holy grail

I started reading Vogue in 1988. I was 13 & what stuck with me was that when you are grown up and successful, you get a Chanel bag. Well. I’m neither of those things, but I am resourceful. In 1988 while my delusional child self was dreaming, bags were around $1000. They now retail about $4000. Not going to happen. (Note to self: do not let children read fashion magazines.)

I found this one for $30 in a thrift shop and had the Chanel shop repair it. The leather in the chain was frayed, the clasp worn, and one of the loops that held to the chain broken off. I got it back today – like new. Ok, not quite good as NEW, but I really love the classic style & hopefully it will last a long time yet.

(Maybe one of these days I’ll find a tripod and take an actual outfit photo that’s not in a mirror. You know, when I start dressing fancy to match this bag.)


  1. Buying a beat up Chanel bag and having them refurbish it is BRILLIANT! I hope next time I’m in the city, it’s not pouring cats and dogs so we can do a little thrifting.

  2. I went thrifting with my mother once when I was 17 and she found a classic 60’s-era black and white Chanel suit in my size and made me try it on. It fit perfectly but my snotty punk-rock self wanted nothing to do with it.

    She bought it anyway and later consigned it for $500 bucks. Man, I’m an idiot. It would still probably fit.

    Good spotting!

    1. Even my snotty 17 year old self wouldnt have turned it down!!! Ahhhh!! (Though, I’ve gained about 30 lbs since 17…)

      Also, aw. I wish I could thrift with my mom. She HATES thrifting, though her allergies and asthma are so bad I don’t blame her.

  3. that is so elegant! i envy your thrift finds. treasures are few and far between here in fremont. i need to get a car solely for thrifting purposes!

  4. I grew up reading fashion magazines as well, and share your pain. My wish list as a child included a Louis Vuitton shoe trunk and an emerald cabochon tiara from Van Cleef & Arpels. I have never had the luck to stumble upon a Chanel bag in a thrift store…maybe one day! Or, a Birkin bag??!

  5. Oh, the perfect Chanel bag! A fellow non-fancy-but-loved-Vogue-as-a-teenager person, I completely understand your desire for one. Can I be super rude and ask how much the repairs came to? Owning a Chanel item is literally on my life list, and this seems like a brilliant way to do it!

    1. Just over $200. An investment, but they did a LOT. I did some research to see what these sold for on eBay and designer resale sites, and they sell for $900-$1400, so I didn’t mind shelling out. It’s a lot, though, for sure!!

  6. How was the process of getting it fixed at Chanel? I’ve heard of some designer places (like Chloe) who have had a whole line of bags have a defect (and it’s like a $1500 bag) and then they charge you like $200 to fix the defect. And that’s crazy to me. Obviously this one is a bit older, but was the experience nice overall? I’ve never been a fan of Coach bags, but when my mom bought a bag in the 80s, it had like a lifetime guarantee on it? And they’d buff & polish it for free?

    1. Oh yeah, remember when Coach was actually nice leather bags and not made in China hootchie garbage?

      In 1998 when I got my first “fancy” job, I bought my mom a Coach bag (black, leather, school bag classic) & they still had that warranty then. I doubt they still do! Plus, what would they polish in the new designs? (That said, one of my older Coach satchels has worn entirely through the leather piping, boo!)

      The Chanel ladies were all quite lovely and happy to see a bag restored. Very sweet. Both times I was in they were helping other people with newer bags with repairs though, so, yikes!

  7. OOOO nice find. I have one that I picked up for much cheaper than humanly possible – it’s missing the chain, and has some scuffs.

    Question: Do you know about when that bag dates to? I love the style so much more than some of the stuff they have out now…

  8. Nordstrom Rack sells refurbished handbags at VERY competitive prices. Marc by Marc Jacobs for $80?! Yup. I have also seen the YSL “Downtown” tote that is usually $1000+ for like half the price. I own a few of the refurbished bags and the only thing I can see that is “wrong” with them is that someone bought them, used them for a while, and then returned them. Since Nordstrom doesn’t resell used items, they send them to quality control and then quality control sends them to Nordstrom’s off-price store, the Rack.

    I really need to get back into thrifting. This is an absolutely precious find!

    1. I’ve never been to Nordstrom Rack, but I always hear about great finds! Who knew they did refurbished bags, that’s crazy. Do they say “refurbished” on the tags?

  9. I love that you got it and had it restored. Which is something so many people wouldn’t and that confounds me. I have a coach bag from 5 years ago that has broken 4 times and they replaced it everytime. I don’t think they sells anything similar so I don’t know what they would do now.
    Cole Haan will repair bags too. Sadly I brought on in recently to be rehabbed and they sent it out twice and it came back untouched and they said OH SORRY can’t do anything. Local cobbler? totally could touch it up. BOO COLE HAAN.

    I have a Louis Vuitton bag I stupidly saved for $20 at a time for a year to buy. (I know it seem foolish but I just couldn’t get it out of my head) that had a minor problem right away and they wouldn’t fix it they wanted to replace it even though it was a cheap fix. They take such pride in their bags they have a worldwide database so you can go in anywhere and have it taken care of. That said for as much as they charge it’s a good thing!

  10. Wowie wow wow! Good for you–I love stories like this!

    BTW, I found the link to your blog on The Purse Forum–expect a stampede of drooling Chanel addicts!

  11. It’s beautiful! And looks like it’s in great condition after the restoration too! I remember you tweeting about it months ago, and I was so curious about what style of Chanel bag it was. Thanks for sharing! The bag suits you and is definitely a lucky find! :)

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