Who can forget Jackie Kennedy in head to toe pink with the pillbox hat and Chanel suit? The suit is seen as more than a fashion statement, but as a representation of how women wanted to see themselves; strong, independent and intelligent. It has been a working woman’s outfit of choice. It has been a statement of female emancipation in the work place and a statement of female independence.
The Chanel suit has outlasted trends since the 1920s when Coco Chanel first came up with the jacket and matching skirt, an all-time classic. Its hallmarks are attention to detail, boucle fabrics and tailored tweeds with the embellished trim and jewelled buttons. The lining would always be either printed or plain and a gilt chain would be sewn to the hem of the jacket adding weight so the jacket wouldn’t ride up the back. It would last for many years and still look current. Chanel herself would rip sleeves off if they didn’t provide a perfect fit for the customer. She was a perfectionist.
The suit is so versatile and still remains so. It can be worn with or without heels, a black ballet pump or knee length boot. The jacket and skirt do not have to be always worn together. The jacket can be worn with heels; the skirt can be worn alone with a Tee. Everyone from Beyoncé to Christina Ricci has worn the jacket in various stylish ways, dressed up or down, the suit is a classic chic.
Chanel has been through many changes and now Karl Lagerfeld is at the helm. Under his leadership Chanel depicts the modern fearless. Lagerfeld gave the world a torn and ripped Chanel suit in keeping with the punk theme and although it was a step away from the sophisticated look it had always represented, it didn’t look entirely out of place. Perhaps Lagerfeld knew this, that’s why he’s a genius.
The Chanel suit evolves with time, yet retains its essential shape and style. Designers like Lagerfeld will tinker playfully with it like a naughty child, but always stay true to its origins. To have a Chanel suit is like having your first pair of heels, your first lipstick, your first taste of alcohol. It is smart, funny, intelligent, charming and unexpectedly serious when the situation demands – just like the woman it was created for.