We all have that perfect pair of pants.
The ones that are so comfortable you never want to take them off. They hug your body just right to make you look and feel like a million bucks. Imagine your life without these pants. Terrifying, I know. The thought of not being able to slip them on and run out the door is almost unbearable. Luckily, we live in a world with pants. We can choose from all types of pants- straight, tapered, bermuda, cargo, capri, the list goes on. From bell-bottoms to skinny jeans, pants have been a staple in women’s fashion for years.
In the early 1990s, this wasn’t the case. Women only wore trousers if they were working in a traditionally male job during wartime. Women typically were squeezed into tight corsets and weighed down by heavy skirts.
Coco Chanel changed all of that.
She was born in Paris, France in 1883 to a poor, nomadic family. Her mother died when she was twelve-years old. Following her death, Chanel and her two sisters were sent off to the convent of Aubazine in central France. At the convent, she cared for the unfortunate and orphaned and learned how to sew.
After some time working in other professions, Chanel opened her first shop in Paris in 1908. She then opened a shop in Deauville and another in Biarritz that was wildly successful due to her new feminine standard post-World War I. Chanel was officially registered as a couturiere in 1919.
Coco Chanel completely changed women’s fashion in a time of change around the world. Chanel enjoyed horseback riding which is very difficult to do in a skirt or dress. Instead of dealing with the discomfort, Chanel took the pants off a male rider and used them herself. She did not see the need for women to wear impractical clothing just because they weren’t men.
She revolutionized women’s clothing by liberating women from their uncomfortable wardrobe. Chanel is now credited with the emergence of costume jewelry for everyday use, the little black dress, having tanned skin, branded perfume, the Chanel suit, jersey material, and the popularization of pants for women. Chanel began the change to more sensible and casual as the standard for women. Chanel said, “I gave women a sense of freedom. I gave them back their bodies: bodies that were drenched in sweat, due to fashion’s finery, lace, corsets, underclothes, padding.”
Chanel is the only fashion designer in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Even from Chanel’s humble beginnings, she was able to change the face of women’s fashion. Today, we don’t think about our pants. We just pull them on. Pants in the early 1900’s were a symbol of women’s liberation from the constraints of the corset. From now on, I hope you appreciate your pants and this amazing designer who brought them into women’s fashion.
And what about you?
How many people do you have the potential to influence with your actions?
How do your choices affect those around you?
My name is Lindy Nelson, and I am recent graduate from Texas A&M University. I am beginning my graduate studies in marketing this fall at Texas A&M. Victory degree? Maybe. I am way too obsessed with Aggie Football and my sorority sisters in Chi Omega. I founded a chapter of Food Recovery Network at Texas A&M University this past fall partly because I love service and partly because I love food too much to see it wasted. In between food recoveries, I spend my free time playing Just Dance 2 and eating Chick-fil-a. I think they weigh each other out.