What's in the name? Cardigan or Jacket or Cardigan Jacket? Are we talking about a cardigan, a jacket or a cardigan jacket ?
Everybody wants a Chanel jacket, or to make an Inspired Chanel jacket. Or cardigan? In the world of the Haute Couture, the Fashion or the DIY- world, we all know 'the Chanel Jacket'. It is the Iconic one with the fringes, the trims, the black and white lining or the short black tweed jacket. Mostly we are talking about the 'little French Jacket', or the Chanel Jacket or the Chanel Cardigan...
Claire Shaeffer published a series of books about the jacket, the couture sewing and all the secrets of sewing Haute couture. She mentions the jacket: The Couture Cardigan Jacket. It sounds confusing.
Are they the same, is there any difference or are we talking about a special kind of jacket ?
Back in time
Coco Chanel introduced the couture cardigan jacket and skirt in the fifties as an easy-to-wear jacket suit. The jacket was intended to ease women from the constraint of the wasp-waisted silhouette of the Fifties. Its design has become Iconic and very popular. For nearly fifty years now.
There are many reasons for this but the most obvious reasons are that the jacket is very comfortable and always elegant and timeless. Comfort is always considered as not-elegant. But Chanel cardigan jackets are comfortable and remain the key of the designs of the Chanel Style. The cardigan and skirt were designed for the lady on the move. Not for a static fashion statement.
The skirt was faux-wrap design. Easy to walk, yet elegant and sophisticated. The total look could be very luxurious but also a bit casual because of it's comfort. Women could were the suit all day. Some ladies made it look modern and casual enough to look young and fashionable. But most ladies chose the Chanel suit to emphasize their status and style.
The jacket is made of light-weight fabric, is very easy to wear and ideal for travel, casual or on-the-go purpose. The jacket is not lined, or better said: the lining is constructed on the light-weight tweed or bouclé fabric, which makes it so easy-to-wear.
The quilting-story is probably due to the fact heavy weight woolen materials were not widely available during the 1920-years. Or the fabrics were too heavy weighted and her ideas were new and differently at that time. The quilting part is still a big topic. Quilting the lining would provide warmth an strength to the light-weight fabrics. It is comfortable in a luxurious way.
But as nobody want to look completely comfortable, like sportswear, the jacket also has its signature details to make it look like couture and personalized styled. Chic details, handsewing-techniques required and some eye-catchers are making the jacket luxurious and elegant.
A Haute couture garment is always hand-made, tailor-made and very personal. It will really show off. Nothing looks better as a garments which really fits well. And it feels exactly so good. “Very personal” over and over seems a bit exaggerated luxury.
Even though the Chanel jackets are shaped till perfection, they were in the early fifties a total new symbol of freedom after decades of tight corsets and a over-the-top hour-glass silhouette with an almost unreachable waist size and pointy high breasts. The shape of the first Chanel jackets seemed almost boxy and masculine in that perspective. Chanel was indeed inspired by menswear but kept an eye on the total look of the suit or outfit which was very feminine and elegant. The jacket has its history and all women loved the new feeling of freedom, yet looking classy and sophisticated enough to be admired by everyone.
Conclusion: The cardigan as an easy to wear but chic option in a completely new concept.
The cardigan is shaped and styled till perfection. Yet it is not a tailor-made jacket as the traditional (men's) jacket with its shoulder pads and notched or shawl collar. In the book “Tailoring, the classic guide to sewing the perfect jacket”, we read a lot about the techniques being used to create a perfect tailored jacket. And the collar. The classic jacket is almost build around the collar. The shaping is very important. A good tailored jacket has the perfect collar. A shawl collar, a notched collar or a roll, stand-up or flat collar, it determines the look of the jacket.
To create the perfect shaped collar more layers of fabrics are used and the construction of the under collar attached to the upper-collar, is not easy. It is an advanced tailoring technique which requires a lot of experience to get it done perfectly.
But it makes the jacket looks perfect and some piece of art.
The Chanel cardigan does not (always) have a collar. Its Iconic classic look is a collarless jewel neckline or shaped and standing collar, princess seams, patched pockets, working sleeve vents, high armholes (comfortable wear, hand-worked buttonholes (if front is closed). Shoulder pads are rare and stiff heavy-weight fabrics does not work unlike a classic blazer-jacket.
Although we associate Cardigans with sweaters/woolblends, the Chanel jacket feels like a cardigan because of its fit and light-weight fabrics. And the famous quilted lining.
Chanel jackets are casually thrown over the shoulders and worn with flair and elegance, which looks less relaxed with a couture traditional jacket, or may even be impossible because of its weight en firm shape. The traditional jacket is constructed to keep its shape and appearance as tight as possible.
Do we talk about a cardigan or a jacket or a cardigan jacket?
A cardigan- jacket is indeed what the jacket describes best. Forget about the association with a hand-knitted sweater/cardigan from grandmother. But let 's focus on the relaxed style of a cardigan combined with the class of a couture jacket.
The Chanel jacket is what is currently being searched (on google), made and copied the most.
The Chanel cardigan is less popular but it is understandable that many prefer to call the jacket a cardigan.
'Chanel Couture Cardigan jacket' is probably the best name of our topic.
Or our self-made 'Chanel Inspired Jacket' or 'Chanel-Style Couture Jacket'.
In either ways, we are talking about the famous light-weight, tweed, couture, easy-to-wear, comfy, chic, little French jacket with all its signature details being elegant, timeless and sophisticated.