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!
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).
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.
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)
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Céline pebbled nano luggage tote and smooth small box bag
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.
Favorite Items: Classic nude and black pumps, jazzier wedding shoesLouboutins 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.
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.
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)