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Styling ideas for classic Chanel pencil skirt

by Alia

Chanel Tweed Skirt

Chanel Tweed Skirt

I recently inherited a classic black/white/grey Chanel skirt in a tweed-fabric with a tiny bit of silver showing. Its only a few years old and brand new - and after I took it to a tailor it fits perfectly. I love the classic appeal and the quality, but I haven't been able to figure out how to wear it without aging myself unnecessarily.

I am 21 years, 5.2 ft tall, weigh 95 pounds, a slender but pronounced hourglass, well-proportioned vertically and blonde with cool colours.

I own a large collection of silk shirts(both with and without sleeves), silk button downs etc that I wear daily with other pencil skirts and cigarette style pants, but somehow it just seems a little "too much" when I pair it with the Chanel - it goes from stylish to playing dress-up. I've tried some more "edgy" tops (I have a few from Helmut Lang) and its better, but still too formal and "old" looking.

Do you have any suggestions for making the skirt wearable?

The skirt looks like the attached file, but is slimmer, more pencil-like. The shirts are examples of things I've already tried pairing it with.

Jane's answer... What a great question! Thank you Alia. Lucky you, inheriting such a lovely item!

The only thing that would have made it slightly easier to answer you would have been photos of you wearing the skirt and the tops you mentioned. However, giving me an idea of your age, body proportions, hair colour and colour temperature certainly help.

It sounds as if your style personality leans towards elegant, classic quality clothing and looks? Certainly the Chanel skirt is a classic! However, the more completely classic you make your look the more formal and old you will look, as you have discovered! So, instead, I suggest you apply a modern twist to how you style the skirt, even if the look you're after is still mainly classic. This will ensure you don't age yourself unnecessarily!

Considerations for how to wear the skirt

Think about where you will wear the skirt, what occasions? Will it be for work? If so, how formal is your work environment? Is business casual the norm for your work environment? Will you wear it for smart casual social occasions? These considerations will affect your styling decisions.

Consider the fabric. Since tweed is a cooler weather fabric, a top that is also associated with cooler weather is more appropriate than one associated with summer, which is one of the reasons why the black sleeveless blouse you show doesn't work.

Tweed is a thick material, with a heavy visual weight. It's finish can be rustic, or, as in the case of a Chanel skirt, luxuriously textured, dependent on the fibres used and the weave of the material. The top needs to balance the visual weight of the skirt for it to look right. This could mean a luxurious fabric, such as silk, in a thick enough fabric. Or it could be a fine, cashmere wool top. Or, if you'd like to make the outfit more casual, a chunky cable knit.

Another way to make the visual weight of the top work is to add layers or accessories that create the balance, as I illustrate below.

Consider the visual balance. We find outfits more pleasing when they are not even proportions. (The science of this fact is called the Golden Mean, or the Fibonacci Number. It was discovered by Leonardo da Vinci and is used by designers and artists. Pleasing ratios include: 1:2; 2:3; 3:5. )

Is the length of the skirt on you about the same as you show in the photo? That is, about 5" above the middle of your knee? And the waist of the skirt in the photo looks very high. Is that how your skirt is too? Consider the proportions you're creating when you're styling your skirt. Make sure the top and the bottom proportions don't appear even. For instance, adding black tights and shoes can help create a pleasing proportion.

As a petite you will be better styling the skirt using one of the lighter colours from the skirt (white, grey, or silver) on top -- to keep the focus on your top half and make you appear taller. Or use a lighter, brighter colour, such as a cool light pink, or a deeper raspberry (dependent on whether lighter or darker colours work best with your colouring), or a light or medium blue or green.

Ideas for styling your pencil skirt

styling ideas for classic chanel pencil skirt

As Claudia Schiffer shows, in the image above, it is possible to wear the skirt with a short-sleeved silk blouse. To me, her look here is classic, feminine and girlish (that is, young rather than old), and rather 'preppy'.

To make the look less buttoned-up, literally undo some buttons! Add a lace-trimmed silk cami (in silver-grey in the example above) under the blouse and undo the buttons, so the lace peeps through. Though be aware this look might not be appropriate for your work place (too sexy).

styling ideas for classic chanel pencil skirt

Styling the skirt with a blouse (either silky, or stiffer) and statement bib-style necklace adds visual weight to the blouse and connects the skirt colours with the top so the outfit looks like a unified whole. The necklace also makes the outfit more contemporary. Adding a leather jacket and ankle boots with buckles toughens the look. Wear with black opaque tights.

See how swapping the leather jacket for the softly tailored cardigan jacket (on the left) soften the look? Adding black court shoes and nude or sheer-black tights also make the look more feminine, while still being contemporary. This look is suitable for most work environments (providing the necklace isn't too noisy).

styling ideas for classic chanel pencil skirt

Above you can see that the blouse can be a coloured blouse. The colour also needs to provide visual balance with the colours of the skirt. Adding a scarf, in the colours in the skirt, further ties the outfit together. Instead of the scarf you could add an over-sized knit (perhaps a high-low hemline knit) over the blouse. If the sweater feels too full or unstructured tuck simple tuck some of it in at the front -- experiment and see if this works for you. Or see if untucking the blouse and having some of it show under the knit works. All very contemporary looks.

Do you see how adding the thicker shirt and/or heavier knits makes the outfit more casual? Suitable for a weekend day time activity, for instance. Or for a more casual work environment.

On the right, is another example with a raspberry-coloured chunky knit cardigan and a cami in a similar colour tone underneath.

I hope this gives you some ideas?

For personalized outfit styling advice ask me about my outfit review service.

Comments for Styling ideas for classic Chanel pencil skirt

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Great ideas
by: Helen

You came up with great ideas for the Chanel pencil skirt.
My mind simply blocked out, and it was inspirational to see your solutions.

Must try your theories on my bulging wardrobe, from which I can never find anything to wear!

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