When it comes to timeless fashion, what name first comes to mind? For me, it’s Coco Chanel. Coco’s fashion weaves through history over the last two centuries. I can’t possibly imagine how many ladies she has inspired. I almost took Coco Chanel’s fashion for granted because I’ve seen Chanel ads all over the place, fashion magazines, billboard, etc, until one day I watched the Coco Before Chanel and Chanel Coco & Igor Stravinsky movies and now I’m inspired like never before. Because of these movies, I got Chanel fever and wanted to have a set of Chanel-style clothing in my wardrobe badly. Being inspired by the movie, I will DIY my own movie look-alike Chanel style. So…How to dress like Coco Chanel? Here are two keys:
Key #1: the contrast of striking black, or navy-blue, and white.
Chanel likes the combination of black (or navy-blue) and white contrast. One thing I’ll never forget in the Chanel Coco & Igor Stravinsky movie is that when Catherine (Igor’s wife) first visited Coco’s house and how she reacted to the colors in the house. As soon as they entered the villa, Catherine saw white walls and black lintels and White flowers. When Coco showed the family the girls’ room, Catherine looked around with distaste at the walls. She was a bit shocked and disliked Coco’s deep-love of the black and white contrast, which is how Coco separated herself from millions of women out there who like to wear lots of colors and complicated print patterns at once like Catherine…and to do this successfully, you have to manage proportions well.
Key #2: wisely proportion the use of black (navy-blue) and white colors.
Simply black and white combination won’t work in Coco Chanel’s dress book. If you pay attention to how Coco used the black and white colors together, you will notice how she liked to play with the color proportions. Coco liked to space out the black and white color, by using either striped color or ribbon in the form of geometry to make the colors contrast and stand out even more. Think before you dress, is it 80% black vs. 20% white or is it 60% white vs. 40% navy blue? As Coco said, “Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.”
Let’s take a look at the wardrobe of Coco Chanel in the Coco Before Chanel movie. In the picture above, you can see how Coco dressed: from left to right, navy-blue top with creamed white tulip skirt on the top left; striped navy-blue long sleeved cotton shirt on the top right; white Chanel suit with black shirt inside on bottom left; creamy silk blouse at the bottom right, and in the middle, and navy-blue robe with classic black ribbons white pajama inside.
Based on Coco’s wardrobe inspiration, I came up with the following outfit:
From left to right, striped navy-blue tulip skirt ($20 from Bora) paired with white silk blouse with navy-blue bow in the middle ($28 from Bora), and a pair of shiny black leather platform wedge heels ($98 from Star Couture). You can wear that to semi-professional business casual networking event, high-end restaurant for dinner, or a public speaking engagement.
Lastly, let’s enjoy one of Coco Chanel’s famous quotes: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”