Petite Designer Bag Reviews (Chanel, Celine) + Paris Shopping Tips

designer handbag collection_popular purse reviews
Céline nano bag (review), Chanel medium flap, Gucci soho disco bag

As mentioned in an earlier post, I tried on several designer items during our last trip to Europe and took plenty of notes to share! I also included reviews below on popular styles and how they suit a petite frame, so hopefully this can be helpful for anyone considering one of these pieces, new or pre-owned. I started with some "petite" bags and accessories today, and saved the rest for a future post! I know these posts are not interesting or useful to everyone, but they're some of the most read ones on here as well as the most requested. So grab a cup of coffee, wine, whatever you please, and let's go shopping!

Chanel
For a lover of elegant pearls, quilted leather, chain hardware, cap toes - this is as good as it gets. I don't think their classic pieces will ever go out of style, and they also hold value very well on the resale market (especially pieces in caviar leather). My foray into blogging (on my older blog) years ago was actually a post about my first Chanel purchase, and how it held value better than my stocks. However that was before numerous rounds of price increases, so it never hurts to look at pre-owned options these days!

Favorite Items: (shop pre-owned) classic flap, boy bag, wallet on chain, costume jewelry, cap toe flats. Their convertible wallet on chain is one of my top recommendations for an introductory Chanel item - it was one of my first purchases and is still one of my most-used bags (see my very old review post).
chanel boy bag small medium comparison review_cheaper in paris france
Chanel boy bag in small vs. old medium sizes
Charles David OTK boots (faux suede) sz 5, Ted Baker coat (reviewed here)

The boy bag in caviar has been on my wish list for years. Compared to the classic flap, it's just a little edgier given the metal plate and thicker chain strap, and the strap is longer so you can wear it cross-body more comfortably. Pricing is slightly lower than the classic flap, because it's not lined in leather and doesn't have that second hidden flap on the interior. I like both the small and "old medium" (the smaller of two medium sizes) for petites. Note I'm about 5 feet tall and thought the boy bag chain was a tad long on me cross-body. See the classic flap in medium on me in comparison, which is a little short in the strap to be worn that way.

There were very limited colors available in caviar at the boutiques, per usual. Note the caviar leather in recent seasons is a "washed" one, so looks more matte and doesn't have that durable-feeling, coated finish that I love on their traditional caviar. Also, the gold hardware recently has been on the shiny light yellow side, versus a deeper gold.

Example pricing:
Some of these retail prices are not for the faint of heart, but I wanted to include info in case it helps anyone researching a purchase. Also note these are examples subject to change. Many factors like brand price increases, fluctuating exchange rates (the weak Euro right now is a big factor in these price differences), customs taxes, and different VAT refund rates will affect your overall prices. Please see my post here for more info on VAT refunds!

Chanel Classic Flap in medium/large
4260 EUR * 1.05 conversion * (1 - 0.12) VAT = $3,936 in Europe vs. $4900 in US boutiques
This uses an exchange rate of 1.05 USD per EUR, and assuming a 12% VAT refund.

Chanel Boy Bag in old medium
3720 EUR * 1.05 conversion * .88 VAT = $3,437 in Europe vs. $4700 in the US

Chanel Wallet on Chain
1700 - 1800 EUR (didn't look at any in the US to confirm pricing)
chanel cap toe classic ballet flats pearl cc brooch
classic ballet flats + pearl brooch from past visits

Other info: Chanel in France limits what you can purchase per passport, per every few months. Other brands and locations might do this as well (please let me know in the comments!). I encountered this on a past trip when trying to buy a few sets of the same earrings for my bridesmaids, and was told I could only purchase 1 of each accessory style, and 1 classic-style bag on that visit.

My go-to Chanel boutiques in Paris are the beautiful ones on Avenue Montaigne (the flagship on Rue Cambon was under construction this time). You can browse throughout the store leisurely, but if you're interested in seeing or trying on anything specific (most classic bags are not out on display), ask to join the queue for the next available sales associate. I've always encountered friendly and knowledgeable SAs at this location, who are also willing to check system inventory for stock at other stores. At a different location I was told they couldn't do that "per company policy."

Céline
Moving on to Céline which makes some of my favorite bags, from timeless to trendy. I was most excited to shop here, since my only wishlist item this visit was a navy + gold box bag. The price had just gone up last winter to something rather nuts in the US, and this particular style is priced very differently in Europe.

Favorite Items: Classic box bag, luggage tote, belt bag
celine box bag medium size on petites
Céline medium box bag with strap worn long (cross-body) vs. short (on the shoulder)

To me, the box bag is one of the most elegant styles out there that's stood the test of time (I adore the vintage ones!). It's also understated for those who don't want anything with logos. It traditionally comes in a very smooth leather, and was offered in recent years in a hardier, textured liégé leather that feels like a thicker saffiano or LV epi material.
celine box mini bag review shopping in paris france
Céline box bag in medium vs small 

The box strap is adjustable (only 2 settings - long or short) and removable, and I was torn between the medium vs. small sizes since there are benefits to each. The medium is obviously roomier, and looks great as a clutch bag with the strap removed, or on one shoulder with the strap on the shorter setting. For petites, I thought the small looked a little more proportionate on me when worn cross-body style, however doesn't feel quite right as a clutch because it's shaped nearly like a cube. Also if you have an iPhone plus - it won't fit.
celine navy gold box bag medium vs small size comparison
Céline box bag in medium (9" x 7" 2") vs. small (6" x 5" x 2")

I ended up choosing the small because I loved it in navy, and don't see that size available very often. The medium definitely has its merits, so I don't think you can go wrong with either. See the small styled in my outfit posts here and the medium (borrowed from a friend) styled on me here.
celine nano gray bag paris france pricing
Céline luggage tote in the nano size

Another favorite of mine is the luggage tote, which I've had for a while and did a detailed video review of in this blog post. It also has a convertible strap, and the smaller sizes look proportionate on petites.
buying celine belt bag discount in paris france
Céline belt bag in the micro size, 9" x 8" x 4"

Last but not least, the belt bag doesn't get enough love in the handbag world, in my opinion! I think it has the ability to be on-trend, professional, and even classic at the same time. I most recently tried it on in this newest, petite-friendly "micro" size shown above. There's two larger sizes as well - mini and small (nothing small about it). Some features:

- Comes in smooth or grained leather with a roomy interior and zipper
- Fairly lightweight for Céline, especially compared to the luggage tote
- Removable shoulder strap
- Top flap with magnetic closure can be closed either over or tucked under the belt strap
- To me, the longer belt straps are the trendiest aspect. If you ever grow tired of them, I'm sure a cobbler could shorten them for a slightly different look.
celine luggage nano small mini box bag review
Céline pebbled nano luggage tote and smooth small box bag

Example pricing:
Box bag in medium (small was 2400 EUR, not sure about in the US)
3100 EUR * 1.05 conversion * .88 VAT = $2,864 in Europe vs. $4350 in the US

Luggage tote in nano
2150 EUR * 1.05 conversion * .88 VAT = starts at $1987 in Europe vs. $2700 in the US (different materials are priced higher)

Belt bag in micro
1600 EUR * 1.05 conversion * .88 VAT = starts at $1478 in Europe vs. $2250 in the US

Other info: My favorite Céline boutique in Paris also happens to be on Montaigne. It's their flagship store with extensive stock (mostly not out on display so you have to ask for colors), and they receive future season merchandise earlier than the other locations.

Christian Louboutin
Favorite Items: Classic nude and black pumps, jazzier wedding shoes

Louboutins are not the comfiest shoes in my book, but they do know how to make a sexy pair of heels. They also have some gorgeous, embellished shoes for special occasions. If you have smaller feet, the boutiques in Paris had plenty of styles in 35s and some down to a 34. I asked for a few particular styles to try on, and to my surprise they had every single one in my size in the back! I've never found anything in my size while at boutiques in the US.
louboutin classic nude pumps paris france store
Louboutin Decollete, Uptown, and Pigalle Plato

These days I just can't handle sky high, super skinny stilettos anymore, so more power to those who can! I was wobbling on the Decollete and Uptown styles a la Corinne on the Bachelor, however the thicker-heeled Pigalle Platos were notably more stable and had the potential to even be comfortable (I couldn't really tell from just a few steps on a carpet). They were also very flattering on the legs with the pointed platform in the front. I didn't get them as I already have the Very Prive platform heels (shown here) for special occasions. For more discreet designer pumps that may be better suited for the workplace, I still prefer my Manolo BBs.

Example pricing:
Pigalle Plato pumps
615 EUR * 1.05 conversion * .88 VAT = $568 in Europe vs. $795 in the US

Other info: The flagship boutique in Paris is on Rue Saint Honoré. I've walked by in the past and there was a long line just to go in, whereas this time the store was fairly empty! And this is a common theme here, but almost no classic styles like their popular nude pumps were actually out on display. You have to ask for them, and SAs are also willing to look in the system for stock at other locations. Random side note - while at the boutique, I saw an SA pull out a bottle of Famaco creme delicate (leather lotion) from behind the counter and quickly buff away some scratches and glue marks on a pair of shoes, both inside and out.

That's it for reviews today! Despite significant savings to be had while shopping abroad, almost all the bags in my collection were purchased in the US. Stock is very situational at boutiques, so it can be hard to find exactly what you want during a short visit (and thus feel tempted to settle in order to get some "savings" - don't do it!). I look for pre-owned items whenever possible, although they're tougher to find as my wish list gets more specific. I also want to caution that a number of items on the resale market are actually priced higher than retail, so just do your research and shop carefully.

Which of the styles here were your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

This post is Part II to Shopping + Saving on Designer Goods in Europe (+ VAT refund tips)

41 comments:

  1. Hi Jean, Great reviews! I learnt quite a bit about luxury handbags from you post.

    I have a slightly different question: I am looking for a (preferably leather) cross body bag that can also function as a tote if possible and is able to fit a 13 inch laptop. Price range < $300. Is professionally looking yet not boring. I am willing to compromise on it not being leather but would want to stay away from nylon or canvas. Do you have any recos?

    Cuyana's https://www.cuyana.com/top-zip-satchel.html#sand is on my list but its pushing my budget to max.

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  2. All the bags are wonderful!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  3. Great tips, Jean! I was just in Paris and was so shocked (and sadddd) to see the Rue Cambon Chanel store was under construction. The store on Rue Royal is also a great location too, because Lauree is just across the street! What better feeling than getting your favorite macaroons after a trip to Chanel (especially if you have to wait in a long line)?

    Julia || Closet de Jules || Recent Post - The Perfect Spring Loafers

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  4. you have such a classic collection, saving these tips for sure.

    xo
    Pinksole

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  5. Your reviews are simply the best!
    www.ofsilkandsatin.com

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  6. I had no idea that designer could be cheaper in Europe or even that VAT refunds were a thing! Thanks so much for writing this helpful and detailed post! Pinning it for when I can buy my first designer piece!

    XO, Emily
    Epicurean Emily

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  7. This is a great post!

    https://officiallychic.com/

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  8. Wow!! So expensive!! I like how you incorporated the petite aspect though.

    -Kirsten // pork & cookies

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  9. Thanks for the review Jean! For those who might be interested, check out Selfridges (UK based company). I find a lot of their products (especially makeup and shoes such as SW) are a lot lower because the exchange rate is in our favor right now. They also offer Selfridges+ which is a year-long, one-time shipping fee ($50). This makes getting things from across the Pond *quite* affordable (the average shipping cost per order in my experience is $30, so $50 for the entire YEAR is a steal!). Anyway, thought I'd pass that along. I've got my eye on that Gucci Disco Soho bag!

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    1. Yes, I second this! I've bought a number of shoes, makeup and bags from Selfridges at better prices compared to the US. I've even purchased teas and yummy biscuits and chocolates. Definitely great to take advantage of the Selfridges+ shipping.

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  10. Such a great post! I've been wanting and saving for a classic Chanel bag and so good to know how much cheaper it would be in Europe! I'm heading to France in June and that might have to be the time to buy :) You have excellent taste in bags!
    xx Tess |Sequins are the New Black

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  11. Hi Jean,

    Thanks very much for your well thought out and articulated posts, they are certainly the most well-written of any blogger I follow. I so appreciate your attention to detail, as well as your thoroughness. Best wishes on the continued success of Extra Petite!

    Katy

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  12. Hi Jean,

    Yes, it can be less expensive if buying from Europe. In the last few months, I scored a few Longchamp bags on deep discount from Harrods, but sadly, they no longer carry Longchamp on their websites anymore last time I checked. :(

    Xoxo,
    Tiffany

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  13. Hi Jean,

    Have you ever looked into TJMaxx's "runway" bags? Their inventory is always changing; do you think their prices are better than looking for something used? http://tjmaxx.tjx.com/store/shop/handbags-luggage-travel/runway/_/N-159772303+1691169990?Nr=AND%28OR%28product.catalogId%3Atjmaxx%29%2Cproduct.siteId%3Atjmaxx%2CisEarlyAccess%3Afalse%29&mm=handbags%3Ac%3Aluggage+%26+%3A4%3Athe+runway%3AE

    thanks

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  14. Such a great post! I love looking at designer bags even though I can't afford them lol

    jennnngo | twitter | insta | latest post

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  15. Thanks for the reviews on this! I got my first Chanel bag (old medium boy bag black caviar with light gold hw) in Europe (Barcelona) in November. I couldn't believe my luck stumbling into this as they had just got one in that same morning and I was able to snap it up as these never stay in stock. However, I was kind of turned off because they made the queue line up outside to wait for a SA and wouldn't even let anyone browse in the store beforehand. The SAs were also a little flaky switching in/out while I was looking at bags, even though I was a serious buyer and wasn't even in there long. I'd never experienced this at luxury brand stores in the US and didn't know if this was a European thing because of the higher volume of tourists shopping or just this store. Oh well... got my bag! And I adore that belt bag! It's the first Celine that has really piqued my interest.

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  17. Hi Jean, thank you for the wonderful review. So much information. I love your attention to detail. Could you please include a review on balenciaga motor cycle bag? I haven't seen you with that bag. But if you could do a review, it will be really helpful.Thanks!

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  18. Lol! at "a la Corinne on the Bachelor". Great post, Jean.

    www.annetega.com

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  19. Thank you for this wonderful and detailed post! I love all your bags as they are timeless and beautiful!!

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  20. What do you recommend as the most comfortable luxury brand shoes?

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  21. Jean! I am in love with this mint chanel bag. Where did you get it? If it was pre-owned, where do you recommend we start our browsing? Thank you!

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  22. You are the BEST!! Your efforts and attention to detail are so appreciated. Especially from a petite perspective.

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  23. Not the main focus of this post of course but was just wondering where is your navy coat from that you're wearing in all these pictures? It's gorgeous and fits you so well!

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  24. Love this thorough review of the prices and the luxury goods!

    www.pennyanddash.com

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  25. Great post, love the style of your blog! If you get a moment please check out my lastest post too if you can. Looking forward to your next one ��

    http://www.nataschacox.com

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  26. I would love to see what you would recommend as a first luxury bag purchase. I enjoyed this post very much.

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  27. Love this post, very helpful

    In your price comparison you also need to factor in the sales tax paid in the US which would result in a higher price and a larger delta in the savings

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  28. I totally agree with every points you made here especially when I was looking at the pre-owened market, the price is higher than current retail price. Definite needs to be very careful when you make big purchases like Chanel. Thank you so much for sharing:) XX

    Shall We Sasa

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  29. I really like Chanel as a brand so I probably like the CHanel bags in this post the most. I hope one day I can afford one of those bags.

    Norina xx

    la-piccola-me.blogspot.com

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  30. Chanel are always gorgeous, I really love them even if I can't afford them. Your post are always charming

    Greetings from France

    https://nadiemelodijoblog.wordpress.com/

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  31. It's so hard to pick a favourite! It would be between the Chanel Boy or Celine belt bags for me. I love the muted colours.

    Really enjoyed this post.

    www.shoestringthreads.com

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  32. Hi Jean! How do you usually care for your leather bags? Love your posts, as always!

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  33. Chanel classic flap will forever be my dream bag!

    xx Lisa
    lisaautumn.com

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  34. Thank you for these tips!! I will be going on my honeymoon to Paris in a few months and will be purchasing my first Chanel handbag. So excited!

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  35. Hi Jean,

    I was also wondering if you had any suggestions on a good travel purse that's you're not afraid to bring around in the rain? I browsed your website for older posts and I don't think you've done a post on weather resistant bags before. I'm about to head to Rome and will be rained out for most of our trip. Any advice you have would be fantastic! Thank you!

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