04 August 2022

Remove one thing: Lessons from Chanel

Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel is to fashion what Albert Einstein is to science: a lot of stuff gets attributed to these people that they never said.

This quote is often attributed to Chanel:

Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.

Nobody seems to be able to point to an original source where she said this, which is the usual sign that the quote has somehow attached itself to a person because of their fame. 

“Too much stuff” is probably the most common problem plaguing posters and poster sessions. I am always trying to find ways to help people simplify their posters.

What I like about applying the advice attributed to Chanel is that it turns what can seem an overwhelming task – cutting down to the absolute bare bones, throwing out the cluuter – into a manageable task.

Take out one thing. Just one. That’s not so hard, is it? Surely you can find one thing on your poster you can do without.

I would write more about the application of the “Chanel rule,” but Alec Nevala-Lee beat me to it. He wrote:

What makes the Chanel rule so powerful is that when you glance in the mirror on your way out the door, what catches your eye first is likely to be the largest, flashiest, or most obvious component, which often adds the most by its subtraction. It’s the accessory that explains too much, or draws attention to itself, rather than complementing the whole(.)

The poster version might be:

Before you print your poster, look it over and remove one thing.

External links

The Coco Chanel rule

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