Casual Styles inspired by Coco Chanel

Trying on the iconic styles of the 1920s has been a lot of fun. It is an era that apparently speaks to me because I’m still working on it. Up until now, I’ve been moved by the finer looks of the era — the fabrics, the beading, the fringe. It seems blasphemous to consider wearing that kind of finery to walk the dog in the Seattle rain, though.

So, how do you dress with the elegance of the Twenties while maintaining a casual lifestyle? Is that even possible?

Enter Coco Chanel. Sure, her name today is synonymous with fine fashion. It was back then as well. But she is the reason so many of us consider it okay to wear yoga pants everywhere today. (I’m sorry, Mme Chanel, but it’s true. You started an avalanche of casual when you gave us jersey fabric.)

Chanel brought sportswear into the mainstream. She ditched the corset and embraced La Garçonnne (tomboy), a fad based on a popular novel by Victor Margueritte. This look was about short hair and loose, unstructured clothes, like those worn on the tennis court.

Coco Chanel suits from the 20s in Paris.

Inspired by Mme Chanel, I have put together several casual looks I can wear right now during this transitional season from winter to spring. I’ll share all of them over the course of several posts. The goal for each outfit will be that it can fit a variety of occasions — out to lunch with friends or out on the sidewalk with the dog — with very little change needed between the two extremes. Comfort will be key, but there will need to be a balance of form and function, especially in shoes. And I promise, no yoga pants allowed!

Let’s start with the outfit below. To compare, there’s a photo of the great Coco Chanel herself.

Casual style influenced by Coco Chanel.

While you could analyze my look and find arguments to say this might fit in the Sixties or Eighties or Nineties, note that Chanel came before all those eras. And while I should have untucked my shirt to make the look more in line with what Chanel wears in the photo, I was mostly trying to echo the spirit of her look. I focused on her pleated skirt, the belt around her hips, the casual top, and the loose cardigan.

This outfit has signature style, in my opinion. It holds with some iconic elements of the past while managing to fit in to today’s fashion. I can wear it out for lunch or to walk the dog — and I have! The boots are super comfy, so much so that I’ve walked miles in them without a care in the world.


If you like this look too, you may be pleased to know I didn’t spend a fortune on it. The skirt, the top, and the cardigan are all second-hand from and from eBay. The necklace was my grandmother’s.

Can’t you tell I’m excited?

A casual style inspired by Coco Chanel from the 1920s.
I’m so excited to find something I like!

Shop this Look:

Silk Eileen Fisher Long Sleeve Tee, or find it on eBay | Wool Eileen Fisher Cardigan: Similar, Similar on eBay, Similar on ThredUP | Necklace from my grandmother: Find similar on eBay | Maeve for Anthropologie Skirt from ThredUP: Similar here, here, and here | Eileen Fisher Belt: Similar | Eileen Fisher Tights: Similar | Eileen Fisher Lace-Up Boots: On sale!

Affiliate link disclaimer: Please note, with the exception of the boots in this post, all the item links above are affiliated with companies I am associated with. By clicking the links and purchasing from those stores, I might receive a small commission. I do not put these links lightly — any company I represent is a company I buy from regularly, including eBay and ThredUP. By purchasing from these stores, you support the work I do here and I greatly appreciate your support! 

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  • Absolutely perfect! And of course you shouldn’t copy her outfit detail for detail! It’s important to make it your own…like you’ve done! One of the things I really like about Coco is she wasn’t a “beauty” by the fashion standards, yet she was such a force to be reckoned with!
    And I love how you prove that great style doesn’t have to be expensive! jodie

  • That red skirt is absolutely the coolest and you did an amazing job of styling this outfit. It is fun, funky and sophisticated all at once.