Inspired by: Should I buy Chanel?

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I am a PF blogger at heart, but I also have a love/hate relationship with style and fashion blogs. Maybe I am naive, but whenever I see a picture of a celebrity carrying a Chanel/LV/Celine/other $$$ bag, I assume its because they are a celebrity. And I never really imagine that us, normal people can own those bags – at least not the real ones, anyway.

Personal Style Blogs

I really enjoy reading/ogling at fashion blogs because they are great inspiration for outfit ideas and some of they are super informative. Being a towering height of 5′ 3″, I have always found trouble finding clothes that fit and look good. Discovering petite style blogs has been a godsend for me. I learned that with a bit of tailoring, and looking for specific silhouettes – I can look more put together and (gasp!) stylish.

One thing that I’ve been noticing more of trend in some of the fashion blogs I follow, is acquiring classic (aka $$$$) items. Burberry trenches, Chanel bags, Louboutin shoes, etc. I’m not sure if that is the style blog equivalent of reaching a really high net worth, but it seems to be something that is celebrated and encouraged by the style blog community.

I LOVE pretty clothes and accessories. I mean, which girl who doesn’t? But I have trouble wrapping my head around a purse that costs more than $300, and I think $300 is a lot for a bag.

Should I buy Chanel?

This post was inspired by a reader question for Katherine over at Feather Factor. If you haven’t checked out Katherine’s blog, she has a great sense of style and a lot of great interviews with some amazingly stylish (and rich?) ladies with closets fit for a queen. A university student reader wrote into Katherine asking for her opinion on whether she should buy a Balenciaga City bag (800USD?) or a Chanel Classic Flap bag (4,300USD).

As I read through the post, what I found most interesting were the comments. The posts had almost 60 comments, and most ladies chimed in with their opinion of either going with the more cost effective Balenciaga City, whereas others encouraged the reader to get what she really wanted – the Chanel Classic.

For me, it was mind boggling. It wasn’t too long ago that I was a struggling university student, and I just cannot fathom how “university me” would have $4,000 lying around that can be spent on a bag. After paying for tuition, text books, rent, living expenses and the odd night out – I had little money left at the end of a semester.

My Thoughts

I know it’s none of my business how anyone else spends their money. The reader never asked for my opinion, and I’m not even answering the reader’s question. But my advice would be the following:

Dear University Student,

Please save your money. You never know when the opportunity might come up where that $4,000 can change your life. I think it’s important to have that flexibility as a student – where you have so many opportunities to learn and grow.

And even when you get your first full-time job, don’t blow your first pay check on a bag. In fact, unless your starting annual salary is over $200,000, your 2-week paycheck (after taxes) probably won’t even come close to the cost of a Chanel bag.

When you start working full-time, live within your means. Figure out your living expenses – they don’t call it “cost of living” for no reason. Figure out what you need to save for retirement. Then, have another saving fund for things that you LOVE – whether it be a trip abroad or a Chanel bag or whatever. Put money into this savings account and watch it grow.

When you can afford to pay for the bag in cash – go for it. And then, enjoy it.

All the best,

Frugirl

I didn’t have the guts to write this as a comment on the actual post because I was afraid that I’d come across as a PF nazi. I also didn’t want to get hate mail for shunning Chanel. But the reality for me is that even though it is a beautiful bag, so is my The It bag! :)

I honestly don’t understand why and how anyone could pay so much for a bag. Even after reading style blogs for 2 years, I still don’t get it. To me, it’s just a bag. But I also understand that everyone has different opinions and we are all free to spend our money as we see fit. I just wanted to share my $0.02 on my blog.

Readers, what are your opinions on expensive and classic items, such as the Chanel Classic flap purse or a Burberry Trench jacket? Do you own any of these items and do you think they are worth the high price tag?

I love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,

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48 Comments

Filed under Fashion, Finance

48 responses to “Inspired by: Should I buy Chanel?

  1. Your thriftiness

    I read that blog post a while back, and I had mixed feelings too. I’ve always been frugal, until the day I started having a substantial amount in my savings (for a student) and discovered the world of designer bags and The Purse Forum. I was hooked for a while but it was a really expensive hobby, not that I could afford to buy a lot. As a result of that period in my life I do have a Chanel purse (NOT a flap though – I drew the line at >$1k) that I got as my graduation present. Not too long after that I snapped back into reality and realized that while it was a nice present, I shouldn’t be spending my money on such luxuries when I don’t even have a real job yet, so I’m staying off designer bags in the meantime. :P although now that I understand more about the PF world, I think I’d rather use my money to travel or build my dream home than to collect material goods. One Chanel is enough for me!

    • your thriftiness

      Forgot to answer the question on if it’s worth the price tag.. I would say no. I’ve spent many hours researching on The Purse Forum, and it seemed to me like every other luxury brand has its quality issues, and I’m guessing it’s even more prevalent now that the demands for these goods have gone up and quality goes down as they try to meet the demands (but price keeps going up). For something you spent $$$$ on you’d expect it to be flawless, no?

      • Yes, I would expect to something so $$$$ to be flawless. Which is kinda unrealistic, I guess.

        I wonder what kind of flaws designer bags have. Surely, there are not the same kind of flaws that normal bags have, right? Because that would just be so wrong…

  2. It’s possible that I’m ridiculously cheap, but anything over $200 for a bag for me would be out of the question. While I love dressing nicely, and style, and all that, I just can’t fathom sinking that much money into a piece of material!

    • @addvodka
      I am with you on this one. In fact, I think the most I have ever spent on a bag was $90 (and I am not sure if I will do the same again).

      • The most I have paid for a bag was $147.

        Not that I want to sink that kind of money in another bag, but my eyes wander and I’ve spotted a new beauty :). Having said that, I wouldn’t hesitate to drop $$$$ on travel, and I feel that in the PF blogging world, it is far more taboo to spend money on material things than experiences. When, maybe, for some people, a really nice bag might make them as happy as a trip abroad.

      • monika

        i’d rather have the experience and memories of travel than some over priced “must have”, but thats just me. who says you can’t get something lovely while out on vacation that means more to you than just something someone else said you need?

        i’m not saying i’ve never drooled over something $$$$ but at the end of the day, i just cant imagine dropping that sort of money when i think how how i had to work to get in the first place.

  3. Cassie

    I do own a Burberry trench and a couple other expensive coats. The trench was the beginning of the end of my debt spiral actually, as it snapped me back to reality. I also read the article and shook my head at it. While I was spendy in University, and I had decent summer jobs, there’s no way I could have spent that much money for a purse then! I think your response hits it on the head really well. While my focus right now is debt repayment and settling out my finances, I’m not going to knock out the possibility of buying some of those fashion items in the future. Are they ridiculously expensive? Absolutely. But if it’s something you really REALLY want, and you’ve been socking money away consistently so you could save up and get it, why should any of us be able to look at it and say “that costs too much”? Spending is very personal.

    • “Spending is very personal”. I completely agree with this statement.

      I, too, made decent money as student during summers and internships, but there was no way I had that much $$$$ to spend on a purse. But I also think that people should spend their money, the way they want to, as long as they are being responsible about it, who am I to judge?

  4. belowhermeans

    I would describe myself as shabby chic. I can’t bring myself to enjoy clothes or shoes that cost more than a quarter to half a paycheck.

  5. I agree with Cassie. If you want it, and you’ve been saving up, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t spend the money and get it. However, I don’t think that you should be buying it at the expense of debt or bill payments.

    I have a few designer bags that I purchased for myself and never went into debt for. Where I work, I see a lot of people with designer goods, and I lust after their Burberry bags/trenches, purses, etc. But I also try to remember that they are in a completely different pay range than I am, and I have different goals in mind for my money. That’s not to say I won’t splurge every once in awhile, but it’s hard to when I think of how that money could be going toward my Emergency Fund or my savings account for my new computer.

    • I completely agree that we are free to spend our money as we see fit. And if we’ve been saving up for it, why not?

      I, too, also splurge once in a while on make-up, clothes, electronics, travel. But that is usually after I’ve topped up my emergency fund, RRSP and paid all my living expenses.

  6. I have a Burberry winter trench I bought for $1900.. Could I have purchased a Canada Goose jacket or any other wool jacket for WAY cheaper? Yes. Yes I could have.

    But would I have loved it as much as this one? No. Every time I look at it, the buttons, the styling.. it just makes anything I wear look so much better. No comparison.

    Still, this is after maxing out retirement accounts, saving a ton in my emergency fund and having agonized over it all summer before buying it.

    • I love your winter trench! :)

      I completely agree that we can and should spend our money as we see fit.

      Sometimes, I think as a student, we still don’t really understand the term “cost of living.” I know that I certainly didn’t.

  7. Sonia

    I have an LV and Chanel, but only because my very wealthy aunt gifted them to me. Do I love them? Yes! Would I pay over $300 for a bag? No wayI I can’t fathom spending that kind of money on a purse. Even if I won millions of dollars, I still couldn’t bring myself to spend that. It just feels frivolous. I would pick a stylish, well made purse of a decent price over a high priced name brand any day. Now, if you’re going to gift it to me, then I’ll be the first in line with my arms wide open. :)

    • I also have a wealthy aunt and she gifted me with a beautiful Movado watch for my graduation. Do I love it? YES!!! Would I ever buy such a thing? Goodness, no.

      I agree with you, that if someone were to gift a nice anything to me, I will also be with open arms to receive ;)

    • lyndzeymoore

      I wouldn’t buy expensive bags either if I could get them for free as a gift from my aunt ha!

  8. sassy

    I feel gulity after reading the blog.. I got too many designer bags.. it’s an addiction that I want to stop. I really want to save.. Am getting married next year. .. But bags are so tempting! But I will keep ur advises in mind before buying any again..

    • Hi Sassy and welcome!

      Awwww, my intent was not to make people feel guilty and I’m sorry to have made you feel bad. I totally understand how beautiful things (bags, shoes, clothes, make-up, etc) are tempting and there is nothing wrong with buying them. Everyone should spend money on what makes them happy! :)

      But I guess, what I also want to say is that, it’s important to spend responsibly, as well, esp. for those of us just starting out after or during university. I know that I wasn’t spending very responsibly during my university years.

      For me, after I max out my Emergency Fund, retirement savings, other savings (i.e., trip abroad), and pay my living expenses, the left over money is free game.

  9. Bethany

    If you have covered the no-fudge areas, then go splurge in the range you feel comfortable (and presumably saved up for). I do not think you have to remove yourself from the world of luxury when you choose to be responsible. Planning should have its rewards… like speaking designer. :D

  10. I can’t fathome spending $4300 on a freaking bag. I don’t care what name is on it, no bag is worth that kind of money. I am not a fan of paying a premium for a name or supposed quality, it seems so frivolous. I am of course influence by being from a rural area, where most people know more tractor brand names than handbag makers. People around here aren’t impressed by fashion brands, which really cuts down on the silly spending on overpriced clothes.

    • You bring up a great point that we are influenced by our surroundings, as well. In fact, I think most of the blogs I read, are people living in cities :). I remember when I was living out in University Town, I’d always get a shock of style when I came back to the City.

  11. I’m in the middle of this argument – I previously had a fashion blog as well & still regularly read some of those blogs but then I also read a lot of PF blogs to keep me balanced. I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable knowing that I paid more than $2000 for a bag especially now that hubby & I are in serious travel mode. So would I want a Chanel bag or return trips to Europe?! I know which one I’m going to get. But then again, I didn’t bat an eyelid when I bought my engagement dress which was worth $500 (and which I’ve only worn twice so far unfortunately). Maybe in a couple of years, I could justify this amount but right now, I’d rather put my cash to better use. :)

    • I hear you, I used to have a style blog, as well – though very briefly (it was too much work!). I also think that before I turn 30, I’d love to splurge on a really nice pair of shoes and bag once I hit a milestone net worth.

      For now, I’m happy with what I am able do with my money and watching my money grow.

  12. Sweta

    Thank you so much for posting the petite fashion blogs. I am also 5’3 and have trouble finding clothes that fit.

    Also, I loved your letter to University Student. I wanted to copy and paste your response in the original post.

  13. Hi there! Thank you for linking me to this post and being so kind about me in it :) Honestly your response makes a lot of sense to me, and if that particular reader had asked me the question in a different way, I would have responded differently. But it seemed very clear to me in our conversations (I edited a lot out in the interest of space) that she was 100% focused on getting a luxury bag to reward herself, and was going to get one no matter what. Molly also had no debt. So in that situation I just tried to steer her towards a more responsible (relative..I know…) choice.

    In any case I appreciate your answer and hope that in the future you or any other reader feel comfortable enough to comment on my blog! I totally welcome all opinions, especially the financially conservative ones. I know that sometimes blogs like mine may encourage spending that may not be responsible. It’s a tough subject for me and I try to balance my own interests in fashion, luxury, travel, etc with posts like this one – http://www.featherfactor.com/2011/12/interview-with-naomi.html

    Also I am more of a personal finance nut than you may think! I try to save a good % of my income and love reading blogs like yours :)

    • Thank you so much for the inspiration, Katherine.

      I think you did the right thing by answering your Molly’s question and understanding her circumstances. We only see a snapshot of anyone’s situation, so I can completely understand how you answered her question.

      I really enjoyed Naomi’s interview and I really enjoy your mix of interviews :)

      I will try to be less shy on fashion blogs, such as yours, and comment more, instead of lurking and hiding behind my own blog. It will take time, as I never really know what to say to add value to the discussion. Thank you for your encouragement!

  14. I couldn’t stop laughing for a minute when I realized that, for the first time, thanks to your juxtaposition of the two things, (HELLO anchoring) the Balenciaga actually seemed “cheap”. Wha-ah-a-at??

    And then it was back to reality again. Whew. Haha. *wipes a tear away*

    Honestly, I have paid a higher than sane ($200 is my sanity limit) price for a bag and a coat before, once each, and once was half financed by credit card rewards and once wasn’t. But I have also never been in debt for a minute in my life, and when I bought those things, I spent more time agonizing over the rightness of it than I spent earning the money for it. (I … might be exaggerating, but not if I get to count the before and after.)

    At some point, I realized that I literally tormented myself over the purchase more than I enjoyed the purchase, and definitely spent more time worrying over it than I had spent earning it. And that really defeated the purpose of it. I’ve now had that coat nearly 6 years and it’s still going strong, and I’ve had that bag for nearly 4 years and it’s still in great shape.

    No, I don’t think that’s an argument for going out and spending another $300 on several more of each but it’s cracking the shell of my OWN argument that “it costs too much, nothing can be worth that much!” It can be, if we do earn the kind of money that allows us to dispose of that amount (whatever your sanity limit is) and choose very carefully to pick something that will match your lifestyle for as long as it takes to amortize that cost per wear down to match your usual cheap cost per wear item.

    The reason it’s harder for me to justify that? My cheap stuff usually lasts a really long time too.

    But cheapness does show and that’s something we have to take into consideration as young professionals – your image is reflected in those accessories. Pick something that will wear well, never mind whether it’s the expensive brand, just pick a good quality item because you don’t want it to fall apart in a year because you’re going to be seen by your colleagues, present and future bosses or other colleagues and people who you want to make good impressions on.

    Ok, now I’ve just completely gone off the rails here. :)

    • Oh, I so struggle with this. Expensive stuff (ballet flats especially, my shoe of choice) just doesn’t last with me. Sometimes the cheap stuff doesn’t, either, of course, but sometimes it does. But there is definitely a visible difference between a $20 cardigan and a $50 cardigan or $30 shoes vs $60 shoes.

      • I agree (and struggle) with balancing cost and quality. Even though not all expensive items are quality and not all inexpensive items are bad quality, there is general co-relation between an increase in quality and price tag.

        I also bought (and still buy) some cheap shoes, and I am learning that I do need to pay for some quality – even though I’m talking Nine West vs Payless – it’s the same idea.

        I like the idea of buying a few quality items which I love, as opposed to buying a lot of mediocre items that were on sale.

  15. Pingback: February 2012 Budget and Goals | fabulously fru-girl

  16. Moogan

    If I was dead set on owning a classic item like a Chanel or LV bag, I think I would rather buy one previously owned from a reputable consignment shop. Websites like Coutureusa.com have used Chanel bags in immaculate condition that are guaranteed to be 100% authentic at a fraction of the cost a new bag would cost you.

    It seems to me that a new bag would depreciate faster than a bag that you buy already used. Besides, no one else would ever know you didn’t buy the bag new.

    • Thank you for that link. Lots of pretty things on that website, but still out of my price range. Although some of the shoes were pretty reasonable.

      I agree that if one was dead set on owning a designer item, whether it be a Chanel/LV/Balenciaga, they should scour for a gently used/pre-owned one first. I’ve also heard that eBay is a great place to look.

  17. The most I’ve ever paid for a single item of clothing was less than $200 on a winter coat. So… you can probably guess my response. Still, I try not to be too judgemental – after all, I have spent nearly a grand each on my DSLR and electric guitar. Different strokes.

    • The most I’ve paid for a single item of clothing would have to be my trench jacket for $200. It was a bit impulsive and fits a big snug – but I love how it looks.

      We all have difference priorities and I try to respect other peoples’ decisions. I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with how I spend my money.

  18. Amanda

    For me, it’s all about the worth, which means I factor in both the cost and the benefits- in this case, the quality of the item, how long it lasts, how good it looks.

    I’d rather pay $300 for a high-quality leather bag than $150 for a cheap polyurethane one. No polyurethane is going to age like real leather. Then there’s the quality of the stitching, design, hardware. A high-quality bag will not only look better when you buy it, it’ll age better, which means you’ll ultimately get more use out of it.

    That said, I don’t think you need to shell out $4K for a high-quality bag. But over $300 seems reasonable to me, if it’s something you’re going to carry around for a long time. And I don’t assume that expensive = quality, as there’s definitely expensive junk-quality items out there. But I do think that high quality often requires a higher price range than many people (Americans in particular) are willing to shell out because our market is so flooded with cheap crappy alternatives.

    • I agree that non-leather bags don’t age well. Having said that I haven’t bought a really nice non-leather bag yet, so perhaps I am speaking too soon.

      I agree there is a general corelation between better quality and a slightly higher price tag. I guess it all depends on the individual and what their priorities and wants are.

  19. I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this above, but what about designer consignment stores? Most major cities have amazing consignment and vintage stores, and whenever I browse the higher-end ones I always see some Chanel pieces. I think paying $1000 or $2000 for a classic bag that is barely used because it sat in some wealthy woman’s closet or graced the arm of a model on a photo shoot is completely reasonable. I’ve only just started working at my first job after university so I can’t afford it right now, but when the time comes I fully intend to buy a purse like that without going into the Chanel boutique and paying the retail price.

  20. PurpleJ

    Just checked out that online consignment store, 15,000 for one the bags- I think I read it 3 times to confirm.

  21. WiseWoman

    A Chanel Flap purse is a classic and as such, it would be an investment. I am a middle aged woman who has been around the block and though I am frugal in many ways, this is one splurge that I would make. I have lived through buying cheaper bags only to have them destroyed after only a year or so of use. Yes, $4300 is a piece of change, but think of how long you will own the bag, not to mention all that you can do/wear with it and the enjoyment that you will get! I am ready for one of these bags myself. After years of living with cheap, but stylish, knockoffs. We have lived below our means for years, retirement funds and college funds are taken care of and now that I have some discretionary income it is time to treat myself to something that I have always wanted. I figure that if I live at least another 40 years or so, the bag will only cost me about $100 per year (not adjusting for time value of money)! Also, things like Chanel bags, Hermes scarves and Rolex watches are classics that can always be passed down to your daughter or favorite relatives. All this said, I would not sacrifice basic needs to buy luxury items–first things first!

  22. susan

    i love your blog (: we have the same goals in life!
    While your bag of fancy is Chanel, Mine is the Prada Saffiano (: It isn’t as crazy ex as yours (around 1.7k euros) but i can never bear to blow my savings on it, even though i have the means to right now.
    Well, I set myself some career goals and told myself that if i were to attain that certain goal when I hit 30, I would totally reward myself with that dream bag (with cash).
    u could try that (:

    Even though I tell myself that style doesnt necessarily have to burn a hold in the pocket, every girl deserves to own a timeless piece of hand candy, more so if that bag came from your hard earned money.

  23. Mai

    Of late i have been going thru the blogs on chanel & other luxury bags, in my quest to justify my purchase of a chanel/dior bag. Like many of you I have been frugal all my life & have been saving/scrimping my money for years. My last position was as a Vice President of a multi-national IT company. Despite having real estate, mutual fund, gold & other sort of investments, I could never bring myself to spend more than USD400 on a bag. I could very well afford it.
    My daughter said something……”once you’re very old, even if you carry a gold bag you have lost the opportunity of enjoying it to the fullest”. That was a shock to the system. From experience I also know that you can’t bring money to the grave, might as well enjoy it when you can life is too short anyway.
    Moral of the story, if it makes you happy & special everytime you carry a chanel/dior/furla/balenciaga/longchamp etc bag, then place a value to that. Then let it stack up against all the other pleasures in life & make a decision on whether that bag was worth it.

    • Mai

      Me….. I bought my first chanel bag at 52 & I don’t have any regrets.

    • Hi Mai,

      Thank you for your comment and congratulations! I think it’s wonderful that you have led such a successful career and I really admire women who are able to make it to the top.

      Having said that, I often associate luxury hand bags (and other luxuries) with individuals who have worked hard, and have overcome many obstacles to be able to justify such a purchase. I think, too many times, young girls come out of university, or land their first full-time job, and want to “reward” themselves with a luxury item, without fully evaluating the effects of such a purchase. That is just my personal opinion and my experience. When I get to the point in my career where I feel that I am “established” I may decide to reward myself for my years of labour, but for now, it’s just a distant thought.

  24. Herlina Pelawi

    I love chanel

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