Banana Republic Factory Cardigan Feels “Oh-So-Coco”

The name Coco Chanel is usually tied to tweed jackets and quilted handbags, but to me, she’s my favorite tomboy. When I pulled this cardigan out from under a pile at the Banana Republic Factory store, my first thought was, “it’s so Coco!”

This cardigan has a menswear feel to it with it’s length, slouch, pockets, and contrast details. Black and white (and cream in this case) is a palette that Coco famously wore often. I felt like this was a piece she would have worn casually around her atelier, so my first attempt at putting together an outfit around it became one that I imagined Coco might have worn.

A crisp button-down and black slim pants keep the palette black and white. Pearl bracelets are a nod to Coco’s favorite jewelry choice, and a menswear-style watch tomboys it up. The horse necklace is something my dad wore during my childhood, and recently passed down to me. I thought it appropriate since Coco was very involved with horse racing during her lifetime. Even the Loubies can be tied to Coco. Did you know Christian Louboutin freelanced for Chanel before he was a famous shoe designer? In fact, the Louboutin red soles were inspired by Chanel red nail polish.

In 1992, I incorporated the red sole into the design of my shoes. This happened by accident as I felt that the shoes lacked energy, so I applied red nail polish to the sole of a shoe. This was such a success that it became a permanent fixture.

If you’re interested in the cardigan, it’s not perfectly fitted on me, but the slouch works for the menswear look of it. It’s a very thin cotton/rayon blend, so it’s good as a layering piece, but won’t keep you toasty on it’s own this winter. It’s a very loose weave, so it may shrink up quite a bit in the wash if anyone were interested in toasting it in the dryer. The trim around the black contrast panel along the button placket is gauzy, so it looks almost as if it could be silk, which is a nice touch that ups the style quotient on this piece.  I haven’t washed it yet, so I’m not sure how it will behave in the laundry.

It measures at: shoulder = 13″, length = 24″, bust = 15.5″, waist = 14″, sleeve = 22″. It retails for $64.99, but I’m sure can be bought for cheaper in the after Christmas sales (anyone know what the BR Factory store promotion is this week?). It also comes in another colorway, but I can’t remember if it’s blue or purple. Here is the tag.

And if you would like to read about the life of Coco Chanel, my favorite biography of her is Chanel: A Woman of Her Own by Axel Madsen (I’d love any other book recommendations on the subject as well!). Despite some of the choices she made (her activities during WWII are questionable), I am in awe of how strong of a character she was to challenge the norms of her time.  As a young woman, Coco shocked people by wearing trousers and riding horses like a man, designed women’s fashions out of jersey (a fabric that was only used for menswear), and wore the clothing of coastal fishermen (the mariner stripes that today are synonymous with chic french women).

Some photos of Coco, the original tomboy:

Outfit details: Banana Republic Factory Cardigan, xxsp :: Ann Taylor dress shirt, 00p :: Ann Taylor knit slim pants (c/0), 00p (review) :: Christian Louboutin Simple 85 Pumps, 35 :: Ann Taylor belt, xs :: Timex watch :: Daisy Knights ring
(in silver)

Has anyone else picked up this cardigan? How are you styling it?

Join the Conversation


  1. I LOVE this sweater on you. The colors and lines are classic and much better than anything I’ve seen this year from their regular retail store. It’s 40% off right now at the outlets…I’m hoping for an even better sale.

  2. says: Helen

    I really like the contrast of the black on cream of the sweater. Very chic. Pair it with a pleated skirt for a flirty night out look. I think this is a very versatile sweater. I didn’t see it at my BR factory store when I went yesterday though.

  3. says: Michelle

    That necklace is gorgeous, Kelly!  It is a fun piece to pair with your ring! :)  Love that ring…I will try to stop saying that every time I see you wear it! :p

    That cardigan is such a great neutral to play with! I love your Coco-inspired look!

  4. says: Angie

    this cardigan is so perfect! it’s got a bit of vintage feel, a lot of classy to it, and just a tad of possible tomboy. i love that you paired it with black and gold/ivory jewelry. so polished!
    (i’m rooting for you! given, epilators are scary as heck. have to man up and try my legs next!)

  5. says: Olyvia

    What a coincident! I was just thinking about Coco Chanel style last night and blogged a bit about it.  I’m new to learning about her style, so this post of yours gave me a bit more insight!  I was just thinking how interesting it was that her iconic style…little black dress, tweed jackets, pearls are so “for women” but are staples  like men and their jackets, button-ups, slacks….things that never go out of style and always good-looking. She’s a genius for introducing women these classic designs….guess it comes with being a tomboy and learning from the guys, haha :) 

  6. says: Anonymous

    Love this post Kelly! I love how Coco’s actual sense of style inspired this outfit rather than just what the name Chanel is known for :) I really love the story behind the horse necklace too.  To me this is a perfect outfit as every piece as a purpose and a story!

  7. says: eveange66

    Oh really this whole outfit is really you, it is very becoming on you. I really like the cardigan although I would not wear it, too thin. But you really did a great job styling it.
    And I like your pictures of Coco Chanel.

    I send you my best wishes for this new year 2012 (it is 1 pm here in Paris now) and thank you very much for introducing me (through Already Pretty) to the Petite Comunity and all your great tips.

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