Casual clothes don’t have to be frumpy. Much of what we buy falls under the umbrella term “ready to wear,” meaning it is not meant for magazine pages, perfume ads or wearing down a runway, but for the events we’re expected to appear at in our day-to-day lives.
But where did the casual fashion revolution begin and who made it happen?
It was a woman designer who realized that couture clothes could be both elegant and comfortable. Seamstress and milliner Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883–1971) opened her first dress shop in Paris in 1910, but was forced to close her second during the First World War.
She reopened in 1919 and by 1924 was leading the fashion world. Taking her inspiration from men’s clothing, she introduced a relaxed way of dressing for women based on wool, jersey or cotton dresses, trousers, cardigans and costume jewelry. Practical, modern and stylish, her designs revolutionized women’s fashion and were soon copied the world over.
Fashions for every day
While designers such as Chanel made casual clothes fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s, knitwear also became a trend. Essential items in a woman’s wardrobe we amongst the first.
The origins of knitting remain obscure: it was possibly developed by Arabian nomads around 1000 BC, or in Egypt from the seventh century AD. The earliest examples date back to the 1100s.
By the 13th century knitting had reached Europe, where its popularity was reflected in the “knitting Madonnas” painted in the late 1300s. The people of the Channel Island of Jersey were known for knitting high-quality stockings by the 1580s. Jersey was the name for all knitted garments until, in the late 1600s, it was associated with the blue fisherman’s jersey.
Men adopted striped jerseys for winter sports in the second half of the 19th century. In the 1890s, college athletes in the United States coined the word “sweater” to describe the garment’s effect on their bodies.
Thanks to Channel and the art of knitting, you get to enjoy ready-to-wear clothing that offers a great deal of comfort around the clock.