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Gabrielle Bonheur “CoCo” Chanel is by far one of the most influential figures in 20th century fashion. Chanel was different, and it showed in the world of fashion for women. Her influence expanded past couture clothing—she liberated women from the constraints of the corseted silhouette and society’s feminine standard. Not only did she introduce the women’s suit, but she brought fame to the little black dress, quilted handbags, and the bob hairstyle, not to mention created the iconic fragrance Chanel No. 5.

Chanel was born on Aug. 19, 1883 in a small town in Saumur, France. Her mother was a laundrywoman for the charity hospital run by the Sisters of Providence, which was a poorhouse in Saumur. When little Gabrielle was only 12-years-old, her mother passed away of bronchitis, and she was sent to an orphanage called Aubazine. There, she learned to sew, and was able to find employment as a seamstress, which is how the coveted brand of Chanel was born.

Although the Chanel brand may have been affordable then, it is definitely out of reach now, so I’ve created a quick list of Chanel-esque items for less.

The Jacket (Found on


Forever 21 tweed blazer,, $17

The Pearls (Found on

Forever 21

Faux pearl and woven necklace,, $9.80

The Bag (Found on

Forever 21

Sophisticated and classy quilted crossbody bag,, $14.90

I know it’s not the real thing, but until we can afford it, this is a pretty chic substitute.