“Fashion changes, but style endures.” ~ Coco Chanel
Fashion is constantly changing.
Hem lines go south, get cut shorter, and then grow back. Fabrics brighten, wilt, sprout flowers and die—starched, plain and clean again.
It is not the styles we choose to embrace that make a person fashionable. No, it’s the way we wear those styles that determine if we are mindfully dressed. Coco Chanel knew this.
Here are five pieces of advice from the fashion guru herself that even decades later are instrumental to today’s wardrobe.
1. “Fashion is architecture: It is a matter of proportions.”
Isn’t that the truth? Fashion today is still based off of proportions. We may wear extra large wraps and sweaters around our shoulders, but we make sure that those are paired with tight leggings and skinny jeans. If we are rocking those genie pants, then you better believe we should have a smaller/fitted chemise on top. It is critical to balance our garments from top to bottom. Otherwise, our bodies will have no frame.
Our frame is important. Coco strived to emphasize a woman’s frame. She “wanted to give a woman comfortable clothes that would flow with her body. A woman is closest to being naked when she is well-dressed.”
So, there we have it, ladies. If we are well-dressed, then we’re essentially wearing a second skin. Bonus, we look naked without actually being naked, and who doesn’t like prancing around in their birthday suit?
2. “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”
I generally agree with this statement because if our attire is too complicated, then the eye will not know where to look. We want to only draw the eye to select areas of the body for each outfit. We want to highlight the frame, the shape—not the garment. Simplicity is the best way to achieve this.
However, I detest simplicity when it comes to jewelry. Coco advised that “a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory” before leaving the house each day.
Girl, no. Oh hell, no. If you’ve got layered necklaces and earrings to boot, then go on with your bad self. My personal advice is to apply principle number one to your accessorizing decisions. Proportion out where the jewelry is located. If you’re wearing a ton of bracelets, then you probably don’t need rings on every finger.
There is a definitive balance to accessorizing. It is a tactful art.
3. “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.”
This is beyond laughable. I personally do not wear perfume, but from this statement I probably should. While you still will have a future without perfume, perfume is nice. So, maybe lather up before leaving the house.
In response to one woman who posed the question, “Where should one use perfume?” Coco replied “Wherever one wants to be kissed.”
No spraying the lady flower, ladies, just saying.
4. “The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.”
This summer I went to France, and I did a lot of shopping. In one boutique while picking out a new bathing suit, I asked the sales lady if I looked better in the green or the blue. My French did not translate. No matter how I rephrased, she told me over and over that the blue was magnifique. The blue was undoubtedly the more attractive color, but I knew it wouldn’t look magnifique on me. I chose the green instead.
No matter what others tell you, dress in the colors that make you look the best.
If you cannot decide what color looks best on you, then consider black or white. Coco said that “women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” Black and white have never gone out of style—nor will they ever. If you truly do not know what color pallet matches your shading, then wear black or white.
5. “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
This does not mean we need to spend extra dough on more expensive clothes. It is important to be well-put together. Even if your style is shabby chic, you can look well-dressed by your presentation of self and by applying the above four principles to your wardrobe. Don’t wear overly baggy clothes on the top AND bottom. Dust yourself with perfume and mindfully accessorize. Wear your best colors, or clean black and white. This will propel you on the path of being well-dressed.
What is most important, however, is how you carry your self. If you have an absolute style that may not be to everyone’s taste, own it. Push your shoulders back, be confident. People will notice, and people will remember. Your fashion choices should be show-casing you more than anything else. You are what we want to remember the most, not the garment.
Go on with your bad self.
Author: Brittany Ann Bandemer
Editor: Caroline Beaton