How to Buy a Vintage Chanel Handbag April 19 2022

So that’s it—you’ve decided to take the plunge. You’re going to buy a Vintage Chanel handbag of your very own.  Maybe it’s your first or maybe it’s your twenty-first; whatever the number, there are still some important things to take into consideration:

1.  Material. Lambskin, caviar leather, patent leather, jersey, alligator, python, velvet…my goodness, the choices! Here’s what I recommend: choose a material that fits your lifestyle.

Although choices abound, lambskin leather and caviar leather tend to be the top two choices for Chanel bag purchases—and it’s no wonder why. Lambskin leather is incredibly soft to the touch (hello, buttery smoothness!), but—it is delicate, so if you are a throw your bag around kind of person, it might not be for you.  Caviar leather is made from calfskin with grain (hello, beautiful!) and is tough and a little bumpy to the touch, but can withstand the elements and tends to not show scratches like other types of leathers. Whatever type of material you choose, make sure you know the proper way to clean and maintain it—this is an investment piece, after all.

Chanel caviar leather wallet detail from the Rice and Beans Vintage archive.

2.  Size.  In my humble opinion, bigger is always better—but my wallet (like yours, perhaps) sometimes protests that and it might be wise to choose something a little more…reasonable.

Vintage Chanel bags come in all shapes and sizes. Just in terms of the classic flap bag, there are 6 different size options to choose from (extra mini, mini, small, medium, jumbo, and maxi). As with material, it’s best to think about what you might want to use the bag for and determine a size that way. Will it be a total special occasion bag you’ll only need room for your cell, a credit card and ID, and some lip gloss in? Go with the extra mini or mini. Figure you’re spending a lot of money and there’s no way you’re going to do anything with it but pack your entire daily life in it? I would suggest the maxi.

Chanel beige lambskin leather. Image courtesy of

3.  Color. The classic colors are black and beige, which have been stunning enough to earn a spot as the two permanent colors for Chanel bags. Other colors can vary based on the seasons and the latest lines and can range from neutrals like browns, creams, and whites, to really saturated colors like bright reds, cheery yellows, and vibrant blues and greens (the boy flap bag collection Chanel has out right now is a great example—such beautiful bright colors!).

Rare Vintage CHANEL 2.55 Clutch

Vintage pieces hold their value, are less expensive than the new versions, and don’t come with a pesky waiting list.  Here at Rice and Beans Vintage we pride ourselves on offering new vintage finds that have been certified authentic as often as possible and are always available for a bit of personal shopping if you’re looking for a specific piece in a specific color.  When in doubt, go vintage!

Written by Heather Cox for Rice and Beans Vintage.