Chanel Jacket #2 comes out of the closet.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Chanel Jacket #2 since I started making it over a year ago. Even in this picture I look iffy about it.

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Originally I was planning to wear it in Paris last Christmas, and it did come with me–but it was still in pieces. At that point I was in denial about whether the fabric was “me”. Though it was authentic Chanel Tweed from Elliot Berman Textiles (Chanel Tweed)  it was made of fuchsia (fuchsia!), grass green and black wool, with very sparkly gold mylar threads through the whole thing. So then  I found some black trim with more sparkles from Janssens et Janssens on that trip. Viva Las Vegas!

Though I finally finished the jacket last February, since then it has been hanging in my closet  unworn for months, basically saying “you’re never really going to wear me, right? Too glitzy?”

I live in Boston nowadays, which to me is the US’s most European of cities. Boston is small and walkable, with old (for the US) buildings and well-maintained parks, and it’s cosmopolitan. It has a couple of the best universities in the US, a number of research medical centers, and thriving tech and financial industries, so it’s filled with upscale grad students and smart employed people, with a lot of foreign ex-pats. The symphony and ballet are world-class, and a number of movies are shot here, including the recently released “American Hustle.” It’s a classy, well-mannered city.

Here’s Boston’s Public Garden, a half a block from us. So lovely.

Boston's Public Garden

Though Boston style has a dusty reputation for preppy J. Crew meets “Love Story” duffle coats and weejun loafers, in reality the look is mostly understated yet sophisticated fashion, that goes from the black-clad urban boomers like me, to the glossy-brunette students in skinnies and Uggs, to the sharp suits of the North End Italian, uh, I won’t say “mobster” look, though there is a bit of a reputation for that, to the Michelle O sheath and boots many women wear to work.

The look you don’t have around Boston, over the age of 4, is “pink and sparkly”, and that’s how Chanel jacket #2 looked to me. When I finished the jacket, I was happy and relieved, since 100+ hours had gone into it, and I’d learned so much making it.

But after I took the pictures and submitted my reviews of it (Chanel #2 Review) ,    I didn’t wear it. It seems too fancy for movie night and too out there for dinner with friends. Spring was around the corner and then fall was balmy. Thanksgiving with family was too casual.

Packing for Paris, I knew I needed to travel light to cram in city and ski stuff, so in went four pairs of black pants and a stack of black tees and sweaters. But it was the holidays, and Paris. I needed something unique and distinctive.

On a whim, I pulled out jacket #2, and tried it on over my ubiquitous black jeans and tee. I’d forgotten how softly it fell and fit. It looked funky and festive. And it wasn’t perfect (just look at the buttonholes), which is key to the current French Jane Birkin/Boho look. I threw the jacket in my carry-on and headed to Logan Airport. They don’t wrinkle, people!

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When I got to Paris, I realized that the problem wasn’t with the jacket, it was with the city. I had made this jacket to wear in Paris during the holidays and that’s where it worked. The jacket fit right in with the festive but not-too-dressy atmosphere of Le Vaudeville, the 30s Art Deco brasserie where we had dinner on Christmas Eve. That’s where I wore it for the first time, with black waxed jeans.

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As they say in Boston, now I look “wicked” happy.

In an upcoming post, I’ll give details about how this jacket was constructed. Happy new year! Any new projects in the hopper?

10 thoughts on “Chanel Jacket #2 comes out of the closet.

  1. It looks really great . I sometimes think that a bit of time in the wardrobe brings perspective back to garment we have spent too much time on. Also truly stylish people just wear what they like . Do you think that coco ever wanted to just fit in ??what is the braid like ?

    • I know Marianne, apparently the French think you shouldn’t wear something too “new” so I guess I’m right on schedule. I’ll try to post a close up of the trim…it’s a braid that’s hard to describe, black with flecks of gold.

  2. Thank you for blogging. I am new to your site and have enjoyed reading all your entries.
    I love your writings and looking forward to more. I have my pattern, fabric, lining,
    thread, muslin and no nerve. My friends are so tired of hearing me talk about “the
    jacket”. You have given me courage. I love jacket #2, and I love Paris. Hold still my
    heart, a French jacket just for Paris. As the song goes “let it be me”. I will make it my
    goal to have my jacket finished by March of 2015. We plan to go back to Paris for our
    25 anniversary. Thank you so much, you are a gem. J. Lynn

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Actually the process is more tedious than difficult, particularly once you fit the muslin. Having been egged on by my readers, I just bought some beautiful black tweed, so at some point I’ll be joining you in jacket-land. Courage!

  3. Hello again , I notice that this jacket doesn’t seem to have a set in sleeve ?? If that right what pattern did you use ? I have Butterick 5712 which seems a bit like your pattern .

    • Hi Marianne, I used Simplicity 2154 which was in release last year, and is probably still available. It’s one of their Retro patterns from the 60s, and it’s a very cute design. I like the cut-in kimono sleeves, which remind me of Claire McCardell’s jackets. I took the top shoulder/sleeve seam in a bit, created vents on the cuffs, changed the neckline to be more bateau, and used patch pockets instead of flaps. Here’s a link to my review with details: http://sewing.patternreview.com/review/pattern/83305

  4. I totally understand how cities have dress codes (for lack of a better word), and that the city you had in mind whilst constructing the jacket was the city where it fit in perfectly! I was interested to read that it didn’t wrinkle in transit. Now THAT’s a pro for any garment, in my books.

    • I’m so glad I’ve made these jackets, because the original design is pretty amazing. Chanel created the jacket in the early 50s for the “modern” woman who was out in the world and needed to travel light. It’s interesting when you read Chanel’s history that when she sought to revive her label in the 50s, it was the Americans who embraced this design, because it fit our more mobile lifestyle.
      If you make these quilted jackets from loose wool tweed and line them with silk, they truly do not wrinkle. They’ve been a great addition to my wardrobe!

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