If you could have brunch with any designer, dead or alive, who would it be? If Coco Chanel is your top pick, maybe it’s because you’ve had that 2.55 Chanel quilted bag on your Christmukkah wish-list for so long that you’re unable to think of anything else besides its fur, silk, calfskin and lambskin body, compact symmetrical shape, luxurious double “C” lock. Yup. Clearly we’re as obsessed as you are.
The Chanel 2.55 is as iconic as a bag can get. Popularized in February 1955 right after its creation, it continues to grace the closets and shoulders of women around the world. After Karl Lagerfeld created the Reissue 2.55, a newer (and yes, even more stunning) version in 2005, it boomed in sales – a true testament to Coco’s creation that essentially transcended time. The 2.55’s quilted exterior mimics the fabrics jockeys used to wear at the race track, an ode to Coco’s love for horseracing. We love the design for the mysterious tricks it’s hiding up its flap. Coco inserted a small pocket on the front sleeve to facilitate hiding secret love letters from old flames, and a hidden back pocket to store extra cash. The bag is a status symbol of the upper-class, but its versatility makes it a favorite all across the board.
We salute Coco for the bag’s practicality, as it was the first of its kind to feature a chain strap of interwoven gold metal and leather strands. She recognized the powerful woman’s need to be able to multitask carrying a purse, holding a glass of champagne and some hors d’oeuvres, and shaking the hands of some fine gentlemen. The 2.55 marked the era of function meeting fashion.
Highly imitated, but never duplicated, the Chanel 2.55 joins the Louis Vuitton Wilshire, the Hermès Birkin and The Longchamp on the ranks of most copied bags. But Coco’s attitude on fakes is so energizing that we should almost feel guilty about donning anything but the real deal: “I would shed tears the day no one copied me.” Now that you know a little about the purse that’s won our hearts, let’s talk about how to wear it.
1. Keep it simple.
Wearing Chanel speaks novels, so limit your outfit to a page. In other words, you don’t want to avoid dressing head to toe in other haute couture designers, because that could come off as trying too hard. Stick with low key designers if you must wear them, but don’t be afraid to throw on some no-name tailored black pants, a solid color blouse and some nude flats. A pair of pitch black sunglasses that say “I’m a celebrity so don’t look at me but I clearly want attention” also look great.
2. Know your audience.
The Chanel quilted bag looks chic at happy hour, but out of place at a job interview. It pulls together a great pastel shrunken blazer and high-wasted pencil skirt once you’ve actually landed the job, but just imagine what a potential employer might think if you were to prance into his office with a 2500$ bag in tow. Might not need the money that bad then, huh?
3. Act the part.
Wearing Chanel isn’t just about draping it across your body or swiping a product on your lips. It’s a brand, it’s a culture and it’s a social phenomenon to many. Die-hard fashionistas know that you can’t wear Chanel unless you’ve mastered class, and I’m not talk about a subject learned in school. Behaving like a lady who practices decent etiquette is embodying the Chanel label and paying homage to the visionary behind the price tag. Wearing history on your shoulders is a hefty responsibility. Read up on the Chanel brand before you invest in the quilted bag – who knows, you might need to sharpen your knowledge before that brunch date.