I recently finished reading the book, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo. Coco Chanel has always been a woman to respect and to be in slight awe of. I have respected her from a distance, never quite sure of her story, just knowing something about her work drew me in. After reading the book I realized there are so many more reasons for me to be drawn to her, to find inspiration in her story.
I know there are many women who idolize the name Chanel, who wish they could be as great as Chanel, who would give anything to own something with those iconic double C’s on them. I don’t necessarily think I fit in with those admirers of Chanel. I’m not interested so much in the brand of Chanel and typically don’t understand or like what Karl Lagerfeld has done with it. (Karl Lagerfeld took over as head of the House of Chanel after Coco Chanel passed away.) Even if he is an amazing photographer, his version of Chanel is not for me. I admire the woman, the scrappy tom-boy who made a name for herself in a world she didn’t fit into.
My admiration probably comes from my life long struggle with being girly. I still am trying to figure out how to be graceful or how to manage the mass of frizzy curls swirling around my head. My socks rarely match. My nail polish chips within hours and I don’t understand how girls wear clothes/shoes that are uncomfortable past the point of realizing they are uncomfortable. I often am left feeling like I missed the week of school where they explained to all the other girls how to present themselves to the world. I often felt like my worth as a woman was tied with how girly I was. Girly = Beautiful, or at least I thought it did.
While reading the book I realized that my desire to be girly is more of a desire to be comfortable with the fact that I do not fit societies standards of girlie, instead of a desire of wanting to look like the latest photo-shopped magazine cover girl. Photos of Chanel looking effortlessly beautiful were because for her it was effortless. She was being herself. I was inspired by the fact that Coco didn’t fit her societies standards and instead of feeling insecure, she created clothes that she wanted to wear. She trusted that she was not the only one that felt like they did not fit in. Chanel did not make fashion about being girlie or trendy, for Coco Chanel it was all about style. “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
What’s even more intriguing is that to follow Chanel’s method for being a stylish woman, one does not need to go buy a Chanel jacket or drown yourself in perfume No. 5. Instead, it’s about figuring out what works for you, what makes you feel the most comfortable in your own skin. What you like or don’t like with out concern about how it fits into what the fashion magazines state.
It’s admiring others ability to wear toe pinching 5″ heels all night, but not feeling like less of a woman because you showed up in chucks.