I Love My… Vintage Chanel Bag

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Elana Fishman is Marie Claire's Credits Editor & Fashion News Assistant, where she oversees the magazine's fashion credits, writes trend pages, and blogs on the daily for MarieClaire.com. Previous to this, she was the assistant to the magazine's Fashion Director, Nina Garcia, and designer Jason Wu's assistant. You can read her Marie Claire web work here and follow her rambling thoughts on Twitter at @elanafishman.

"Once upon a time, there was a little teen soap called The OC, which some watched for the fashion, some for the male eye candy, and some—like yours truly—for both. From the second Mischa Barton's Marissa Cooper hit the screen, quilted Chanel 2.55 dangling from her tanned arm, I knew I had to somehow score a chain-handled carryall of my own. Sure, it's not the most romantic way of falling in love with an iconic fashion item, but hey—I was 17.

"With my marathon-running, piano-playing physician parents enthusiastically opposed to shelling out anything close to $2,000 on a handbag (and even back then, the larger 2.55s clocked in well above that mark), I realized I'd need to be more resourceful. Throughout my first few years at NYU, I tirelessly scoured every vintage and/or secondhand store in the 212 (and 646, and 917) area code, eyes peeled for a glimpse of those iconic interlocking C's. No luck—apparently those flap bags are pretty popular (who knew?!). Undeterred, I put my name down on wait-lists at several local consignment haunts. And then…I waited. And waited. Every day, I hoped my phone would ring and some wonderful salesperson would announce that My Bag had arrived—but apparently NYU students fall far behind A-list stylists and celebs when it comes to hunting down vintage Chanel (darn you, Nicole Richie).

"Eight months into a fruitless search, I'd grown tired and a little discouraged. I could have gone the eBay route, of course, but the idea of purchasing a designer piece sight unseen worried me, since scams abound. Also, in my preteen years, I had had a little…well, let's just call it an incident, involving an unapproved Ebay shopping spree, my parents' credit card numbers, and an insatiable obsession with Joomi Joolz tank tops. My taste, I'm proud to say, has since improved.

"And then, one fateful day, I was trolling Craiglist when I saw it: a listing for a black, oversized Chanel flap bag, in black with gold hardware. Within my price range, too. After calling the seller in a state of thrilled hysteria to announce my interest, I hightailed it down to the Financial District, examined the bag in person, and bought it on the spot. Today, I wear my Chanel no less than three times a week, consider it my most prized possession, and still love telling the story of how its acquisition took exactly nine months—making it, yes, my baby.

"Here's hoping that it keeps its lovely condition longer than the starlet who inspired me to make the purchase in the first place."