5 Things Every Woman Can Learn From Coco Chanel

It’s no secret that I adore Chanel. I’ve been a collector of the brand for years now – acquiring both new and vintage handbags, pieces of jewelry, shoes, and more. But it’s not just the style that I love. Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel epitomizes an empowered, self-assured #ladyboss. So in honor of what would have been her 133rd birthday, I pulled together some lessons we can learn from this iconic woman and fashion powerhouse.

Your past does not determine your future. Coco Chanel, like many successful women, was born into struggle. She grew up poor and after her mother died and her father abandoned her at the age of six, she was sent to live in an orphanage. She knew she’d have to work for anything she wanted, and had to create her own success. One of my favorite Coco Chanel quotes says, “My life did not please me, so I created my life.” And that’s exactly what she did. In her teens, she took up sewing and eventually left the orphanage to assist a dress maker. She’s proof that our past does not determine our future, and if we want something, it’s entirely on us to make it happen.

Know your worth. Chanel is not an inexpensive brand, by any means. It’s handbags increase in price and value every year. The brand has become a staple of luxury, quality, and high style, and in turn attracts a high-end clientele. When we know our worth, we stop giving away our time, our services, our products, and our energy at a discounted rate. One of my clients once called me “The Chanel of The Industry” and that compliment stuck with me. Strive to be the best, to provide style and value, and to never take less than what you deserve.

Be a visionary. In a time of ruffles and corsets and eccentric fashion, Chanel was the complete opposite. She curated a signature style for the brand, with a heavy focus on black and white. Her quote, “Simplicity is the key note of all true elegance” is something I remind myself of often, as I create my own personal signature look. Chanel launched the LBD, or “little black dress” as we often call it. She also made pants popular for women, something that at the time was completely unheard of. She was focused on creating style for women that was chic and comfortable. And from that point, fashion was changed forever.

Go with your gut. Chanel No. 5 perfume was said to be named after Coco’s lucky number, 5. When developing the perfume in 1920, Ernest Beaux, a Russian-born Frenchman and parfumier, laid out 10 different vials of perfume for Coco to choose from. She picked number 5, blindly. She apparently told Beaux, “I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year, and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it already has; it will bring good luck.” And that it has! Chanel No. 5 is now one of the most popular perfumes in the world, selling 1 bottle every 30 seconds.

Mix glamour with grit. One of my favorite things about the Chanel brand is the mix of feminine and masculine. There is nothing more gorgeous to me than a soft, lambskin purse and a heavy link chain. Tweed with ropes of pearls. And this style is no accident; it is a direct reflection of Coco Chanel’s personality, in my opinion. Though she was often viewed as tough-as-nails, loud, and difficult, she also had a softer side, with a fierce passion for designing for women. I love the juxtaposition of the two, and I think its something we can all be deeply inspired by.

 

Want to learn more about Coco Chanel? Check out this book with tons of more insider info and inspiration.

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Illustrations by Megan Hess

Book image courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Sources: The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, Vogue.com

 

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