Little black dress inspired by Coco Chanel


Coco Chanel was one of the most influential designers of her time—even a woman who has never bought an original Chanel piece is sure to own something that was inspired by the iconic designer. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, shares some of Chanel's classic styles that made fashion what it is today.


Although it is a myth that she invented the little black dress, Chanel was undeniably influential in popularizing it. "A little black dress is so ubiquitous, it's an iconic thing," Steele says. "She was certainly very much associated with that look."

Chanel has said: "Women think about all colors except the absence of color. I have already said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute."
Trousers inspired by Coco Chanel


Chanel was born in 1883, a time when high-society French women wore skirts with bustles and hats with plumes. A rebel at heart, Chanel changed all that. "She's the one who pioneered the modern, androgynous look for women," Steele says. "She herself was one of the first women to wear trousers in public."
Sailor top inspired by Coco Chanel


Sailor Tops
Nautical-inspired clothing is a classic look that began with Chanel's sailor tops. The navy blue and white stripes worn by French fishermen were the inspiration behind her design.
Pearls inspired by Coco Chanel


Costume Jewelry
Although Chanel had her own collection of real jewels, she also had a love for emphatically large costume jewelry. "All of those ropes of fake pearls and ropes of gold with fake jewels and fake Maltese crosses—she was very instrumental in launching all of that," Steele says.
Suit inspired by Coco Chanel

The Chanel Suit
The skirt suit with a collarless, cardigan-like jacket has influenced many look-alikes, but the design is solely attributed to Chanel. "The somewhat boxy suit skirt with buttons—everyone has done versions of that," Steele says.

Learn more about Coco Chanel and her rags-to-riches story

What's your favorite look Chanel-inspired look? Leave your comments below.