There’s nothing I wish more than to have a wardrobe full of vintage (or at least vintage style) clothing. However, as you and I know, designer brands aren’t always accessible. But there are places like Hardly Ever Worn It which allow you to get your hands on some of the most traditional pieces on the market at a fraction of the price. So, incorporated in today’s post I will be linking you to some pieces that I’m talking about, just in case you are looking to treat yourself to some classic fashion designs.
Personally, the era I adore is the 1950s and 1960s. But there have been icons through time which have created and reinvented superb pieces of fashion wear way before mini skirts.
The reason for this post, although to share with you some classic and affordable clothing is because whilst I was doing art GCSE all those years ago (okay, I’m not that old) I started looking into fashion a little bit more than “clothes”. Not to the extent of many other fashion lovers but I’ve always been fascinated by how fashion has influenced people’s behaviour and been a form of expression as well as symbolising changes in society.
Which is why on Living for the Now I thought I would share some amazing style icons through time. This will be where I do a post dedicated to a style icon that I love. Today I am focussing on the works of…
“The woman who hasn’t at least one Chanel is hopelessly out of fashion … This season the name Chanel is on the lips of every buyer.” – Harper’s Bazaar, 1915.
Probably one of the most famous names in fashion, Gabrielle Chanel born in France 1883 is the style icon paved the way for designers throughout time and is known as the greatest fashion designer who ever lived. I mean, who hasn’t heard of Chanel?
Later renaming herself Coco Chanel, she became famous in the world of fashion creating iconic styles, signature fragrances and desirable accessories.
FASHION DESIGN – A LEGACY
Chanel’s style and designs were unique in that she rebelled against the frills and corsets. She was primarily influenced by horse culture and hunting (not my favourite but everyone needs a starting point!).
In the early stages of her fashion career, Chanel’s designs consisted of a cardigan jacket and pleated skirt with a low-belted pullover top. This would be worn with low-heeled shoes. It was known as the rich woman’s casual wear. Later she introduced the Chanel Suit made for comfort and practicality. And I think that’s what Chanel aimed for in her work… To be comfortable AND stylish. Which is a reason why I love her early designs especially. She was able to break the mould of what was deemed as fashionable and made women think a little more about what they wore and how they wore it.
And who can forget the iconic Little Black Dress? Chanel stated that in 1920 while observing an audience at the opera, she vowed that she would dress all women in black and boy didn’t she do a good job?
In 1926, Vogue published an image of a Chanel little black dress with long sleeves. It was named the garçonne, French for the “little boy look”. This was another change in the style of the time. Women for many years, even today are raised to dress with frills, florals and femininity. Something which Chanel changed. However, Vogue predicted that this simple and chic design would become uniform for women of taste.
The 1930s when the Great Depression hit, women needed cost-effective fashion which Chanel delivered. She claimed that she was able to ensure that the non-wealthy women were able to “walk around like millionaires”. Chanel started making little black dresses in wool or chenille for the day and in satin, crêpe or velvet for the evening.
ACCESSORISING WITH CHANEL
Chanel didn’t stop at suits, dresses and shoes. Most popular in today’s fashion are Chanel handbags. Originally designed back in 1929, Chanel reinvented her soldier inspired bag in 1955 thus creating the infamous 2.55 handbag. This design was to allow women to be hands-free and although many design features have been reinvented the bag has kept its classic design.
According to Wikipedia the chain used for the strap echoed the chatelaines worn by the caretakers of the orphanage where Chanel grew up, whilst the burgundy lining referenced the convent uniforms. The quilted outside was influenced by the jackets worn by jockeys, whilst at the same time enhancing the bag’s shape and volume.
Other fashion accessories included jewellery, however, she wasn’t a fan of extravagant pieces. Chanel was a lover of costume jewellery. She stated “It’s disgusting to walk around with millions around the neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewellery… because it’s provocative.” Chanel’s designs, although slightly more expensive in today’s market, were basic. They were stylish and timeless and mainly consisted of beads and pearls.
Although Chanel is now a brand deemed as a luxury, her brand and name to me is more of an ideology which belonged to a woman with passion and vision. Chanel was able to say that fashion was for everyone, every day. Not just for the rich and not just for a night at the opera.
Her tomboyish style and designs became something was able to be feminine. Trousers for women would immediately be feminised by a 2.55 handbag and some pearls. No longer were trousers only for women at work whilst men were fighting in the war. Chanel knew there was more to fashion than corsets and lace – she reworked how women could dress even before WWI and is still seen as the greatest designer of all time. Now that’s an accomplishment.
If you’re a lover of Chanel fashion and are looking to get some discounted yet authentic and timeless pieces, here.