Few brands in the world have the luster and allure of Chanel. This French fashion house has dominated the industry for decades, changing how women dress and ushering in several trends we now consider classic.
Every woman dreams of owning a Chanel bag at some stage, even if they don’t consider themselves a fashion follower.
Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, Myleene Klass, and Katie Holmes carrying Chanel bags (Credit: Instar / Avalon.red / Ivan Nikolov / WENN)
The Parisian brand commands one of the highest price tags in the luxury fashion world, with classic Chanel bags costing several thousand dollars.
Our guide tells you everything you need to know about classic Chanel bags, including where they’re made, the best places to buy, and how to identify fake bags.
1. 2.55 Classic Flap
The most famous Chanel bag is the signature 2.55 style, revolutionizing women’s handbags for a generation. This bag takes its name from 1955 when Gabrielle Chanel first created it.
The 2.55 marked a break away from traditional fashion trends as it was the first lady’s handbag to come with a shoulder strap, allowing women to carry a bag hands-free for the first time.
In the 1950s, this bag represented a spark of rebellion and reflected the freedom women were beginning to experience for the first time.
One of the most famous aspects of this bag is the secret zip pocket in the interior. According to the legend, this is where Chanel reportedly hid her love letters. The Chanel 2.55 bag has stood the test of time and remains the staple in the brand’s catalog.
Chanel Pre-Owned 1991 Timeless Classic Flap Shoulder Bag, $8,520 at Farfetch
A timeless classic flap bag from 1991 that features the Chanel interlocking CC turn-lock closure
It’s given a new look every season, with different colors and textures released to reflect the focus on the brand’s collections. You can be confident that almost every A-list celebrity owns at least one of these bags.
What we now consider to be the Classic 2.55 bag is actually slightly different from the original model released by Chanel in the 1950s.
Karl Lagerfeld joined the brand as Creative Director in the 1980s. He updated the bag to incorporate the signature interlocking CCs that make the bag instantly recognizable.
Chanel Pre-Owned 2009 2.55 Jumbo Shoulder Bag, $9,318 at Farfetch
A 2009 Chanel Flap bag featuring the classic diamond quilting and interlocking CC closure in a size that’s perfect for casual days
The 2.55 Classic Flap is available in a variety of sizes, from the mini flap through to the jumbo. Various sizes have been discontinued over the years, but almost every color of the rainbow has been featured on this bag at some point in time.
2. Chanel 2.55 Reissue Bag
If you’re someone who likes the idea of having the original, never fear! The original 1955 bag was re-released and nicknamed the “Reissue” bag.
Chanel Pre-Owned 2009 2.55 Shoulder Bag, $5,169 at Farfetch
The 2.55 reissue Classic Flap has an understated look featuring the Mademoiselle turn-lock closure
This style incorporates the OG mademoiselle lock instead of the interlocking CCs. If you prefer a more understated look, this is the perfect alternative for you as it’s sleeker and doesn’t include the brand’s logo.
3. Chanel Boy
Karl Lagerfeld is responsible for making Chanel the brand we know and love today. While Coco Chanel had her 2.55 bag, Lagerfeld created his own signature style – the Boy bag.
This classic Chanel bag was released in 2011 and took its name from Boy Capel, the first love of Gabrielle Chanel. The Boy bag has a more masculine aesthetic than the 2.55, with a rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic that is more laid-back than other bags in the brand’s collection.
Chanel Pre-Owned 2014 Chanel Boy Limited Edition Bag, $9,318 at Farfetch
A limited-edition Chanel Boy bag from 2014 done in silver metallic leather
Arguably, a Boy bag is more versatile than the 2.55, with its contemporary silhouette making it easier to dress up or down. While this bag is not as common as the 2.55, it’s still one of the most popular bags from Chanel.
4. Wallet on Chain (WOC)
This classic Chanel bag is technically a small leather good, depending on how you look at it. The Wallet on Chain (known as WOC) is considered to be an entry-level Chanel bag and is exactly what it says on the tin.
The bag takes the shape of a large wallet with interior card slots and a zip pouch, hanging from a signature Chanel chain. The WOC is a great choice if you’re on a smaller budget or prefer a more compact style that you can take with you on the go.
Chanel Pre-Owned Varnished Diamond Quilted WOC, $3,753 at Farfetch
A classic Chanel WOC made from patent leather with a sleek high-shine finish
You can use this bag as a clutch or a sophisticated weekend bag. While it might not hold more than your essentials, the WOC is a must-have bag for any Chanel collection.
5. Grand Shopping Tote (GST)
While this bag is no longer available from Chanel, it still deserves a spot on our list. The Grand Shopping Tote (GST) is the largest classic Chanel bag.
Although it was one of the brand’s most popular styles in the early 2010s, it was discontinued in 2015 to the disappointment of fashion lovers everywhere.
Chanel Pre-Owned 2011 Grand Shopping Tote Bag, $5,709 at Farfetch
A spacious yet timeless and chic bag that features the signature diamond quilting design and interlocking CC logo
Chanel is synonymous with small quilted bags, making the GST an outlier in their classic catalog. If you need a larger bag to fit your lifestyle, the GST is a style worth searching for on the preloved market. If you happen to find one, it’s an instant “add to cart.”
One of the newest signature styles to come from Chanel is the Gabrielle bag, which was first introduced at the Spring/Summer 2017 show in Paris. This bag became an instant hit and was the first unisex bag introduced by the luxury fashion brand.
Chanel Pre-Owned 2018 Gabrielle Two-Tone Shoulder Bag, $4,859 at Farfetch
This hobo-style Gabrielle bag is crafted from a combination of gold-tone leather and black canvas tweed
Gabrielle pays homage to Chanel herself and blends together classic feminine and masculine motifs to create a unique bag. While the bag has a long strap and slouchy feel, the shape is still structured enough to make it a versatile style fit for any occasion.
The Gabrielle bag has already gained a legion of fans amongst celebrities and influencers alike, with it being given the royal stamp of approval by the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
Few women have left their mark on fashion more than the late Princess Diana. While the Lady Dior bag is named after her, Chanel also had a bag named after the former Princess of Wales.
Diana famously avoided wearing Chanel due to the interlocking CC, but that didn’t stop her from owning one of the brand’s classic designs during the mid-1990s.
Chanel Pre-Owned 1992 Diana Shoulder Bag, $7,664 at Farfetch
The Diana is a structured shoulder bag named after the former Princess of Wales
This classic flap bag was first introduced by Karl Lagerfeld in 1989 and was sold throughout the mid-1990s before being discontinued in the early 2000s.
While the vintage versions are commonly known as the ‘Diana’ in memory of the late Princess, it was reissued under a slightly altered style known as the ‘Vintage Chic Flap’ in 2015.
If you’re after the OG Diana look, we recommend searching the preloved market to find a ’90s version of the bag.
8. Flap Bag
The Flap Bag is one of the few top-handle bags in the Chanel catalog. The bag has a similar feel to the Lady Dior and looks similar to the 2.55, with the addition of a top handle.
Chanel’s flap bag has a structured silhouette and a ladylike feel. While the 2.55 and WOC are bags you can wear every day, the top handle flap bag is what you want to save for special occasions.
Chanel Pre-Owned 1996-1997 Top Handle Quilted Bag, $5,666 at Farfetch
A business suitcase-style top handle bag designed for the modern woman
9. Camera Bag
As part of the classic collection, Chanel’s Camera bag is considered rare and therefore one of the most sought-after bag silhouettes.
It is easily identified by its boxy yet plush silhouette, hence its name. Like other Chanel bags, it also has a mademoiselle lock and a Bijoux chain strap.
Chanel Pre-Owned 2009 Diamond Quilted Camera Bag, $4,559 at Farfetch
A spacious camera-shaped bag that features Chanel’s signature look, from the diamond quilting to the interwoven chain-and-leather strap and Mademoiselle closure
While they come in different sizes, the large and small Reissue Camera bags have minimal differences. The chain strap on the large Camera bag goes through large eyelets similar to the Classic Flap, while the chain strap on the small bag is attached to the sides.
10. No. 5 perfume Bottle Bag
This conversation starter has either clear plexiglass or a black acrylic glass shell, with the fashion house’s trademark interwoven chain shoulder strap and top clasp closure.
Chanel Pre-Owned No. 5 Perfume Bottle Bag
A perfume bottle-shaped clutch modeled after Chanel’s No.5 perfume, complete with a top clasp disguised as the bottle’s lid