I’ve wanted a Chanel handbag since I was 18. And I remember telling myself one day, I’ll own one. True to my word, I got one when I turned 30.
Let me start by saying I was nowhere near born in the lap of luxury. Living in a “you live where?!” suburb of St. Louis, I can assure you, Fritos with ketchup isn’t as gross as it sounds, a bag of hand-me-down clothes still excites me more than getting one new shirt at the mall, and my parents’ place still doesn’t have central air. We’re talking pretty damn humble beginnings here.
I think it was the rise of shows like The Simple Life, The O.C., Gossip Girl and the dreaded KUWTK that lead to my sudden awareness of those two interlocking CCs and their importance in relation to serving as a status symbol. Yeah, I had seen some Louis Vuitton here and there. But for me, Chanel was the epitome of class – it was timeless, it was sleep and holy shit was it expensive.
I’ve always been picky about my purses. Never one to carry something everyone else had, I passed hard on the Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Coach phases, option to see out something a little more unique when I searched for something to dangle off of – or in the crook of – my arm.
As turning 30 loomed in the distance, along with my April wedding, I decided it was time. I knew exactly what I wanted – something timeless and classic but attainable on my salary without looking like I had completely lost my mind financially. Scouring second hand websites and eBay became second nature; I soon received more “dings” notifying me of when an auction ended that my fiance kept asking who the hell was texting me.
The more I searched, the more I found out about what I didn’t want. Black leather seemed to be the immediate popular choice – but as one to never carry anything everyone else has – here’s looking at you, LV Neverfull – I both couldn’t afford it and didn’t feel like it was the one for me. When someone gets a Chanel bag, I feel like black leather is the default – because let’s face it, unless you’re making boucoup bucks, you’re probably only going to get one.
While stalking the Bag, Borrow or Steal sale section, I found it. It was still out of my price range, but that rang the starting bell to let the obsessive stalking begin. I watch the price drop a few hundred dollars, checking a few times everyday in hopes that no one snatched it up. I knew the site sent out 30% off coupons fairly regularly, so I had to wait until one popped up in my inbox. One day, right before turning the big 30, there it was. And the bag was still for sale.
Immediately, I texted my husband. “You still into splitting a birthday present with me?” I want to buy this investment bag and I need to do it now,” I frantically text him. “Yep – I’ll shoot you some money.” With that response, in about 2 seconds flat, I was staring at a checkout screen. ‘But what if it doesn’t live up to your expectations’ my brain started spewing as I saw the final total. ‘That’s what the return policy is for – now shhh…’
A couple of days later – it showed up. And I couldn’t believe it’s mine. Happy birthday to me indeed. It’s still my favorite bag – partly because I feel like it was a good way to say goodbye to my crazy 20s, a sign of success so far in my career as a writer, and mostly because my husband indulged my very expensive tastes (even though he doesn’t really get it.) It’s the bag I turn to to feel extra special, the one I add when it’s time to dress to impress. And it’ll be the one I pass down to my daughter as long as she shares my intense bag appreciation.