I wrote this essay for “Victoria” magazine’s “Reader-to-Reader“section. It was later published in the magazine.
I love the way the French embrace simplicity, aging, and imperfection without prejudice, as demonstrated by Coco Chanel when she made her comeback in the early 1950’s with her boxy, two-piece suit. Elegant, accessible, and timeless, it epitomized how charming an outfit can be when it is created by a woman who is comfortable with herself.
When I was working toward my degree in fashion merchandising, I embraced Chanel and the French way of dress because it fit my thrift store budget and student’s lifestyle.
For very little, I put together a classic black-and-white wardrobe that consisted of a black silk crepe dress from the 1960’s that I bought for $5, a white button-down shirt, a white t-shirt, a black blazer, a pair of black pants, a black skirt, and a black turtleneck. Following Chanel’s example, and that of French Vogue, I accessorized my outfits with a black beret, print neckerchiefs, faux pearl jewelry, chain belts, and black flats.
Today, despite having a larger wardrobe and a little more money than I did back in college, I still remember the lessons I learned about French style and don’t hesitate to refer to them again whenever I need to make a sartorial splash without looking like I tried to hard.