Style Guide: Chanel Flap bags

Welcome to our series Style Guide – this is where we delve into some of the most popular styles from world renowned brands from all over the world.

This time we're guiding you through everything related to the flap bag. How did it come to be and why does it look like it does? How do you style it and what colors does it come in? Read all about it below.

The birth and rise of the flap bags

The flap bag from Chanel comes in multiple different versions – the 2.55, the Classic flap bag, the 2.55 Reissue and the Boy bag. When talking about flap bags, it’s also important to distinguish between a double flap or a single flap. We’ve spoken about this previously in our BRAND BIBLE and in our article about INVESTMENT PIECES. Feel free to read those if you still feel like you need information about the bags after this article.

As seen on

Ever since Karl Lagerfeld joined the brand in the early 1980s, the bags have been spotted on it-girls all throughout the years. Christy Turlington, Helena Christensen, Gwyneth Paltrow and Linda Evangelista showed us how to navigate off-duty dressing and proved to everyone just how versatile the Chanel flap bags were and still are.

Today, you’ll spot a Chanel flap bag on celebrities like Lily-Rose Depp, Bella and Gigi Hadid, the entire Kardashian-Jenner klan and many more.

The inspiration behind the icon

Below, we’re going to walk and talk you through the different types of flap bags. We’ll go through the different styles, the inspiration behind them, their designers as well as sizes. This is a complete guide to Chanel flap bags, so you have all the necessary information about these iconic bags – just in case you need it.

One thing worth knowing before we dive into all the different flap bags and their designs is the difference between the Mademoiselle lock and the CC lock. Contrary to popular belief, the Mademoiselle lock came first. It’s an elegant rectangular clasp. It apparently refers to the fact that its designer – Gabrielle Chanel – never married. The CC lock however was designed by Karl Lagerfeld in the 1980s. The CC lock is very popular today and features the interlocking Cs from the Chanel logo.

Single flap vs. double flap

This distinction can be quite tricky and is oftentimes thrown into conversation without much of an explanation. We’ll provide a bit of context so you know what the difference between these two types of flap bags are.

A double flap will have two flaps – hence the name ‘double’. One on the external part of the bag and one internally. Chanel has stated that the reason for the two flaps is to help the bags keep their shape and retain their structure. The brand wants their bags to be worn and used for years and years, so they have to be able to withstand time. This means that bags created in softer material or in larger sizes will most likely be a double flap – there are, however, no rules as to which bags have a single flap and which have double flaps. The production of the classic Chanel flap bag with a single flap was discontinued in 2014, but in some other styles it’s still being made.

Bags with single flaps can be classic styles or seasonal releases of classic styles. Single flap bags include the Boy bag, the 19 bag, as well as seasonal releases of both the classic Flap bag and the 2.55 bag.

The addition of an extra flap in the double flap bags also adds some extra weight. This means that double flap bags are a bit heavier and a bit more tricky to get into. Single flaps, like the Boy bag, are slightly lighter, easier to get into and a bit more interior space.


Photos: The Vintage Bar & ritajokinen

The 2.55

The original 2.55 was designed by Gabrielle Chanel herself in February 1955 and was aptly named after the month and year of its release. The 2.55 was not Chanels first design – she was 71 – but it was definitely the one that dominated the fashion world for many years to come.

The bags in the late 1800s were designed for the elite – socialites and wealthy ladies. This meant that most bags weren’t hands-free. Bags were either carried in the crook of the arm or with both hands – like you would see most royal ladies hold their bags today. Because of this, Gabrielle Chanel was eager to design something for the modern woman – something better. She wanted to design something classy, lightweight but easy to carry around. The 2.55 was the first flap bag to feature a full shoulder-length strap.

How to spot an original 2.55: It has a rectangular shape of typically quilted leather, an all-chain strap and the Mademoiselle lock. When it was released it retailed at only $220!

The versions of the 2.55 that Gabrielle Chanel herself wore before the big reveal in 1955 was made of quilted wool. Chanel had always been fond of horse races and other equestrian sports and this is exactly where she found inspiration for the 2.55 bag. More specifically in the jockey jackets and saddle blankets. For the launch of the 2.55 in 1955, she however opted for firmer materials – mostly black quilted leather with a diamond and herringbone pattern. This has proven to be a fan favorite to this day as it compliments and suits almost all styles and tastes – no matter the occasion.

The 2.55 is a double flap, meaning it consists of an exterior and interior flap as well as one spacious compartment. On the inside of the front flap you’ll also find a zip pocket added by Gabrielle Chanel – perfect for storing love letters.

Photo: Getty Images

Classic flap bag

The Classic flap bag was introduced in 1983 after Karl Lagerfeld was appointed Artistic Director in the early 80s. Lagerfeld updated the Chanel 2.55 in some fundamental ways. He replaced the Mademoiselle lock with the CC lock first also created by him in the early 80s. He also added a strand of leather to the chain, meaning the Classic flap has a leather-interwoven chain strap. Some Classic flaps are also offered with quilted chevron stitching instead of the otherwise classic diamond pattern.

Initially, the Classic flap bag was made as a single flap in order to make it lighter and hold more. You can’t see if a bag is a single of double flap from the outside but the addition of the second flap makes the bag able to withhold its shape a lot better. That is why, Chanel made the Classic flap available in both a single and a double flap. As stated above, the production of the Classic flap bag as a single flap was discontinued in 2014.  Today it therefore classifies as a double flap just like the 2.55 and the Reissue 2.55.


You can get the Classic flap bag in seven sizes: Extra mini, Mini Square, Mini Rectangle, Small, Medium, Jumbo and Maxi.

The Mini measures 17 x 10 x 7.5 cm, Mini Square measures 17 x 13.5 x 8 cm and the Mini Rectangle 20 x 12 x 6 cm. The Small is of course bigger and measures 23 x 14.5 x 6 cm and the Medium 25.5 x 15.5 x 6.5 cm. The Jumbo measures 30 x 19.5 x 10 cm and the Maxi a whopping 33 x 23 x 10 cm.

The 2.55 Reissue

The 2.55 Reissue is a recreation of the classic 2.55 by Karl Lagerfeld. The 2.55 Reissue is used to describe the models that were launched in 2005 as part of the 50th anniversary of the original 2.55 in 1955. The Reissue 2.55 styles have the same features as the originals – the Mademoiselle lock and the all-metal chain strap. The Mademoiselle lock on these bags will however have ‘CHANEL’ engraved on them as well.

The Reissue 2.55 is, just like the 2.55 bag, classifies as a double flap bag. This is with the exception of the Jumbo Classic models which are single flap bags.

To distinguish between an original 2.55 and a Reissue 2.55, you can look at the inner flap. The Reissue will have ‘2.55-2005’ stitched between the CC logo.


The 2.55 Reissue is available in four sizes: 224, 225, 226 and 227. These can be translated to Mini, Small, Large and Maxi as on the Chanel website.

The 224 measures approximately 20 x 14.5 x 7.5 cm, the 225 24 x 16 x 7 cm, the 226 28 x 19.5 x 7 and lastly the 227 measures 31 x 20 x 10 cm.


The Boy bag

The Chanel Boy bag was designed by Karl Lagerfeld and introduced in 2011. The name Boy bag comes from the person which Gabrielle Chanel had a longstanding affair with – Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel – as well as Gabrielles affection for masculine dressing.

The Boy bag is a single flap as opposed to the Classic flap, the 2.55 and 2.55 the 2.55 Reissue and that’s not the only way the Boy bag differs. The Boy bag has a CC lock like the Classic flap but on the Boy bag the CC logo is placed on a metal plaque. The Boy bag is a much edgier version of a flap bag which shows on the strap as well – the Boy bag has a chunkier chain. The Boy bag also motocross-style ribbed edges making it differ even further from the very ladylike 2.55 and timeless Classic flap bag.


You can get the Boy bag in seven sizes: Mini, Small, Old Medium, New Medium and Large.

The Mini measures 15 x 9.5 x 7 cm and the Small 20 x 12 x 8 cm. The Old Medium measures 25 x 15 x 9 cm and the New Medium 28 x 18 x 9 cm. The biggest of them is the Large which measures 30 x 21 x 10 cm.


You can get the different Chanel Flap bags in a plethora of materials and colors. Depending on what you want to use the bag for, they all have pros and cons. Below we’ll go through some of the most popular materials, so you can choose the right flap bag for you and your needs.

Lambskin is one of Chanels most coveted materials. It’s super soft and has a nice smooth and luminous sheen. Lambskin has a nice depth of color, meaning the blacks will be super dark and colors will look super rich.


Photo: &

Caviar leather is slightly heavier than lambskin and much more durable. Caviar is another popular material as it’s more scratch- and water-resistant which makes it more appropriate for everyday use. Looks wise, it’s a grained leather with a pebbled finish. Some collectors see caviar as a less formal material than lambskin given the finish, but at the same time, the finish lends more structure to the bag.

If you’re looking for something in between lambskin and caviar leather, you’re in luck. Chanel flap bags are also available in untreated calfskin leather. This is described is the halfway house between the two materials as calfskin leather is smooth with a fine grain but it’s more durable than lambskin. You can also choose aged calfskin or glazed calfskin.

Something completely different – patent leather. Flap bags in patent leather will have a high-gloss shine which will transform any outfit instantly. The patent will give brightly colored bags a nice deep pigment and it’ll add a sense of drama to the dark bags. Just because, they’re patented doesn’t mean they’re easier to handle than normal lambskin however. See under ‘Care’ for more information on this.

Goatskin flap bags are not super common, but this material is also a nice in-between for lovers of lambskin and caviar leather. Goatskin is more matte and structured than lambskin making it more durable.


Photos: &

Speaking of exotic skins, python is most often seen on the classic flap bag but alligator is also to be found. Because of the fragility of these skins, we suggest you save these bags for special occasions. Chanel declared in 2018 that they would be stopping the production of bags and accessories in exotic skins because of supply chain issues. Because of this, the prices of bags in these leathers have increased on the secondhand market. Whether or not, Chanel will restart production with these skins remains to be seen, but until then you can shop them secondhand.


Above we’ve gone through some of the most noteworthy materials in which you can buy Chanel flap bags and they all have one thing in common – they’re leathers. Maybe you’re not into leather at all! In that case, you’ll be glad to hear that Chanel offers their flap bag in other materials as well. Tweed is one of Chanel’s most iconic materials in regards to bags and clothing. It’s been used by Gabrielle Chanel since 1925 and she was a true innovator when it comes to the material. By weaving in wools, silks, cotton she managed to make her tweeds unique and stand out.

Canvas is another non-leather material. If you’re looking to make your flap bag your everyday bag, canvas might be a good option. It’s definitely a good way to make the iconic bag less formal. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to dress up you flap bag, you can opt for velvet. This is a delicate material, but the colors come out very nice and rich.




When shopping for a Chanel Flap bag there are so many things to take into consideration: Material, color, size and hardware.

One of the most common choices of hardware is shiny gold. It’s worth noting that if you’re shopping vintage Chanel (pre-2008) the gold hardware will be pleated with 24-karat gold. This means that vintage Chanel flap bags with gold hardware will have a richer gold tone than the newer bags. If you’re looking for a softer gold look, Chanel also offers brushed and matte gold hardware as well as pale gold. Often see on the Boy bag, antique gold hardware looks more like brass and has slight patina.

If you’re more into silver, Chanel also has a complete offering of silver hardware. Shiny silver is a great choice of hardware – it’s simple and understated. Antiqued gold is to gold what ruthenium is to silver. It’s edgier and more distressed, which is why it’s often seen on the Boy bag.

If you’re not into either gold or silver, you can opt for black hardware. So Black is shiny black hardware but another option is blackened ruthenium hardware.

Photo: myfournais

What can you use it for?

Because of all the different styles, materials, hardwares, colors and not to mention sizes you can get the different Chanel flap bags in, it’s hard to find an occasion that doesn’t fit a flap bag. If you opt for a large size in a durable material and a neutral color it’s a good bag for everyday use, but if you choose a standout color in a delicate material it’s a good bag for dressing up. The flag bag can blend in with an outfit or it can be the main character.

When you shop for a flap bag it’s therefor a good idea to have its purpose in mind. Do you want to be able to wear it everyday without causing to much harm to it or do you only want to wear it on special occasions and make it a bit more special?

It’s also super important – whenever you shop for anything! – to have your personal style in mind! There are no rules when it comes to dressing! Whatever you choose, the most important thing is that you end up with the bag of your dreams. After that you can style and wear the bag exactly as you please. See Elsa Hosk and how she’s styled her beige Classic flap below.


If you’re the type of person who loves buying and selling designer items, it’s important to take care of your purchase in order for it to hold its value. Below you’ll find some tips and tricks on how to keep your Chanel flap bag looking nice and fresh – even if you use it daily.

It’s always a good idea to run over your leather pieces with a soft and dry microfiber cloth. These will get rid of any dust and dirt. You can do use whenever you want as it’s strictly superficial.

If you want to take greater care of your leather bags, you can also use a leather conditioner. We recommend using one without color. You rub on leather conditioner with a microfiber cloth and let it sit for half an hour to absorb. After this, you remove the excess with another dry microfiber cloth. You should use leather conditioner one or two times a year.

Lambskin is quite a sensitive material, so if you purchase a Chanel flap bag in this material you’ll need to store it carefully when you’re not using it. Small scratches can be fixed with a buffing cloth or a finger as the natural oils in your skin will help buff them out. Deep scratches, stains or rubbed corners are not as easily fixed however. If you purchase lambskin in a light color you should also be aware that color transfer can happen. This is especially something to look out for if you wear your flap bag crossbody and like to wear dark denim. Keep lambskin away from water, acetone, perfume and oils. This means: Spray on your perfume before you wear your bag.

Photo: The Vintage Bar

Caviar leather is a more durable material than lambskin but like with any other material you’ll need to look after it if you want it to last. When not in use, store your caviar bags in their dust bag in – preferably – the dark. A rule of thumb is, the more grained the texture of your leather is, the more durable it normally is. We recommend a dry microfiber cloth for any superficial dirt and leather conditioner one or twice a year like with lambskin.

Flap bags in patent leather are prone to staining and color transfer and because of its shine and reflective qualities, imperfections will stand out quite easily. They’re also known for not faring well in humid weather. Be careful when using bags in this material and take even better care of them when you’re not using them. You can’t use leather conditioner on patent leather, so it’s important that you take care of your bag as you use it – you won’t be able to do it over.


Photos: styleappetite, hannastefansson & kajamarie__

Tweed is more durable than one might think, but because all tweeds very in regards to their ‘neatness’ some will be more likely to snag and catch on to other things simply because of their textures. Because of this, you shouldn’t opt for your tweed flap bag if you’re wearing a sequin outfit or anything of the sort. You also have to be careful with color transferring with tweed bags as you don’t want them to stain. To keep tweed bags looking fresh, you might use a gentle textile roller or brush – we don’t recommend that you do this too often, as you don’t want to overdo it. Handing it in for professional dry-cleaning is the safest bet when it comes to these fine fabrics. This also applies to velvet flap bags.

It’s also important that you take care of the hardware on your flap bag once in a while. It’s perfectly normal that hardware tarnishes over time but in order to minimize this, you can buy a jewelry polishing cloth and give a good scrub once in a while. You should also make sure to store your bag in a non-humid place – as always, we suggest storing your flap bag in its dust bag when you’re not using it.

Written by Alberte Gram
Alberte Gram is a fashion writer based in London.
The people pictured are not associated with The Archive
or The Vintage Bar, and do not endorse the products shown.