Two years ago I began thinking of a way to treat myself after graduating college, and quickly set my mind on buying a luxury handbag – it felt as though it was my initiation into the adult world. As I spent endless hours polishing my resume and applying for jobs, I supplemented my LinkedIn and Indeed searches with equal parts handbag research. Despite being naturally indecisive (shout out to my fellow Pisces), I determined a Chanel bag was what I’d buy. After seeing infinite Pinterest, Instagram, blog posts, etc., it was time to bite the bullet and purchase a Chanel bag with black caviar leather and gold hardware. Little did I know the exact combo of leather and hardware I was seeking was the most sought out Chanel combination. Given the cost of any Chanel item, my initial goal was to buy a Wallet on Chain, in either the Classic or Boy collections – which ever I could get my hands on first. The search for a Chanel black caviar, gold hardware bag would extend to two years. My local Chanel boutique never had the leather/hardware combination in stock, I made multiple trips to all Toronto locations, and visited all NYC locations during a weekend getaway.This summer I took a trip to London and Paris with my entire family and by this point, my bag search has become a running joke within the family because it has been nearly two years of falling short at all Chanel locations. Since we were going to Paris, I made it a priority, a personal cardinal rule: Cannot leave Paris without a bag. I figured if I can’t find what I’m looking for at the flagship store and birthplace of the Chanel brand, it would be time to retire the search – simply not meant to be. And that almost happened. They did not have the bag I wanted and I began trying on different styles and different leather/hardware combinations, all of which left me feeling dissatisfied – I figured if I was going to spend my hard-earned money after 2 years of saving, I need to love what I’m purchasing. But then I experienced the best customer service of my life and was able to get the bag I was looking for from before graduating school. It’s funny how things become full circle. The sales associate was able to track down the last bag of its kind from a warehouse within Paris. Later that same day, I had my bag. Purchased at 31 Rue Cambon, the first ever Chanel location.
To differentiate from the other Chanel locations, 31 Rue packages all items in the reverse – white bags and boxes, black font.The best part about all of this is that I saved hundreds of dollars buying the bag in Paris instead of the U.S. or Canada. If you’re not a resident of the EU, you’re not obligated to pay the VAT tax tacked on to certain purchases. If an item is over a certain amount, it may qualify for a VAT refund. Many stores are familiar with the refund process and help you begin the necessary paperwork to obtain the refund, then at the airport you submit the completed forms. You’re then refunded a certain percentage of the tax a few weeks later – a third party agency receives a percentage of the refund as an administrative fee. I’m not a numbers person and I can’t recall the exact savings, but it was north of $800 for my Boy Wallet on Chain.The Wallet on Chain seemed to be the most practical option – it is significantly more affordable than the handbag iterations of the Classic Flap and Boy Bags. The WOC still boast the same style and hardware as their handbag counterparts. It may look small but all my essentials fit. Since there are two zip pockets and six credit card slots, I can completely omit a wallet in the bag. My iPhone, key fab, and lip balm are my staple items that I don’t want to live without and they fit perfectly into the center space, with wiggle room for additional compact items. While not an everyday bag, I have worn it for consecutive weeks to work, shopping, and nights out without wishing I had more room for extra items. Look at it this way – it keeps you from overpacking things you won’t use.
Thanks for the read!