I get a lot of questions from readers who are considering a classic flap, but are not sure where to begin due to the myriad of options out there. Before I purchased my bags, I did a lot of research on the different variations and the different places to buy from (saving that for a future post). Although there's no need to know exactly what you want, it's helpful to be informed of your options and to set some guidelines. I know it can be apprehensive at times due to snobby SA's, but I recommend going to your local Chanel boutique and trying on a variety of bags. Write down the styles you like, then go home, do research, and shop around for the best price.
*Clarification: "2.55" most accurately refers to Chanel's initial design with a mademoiselle lock and chain straps with no interwoven leather. This was re-released in 2005 as the Reissue. However, the term "2.55" is now loosely used to refer to all flap bags.* (source)
Chanel Flap Variations:
The decision that I wavered the most on was size. I thought the small was going be too small, or the M/L was going to be too big. In reality, these two sizes are incredibly similar and both of them work well for someone my height.
Retail prices below are for informational purposes only. I prefer to save by buying pre-owned. I've also linked to modeling pics on fellow petite women.
**UPDATE - Chanel classic flap retail prices as of February 1, 2012:
Medium/Large - $4400
Jumbo - $4900
Maxi - $5300 **
Prices as of June 2011:
Mini Mini or "New Mini" - $1900 7" x 2" x 2.5" (see on the PurseForum)
Mini - $2200, 6.5" x 5" x 2.5" (see on Wendy)
Small - $3700, 9" x 5.5" x 2" (see on me)
Medium / Large - $3900 10" x 6" x 2.5" (see on me)
Jumbo - $4300 12" x 8" x 3" (see on Elle, Sunshine, and Khatu)
Maxi - $4700 13" x 9" x 4"
One size that I didn't mention in the video (but is very petite friendly) is the East-West flap. This is longer in shape than the classic, and has just a single flap. This was an affordable alternative to the classic, but unfortunately it has been discontinued. If interested, you can try your luck in the pre-owned market. See the E/W on Kelly.
Small vs. Medium/Large (minimal difference)
2. Leather Type
Lambskin vs. caviar is a very personal decision. I've met women who strongly favor one over the other, and then there are some who love both. Despite all the research I did, I made the mistake of purchasing one bag in light-colored lambskin (I think black lambskin may be less fussy). After carrying my lambskin bag just twice and always storing it after use, I've already had to address small dents, scratches, and fading. On the other hand, all of my caviar bags have been a breeze to maintain.
Caviar vs. Lambskin
3. Color and Hardware Combo
If you prefer to buy new, a tip is to visit the Chanel boutique before their next collection comes in, and ask to flip through their look book. Their book contains pictures of all the styles and colors that they have on order. If you like to buy pre-owned, the internet holds a vast selection of different color combos from years past.
As mentioned in the video, I think Chanel is trying to phase out the small size that I have in this post. The mini, however, is making a comeback and will be available in black, red, navy, and more as part of their Autumn collection. The M/L and up sizes are usually available in a larger color selection.
In part III, I'd like to share my experience with buying both pre-owned and new, from a variety of places. Stay tuned!