC (Wallet-0n-Chain), the Chanel Mini (either square or rectangle) or the M/L flap (sometimes known as the medium flap). The price difference between these styles is substantial and I’ll be going over that in the next section.

These three styles can all make potentially great first Chanel purchases but there are some key facts to know about each:

WOC: This is a small bag and the chain is very long and is therefore really only suited to wearing crossbody. It comes with multiple card slots and is really designed to forgo a wallet. If you’re happy to do this, then you’ll be able to fit inside a phone, keys and a lipstick or other small item but not much else. On the plus side, it’s a light and easy bag to wear and can work well as both a casual crossbody bag for day as well as an evening bag too. For those looking for a WOC and Mini comparison, I have this video comparing the two styles here.

Chanel Mini: The next size up can fit a lot more and is one of personal favourites for both its adorable look and value for money. The square and the rectangle mini can fit approximately the same with the rectangle mini fitting slightly more (but only very slightly). You’ll be able to fit a small wallet, phone, keys, compact as well as a product or two. The biggest difference between the two is that the rectangle mini has a much longer strap than the square mini. As a result, the square mini is more suited to wearing on the shoulder whereas the rectangle mini is more suited to wearing crossbody. For those still confused about the two, I have a video comparison of the two sizes here.

Chanel M/L Flap: This is the classic Chanel size and is what most people think of when they think of the classic flap. It is certainly a beautiful size and can transition well from day to evening as long as you are happy to carry less with you. Due to the presence of the double flap, you can’t fit that much in and you will roughly have the same capacity as the rectangle mini. The chain length is a great deal shorter though and this style is most suited to wearing on the shoulder – it is too short for most to be able to wear crossbody.

Other Popular Options: Two other popular styles are of course the Jumbo and Small Flap. The Jumbo is my absolute favourite style and despite the hefty cost, I do think is worth the money due to its versatility, functionality and capacity. Many people gravitate towards the above styles because of their smaller size and more accessible price but if you know you prefer larger bags, then the Jumbo is an amazing choice and what I consider to be my all-time-favourite bag.

The small flap is less mentioned because I think many just opt to go for the M/L as it is slightly bigger. Even though I do think the small flap doesn’t represent the best value for money, I love mine and it is a wonderful choice for day or night providing you are a minimalist in terms of what you carry, as it is a small bag. The strap is on the shorter side so it isn’t really possible to wear this crossbody but it is an ideal length to wear over the shoulder. If you’re looking to save some money and you generally gravitate towards smaller bags, then I do think that the small flap over the M/L is worth considering.

If you would like to see what all of these bags look like when worn, I try on all of these styles in this Chanel Collection video.

Value For Money and Chanel Bag Prices

Even though the Chanel Minis have seen fairly hefty price increases over the past few years, they are generally considered to still be the best value for money. This is because they are not considered ‘classic flaps’ due to their lack of a double flap and are therefore priced lower. The ‘small’ sized flap and above are all considered ‘classics’ and come with a premium price tag as a result.

As of January 2019, the following prices apply:

Chanel WOC: $2,500 USD or £1,790 GBP

Chanel Square Mini: $3,200 USD or £2,290 GBP

Chanel Rectangle Mini: $3,500 USD or £2,610 GBP

Chanel Small Classic Flap: $5,000 USD or £3,810 GBP

Chanel M/L Classic Flap: $5,600 USD or £4,300 GBP

Chanel Jumbo / Large Classic Flap: $6,200 USD or £4,800 GBP

Prices differ according to country but Chanel now lists prices on their website.

Leather and Colour

Leather and colour are also important factors to consider when deciding on your first Chanel bag. Chanel offer many different varieties however the two most popular and frequently used leathers are caviar and lambskin. Caviar (pictured above) is undoubtedly the most durable of the two and is what I would recommend for any first time buyer. Whilst many prefer the look of the lambskin, the caviar will provide a worry-free experience and will allow you to fully enjoy your bag without worrying about scratches or marks. I purchased my first bag from the boutique in lambskin and quickly regretted it. Even though I am happy to buy lambskin now, they are only as occasional use bags for me.

The two permanent colours are black and beige clair which are two wonderfully classic options that you can’t go wrong with and what I would always recommend for a first Chanel buy. However Chanel also release different colours seasonally throughout the year and important to note – these colours are never repeated so if you find something you like, you are best to buy it then if you are in a position to purchase. These are subject to availability and it is impossible to predict what Chanel will release from season to season. Common colours include blue and red but the shades can vary greatly. You can find out what’s currently available on the Chanel website while The Purse Forum is also a useful resource.

Conclusion

If you are just stepping into Chanel world, then I would always recommend to start on the lower-priced side – meaning the WOC or Chanel minis. Not only are these more accessibly priced than a $5600 M/L flap but you’ll be able to find out if the style works for you without sacrificing any of the Chanel ‘look’. My absolute favourite pick? The Chanel Mini. Not only is it around half the price of the larger ‘classic’ flaps but it can fit a decent amount, work for both day and night and is absolutely adorable to look at!

If you’re a minimalist who loves crossbody, then the WOC is also a lovely choice but be aware that the strap is on the long side so if you are petite, I would definitely say to try this one on! This of course isn’t to say that any of the other sizes are bad choices – just much larger investments. If you are set on a particular size, then you really can’t go wrong. As painful as the frequent Chanel price increases are, it also means that Chanel has stellar resale value on the preloved market so your purchase is almost guaranteed to be a safe one.

I hope that you found the above helpful – if you have any questions for me, then leave me a comment below!

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26 Comments

  1. Nikki
    January 22, 2019 / 12:47 pm

    I notice you haven’t mentioned the reissue – seriously thinking about the small (which I think is just a bit smaller than the M/L classic?) as a first purchase because of its minimalist style and carefree distressed leather. What do you think?

    • Ance
      January 22, 2019 / 6:08 pm

      I was wondering the same thing.
      I actually just purchased this bag over the weekend. I think it’s classic, understated, and a little more casual/edgey as compared to the classic flap.

    • amie
      January 23, 2019 / 2:29 pm

      Hi Nikki and Ance! Nothing against the reissues at all – they’re not my personal favourite style but I know plenty of people who absolutely love them 🙂 I didn’t feature them in the blog post due to both lack of personal experience and also I generally just get a lot more questions about the classic styles 🙂

  2. KKS
    January 22, 2019 / 5:48 pm

    I would just add that the WOC is versatile in that you can wrap the chain around the inside to carry it on one’s shoulder or tuck it inside completely to carry as a clutch. This was my first Chanel purchase and a perfect ‘entry’ bag for m.

    • amie
      January 23, 2019 / 2:29 pm

      Yes! Totally agree 🙂

  3. Naz
    January 22, 2019 / 7:01 pm

    Great article at the best time for me Amie. I own a Chanel caviar GST and a square mini in lambskin. Now I’m desperate for the medium classic flap. But by the time I can get mine (next year) the prices would have further increased sadly. I watched your YT video of your Chanel collection. Fabulous darling

    • amie
      January 23, 2019 / 2:30 pm

      So happy you found it useful Naz!

  4. January 22, 2019 / 7:22 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing!! This post is so very helpful! Was wondering whether the mini rectangular are always available in the UK? In black or red? I find that these popular colors are difficult to find.
    Thanks!!!

  5. Anna
    January 22, 2019 / 10:08 pm

    This is an amazing blog because my dream bag is a Chanel bag and I’m between the mini rectangular or the Jumbo. The only thing stopping me at the moment is the price because it is a huge difference.

    • amie
      January 23, 2019 / 2:32 pm

      I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with either. I’d say that my minis get slightly less usage just because they are smaller but then they are a great deal cheaper. I adore my Jumbo and do think it’s worth the price (even now!) but a mini is much more accessible and a great way of testing the style whilst still getting something incredibly timeless 🙂

  6. Xiao Ying
    January 23, 2019 / 1:43 am

    Thank you so much for the detailed introduction of Channel bag, Amie. It is indeed very helpful for someone who doesn’t really know Channel like me:)

    • amie
      January 23, 2019 / 2:32 pm

      So happy you found it useful Xiao!

  7. Kelli Cardenal
    January 23, 2019 / 2:18 am

    I own 2 Jumbos which I bought preloved on Fashionphile. I absolutely love these bags & getting them second hand made them more affordable than even the WOC. I highly recommend looking into the preloved market for Chanel because there are some great pieces out there & in amazing condition.

    • amie
      January 23, 2019 / 2:33 pm

      Great point Kelli! 🙂

    • amie
      January 23, 2019 / 2:33 pm

      Thanks so much Chloe! 🙂

  8. Lisa Autumn
    January 23, 2019 / 12:16 pm

    The Jumbo Classic Flap is my absolute dream…

    x Lisa | lisaautumn.com

    • amie
      January 23, 2019 / 2:33 pm

      Still my absolute favourite!

  9. AmyE
    January 23, 2019 / 6:00 pm

    Hi. I was wondering if Chanel still sells the GST in stores or if this bag is only on pre-loved websites. Thanks.

  10. January 23, 2019 / 6:16 pm

    Such good reviews and suggestions! One of my favorite purchases from Chanel is the square mini. I love it and use it to death!
    Jae
    http://www.allthatjae.com

  11. Sophie
    January 24, 2019 / 4:31 am

    Thank you Amie for the thorough review! Your Chanel collection is stunning.
    I find it so hard to find a black caviar square mini GHW brand new (it’s more expensive preloved).Any advice?

  12. Justine
    January 24, 2019 / 6:52 am

    Quite honestly, the best blog post!! So helpful 🙂

  13. Whitney
    January 25, 2019 / 1:06 am

    Hi Amie! I’ve been wanting the mini for the longest time! I can’t find it anywhere at least not in the caviar leather. I also can’t find any good one’s preloved and the premiums are always more expensive than the boutique when I see a great one. As it’s not first chanel purchase I don’t want to get the medium size (and I honestly don’t carry much in my purse anyway). Any thoughts on how to find the mini?

  14. Whitney
    January 25, 2019 / 4:18 am

    Hey Amie! I’ve been doing research into chanel and the leather and stumbled across your videos last year and you helped me make the decision to go for the rectangle mini in caviar.. of course no stores have it and the preloved sites are selling them at a higher premium even when they look bad… I’ve called and gone to the store in my area and got on the list but its been months… do you have any suggestions?

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