How to Choose Your First Chanel Bag


So we’ve asked around a bit, and it turns out that for most of us fashionistas today, the first Holy Grail Bags we recognized were Chanels. As kids just coming into fashion consciousness—starting to see bags not just in terms of colors and shape, but also with respect to craftsmanship and brand—Chanel held pride of place.

Later on, other brands would come to stand alongside Chanel in our minds (and perhaps in our closets): Hermès, of course, but also Gucci, Saint Laurent, and the whole rest of the crew. But there’s no denying that to a little girl who is just starting to dip her toe into the fashion world, Chanel has a certain gravitational force. (Just ask around: for how many of your friends was the Chanel Classic Flap the first luxury bag they added to their wishlist?)

With this in mind, we’re taking a close look at the considerations that should go into buying your first Chanel bag—namely price, size & usage, and color. While aimed at first-time Chanel seekers, this guide will also help you as you navigate your next purchase at the Chanel boutique, regardless of where you may be in your Chanel journey. Bonne chance!



While we can’t tell you exactly how to budget, what we can do is assume that you’ll need to save up a bit of money to make the plunge into the exciting world of Chanel. This is luxury fashion, after all. The first step is to assess how much you’ve saved up, how much you’re willing to spend, and how long you’re willing to wait to save up for your perfect first Chanel.

Let’s say you’ve saved up $3,000, a good baseline for starting to look seriously at Chanel bags. You have two main options: buy something immediately or save up for a more expensive bag. Do you go for the WOC immediately? Or save another $1,500 to $3,000 for a Classic Flap, Boy Bag, Gabrielle? Perhaps you’re aiming for something extremely large, or an exotic. It’s completely up to personal preference—and how long you’re willing to wait and save—but to get an idea of what’s ahead, let’s compare some prices of popular bags.

*For tips on budgeting and buying luxury bags, read:

Chanel HandbagPrice (USD)
Wallet on Chain (WOC)$2,500
Boy Bag - Medium$4,700
Gabrielle - Hobo$4,700
Classic Flap - Medium$5,300
Classic Flap - Maxi$6,400
Classic Flap - Exotic (Python)$10,300

Size and Usage

Once you have an idea of price range, you’ll have to take into account the practicalities of size and usage. We’ve told you before, and we’ll tell you again: your perfect bag size depends on your everyday bag usage. If you want sometime tiny that can transition elegantly into the evening, a WOC may be the obvious choice. If you want more of a carry-all that is still reasonably small, you may want to shift focus to the Gabrielle. Let’s look at each of the bags in turn.


Wallet on Chain (WOC)

19 x 12.5 x 4 cm. Mini, elegant, and with crossbody potential, the WOC is the perfect transition bag. Perfect for an on-the-go lifestyle. Not so perfect for those who have many must-have accessories.


Classic Flap

25.5 x 16 x 7.5 cm (medium). The perfect mid-size shoulder bag (and, for some, a crossbody). With its timeless quilting, the Classic Flap is quite formal, though it also pairs wonderfully with jeans and a white t-shirt for a casual look.

34 x 23 x 10 cm (maxi). This bag says go big or go home. Ideal for traveling to and from places, or perhaps for work if you have a lot to tote around.


Boy Bag

28 x 18 x 9 cm (medium). Think the capacity of the Classic Flap, but less formal and with an edge. Classic Flap vs. Boy is more about aesthetic preference than substantial difference.



21 x 28 x 10 cm (classic hobo). A “Hobo” bag, or so they say. Though it holds about the same volume as a Classic Flap or Boy, the Gabrielle has more of a “throw it all in” feel, and a bit more casual vibe. It’s also a bit fresher, since the style is fairly new. Crossbody potential here, too.



Of course, exotics are available in many iterations—particularly when it comes to the Classic Flap. If you’re willing to splurge, these have a rarefied air (and a level of formality, it seems) just above the calf or lamb-leather classic bags.



Chanel bags, especially the classic ones, famously come in a whole variety of colors. (Let’s not forget that there’s even been a rainbow range!) While the go-to advice seems to be “go neutral” (and usually beige or black), we always advise to follow your heart in trying times of handbag decision making.

If your HGB when you were a girl was—and still is—a black Classic Flap, the choice should be clear. But if things are less clear-cut, assess your wardrobe. (For example, do you wear a lot of neutrals? Perhaps you’d prefer a red as a daily pop of color, or maybe a cobalt blue.) It’s no secret that we love bright colors here at PurseBop, but we also entirely understand the desire for an understated look. Dig deep into your heart and embrace your personal style, and you simply can’t go wrong.


We hope this helps—whether you’re choosing your first Chanel, or perhaps your second, third, or even fifteenth! What was your first Chanel? (Or, what will be your first Chanel?) Tell us—we’re curious souls!—in the comments.

Read related articles:

A Guide to Black Bags in Every Price Range
This or That: Which Chanel Flap Takes the Cake?
Battle of the WOCs: Chanel vs. Hermès
A Guide To Choosing Your First Luxury Bag

Love PurseBop


"Curated by Monika..."