Trend Report: Bouclé Jackets

Few pieces are as iconic as the bouclé jacket. Made famous by Coco Chanel back in the 1930s, a slew of modern interpretations means they’re as relevant now as they ever were. Here’s everything you need to know about the origins of the trend, its evolution – and how to wear one now…
By Bibby Sowray

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Where It Started

Coco Chanel started using tweed in her designs in the 1930s – taking inspiration from the functional hunting and fishing jackets worn by her lover, the Duke of Westminster. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that she first used tweed bouclé, which is made using softer looped yarns. Her first bouclé jacket was revolutionary, releasing women from the confines of the restrictive, cinched-waist silhouette. With four pockets, Chanel-branded buttons, delicate braiding on the edges and a signature chain sewn into the silk lining, women marvelled at how it fell perfectly. 

The Evolution

Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel from 1983 until his death in 2019, once said: “There are things in fashion that never go out of style: jeans, a white shirt and a Chanel jacket.” As such, it’s impossible to say the bouclé jacket is enjoying a renaissance, because it’s never gone away. For decades, it was seen as a more formal piece – often worn as part of a matching skirt suit by high-profile women like Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana. But in recent decades it has taken on a more relaxed mood and is now worn with everything from denim to leather. Adopted by various designers to suit widening preferences for different silhouettes – whether it’s exaggerated shoulders, a fitted waist or cropped sleeves – the founding principles remain. Isabel Marant, Louis Vuitton, Balmain and Giambattista Valli are just a few of the designers who regularly feature one such jacket in their collections.

There are things in fashion that never go out of style: jeans, a white shirt and a Chanel jacket.
Karl Lagerfeld

The Inspiration

To this day, Chanel’s original jackets continue to be the main source of inspiration. From Candela Pelizza wearing hers as part of a contemporary skirt suit, to Blanca Miro dressing hers down with jeans and western boots, and Camille Charrière using her sequinned version as a statement evening piece, the styling possibilities are endless.

The Look

The beauty of the bouclé jacket is that it can be worn by anyone for any occasion – the key is to make sure it’s the focal point of the outfit. Use it to elevate a pair of jeans and a t-shirt for the office, or dress it down for the weekend with trainers. Likewise, it can add something extra to a simple cocktail dress, or soften a pair of leather trousers. You’ll find something at every price point – from Chanel at four figures to Mango and Zara, both of which produce faithful versions each season.


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