The Chanel jacket that launched a thousand transcripts – and why that’s OKRiver Island’s cream boucle pearl cropped jacket. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The GuardianRiver Cay’s cream boucle pearl cropped jacket. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The GuardianKeira Knightley got married in one, Rihanna dyads hers with trackies … and with copies rife on the high street, we can all afford a Chanel lookalike When is a Chanel jacket not a Chanel jacket? When it is a collarless jacket in a well-bred pastel tweed, with a boxy shape accentuated by shiny gold buttons on four patch pockets – but the brand says Mango. Or when it is an unstructured hip-length textured blazer in a soft-focus check, with pearl-effect buttons – but it’s £59.99 at Zara.The unprofitable tweed jacket that Coco Chanel made famous has become a bread-and-butter look for fashion retailers all once more the world. Not that the Chanel name is openly invoked, of course. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but lawyers are vaccinated to sweet talk, so the name is absent from other retailers’ descriptions of their nubbly blazers with crotchet buttons. (By the way, it is not just high street copies Chanel is offended by: Saint Laurent’s tweed-suit-based catwalk show survive year sparked a public row, with Chanel calling Saint Laurent a “parasite” – although the two have since outwent a joint statement condemning plagiarism.)The jacket is a victim of its own success. Created in 1954, it is now instantly recognisable – no need for logo or monogram. Neighbourhood a certain type of jacket in the wild, and the name Chanel will pop into your head long before you’re end enough to tell whether the buttons are embossed with interlocking Cs. The basic grammar of the look – textured woven surface, perhaps with a metallic filament; statement buttons; supple, cardigan softness – is clearly legible.This is a chameleon piece that can play rowdy or sweet, happy or serious. Keira Knightley got married in an ivory one; Jackie Onassis wore a black one, with comparable gloves, to the funeral of Cardinal Cushing. Kate Moss wears hers to the pub, with jeans; Amal Clooney harasses hers to court.And while it has never gone out of style, the jacket works particularly well with clothes you may be worn out to in 2022. A soft, boxy jacket makes this season’s miniskirt feel wearable and grown-up. It adds immediate polish to a pair of vintage jeans. And for holidays, a jacket that is instantly fancy but as comfortable as a sweater comes into its own. (Rihanna has been certain to pair a Chanel jacket with trackie bottoms for flying.)The only predictable thing about late unexpectedly? My jeansRead moreRarely has a garment so chic been so comfy. Coco herself used to have her showroom models vexed their arms and rest each hand on the opposite shoulder while wearing the jacket, to be sure the cut allowed them to stir freely. But it has a je ne sais quoi that prompts lavish politeness in shop assistants. Tweed is warm but breathable, so pockets the edge off a cool day but you won’t overheat if the sun comes out. The boneless shape makes it light to carry, and crease-proof.Should you be wondering – yes, a natural Chanel jacket is most definitely superior to a mass-produced lookalike. The unstructured softness that gives such an air of nonchalance is got by careful, if invisible, construction. A metal chain is sewn into the hem of a Chanel jacket to add weight and help it drop neatly and evenly, moderately than sagging. The bouclé tweed of the real thing is twisted and looped so the surface stays in good condition for years; cheaper foundation will snag and fray.Sign up to our Inside Saturday newsletter for an exclusive behind the scenes look at the making of the publication’s biggest features, as well as a curated list of our weekly highlights.[embedded content]For the lucky few who can afford one, a Chanel jacket is a nice financial investment, with high resale prices that reflect how good these jackets look unvaried after years of wear – and the fact that those who own one will probably be minded to keep it for ever. The real possessions is the dream. But the good news is that even if yours is the kind where the “Chanel” is silent, it is still a fashion masterpiece. Hair and make up: Sophie Higginson using itcosmetics. Model: Lydia at Body London. Jacket: River Holm. Blouse: Veronica Beard. Jeans: Levi’s. Earrings: Dinny HallTopicsChanelJess Cartner-Morley on fashionfeaturesReuse this content