Chanel Cerf Tote: A Complete Guide. Is It Worth Buying In 2023?

Everything you need to know about the Chanel Cerf Tote. Is it still wearable in 2023? Read our complete review to find out!

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chanel executive tote guide review 2023

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Some Chanel bags hang around for a season or two before disappearing, never to be seen again. Others, like the Cerf Tote (also called the Executive Tote), become instant classics and have loads of fans even after being discontinued. 

The Cerf Tote definitely falls in the second category. Check out this article for a complete rundown of the Chanel Cerf Tote, including design details, dimensions, materials, and where to buy one. 

About the Chanel Cerf Tote

Released in 2005, the Cerf is a simple, yet elegant shopper-style tote bag. 

Chanel made a few changes to the design years later and renamed the new edition the Executive Tote. Because the models were so similar, both names are used interchangeably when discussing this model. 

It remained part of the House’s permanent collection for nearly a decade

The Design of the Cerf Tote

As mentioned previously, there are two versions of this bag: the Cerf (older version) and the Executive (newer version). 

These models have many design features in common such as: wide front and back compartments, rolled leather top handles, a square, footed base, and two interior zip pockets. 

Both models also come with a removable polyester zip pouch that can be snapped to the inside of the bag for additional storage. 

Although they are similar in many ways, there are a few design differences. Notably, the original Cerf has a snap closure, while the Executive closure has a flap with a strap. 

Some versions feature the CC turnlock, while others feature the Mademoiselle lock. 

Chanel Cerf Tote Sizes 

The Chanel Cerf tote comes in four different sizes: Small, Medium, Tall, and XL. See the table below for the exact dimensions of each size. 

StyleDimensions in inches (L x H x W)
Chanel Small Cerf Tote12in x 7in x 5.7in
Chanel Medium Cerf Tote14.5in x 8.9in x 7in 
Chanel Tall Cerf Tote12.4in x 11.4in x 5.11 in
Chanel XL Cerf Tote 9.25in x 16.25in x 4.75in 
Chanel Cerf Tote – Sizes & Dimensions

How Much is the Chanel Cerf Tote? 

As the Chanel Cerf Tote was discontinued in 2015, the most up-to-date prices available are from August 2014. Check out the table below for exact prices. 

StylePrice in USD
Chanel Small Cerf Tote $2,500
Chanel Medium Cerf Tote$3,200
Chanel Tall Cerf Tote$3,200
Chanel XL Cerf Tote$3,800

Preloved Cerf totes can retail from $900 to $2,000 on sites like Fashionphile or The Real Real. 

chanel cerf tote

When Did Chanel Discontinue the Cerf Tote?

Chanel discontinued the Cerf Tote in 2015. This model was part of the House’s permanent collection and was very popular, so it’s unclear why the style was taken out of rotation. 

Chanel Cerf Tote Materials 

The Cerf Tote was made of deerskin when it was introduced (“cerf” means deer in French). 

Deerskin is a thick, malleable leather that’s great for giving bags structure. Unfortunately, it’s also very heavy. 

That’s why Chanel started producing the bags using lighter textured calfskin. Not only does textured calfskin resists scratches, but it’s also very strong and smooth. Even though the bag no longer used deerskin, the name Cerf stuck. 

When Chanel made design changes and renamed the bag the Executive, they started using lambskin. 

Lambskin is extremely soft but less durable than either deer or calfskin.  

Gold was initially used for the hardware, but silver was offered as an option on later models. Most Cerf bags have the CC turnlock closure but some feature the Mademoiselle lock.  

Colors of the Cerf Bag 

The Cerf bag was produced in a number of neutral and bright colors. Neutrals included black, white, navy, and beige. Black was undoubtedly the most popular and sought-after color. 

Seasonal colors included pink, red, and blue. 

What Fits Inside a Chanel Cerf Tote? 

As a tote bag, the Cerf is roomy enough to fit daily essentials like your phone, charger, wallet, keys, and makeup. 

Larger sizes are also big enough to carry documents, a water bottle, a notebook, and even a laptop

Indeed, many people use the Cerf as a work bag, indicating that it’s very spacious. 

Pros and Cons of the Chanel Cerf Tote

Pros:

  • Can be carried by hand or across the body with the removable strap
  • Simple, classic style that will always be in fashion 
  • Versatile—can be used as a work bag or for a casual weekend tote 
  • Lots of pockets make organizing the Cerf easy
  • Very affordable on the preloved market 

Cons

  • The Cerf is discontinued, so buying preloved is the only option
  • Some styles have a magnetic closure that’s difficult to open
  • Doesn’t have a zip closure, potentially leaving belongings vulnerable to theft 
  • Bag may not be able to withstand a lot of weight
  • Leather may “slouch” over time 
  • Polyester pouch comes unsnapped from the inside of the bag, rendering it unusable 
  • Totes made out of deerskin are very heavy, even when empty 
  • Has little to no resale value on the secondhand market 

Is the Chanel Cerf Tote Worth Buying? 

With more than 100 pages of comments and 18 years of discussion about the Cerf Tote on Purseforum, it’s safe to say that this is a style that has stood the test of time. 

Owners love the simple, elegant style and the roominess of this bag. Several owners mention using it on a daily basis for work and travel. 

In addition to being a beautiful and functional bag, it’s very affordable. Preloved models often sell for less than $2,000. 

If you buy the Cerf in a neutral color and take care of it for years to come, then this bag will more than pay for itself.  

Where to Buy the Chanel Cerf Tote? 

The Cerf Tote is discontinued, so the only buying options are on secondhand websites like Fashionphile. Not to fear, the site provides plenty of information about the condition of the bag, guarantees authenticity and offers free returns. It’s easy-peasy to score a gorgeous Chanel tote.

You might also enjoy: The Vintage Chanel Diana Bag Guide

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