One of Coco Chanel’s most famous quotes is “A girl should be two things, classy and fabulous”. She spent her entire life becoming the woman depicted in this quote.
What you don’t know about Coco Chanel is that she can teach you about life. The way she lived, worked, and presented herself can teach you about hard work, respect, overcoming adversity, and how going against the status quo can result in radical change.
Would you be surprised to know that Coco Chanel was an orphan? Abandoned by her father after her unwed mother died, she was placed in a convent and lived there being raised by nuns until she was eighteen. It was in the convent that she learned how to sew. When she finally left the convent, Coco went to great lengths to reinvent her past, making up a new history and hiding facts about her unwed mother. Coco feared the stigma of poverty and illegitimacy. She worked her entire life to gain the dignity and respect that in 19th century France would never be given to someone born to her lot in life.
Coco spent her life designing clothes for women and building the Chanel Empire. She didn’t design just any clothes but clothes that completely broke the mold for how women dressed. She dared to be different and provided women with both style and comfort. Prior to her menswear inspired clothing, most women wore corsets and layers of frilly, poofy, impractical fabric. Her designs changed the face of women’s clothing forever. Think about the iconic Little Black Dress. To this day, it’s a go-to piece for women the world over when they want to look stylish and classy.
So what, right?
Well, Coco had no design training, no formal education, no lucky breaks, no mentors, and no mold to follow. Yet she set out and achieved what she dreamed of through sheer will, determination and hard work. Coco left her mark on the world and while doing so earned world-wide success and the respect of the fashion industry and women everywhere.
What can you learn from Coco Chanel?
That you’re past does not determine your future. That who you are inside matters much more than any external factors in your life. That sheer determination and effort are the most important ingredients on the road to success. That failure should not dampen your drive and enthusiasm but teach you to do things differently. That one person thinking outside the box can change the world. And finally, that you should always be classy and fabulous!