Last week we let the cat out of the figurative fashion bag and revealed the first secret to dressing like a European – TEXTURE.
This week we are going to show you one of the best ways to not only add texture to your outfit, but at the same time reveal the second great secret to dressing like a European…….ACCESSORIES. No, not just any accessories, but the right ones, which will leave your fellow fashionistas saying “Ooh la la – what does she know that I don’t?”
Clothing accessories cover everything from eyeglasses and belts, to shoes, scarves, and jewelry , which, of course, are worn universally. BUT, Europeans tend to use these extra adornments to their outfits in a completely different way than we do state-side.
Below are the 4 Major differences in how our continental cousins wear their accessories and how we can learn from them to give extra style to our own clothing choices:
1) WHEN CHOOSING AN ACCESSORY, BOTH PRACTICALITY AND STYLE ARE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION: For example, a belt is not seen only as a good way to keep your pants up, but also as the perfect opportunity to infuse polish and panache into any outfit. Here they often combine the TEXTURE style secret with their accessories to make an otherwise blah outfit stand out. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t have to be a huge shift to completely alter the look of your outfit – just a well placed belt and footwear is oftentimes all it takes. For instance, on Main Street, USA, we might wear a t-shirt and jeans with a basic flat leather belt and shoes (or sneakers!) But by switching out those previously uninspired adornments for a beautifully embossed snakeskin belt with a silver buckle and a pair of great Italian suede shoes, Main street now starts to looks like it intersects directly with the Avenue Matignon!
1) SCARVES AND EYEWEAR ARE KEY! Look around any major European city and the main accessory you will see on the stylish is a scarf. A close second is a great pair of glasses. This goes for men and women alike. Incorporating element one, scarves are definitely practical and can be found in a dizzying array of beautiful fabrics and colors. Most people in Europe walk or take public transportation instead of their car, so being able to add a warming layer is key . The scarf shape of choice is thin and oblong (squares are passe.) They are worn fashionably with one tail to the front of the body and one to the back (photo on left) or both tails to the front in a chic loop (photo on right). Once again this is the PERFECT place to add texture and style to what might otherwise have been a rather dull outfit.
As for glasses, tortoise shell and horn frames (texture again!) are the hottest look. Plastic well done fauxs are fine as well. Wire frames come in a very distant second. We have seen women in very basic black outfits who look like a million bucks simply because they added a great pair of glasses and a beautiful cashmere scarf to their ensemble.
2) STEER CLEAR OF TRENDS AND BRIGHT COLORS -” UNDERSTATED ELEGANCE” IS ALWAYS IN STYLE : Most of us think the bold new trends are started by stylish Europeans, but nothing could be further from the truth. Your average European fashionista wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Ugg boots, neon colors, or adhering blindly to a trend because someone said it was the “non plus ultra” of style (for this week). European women tend to choose timeless, elegant pieces in understated colors and rarely shop impulsively for trendy trinkets that will be here today and gone tomorrow. In Europe, unlike in America, shopping is not a national sport. Therefore, our sisters across the pond are not in a constant dash for the latest-greatest. Rather, they focus on buying quality accessories and clothing that reflect their unique personal style, shape and lifestyle. Which brings us to our next point…
3) THE FOCUS IS ON QUALITY AND NOT QUANTITY: Due to much smaller closet space, Europeans tend to have a lot less clothing than their North American friends. Their simply isn’t room, as most people live in apartments and not large homes, and a walk-in closet is a true luxury. In fact, in most countries, you have to pay for and bring your own closets when moving into a new place – which doesn’t leave a lot of money- or space for unworn garments! It is for this reason that quality is chosen over quantity, and many prefer to have a few great accessories than a mound of so-so stuff that won’t show their everyday duds off to maximum advantage.
How can we incorporate all this knowledge for ourselves? Easy. Remember to buy the best quality accessories you can afford. Buy them sparingly, avoiding trends (but look for texture!). And for the best “Look du Jour” add a great oblong scarf and stylin’ shades and you’ll be well on your way to accessory (and European) style success.