? la Mode Style Guide: Coco Chanel

On Wednesdays, we wear black: Vol. 2


You know by the two interlocking ‘C’s’ that adorn quilted black purses with gold chain straps or by bottles of golden perfume that you have encountered the legacy of, arguably, the founder of modern fashion.

She made pants part of women’s wear. She elevated the black dress from the uniform of shop girls to the iconic ‘Little Black Dress.’ She used jersey for ease and comfort and she layered costume jewelry with luxury items.

Need I say more?

Coco Chanel, born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, grew up in an orphanage after her mother died, where she learned to sew. Chanel sang in clubs – where she came up with the name ‘Coco,’ a derivative of cocotte, or “kept woman” – and began her fashion career as a milliner, a hat maker.

After she opened her first store in 1910, Chanel designed the jersey dress and just a decade later, she created Chanel No. 5, the first perfume to feature a designer’s name.

Although Chanel was forced to close her shops during World War II, she made a successful comeback later in her ’70s.

Re-creating Chanel’s iconic style transcends time. Chanel elegantly wore all black and created black wardrobes for women around the world that maintain a stronghold in our collective fashion conscious.

While it was tempting to embrace pants, as Chanel did, I went instead with my own LBD – a structural little number from Ann Taylor and layered on a few strings of faux pearl necklaces. Low, black heels keep the look elegant but easy for hurrying from one end of campus to the other. Of course, I topped it with a few spritzes of Chanel No. 5.

Chanel kept her makeup simple and her short hair was delicately curled in a ladylike fashion. For busy college students like us, this look is effortless but looks extremely polished – perfect for internships, interviews and even an unexpected night out.

Chanel is modern and her style does not abide by the laws of trends. Rather, she draws inspiration from this style: rock is all about being polished, elegant and sophisticated. A sharp suit jacket, tweed skirts, well-fitting trousers and few strands of costume jewelry are really all it takes to feel like Madame Chanel herself.

There’s nothing better I can say than those said by Chanel herself, “fashion changes, but style endures.”

Words to get dressed by.

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