Dec 202011
 
I receive quite a few emails asking about designer handbags, and wanted to share with you this one below, to get some of your opinions. Molly was lovely enough to allow me to post our correspondence, with some personal details changed of course.
The Balenciaga City and Chanel classic flap

Dear Katherine,

I recently purchased my first LV Speedy 35 after holding down weekend job for a few months.  I think it was well worth the £465 I spent on it. Yesterday was the first time I actually wore it and I felt amazing. I had a massive smile across my face.

I’m interested in getting a Chanel 2.55 caviar leather flap bag, with gold hardware. I’m a university student and I think I can manage about £2750 ($4300) for it. I have some money saved up. Can I afford it? So – so.  But I don’t have a nice black bag (I’ve also been looking at some Balenciagas). And I think the Chanel is a timeless piece, so classic and it completes any outfit especially for going out in the evenings. Also another factor is the upcoming price increase. But if I make this purchase I doubt I will be enjoying any holidays abroad in 2012!  :P

My question is: is it really worth it? I’m 23 right now and still in university. Or, should I just wait until I graduate and start working in my profession to get it? 
  
I know my question is very vague, however just some general input/advice would be immensely appreciated. Thank you so much for your time in reading my message

xx,  
Molly from London
____________________
Dear Molly,
The jumbo is a classic, classic item and I do think you’ll get a lot of utility out of it. I love mine and plan on using it for a while. That being said I would never sacrifice a holiday or travel for a bag – so if you have potential fun holiday plans for 2012 that you’re giving up, I might do one of those instead.
Rest assured that you’ll make lots more once you get further in your career and then you can buy a Chanel bag at whatever the price. A black Balenciaga city is also very versatile (I use mine way more than my Chanel bags) and is much more affordable (less than 1/2 the price)…what do you think of that?
Best,
Katherine
____________________

Hi Katherine,

Thank you again for your response! I think you make some valid points. I think I may consider a  black Balenciaga now. That’s true later on I can afford a Chanel bag properly. 

Thank you soo much for your advice Katherine, I feel in a much more clearer place!

Love,

Molly xxx

Readers – what do you all think of Molly’s question? I advised Molly towards the Balenciaga because I know what it can be like to have the “itch” to buy a lovely new item after working hard. I felt that  if she was committed to buying a luxury branded black handbag, then a good compromise could be a Balenciaga city, which is a little more than 1/3 the price of a Chanel jumbo, and holds more to boot.

Would you advise Molly to purchase a Chanel, another bag, or not any bag at all? How about travel and experiences vs. material goods – I personally will almost always choose travel/experiences, but that’s just a personal belief. What are yours? I’d love to hear your thoughts as I have definitely had similar debates with myself – as I’m sure others out there have too!

*final note that Molly read all your answers and really appreciates all of them – she wrote an update which I’ve put in the comments section if any of you are interested in what she ultimately decided!

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  66 Responses to “Reader Letter – Should I Buy a Chanel?”

  1. I agree with your advice to Molly wholeheartedly if she really wanted a black bag! All factors considered I would definately advise a girl friend to do the same faced with a similar dilemna.

  2. Well, there are two sides to this.
    One side is, the Chanel bag would be an excellent graduation gift!
    The other side is, you absolutely shouldn't settle for what you don't have your heart set on. Take it from experience, if you buy the Balenciaga (which I love, no doubt!) you're still going to be pining for the Chanel, which is what you really want. Eventually, you'll buy the Chanel and you'll spend more money buying both.
    Personally, for a black bag, I'd choose the Chanel. Balenciaga, in my head anyway, should be something colorful!

  3. I'm a university student like Molly and I often consider spending my money on a designerbag aswell.

    I loved the chanel bag she wants since I was 14.

    But as soon as I think of what I have to give up : a trip, buying less clothes,… I decide to wait untill I work full-time. So I definately agree with you and I think it's great you don't just say YES buy it.

    In the past years I have bought a nice Moschino bag, Marc by Marc Jacobs , Michael Kors.. none of them are classics , but the leather and designs are great aswell, especially for young girls like us. And I think that at the moment I'm happier with 5 of those bags, that I can match to my outfits, than I'd be with one Chanel.

    http://www.tripsandtreasures.blogspot.com
    fashion & lifestyle in Belgium

  4. I'm a university student like Molly and I often consider spending my money on a designerbag aswell.

    I loved the chanel bag she wants since I was 14.

    But as soon as I think of what I have to give up : a trip, buying less clothes,… I decide to wait untill I work full-time. So I definately agree with you and I think it's great you don't just say YES buy it.

    In the past years I have bought a nice Moschino bag, Marc by Marc Jacobs , Michael Kors.. none of them are classics , but the leather and designs are great aswell, especially for young girls like us. And I think that at the moment I'm happier with 5 of those bags, that I can match to my outfits, than I'd be with one Chanel.

    http://www.tripsandtreasures.blogspot.com
    fashion & lifestyle in Belgium

  5. I'd have advised the Chanel…it's iconic, a timeless classic & every fashionistas dream xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  6. I think as a university student the Balenciaga would be more fitting in terms of versatility and having the ability to use it without worrying as much as with a Chanel, so I would also go for the Balenciaga!

  7. I agree with Balenciaga over Chanel. Chanel is becoming to overpriced and Balenciaga is beautiful, not as out there, and a more unique classical piece.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and your lovely comment. I am loving your style and your pictures. Very similar to my taste! Definitely following :) Follow each other?

    xoxo,
    LMQ

    PS. hope you are able to stop by my giveaway.. I think it is a piece you would enjoy :) http://fashionneedy.blogspot.com/2011/12/9-days-till-christmas-giveaway.html

  8. both are amazing! though the chanel bag is really classic, I think every girl wants it. xoxo

  9. I agree with choosing travel over experiences, however it depends on the individual. For example, I don't do much traveling anymore because I have been traveling since 19 years old being in the military. So, travel is not a priority for me. I think experiences don't have to cost money or lots of it. I have been all around the world without spending much of anything. I think if you just live your life, the experiences will come without a monetary tag being placed on it. I think you should buy what you love. You can't take it with you. You live for today.

  10. This letter reminds me of something my mother used to say to me often, "if you always buy everything you want now, what do you have to look forward to?" If Molly's answer was YES! instead of so-so regarding whether she could afford it, my advice may be different, but I think a Chanel is something to aspire to, save up for, and only buy when you have the money to do so in full. In college and graduate school, I did have champagne tastes, but tried to live on a beer budget. It has helped me really appreciate being able to afford lovely things now that I have a "big-girl" job. ;)

  11. And I do agree, that if this were me, a Balenciaga would not satisfy my lust for the Chanel, so I would end up spending more if I bought it as I'd want the Chanel, too. ;)

  12. I totally agree with you! I've just recently graduated college, and although I would LOVE to buy a Chanel, it's currently just not feasible. If I save up money, I'd much rather spend it on something I can truly experience (travel, a truly extraordinary night out with friends, etc.) than a bag – a Balenciaga is a nice compromise, because I do want a luxury bag, but I don't want to have to spend my entire year's savings on one. Your advice was totally spot-on. :)

  13. If this were me, and I truly wanted the Chanel – I would get the 2.55. As a previous poster said, why "settle" for the balenciaga now if she will just get the Chanel later on in life, albeit at a higher price?
    I still kick myself for returning the grey reissue(like the one Katherine just bought) I bought in college(the price DOUBLED).

  14. Now obviously, I would more than love to own any Chanel. What fashion blogger/reader wouldn't? But if it isn't reasonable for you dish out that kind of cash-like if you have to spend months of your ENTIRE pay check saving for it- it's not right. Life is for living, not for working constantly for a single material item. Especially when that money could be used for fun things or ever practical things, like college or an apartment. Think before you buy, designer purchases aren't everything.

    imsaratee.blogspot.com

  15. i think if it's something classic that is always going to be in style and is of amazing quality, it's always going to be better to spend the money and have the item forever.

  16. Chanel is great, but can it really compete with great travel and experiences with friends? My New Year's Resolution for this past year was to shop less and travel more, and I have to say, it was a great decision for me. Not that I didn't still shop, because believe me, I did, but I also got to visit new places and reunite with friends I hadn't seen in forever. Those trips and memories made me WAY happier than any designer bag could have.

    Ali
    http://editorialistyle.blogspot.com/

  17. I think that's great advice. The closest I've gotten to a designer bag is Kate Spade…on sale :) I would love to own some when I have more money, but for me it's the same thing- when the choice is between a bag and a vacation, buying a house, etc, I'm going for the latter :)
    http://www.saysskippy.blogspot.com

  18. Oo, interesting post, Kat! I re-read "Molly"'s email a few times and didn't see where she wrote she'd be sacrificing other things she loved like a holiday or vacation, but I'm also a terrible reader. If Molly doesn't have any other things on her wishlist like vacations or other major purchases, then I would advise to get the Chanel and look at pre-owned if she's comfortable with it. Although I think a Balenciaga probably gets much more wear like you said due to it's casual shape, it seems like her second choice and would be settling. Also it's my personal opinion that although both bags are nice, the Chanel is much more classic and timeless. Curious what she decides to do!

  19. Thank you all for your comments so far! I never thought of the Balenciaga being less "classic" but it is a good point that a caviar jumbo will probably show wear less over time as well.

    Thank you to Jean who pointed out that the original email was missing the travel bit – I accidentally edited out the portion where she mentioned she'd have to miss some holiday, I just put it back in :)

  20. i did the same thing. i gor my black balenciaga first and ust recetnly purchased a Callsic Chanel flap when i was able to afford it:) good advice

    http://www.thecurrentlyobsessed.com/

  21. A thought . . . has Molly ever considered a Chanel flap from a reseller (a good reseller, of course!)? I ask because it might make the flap bag more affordable in time? I don't do much resale shopping, so I understand if that doesn't appeal to everyone–but for my Hermès bags, I always shop second-hand. It gives a lot more color and style options than the current season.

    That's my two cents. Maybe because I've been stalking resellers of Chanel jumbo flaps lately! It's a wonderful bag.

  22. what an interesting post… great advise! i love both bags but definitely the balenciaga is more of an every day bag

  23. Very interesting topic we got here. In my opinion though I really wanted to have a chanel bag, I have so many things to consider in purchasing "her" and I'm not into pre love bags so I might end up with Balenciaga who's also one of my wishlist to have and may end up using it more than the Chanel due to my lifestyle.Chanel is every girls dream but I don't think it's practical to have and deprive yourself from something. However everybody has it's priority and this is mine so I can say I agree with you too! but in time when I'm finally ready I might end up getting Chanel too and won't mind having them both-in right time.:)

  24. I agree with you Katherine. The experience, the fun and memories can never measure upto any bag!

  25. Great advice! I know the feeling of wanting that one special item and wishing you had put aside all the in-the-meantime purchases that just didn't add up. But when we're talking about a couple thousand dollars, your input is so sound and I bet Molly will be so pleased with her newbie! :)

  26. Equally as important as being able to afford something monetarily is being able to afford it emotionally. If a purchase causes you any doubt, if it causes you to do without something else that gives you joy and pleasure, then it is something you cannot afford because you will never fully enjoy it. It is better to wait until you can afford it in every sense of the word.

  27. I agree with you recommendation. In fact, at that age and being an uni student, I'd probably get a more affordable but still chic and stylish black bag. For example, Rebecca Minkoff, CC Skype or Botkier. I'd never give up a holiday trip for a bag either. I'd be worried carrying around a high end designer bag around the campus anyway.

  28. Personally I would definitely go travelling/have the experience than fork out that money for a chanel and buy the balenciaga :) I agree with your advice :)

    katattack2000.wordpress.com

  29. The classic flap chanel bag is on my wish list… It's timeless and will always be a stunning part of your bag collection!
    Happy Holidays!!
    Bella xox
    http://www.chicinvancity.com/

  30. Perhaps my opinion will be a little too pragmatic. At 23, if I have to choose between the two, I'll settle for a secondhand Balenciaga due to the price. I would definitely save hard and invest as early as I can. As my income and investment portfolio increase, I will treat myself to a brand new Chanel flap.

  31. Perhaps my opinion will be a little too pragmatic. At 23, if I have to choose between the two, I'll settle for a secondhand Balenciaga due to the price. I would definitely save hard and invest as early as I can. As my income and investment portfolio increase, I will treat myself to a brand new Chanel flap.

  32. Such a hard decision! I recently invested in a Chanel and I think it will be a forever bag. I also love Balenciaga as well. At her age as a student, she would probably get more mileage out of the Balenciaga since it is a more casual bag. I've carried my Chanel twice so far and I'm around her age… but I still love it.

    All my bags are pre-owned.. so that does help with the price as well!

    Good luck with your decision Molly and come check out my blog if you need info on Balenciaga! lol.

  33. I agree with you, I think travel/experiences are far more worth the money than material objects. That being said, if I had to choose between the Chanel and the B-bag, I would go with the former. What can I say, I'm a Chanel gal. :)

    http://keepcalmandcarrylipstick.blogspot.com

  34. I would much rather travel… But would she be willing to perhaps buy a second-hand or gently used Chanel? Especially if it's caviar it should wear well.

  35. love the balenciaga!
    and following now, think your style is super great:)

    Love,
    Nee
    ROSECANDLE11

  36. I'm quite torn with this… But I think if I were her in that situation I'd buy the Balenciaga now. More practical, and 1/3 cheaper as you said. And I'd probably go for a pre-owned Balenciaga at that, to save even more money.

    I've been thinking about a Chanel jumbo for years.. I think I will still pine for it for a long time. But I love traveling and if I look back on memories of a trip vs. the $1300 i spent on a pre-owned Chanel I bought this year… of course the travel wins. So for now I think I'll wait a very long while until my next Chanel purchase.

  37. This is great and something I've been contemplating as well. I would go with a pre-owned Chanel. There are many in great condition at less than $1,500 at places like Yoogi's closet. Otherwise, if she really can't afford it, I would advise on waiting. Getting something you're not 100% about, especially at such a high ticket price can be dangerous.

  38. Chanel – always increasing in prices.

    Bal goes on sale and it's a trendier piece than chanel.

  39. Has she seen a Balenciaga bag in person? I always thought it looked good in pictures until I actually saw it in person. The "studs" look like a sewing thimble and the handles have these huge threading.

    I think she should get the Chanel instead. But your advise is dead-on. She should just wait until she graduates and can actually afford one before buying it. If she gets it now, she'll probably regret it because she'll miss that one holiday where she could have traveled. As the saying goes, travel while you are young. Once you have kids, traveling becomes nil. Kids have their own schedules which makes traveling less difficult.

    The good thing about a Chanel is that it IS a classic. So 10 years from now, this bag will still be around for her to purchase – unlike the trendy bags where is she missed buying it now, good luck getting it in the future!

  40. I still want a Chanel bag…but I always seem to buy a different bag. What is wrong with me?! lol I think it's because I tell myself that I won't need another bag after the Chanel. >.< I'm such a confused consumer! lol

  41. The Balenciaga was definitely the way to go – great advice!

  42. I should have the same conversation with you but as a working mother! I do make sure my daughter is fed, rent/bills paid and I split the cost of preschool w/my husband. I shop sales for myself and family. I barely go out anymore. I do think about setting some serious money aside for my first real handbag – a nice Prada, Miu Miu, LV, Gucci, or Marc Jacobs. Chanel is waaaaay out of my league and I don't know if I'd ever get remotely close to owning one. I recently bought my first Marc by Marc Jacobs purse and I feel great when I use it and when I hear compliments from women everywhere! I also recently discovered the consignment shop Fashionfile here in SF. I think constantly purchasing a gently used bag here – this is the only way I can possibly own a Chanel. The best part is that they even offer a layaway plan.

    But deep down inside I often wonder if I would feel that my purchase would be less special because I spent $600-900 on a gently used purse when I could just tighten my belt and just save up…

    Sorry, I made this about me – your advice to Molly was great and realistic. Now if you can offer me some advice as well!

  43. I think Molly should start saving up for the Chanel handbag as of now, because it appears to be her first choice. If during 2012 she determines that she wants to go on holiday then she can use the money towards that, but if she finds that travel abroad doesn't work out, she can take the proceeds and purchase the Chanel.

  44. I love this article. I'm still aspiring to won a designer handbag. I would love to buy bag, for the right price. I think I will look a sites that sell gently used or vintage purses.

  45. i love this! i think suffering for a bag is really not worth it.. especially if it means not going on vacation and things. but i really think if she put away just $100 bucks a week that's one chanel bag at the end of the year! thinking back when i was in school.. i easily put away $100 bucks a week from my part time job! i use to have a really bad coffee habit.. i would spend atleast $5 bucks a day on coffee or tea and that's about $200 bucks a month!! that's $2400 a year!

  46. @lexi920I'm going to message you as well but wanted to reply here as part of the conversation.

    On the topic of a gently used bag vs. a new bag – honestly I think gently used is the way to go! The Chanel I just bought was used (I am lucky to have a lot of friends with LOTS of Chanel as you may have seen in blog interviews). I would buy all my bags "gently used" if I could, the discount is great and my new bags look "gently used" after a week of use anyway. One of the best places to find some savings. Of course others may feel differently and I know my best friend will always buy all her items new because she is just finicky about that kind of stuff. But regardless – you should never feel that buying something used is "less special" – in fact I think it's more. Anybody can walk into a store and just pull out a CC and buy something full price. It takes patience and dedication to find your bag on sale.

    I know you just bought a Marc by Marc Jacobs which is a line in my opinion that has some of the best looking bags out there, especially in that price range – they are versatile and you can wear them for a long time with a variety of occasions. I think right now, I would just focus on putting together some money for a future "dream bag" of yours – you don't have to decide if it's going to be Chanel or Prada or Miu Miu. Just do a "layaway" for yourself and then wait. I'm sure you'll figure out with time what you'd like to buy and then when the right bag comes along..you can buy it with the funds you have already put away for it. As a working mother you definitely deserve a treat for yourself :) What do you think?

  47. I am totally with you Katherine and value travel and experiences (spending time with friends in Switzerland and attending weddings in India has been amazing!).
    But I am such a handbag lover! I agree with your comment above and am thinking about selling off bags for a luxury bag. I am also a huge fan of vintage bags- how else can you get past season luxuries and possibly save thousands?
    Moly is young and balenciaga may be a more versatile option for her now.
    With all that being said, I think you can have great vacation and bags if you save up appropriately for them. Everyone deserves a little chanel or trip to Thailand at the end of the year ;)

  48. Hi, as an owner of both the Balenciaga city bag and a Chanel medium caviar gold bag, i thought that i would add my two cents. I say that if you have the money already saved up then buy the Chanel, it will never go out of style and with the price increases every year you'll be able to sell it 20 years down the road and pay for your kid's tuition (yeah, so that's my plan- hehe). Seriously though, you can always get a Balenciaga down the road, there are so may website such as hgbags that sell that at a discounted price (even for pre-owned), they will always be available. The Chanel is such a classic and you definitely won't regret it :)

  49. I think your advice was perfect! It is always safe to weigh your choices.

  50. I think you gave GREAT advice. I think there's something about owning a Chanel but she has plenty of time!
    xo Josie
    http://www.winksmilestyle.com

  51. Hi everybody – finally update from the lovely Molly:

    Wow! I feel so humbled by the extent of which you all dealt with my questions. And i just read the article which was so perfect. I cannot thank you you all enough.

    My final decision is to purchase a Balenciaga Giant Gold Hardware in Black Part Time instead of the classic Bal as i feel the 'eccentricness' of the former bag is more appropriate for my age than the latter and i just love the way it looks! i'm totally in love with it!

    After your initial advice and reading all the comments I came to a conclusion that the Chanel bag is worth waiting and saving up for! Based on my age and current life style i doubt i will take full advantage of the £2750 spent on it when i can put it to a "better use" such as savings or a holiday etc! None the less, I will definitely purchase that once i get my first professional pay check! if i get it now, what will i aspire for? there will be no wait and anticipation! It makes sense to me to get that after i fully graduate. I feel if i randomly make a purchase on a bag it wont have the same disposition attached to it. For example "MY First LV Speedy 35 was my 1st months pay check from my 1st weekend job ever" , and then i want to be able to say 'this chanel was a reward to me for my hard work and perseverance throughout university!'

    I guess the whole idea behind it working the bag for me not myself working for the bag, if that makes sense. In this way i can obviously have the memories and ultimately cherish the bag!

    Yes there are some privileged people and celebrities who can afford it and hundreds in a blink of an eye but unfortunately most of us are not lucky enough so i guess for decisions such as my initial question its really really important to have lovely people like your self who can offer invaluable advice and seriously i can't stress enough how much your suggestions helped me.

    Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

    Love,

    Molly xxx

  52. Great post and conversation Katherine, sorry I am late for it. Agreed travel experiences over a bag. And like you pointed out in your comment, gently used is the way to go. My classic flap is pre-owned too and when I bought it, it looked like it had never been used.

  53. Great Advice Katherine! I do feel the Bal is a better buy for Molly right now. She can hold a lot more things. I feel the Chanel is a timeless piece that would be special now or later. So even though the price will increase, everything else will have a price increase at any time. What happens will happen, as long as you are prepare for the inevitable.

  54. Such tough decisions. I'd go with the travel plans though. Memories will last a lifetime and Chanel is always available for purchase in the future.

    xo, Abbey (District Dress Up)
    http://abbeybrandon.blogspot.com/

  55. I'd go with travel, too. Because I realise that now I'm older, it's harder to go travelling than buying the whatever designer goods that are out there on display.

  56. I have a range of designer bags including Chanel and Balenciaga. I have to say they are a real emotional burden despite the fact I can well afford them.

    Also I have had many Balenciaga bags including a part time with giant hardware. I feel I should warn you that they are heavy and the corners scuff easily.

    There is more to life then stuff. All the best.

  57. fantastic article! I'm in a similar situation too.I think this has helped me. you cannot put a price on holidays and memories!

    Interesting to hear that the previous comment says emotional burden… why is this so?

  58. I said emotional burden because for me it's hard to justify the price of these bags regardless of my income.

  59. I would have advised her to get the lower priced option as well. She is still young in her career, and she has plenty of time to invest well in the Chanel.

    Oh and I totally agree with you on travel vs. material things. Experiences are sometimes once in a lifetime. Material things will always be there.

  60. Funny how I'm on the same boat. I've debated between a Bal, Chanel, or a Celine Luggage Tote. I decided to save Chanel for last – when I'm REALLY a working woman. Now I just have to decide between Balenciaga & Celine. I think I'll be going for a Bal next.. I've gone a little overboard with my Wang bag obsessions.. just got one a couple of weeks ago xD

  61. Well as a personal finance blogger I would tell her that since she's still in school I would save up as much money as POSSIBLE!

    You've inspired me to write a longer post on my blog today about this. I can relate because I have been in her shoes. I'll come back and post a link =)

  62. Thanks for inspiring a post. Will link back here :)

  63. Even at this point in my life, a Chanel classic is very expensive. I think as we earn more, we spend more–there are house payments, insurance, taxes, etc. After graduation, Molly will have a host of other obligations; she’ll be working and will need a proper wardrobe. She’ll probably be paying for an apartment and trying to save money. $4300 + is a lot of money for a handbag and no matter her station in life will be competing with other priorities. I would suggest that before she spends a lot on a handbag, that she check her local resale shops or ebay. For a fraction of that price, she may be able to have her cake and eat it too.

  64. Dear Katherine,
    I love the picture of the Balenciaga Classic City you showed above. I would like to buy one and am confused as there are so many choices. Which do you have (I like it best) – is there a particular name for it and the best place to buy it? Thank you so much!
    Brigit

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