Jewelry Icons: Coco Chanel

If women have anyone to thank for a modern fashion philosophy, it is Coco Chanel. With bon mots like "Fashion changes, but style endures" and "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different" Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (1883-1971) brought simplicity and comfort to everyday fashionable wear. She was known to make clothes out of breathable and flexible fabrics like jersey, that were cut in straight but versatile lines, worn without corsets, that allowed the new woman of the 1920s to be more athletic and utilitarian.

This practicality stemmed not only from Chanel's impoverished upbringing in a Western France convent where she learned to sew, but also from the fact that she began professionally designing during World War I, when economic hardships could not support the lavish ornamentation and excess of Belle Époque fashions made popular by Paul Poiret. However, just because she chose more quotidian fabrics and simple color blocks—she invented the little black dress—did not mean that she did not enjoy luxury. She became just as famous for her carefully chosen jewelry accessories as for her clothing and cosmetics.

Ultimately, Chanel's legacy was something that transcended what we commonly think of as high fashion. She loved that people mimicked her style without buying her direct brand, and always advocated that fashion and elegance was an aesthetic belief. Below are a few ways to adorn yourself in Chanel charm based on pieces that can be found at Noe's Jewelry.

"Ropes and Ropes of Pearls
One of the most iconic images reproduced of Chanel is by Man Ray, and shows the young designer in a black pullover sweater dress-suit, wearing a dapper black hat and draped in ropes of pearls. This draping of statement pieces over a simple and understated ensemble would become Chanel's signature style, and can easily be reproduced in a modern context by draping colored freshwater pearls like this three-string, 38-inch necklaceover a T-shirt or button-up linen shirt.

Cuffs and Chains
In that same Man Ray image, you can see Chanel has her hands in her pockets, and resting around her wrists are two huge white enamel bracelets designed for her by Fulco di Verdura. These bracelets were another regular glamour element to her unadorned clothing and were often worn with smaller bangles or chain charm bracelets. Try combining the texture of a chain bracelet with the width of a cuff for a charming riff on Chanel's classic look with this flower-bordered cuff.

"If You Want To Start A Collection, Start With a Brooch"
We have Mademoiselle Chanel to thank for the prevalence of the brooch on our cardigan lapels and hats. In an effort to gussy-up a beloved beret in 1929, Chanel pinned an oversized brooch to it and started a fashion trend still popular today. A good brooch was recommended by Chanel as the gateway purchase to an impressive jewelry collection, and you can't go wrong with this unique and eye-catching Jade Brooch set in 14 karat gold.

For more suggestions on how to achieve Coco Chanel's style, or to discover your own charm and elegance, please stop by Noe's Jewelry where a consultant will be on hand and happy to guide you through a diverse array of luxury items.