When you think of high-end designer handbags, what designer comes to mind? For many women, it’s Chanel. This week we’re considering the background, fashion firsts, and favorite quotes of fashion designer icon, Coco Chanel. There’s more to Coco Chanel than just designer handbags.
Coco Chanel was born in 1883. Her given name was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel. Coco’s mother died of tuberculosis when she was a child. Her father placed her in an orphanage. One skill that she learned from the nuns in the orphanage was how to sew. And as they say, the rest is history.
This icon of fashion opened her first business in Paris at age 27, selling hats. She went on to garment design. She used affordable jersey knit fabrics to make comfortable dresses that didn’t require restrictive under garments. Her use of trousers for modesty sake made the wearing of them by women more acceptable.
Her lengthy fashion design history had an extensive WW2 gap. When she returned to the fashion world in the 1950’s there were doubts as to her future success; but those doubts ended quickly. Her classic design of a braid-trimmed cardigan with skirt set became a fashion favorite. And shoppers around the world fell in love with everything Coco Chanel.
Her signature pieces included Chanel No.5 perfume, the classic black suit, the little black dress, and of course the iconic 2.55 handbag. The Coco Chanel name in fashion became synonymous with simplistic yet sophisticated styles, and sheer elegance.
Have you ever looked in your closet and drawn a complete blank? You know that sinking feeling … I have a closet full of clothes and there is nothing to wear. You have plenty of clothing options, but a perfect outfit just isn’t coming to mind.
Top, cardigans, jackets, jeans, trousers, and sweaters. But an ideal combination eludes you. It’s happened to us all. There are a lot of great fashion and style ideas out there, and here are a few of our favorites.
Don a jacket. It’s one of the easiest fashion hacks ever. A jacket is a perfect outfit topper that takes casual to chic. There are so many advantages to adding a jacket to your outfit. The structure of a jacket is distinctive and stylish. A jacket gives a polished appearance. Trust a jacket to add a strong shoulder line to your profile.
Start with a low-key outfit. Choose a shell, top, or tee. Next, select a pair of dark-wash jeans. Perfect, right? A top and jeans ensemble is cute and casual. Next, add that jacket. Instantly your look has changed from casual to chic. Complete your look with jewelry and away you go!
Have you ever noticed how dramatic a friend looks when she is wearing an entire single-color ensemble? A monochromatic look is easy yet downright elegant. There are many advantages to wearing a single-color outfit. The most important may be that it makes you appear slimmer. Yes, you read that right. The monochromatic look provides a visual illusion of an elongated silhouette.
The monochromatic look is simplistic and classy, and it’s as easy as this: choose your outfit pieces of one color. That’s it. You can opt for an ensemble of one fabric type (such as the Chico’s Travelers line). Or, step outside of your comfort zone, and select items that have different fabrics types. Pair corduroy trousers with a boiled wool cardigan, or velvet trousers with an angora sweater. The texture contrast adds its own interest to your ensemble. You might add one item of color contrast to complete your look: handbag, shoes, or a statement necklace. This look is easy yet dramatic.
Surprising Color Combinations
Color. We notice color first. We see color before we see style. Do you have a flair for color? Do you enjoy exploring color options? Colors can be eye catching. Just look at the beauty of the colors of autumn: green, yellow, orange, red, purple, brown … the fall color palette of nature is beautiful. Take that knowledge and use it with your wardrobe. Making surprise color combinations is a great way to change up your style and add a bit of dramatic flair.
Reference a traditional color wheel to help make your color combinations. Here are some color wheel based ideas that work perfectly in fashion.
Primary Colors: Pair the three primary colors yellow, red, and blue together for a classic yet bold look.
Complementary Colors: Choose a color on the color wheel. Next, select the color directly opposite that color. Pair those two colors together. You may feel bold, but it works. The classic combinations are yellow/purple, blue/orange, and red/green. Delve into secondary colors and choose opposites for unusual combinations that pair beautifully.
Analogous Colors: Choose the color on a color wheel that you want, and then choose the color on the left or the right of that color. These are analogous colors. Selecting different hues of a color gives a simplistic yet harmonious look.
Here’s a unique fashion hack. Mix your styles for a daring look. Mix different styles, with color contrast, and different kinds of fabrics. Combine a floral with a distressed piece. Or take a classic ensemble and add a topper that has an ethnic flair.
Consider changing up your romantic winter floral outfit. Make a new ensemble that includes the addition of a sporty style element. Reach for a piece that is cargo style, utilitarian style, or safari style. Now combine that piece with your romantic piece.
Sporty style options and ideas include:
A sweater with a stripes and epaulets,
A jacket with military-inspired patches,
An argyle sweater,
A cargo jacket or moto vest.
The combination of the sporty and romantic styles provides visual contrast. It’s an unusual blend that is striking and fun.
September has arrived. Fall will officially arrive later this month, and we are planning for it now. It’s time to change up our wardrobes to fall cardigans and jackets, autumn-hued tunics and blouses, and those favorite fall accessories … boots and scarves! While we’re waiting for the temps to really cool down, we’ll be focusing on light layering for fall.
Soon we will have cool fall mornings and brisk fall evenings; layering will be our friend. We’ll start out the day needing a little something extra, and then we’ll shed that layer as the day warms. When the evening cools off, that extra layer will be perfect to wear again.
A scarf is great for layering. This light layering piece may be worn in a variety of ways. Drape a scarf as a shrug across your shoulders for a touch of elegance. If you prefer a boho look, fold your scarf in half, tie a quick square knot, and then open it out and wear it as a vest. Or wear it more traditionally with a decorative knot at the shoulder or neck. Scarves offer a wide variety of easy layering possibilities.
Cardigans are another favorite transitional fall option. This versatile fall wardrobe staple works well with knit tops and blouses. When layering a cardigan with a blouse, cuff the blouse sleeves over the cardigan for color contrast. Slip on jeggings and boots of your choice to complete your fall outfit. Or, pair your cardigan with a top, skinny jeans, and ankle boots. As the day warms up, the cardigan is laid aside, and you’re still going strong. When you’re ready to step out for the evening, don that cardigan and away you go. Top either combination with an autumn-hued scarf to give your outfit a polished look and you’re ready for the day.
Fall jackets are perfect fall transitional wear. The fall jacket is a great layering piece that you wear as needed, based on how cool or warm it is during the day. Cool mornings and brisk evenings are great fall jacket weather. The perfect pairing? Layering a fall jacket with an autumn-hued tunic or blouse for a polished look. Add a deep tone knit trouser and heeled booties to complete your fall outfit. Cuff your jacket to three-quarter length if you want to give your outfit a more relaxed vibe. Not quite ready to sport a fall jacket? Vests are a great option. Layering a blouse with a vest is a great alternative for your fall transitional outfit. Don’t forget that earth-toned handbag, and you’ll be set.
When we think of natural fibers in clothing, four come to mind: cotton, linen, silk, and wool. Cotton is perfect for everything, and we mean everything, from socks to lightweight jackets, from simple tees to classic blue jeans. Linen, which is derived from flax, is light and breezy. Worn as tunics, dusters, trousers, and dresses this fabric keeps you cool in the warm months. Silk is the most elegant of the natural fibers, and is typically associated with formal wear: gowns, trousers, jackets, and blouses … put on a silk and you feel lux. Thanks to sheep, goats, and alpacas, we’re cozy in the winter with wool and cashmere sweaters, cardigans, scarves, and hats.
We’re branching out to discuss other “natural” fibers. And while some may say they are not “natural” fibers, they are derived from natural sources. We’ll discuss the background and benefits of cellulose-based fibers, bamboo, and hemp.
Trees. Not only do they provide shade, they're used to make fabric as well. Let’s look at the three generations of fibers … rayon, modal, lyocell.
First there was rayon. Rayon and its descendants such as cupro and viscose, are cellulose-based fabrics. Once hailed as artificial silk, rayon has a similar weight, texture, and overall flow of silk. It’s usually derived from pine, spruce, and hemlock, although cotton waste is also used in production. The downside of rayon is that it has a low wet strength. It can shrink or be pulled out of shape if not carefully washed (dry cleaning is often recommended). Also, the manufacturing of rayon involves chemicals, and chemical waste. If you are looking for an eco-friendly fabric, this isn’t it.
Then came modal. The manufacturing technique was improved, and the product was too. Modal is derived from beech trees. Modal is generally known for its softness and durability. Don’t you just love a modal top? Garments made with modal are always super soft. The good news? Modal has a high wet strength. Wash it, dry it, and it’ll behave. It doesn’t shrink or get pulled out of shape like rayon. And modal production uses an eco-friendly bleaching method for the beech pulp.
Next in our lineup of cellulose-based fabrics is lyocell, which is referred to as the 3rd generation of the three fabrics. Lyocell has everything going for it. Like modal, lyocell has a high wet strength, making it a durable fabric. It also absorbs perspiration and allows it to evaporate quickly, all while being resistant to developing odors. Great, right? The lyocell brand, Tencel is even better. Derived from sustainable eucalyptus tree farms, it is hailed as an extremely eco-friendly fabric. There is no tree waste in the manufacturing process. But the big kick is this: A “closed-loop process” is used to produce Tencel. This process completely recovers or decomposes all the solvents involved in the manufacturing process. And to top it all off, Tencel is completely biodegradable. So, when its life is over, it will decompose. Until then, our garments that are made of Tencel are lightweight, durable, will keep us cool, and will hold up with repeated laundering.
Although bamboo sometimes graces clothing and accessories in the form of hardware, like bamboo buttons or toggles, it’s also processed as a fabric. Bamboo has become popular because of its eco-friendliness. It can be grown without pesticides and has a rapid growth and replenishment rate. Fabric made from bamboo is light and strong, and a good insulator. Bamboo has also been hailed as anti-bacterial, and a natural odor repellent. Plus, bamboo is biodegradable. However, it loses some of its eco-friendly status with its initial processing. Some of the chemical components used at this stage are toxic.
Bamboo is extremely versatile -- the range of fabric types that bamboo can be made into is astounding. Bamboo fabrics include velvets, knits, wovens, smoother silk-like fabrics, linen textured fabrics, and even denim!
Bamboo fabrics are made in two ways: in the first, the stalks are crushed and then the fibers combed out. This method is very similar to the way flax is processed into linen. The second method involves breaking down the fibers themselves with chemicals, and then spinning them out as thread. If you're searching for an eco-friendly fabric involving bamboo, try a fabric made from the former method rather than the latter. Fewer chemicals are used in manufacturing and the bamboo is closer to its original state. Some governments require that bamboo fabrics from the second "rayon method" be listed as rayon made from bamboo, instead of natural bamboo fabric.
Hemp is a long fiber, much like ramie or cotton. It's a dense plant, growing quickly, without any need for herbicides or fertilizers. Also, hemp has no adverse effects on the soil in which it is grown, meaning it can be planted in the same field year after year. Currently, China is the world's largest producer of hemp. Federal and state laws regulate growing hemp in the U.S., due to the similitude it bears to marijuana -- the two plants are almost identical, although hemp contains minimal amounts of the narcotic component found in marijuana.
The hemp fiber is incredibly durable: three times more so than cotton. It also is more lustrous. Hemp clothing is lightweight, absorbent, and has UV qualities. Hemp is easy to grow, sustainable, and incredibly versatile -- it can be used to make anything from knit to denim. If you're searching for an eco-friendly fiber, hemp might be just right for you!
Summertime... and all the stains. Is it just us, or does summer seem to attract more stains? Maybe it's just that there are a lot more fruit smoothies and barbecue dinners in the summertime. Maybe we’re wearing lighter color clothing, so stains are more noticeable. Maybe we’re just outdoors more; more activities bring more opportunities for stains. Whatever the case, the bottom line is this … stains are so annoying! It’s time to focus in on our favorite stain-busting garment care techniques.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
TIDE STICK: Always pack a Tide Stick, or equivalent spot treatment. These handy gadgets work wonders when it comes to taking care of fresh stains.
WET WIPES: A pocket pack of wet wipes has saved many a coffee-stained shirt. Treat the stain immediately, and it will be easier to launder later. This is especially true for oil stains. Don't let those bad boys set in ... take care of them immediately for the best results.
LIQUID DISH SOAP: This is a super powerful stain fighting agent! For food stains, immediately rub dish detergent into the back side of the affected area. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then launder as usual. Liquid dish soap powers through grease on dishes ... so let it work on your clothing too.
SWEETENER PACKET: You’re eating out and you spill a little something on your top. Reach for that Splenda packet. Blot the oil or grease spot with the sweetener powder, and then brush it off.
VINEGAR: Moisten a paper towel with a small amount of undiluted white vinegar. Blot the stain and then launder as usual. Vinegar can work on old stains as well.
PROBLEM SOLVING: Tips & Tricks
CLOTHING: Oil stains can be tough, but they don't have to ruin your outfit. Just be sure to take care of them immediately, so they don't have time to set in. For fabric, sprinkle some baby powder on the stain, rub it in, and let it sit for 10 minutes before laundering. The powder will absorb the oil.
WHITE TOPS: Grease stains are some of the toughest stains to get out. Can Coca Cola help remove them? We’ve read several recommendations to add a can of Coke, along with your regular laundry soap, to the wash cycle for stain removal. We tried it with three white tops … and it worked!
LEATHER HANDBAG: If the oil stain is on leather, try sprinkling sprinkle baby powder or corn starch on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes, then brush the powder away. Repeat as needed until the stain has faded, then apply leather conditioner to the whole area to smooth and soften any remaining marks or lines.
DEODORANT MARKS: Here are a few easy ways to remove deodorant marks from a black top. Use a section of panty hose to gently rub those marks away. If you don’t have hosiery on hand, reach for denim, coarse canvas, or even a dryer sheet. These are all great options for drawing deodorant marks out of dark colored clothing items.
INK STAINS: Did you know that rubbing alcohol removes ink and sharpie stains? Dilute with water, and gently rub into the stained area. Rinse and repeat as needed. And in a pinch, a pump or two of hand sanitizer can accomplish the same task, because of its alcohol content.
GRASS STAINS: Rubbing alcohol works great on grass stains too. Blot it onto the fresh grass stain. Continue to blot the area with full-strength rubbing alcohol until the stain is removed. Wash, and air dry, and repeat with the rubbing alcohol if needed.
SHOE STAINS: Mr. Clean erasers work wonders on rubber and durable, coated leather! First, use a damp cloth to wipe away any excess dirt or grass. Then use the Mr. Clean eraser to spot treat those set-in stains. This is a great way to refresh your summer sneakers and casual slip-ons.
PINK LAUNDRY: Have you ever had a red clothing item accidentally laundered with a whites load? Ugh! Now everything is pink! Rewash the whites load with a cup of distilled vinegar and regular detergent, immediately. Repeat if necessary.
RED WINE: Have you heard that white wine gets out red wine stains? It’s true! Daub a little white wine on a red wine stain to remove it.
Pack Like a Pro: Are you taking a cruise this summer? Minimize the amount of clothing to pack by being savvy about the laundry amenities onboard. Check into your laundry accommodations ahead of time. Will you have access to laundry facilities? If not, consider packing a travel container of laundry soap, and just hand wash from the comfort of the sink in your own suite! One of our favorite tips, from a cruise-savvy ReRun shopper, is to pack inflatable hangers. Have you seen these amazing things? They take up hardly any space. Wash your essentials, and simply hang them to dry. If you opt for this route, be sure to keep an eye out for light weight cotton and nylon fabrics ... they dry quicker.
Coffee: All right, coffee lovers everywhere! Pack your favorite commuter mug for your trip! You’ll be so glad you have it with you. Not only for the volume of coffee … your mug holds more than a little disposable cup, but for the seal … if you’re carrying coffee up and down stairs on the cruise ship, spill prevention is key!
Pack Easy Knits: The best traveling knit is an acetate-spandex knit. Many brands make an acetate-spandex line that’s perfect for packing and traveling. Knits pack like a dream. They don’t wrinkle. They have a fluid-like drape, which is flattering on any body shape. A sleeveless knit maxi dress is comfortable and casual. It easily transitions to evening time with a change of accessories. Opt for lacy trousers with a long tunic top; perfect for poolside. Other great knit options include sequined tops and maxi knit skirts. Comfortable and casual, and the sequins add a little party touch of their own. For a dressier event, look no further than a floral print knit jumpsuit: comfy, classy, and again, no wrinkles. And the icing on the cake? These knits can easily go from day to evening, depending on the accessories you pair with them.
Are you flying this summer? Here are a few of our favorite flying tips, both general, and for packing!
One Carry-on, One Personal Bag: On most airlines, you're allowed a carry-on bag, plus one personal bag. Sometimes that "personal bag" doesn't have to be your purse ... choose a larger bag, such as a large tote bag or a small duffel, to help maximize your packing space. If it will fit under the seat in front of you, you're good to go! Be sure to double check with your specific airline for any updated information.
Roll, Don't Fold: Did you know that clothing is easier to pack if you roll the garments, instead of folding? It takes less room too and can also help prevent wrinkling.
Don't Check Your Jewelry: Never put your valuables in your checked luggage. Pack them in your carry-on instead, or better yet, in your personal bag, so they're right next to you!
Bonus Travel Tip: Do you get thirsty on long flights? To the point that the tiny cup of complimentary water just doesn't cut it? You can't take a full bottle of water through security but try this instead: Take an empty bottle with you through security, and fill it on the other side, before boarding.
Fly in style, and in comfort too.
Slip-On: No one likes the trudge through airport security. One of the easiest ways to streamline the process is to wear shoes that slip on and off easily. Think loafers, ballet flats, or even ankle-boots. And of course, slide-on sandals and mules are the trendy choice for this spring and summer!
Be Jewelry Conscious: If you opt to wear jewelry, make it easier on yourself by choosing long necklaces (that can slip over your head) and cuff bracelets (easy on and easy off). After all, no one likes being bogged down at the metal detector!
Comfort is Key: Consider ditching the blue jeans ... choose knits instead. Opt for a colorful maxi skirt, or sleek leggings paired with a long tunic top. If you're going to be sitting for hours, nothing is comfier than a jersey knit.
Layer It Up: How do you balance the blistering summer temperatures and the chill of an airline cabin? With layers, of course! Try an oversized, comfy knit cardigan. Tie it around your waist if it gets in the way, and simply slip it on when things get chilly. If you get cold easily, consider packing a lightweight scarf in your carry-on.
Capsule packing focuses on using the minimum number of pieces to achieve the maximum desired effect. If the capsule wardrobe has a motto, it might be "less is more."
The benefits are readily recognizable -- easier packing, less items to keep track of, and fewer pieces to launder while on vacation. It’s possible to fit your wardrobe items into your carry-on and skip checking a larger luggage piece.
The capsule wardrobe is a small and trusty collection of wardrobe essentials that all mix and match well with each other. It's important to choose one basic and overarching color scheme -- it will make the planning and coordinating that much easier!
Jeans, crops, and shorts are our foundation pieces for the capsule wardrobe.
Of the three, our favorite component to a capsule wardrobe is a pair of skinny jeans. Extremely versatile, skinny jeans can be dressed up or dressed down, making them appropriate for the evening as well as the daytime. A solid, dark wash skinny jean is classy and dressy. Leave them long or cuff them up into crops for a more casual look, skinny jeans are a definite staple.
It’s summer, so one pair of shorts, and a pair of cropped jeans balance out the foundation pieces.
First, pick a color scheme. Identify the top three-five colors that you normally wear, and that dominate your wardrobe.
Our color scheme is navy, white, yellow, charcoal, and brown.
The key to a capsule wardrobe is to make sure that every single top you pack will coordinate with every pair of bottoms, whether they are shorts, trousers, or a skirt.
There may be that one patterned skirt or brightly colored pair of shorts that will only work with two or three shirts, so there is an element of wiggle room. BUT ... a good rule of thumb is to ensure that each pair of bottoms matches all the shirts you pack. Just by doing that, you've increased your outfit options! For example, if you pack five pairs of bottoms and five tops, you already have 25 different outfit combinations!
Accessories are more critical: make sure that every pair of shoes you pack works with every outfit combination. Even if you only pack two pairs of shoes, you double your outfit combo possibilities.
The same rule applies to jewelry. Pack two or three jewelry sets that will each work with every single outfit. Packing one or two scarves increases your outfit combinations even more.
The concept is simple. But the hard part is establishing a versatile color scheme and coordinating EVERYTHING with EVERYTHING else.
We’ve envisioned an extended weekend trip to California. The central coast is lovely in July, so we can expect cool weather overnights and mild temps during the days. Maybe the weekend includes outdoor gatherings, shopping, a wine tasting tour, and an evening show. A low key and casual weekend, spending time outdoors with family sounds delightful. We’ve selected the color scheme for a California weekend getaway: navy, yellow, white, black, and brown.
Our foundation pieces include dark-wash skinny jeans, white cropped jeans, and blue jean shorts. Six different tops provide ample mix and match possibilities for all three pairs of bottoms. In case more chic attire is called for, we’re thinking a navy and white tie-dye maxi skirt would be the perfect option.
We’ve selected two scarves that will coordinate with all the tops and bottoms; stripes and florals are perfect accents. They increase the outfit combo power exponentially! For cooler days and evenings out, a wide scarf doubles as a lovely wrap. The jewelry is a mix of silver, charcoal, and white. These two sets give plenty of options for all the outfits. We chose a brown leather tote as the main bag for the weekend. It’s light weight, durable, and holds everything! Navy wedge sandals, yellow mules, and gold loafers give us enough options for weekend events. Whether it’s sight-seeing, light walks, or an afternoon show, these coordinate with all outfit options, plus they’re comfortable, and adorable too.
One capsule wardrobe bonus … everything fits into a carry-on suitcase, making it easy to bypass baggage claim and be out of the airport in no time! Super easy! Hooray for the minimization of packing!
What do you think of when you think of pearls? Royalty? Ballgowns, heels, and red lipstick? Do you find yourself thinking of timeless fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn?
Audrey Hepburn’s style was chic, timeless, and oh-so-elegant. And she didn't just wear pearls ... she wore them well. Perhaps no other jewelry item is so specific to Audrey as the pearl necklace. Whether it was a single strand, or a dazzling statement piece, Audrey is still well known for her pearl necklaces.
Is any jewelry collection truly complete without a pearl necklace? Whether it's a long, simple strand, or a multi-strand statement necklace, a girl needs her pearls. Pearls are the perfect complement to the Little Black Dress and an evening out, or they can add a fun and feminine twist to a knit top, jeans, and a pair of heels.
Are you ready to take your pearls to the next level? Try donning them backwards! With a deep V-back, your pearls will provide a unique accent. And their lovely clasp is instantly a dramatic pendant at the neckline. Very Audrey!
Statement necklaces with pearls are unique and fun!
A long strand of chunky faux pearls can also be worn as a double or triple stand. Wear them alone, or clip on a large enhancer pendant for a touch of fun.
Pearls on a leather cord give an edgier look. Worn more casually, this is a great accent piece for an artsy linen tunic or a casual chambray blouse.
Do you need a dressier option? Something to spice-up an after-5 dress? Choose a multi-strand necklace for a dramatic effect.
Pearl accents are a great way to wear pearl jewelry. When you want to wear pearls, but you want a more delicate look, earrings, rings, and bracelets might be your perfect pieces.
Instead of dramatic all-pearl statement pieces, opt for pearl accents. Choose jewelry pieces that incorporate pearl into their overall design but aren't overwhelmingly pearl.
Delicate earrings and beaded statement rings add a subtle pearl touch.
Pearl beaded bracelets add interest at the wrist.
Pearls … oh so elegant … oh so timeless … oh so classic. The pearl is known as “the queen of gems and the gem of queens.”
Worn by royalty, strands of pearls are opulent and decadent. Worn as an everyday accessory, they are delicate, sweet, and feminine.
A strand of pearls is perfect for a black-tie affair or an afternoon out with your girlfriends. Chic, perennial, and utterly elegant.
No matter your event, no matter your style, pearls are a fabulous accessory option.