And I’m not talking about bags we can’t afford… Did you know that this month marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Coco Chanel? Well I didn’t until someone messaged me to tell me and suggested a blog on the ultimate style icon. Apologies to Tank Top fans, that one WILL come next week I promise! It’s also 5 years this month since we lost David Bowie, I remember that very well because it was announced on my birthday and made me feel very sad indeed. But I thought his style might not work for all of you. Personally I’d love to see us all in Lidl wearing a lightning flash leotard and a ginger mullet as we pick up a fine selection of cold meats and cheeses. That would certainly cheer me all up in this latest lockdown.
Coco Chanel was a pioneer of fashion, she was the first to really wear many of the things we all take for granted these days, trousers, oversized jackets and breton tops to name but 3. I’m not going to wax lyrical about Chanel the brand, this is more about Chanel the woman. In fact it’s not even really that much about her, if I’m honest it’s just an excuse for me to base some cool outfits loosely based around her style.
I’m also going to gloss over the Nazi spy rumours for now too…(never charged) and the fact she probably wasn’t actually a very nice person. Maybe I didn’t think this blog topic through… Let’s just look at how we can learn about style from Coco and also how her indomitable quotes can be words to live by. If nothing else I hope it takes your mind off how to deal with double maths at the kitchen table tomorrow…
COCO CHANEL — BRETON STRIPES
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance
There’s nothing simpler than a breton top and a excellent pair of jeans is there? What is now the standard uniform of almost every Mum I know, was once a groundbreaking fashion moment. Back then, ladies didn’t even really wear trousers (unless on horseback) so to wear essentially a mens fishing jumper AND trousers was the height of originality and I bet Coco Chanel felt derisions from other ladies when she turned up to a garden party dressed like this. I for one, thank her for her stance as the Breton has been, and always will be, a staple in my wardrobe for years.
COCO CHANEL — OVERSIZED BLAZER
You live but once; you might as well be amusing.
I’ve always wondered if not being classically good looking is the key to developing a good sense of humour. I know that’s true for me. I was never one of the pretty ones in my youth, riddled with acne and terribly short sighted, I always used clothes and humour to get by with boys. It didn’t always work, but it helped. My comedy hero was always Victoria Wood (also 5 years since we lost her, 2016 was a bad year for heroes dying, Bowie, Victoria Wood, Prince, George Michael) I can still recite every word of every sketch from ‘As Seen On TV’. Not that this has anything to do with Chanel, I digress. Again.
There’s another saying that I like, but I think it came from Wallis Simpson, which is; ‘I may not be the best looking in the room, but I can always be the best dressed’. A classic Blazer, as I’ve said many times is one thing that can ALWAYS make you look well put together, even a more relaxed oversized style will do this. P.S I love this skirt/jumper co-ord set from Modern Rarity, smart, but casual, but smart, but comfortable. Perfect WFH attire.
COCO CHANEL — WIDE LEG TROUSERS
I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t think of you at all.
Firstly, can we talk about this photo? Coco Chanel on the beach, fully dressed in rows and rows of pearls, head band and wide leg trousers and her friend is wearing very high cut undercrackers, a sweater and a pair of ladies sandals. But why not? Whatever floats your boat…Wide leg trousers I find are best worn in sunny weather, the drag and the soak of a flappy hem in the rain is not fun. Personally I prefer my wide legs cropped just for this reason, but also because I have an irrational fear of all full length trousers. I own not one pair. I don’t even know why.
As we discussed last week, you should really not care too much about what others think of you. This come back is one we should all take not of and better to be thought of in any way than not thought of at all.
COCO CHANEL — CARDIGAN
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance
Is there anything simpler than a classic cardigan? Let’s stick with the one colour, v neck button up variety. Can be worn with a nice collared shirt for a bit of interest as much as with a plain white T shirt for a simple, easy look. Lots of people asked me to do a blog on top-half dressing for Zoom, but I’m sick of that, I’m trying to look to the future and I’m hoping the future means less top half and more full length dressing. But, if you are looking for a simple Zoom look, a good collared shirt and a cardi or a jumper is a very easy win. Pearls optional.
COCO CHANEL — IF IN DOUBT WEAR BLACK
I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not.
Both of these are words to live by. Hands up who reaches for black when they just can’t be bothered to think about print clash/colours/mixing and matching. I know I do. Especially on a night out. One day those nights out WILL come back, and we shall all drink champagne out of glasses based on the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breasts (allegedly). But on the subject of champagne glasses, it’s been scientifically proven that the best shape of glass to drink it from is in fact a teardrop glass. I stand by this too. These type ones are the best.
On the subject of black, and I know this maybe isn’t PC anymore as we’re supposed to embrace our curves and our large thighs yadda yadda yadda… but black IS slimming. Every time I wear black skinny jeans someone will ask if I’ve lost weight. No I haven’t but thanks for thinking that. Actually I don’t even know if I have or not as I haven’t replaced the batteries in my scales since last April. I will have to do it soon though, but only because I need to weigh the dog…
Thanks to Caroline Young who inspired this post. She is the author of ‘Living With Coco Chanel’. Available on Amazon now.
As I mentioned, I’m definitely doing Tank Tops next week. The shops are really coming on board with them now, I smell a trend. Then we’ll look at how to disguise our ever expanding lock-down bellies and next month I’ll look forward to some Spring trends.