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This week’s secret to dressing like a European is something you notice on both men and women as soon as you step off the plane in Paris, Zurich or Rome ……and that is….. THE FIT OF THEIR CLOTHING. You may have observed on a trip to Europe- or just on a tourist you’ve seen here in the States, that European clothing fits differently. So what is the difference between the fit of American and European clothing? Are the clothes made differently over there? Are all Europeans dishing out the big bucks on tailored designer garments? Or is this secret to style classified information that one must be geographically destined to understand?

It’s none of the above. In fact, this “fit” secret is quite simple once you know it, and it is….“EXTRA FABRIC = EXTRA GIRTH” – ALWAYS!

For those of you who follow the Fashion Code or have heard us speak, you know that our mantra…“extra fabric = extra girth” is not only a secret to dressing like a European, it is a secret to creating the perfect outfit as well. With good reason. It is virtually impossible to look svelte and chic if you’ve got extra fabric hanging from your body and your clothes aren’t properly fitted. The ONE exception to this Secret is people who are rail thin and tall (think six foot tall anorexic runway model). They actually need a little bulk in their fashion diet. However, less than 1% of the population has this skyscraper-like body architecture.

In fact, the average American woman is now 5′ 4″ and a size 14, so we’re going to assume that more of our readers are closer to this American”norm” than the model’s norm of 6 feet tall and a size 0.  Interestingly enough, most European women are not very tall themselves (barring some Northern countries like Sweden and Norway). The French and Italians are especially small, so they work with this rule of “extra fabric = extra girth” almost religiously. And we don’t know about you, but when a stylish French or Italian woman is reverently following a fashion rule- we ‘re going to add it to our own fashion bible!

To illustrate our point, we’ve taken the SAME OUTFIT on our model below and put it on a “fabric diet”.  As you can see, by simply getting rid of the extra bulk in her shirt, sweater and accessories, she looks atleast 15 pounds thinner and incredibly more stylish.

So what does “EXTRA FABRIC EQUALS EXTRA GIRTH ” mean exactly – and more importantly how can we emulate this important style secret stateside? It simply means your clothing should always fit your body; never being too big or too tight. Clothing should skim your body- no matter what your size or shape.  Also, avoid wearing thick, bulky fabrics like the oversized, cable-knit wool sweater pictured on the left.  As you can see, it makes her look frumpy as well as two sizes larger than the thin, well tailored cardigan on the right.

We know…we know…many of us get embarrassed when we’ve put on a few pounds. The obvious solution (we think) is to hide it with larger clothing like a bigger shirt or wide leg pants. Unfortunately this solution can backfire in a sizable (pun intended) way. You see, no one knows if it’s air underneath all that extra fabric or if it’s you – and unfortunately they just assume it’s you. What does this do to your look? Well, not only does all that extra fabric end up making you look sizes larger, but it makes you look miles less stylish as well. Well dressed European women seem to know this intuitively. In fact, you rarely see the well heeled in anything oversized or bulky. Even full-figured European gals wear clothing which fits well and they never try to hide their curves beneath mounds of fabric.

The secret “EXTRA FABRIC = EXTRA GIRTH “ applies not only to clothing, but to shoes and accessories as well. For example, you won’t see our stylin’ continental cousins in chunky white tennis shoes or Uggs. If they are wearing tennis shoes, they are most often streamlined to the foot (and worn in dark tones). They understand that a clunky white “block” at the end of their leg makes them look shorter and loses them points in the style department. We, of course, can do this on our end of the fashion pond by choosing sleek, uncluttered footwear in deeper tones which recede…Also, if its elegance and sophistication you’re going for, stay clear of Uggs. They will shorten and widen your legs quicker than you can say garden gnome.

Now lets come full circle with last week’s European Style Secret – “Less is more”.  Not only is less clutter in your closet a huge help in finding a stylish outfit every morning, but in addition – paring down all the extra, over-sized, bulky American clothing will leave you looking sizes smaller and much more stylish as well.   So make sure any new additions to your closet are a perfect fit and you’ll leave women of all nations wondering what’s your secret to looking so stylish.

until next week…..

xoxo,

Ruth

This week’s secret to “Dressing Like a European” is….drumroll please…… LESS IS MORE. What does that mean exactly in relation to your wardrobe? Well, if the phrase “a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear” rings any bells, read on…..

As we mentioned last week, due to much smaller closet space, Europeans tend to have a lot less clothing than their North American friends. In contrast, most of us stateside have turned shopping into an Olympic event where our “over-fed” closets fight the battle of the bulge every day, bursting with clothing we never wear. You know which pieces we’re talking about. The ones taking up not only physical space in your closet, but huge amounts of emotional space as well. Those “unchosen” items  practically speak to you as you decide what to wear each morning. “I’m your skinny jeans which you definitely WON’T be wearing after last nights binge!”, “You’ve spent a lot of money on me but you never wear me!”, “Why do I still have my tags on?”, “Someday I’ll fit so you can’t give me away”, and on and on.

By the time we find our daily uniform- which might not be the most stylin’ thing in our wardrobe, we’re just happy to close the door on the whole thing and get the heck out of fashion dodge- that is, until tomorrow when we’ll have to face the music once again. Of course tomorrow we will start our diet and everything will miraculously look like its “supposed” to. All those unruly pieces will straighten up and start acting like the perfect outfits you always intended them to be…..maybe. And we hear Arnold Schwarzenegger is being considered as a possible presidential candidate….

Of course, one would think that having more clothing in your closet would make life easier by giving you a lot more options, but paradoxically the opposite is true. Getting dressed can be completely overwhelming when you have  10 jackets, 25 tops, 15 pants,12 belts and 30 pairs of shoes to choose from. This is where those savvy girls from the old sod can teach us a thing or two. While we take great joy in collecting masses of stuff, well-dressed Europeans do not.

European gals tend to spend more money on quality, timeless pieces on a shopping trip and aren’t simply looking to fill up their carts with piles of average clothing that will be here today and gone tomorrow. They know that one great jacket is far better than four so-so blazers. Try the following exercise: add up what you’ve spent on every single item of clothing in your closet you don’t wear.  You will probably be amazed at the dollar amount.  Even if Costco or Target are your fashion boutiques of choice, most women will find that for the same money they spent on their unworn discount impulse buys, they could have gone to a high end department store and instead gotten one or two great pieces that would have taken them out of park and put them into fashion drive. Don’t get us wrong, every woman loves a fashion bargain -but the well heeled European woman makes sure it’s not just a great deal, but a valuable addition to her wardrobe as well.

This is exactly what our chic friends from the Old World do- they go straight to a good store selling quality products and pick ONE item they LOVE and use it in their wardrobe for years. Some might think this doesn’t sound like a very exciting way to shop (without the adrenaline high one gets in ripping thru racks and racks of sales) but they know that there is simply no substitute for the thrill they get from walking to their closet, easily picking out a great outfit and effortlessly looking like a million bucks.– And no matter which side of the pond you live on, isn’t that all that any of us wants when getting dressed each morning?

xoxo, Ruth

More and more, fashion is being designed for the thin, rich, tall and young. That’s great news for about 1% of the population. However what about the other 99% of us? The average American gal is now a size 14 and 5’4″ tall, and with the economy in the skids -no wonder it’s so hard to find a decent outfit at the store.

Consider this…Who is modeling all the latest styles- whether it’s a magazine model, a store mannequin or your favorite supermodel? It’s those who belong to the ultra thin and tall club. When’s the last time you saw an overweight or even regular weight model – not to mention one who’s under 6 feet tall! It seems that in order to emulate the fashion styles we see plastered across our favorite magazines there’s some pretty steep hurdles to clear first…

The first two genetic “must-haves” are found so rarely that you’d have a better chance of winning the lotto than being born with these attributes. Quite simply, you must be super tall and very thin. Anyone having problems keeping weight on or having vertigo at this dizzying height? Thought so.

Ok, so maybe most of us didn’t clear those first 2 obstacles to looking great in the latest fashions. Perhaps you’ll have better luck with this next one…

Do you happen to be an heiress with a trust fund, daughter to a mega mogul and under 20 years of age? Then winning the fashion lottery will be a breeze. Not that you would need to win the lottery -if you’re already a trust fund baby … But as they say, you can never be too rich or too thin- especially with the ever-increasing array of extremely difficult to wear fashion.

What? Not a regular cast member of the Tall And Rich,Thin club? (aka T.A.R.T.s). Crashed and burned on all those style hurdles? Feeling like the rest of us, who have fallen off the radar of most designers because you can’t wear anything under a size 2?

Not to worry. If you are neither tall nor thin, rich nor planning your high school graduation party, this blog is for you. Read on to see what the uber-amazon, ultra-slim, mega rich teenagers will all be wearing this season and what the rest of us should definitely be steering clear of…

#1- Wide Leg Pants. Guess the sugar high wore off and consumers got tired of looking like human lollipops in their skinny jeans. Now its all come full circle and we are moving on to the wide leg pant. The billowous new shape has been touted as making your legs actually look thinner. Thinner than what? – two mature tree stumps? Wide leg pants will ALWAYS make you legs look larger than life. Check out the difference in our models legs when she skipped this fattening trend and opted for a pair of great boot leg pants that fit her body instead.

Before and After The Fashion Code

#2- Black Leather (PLEATED!) Mini-Skirts : Cheerleader style no less. Since ANY pleated mini-skirt is difficult to wear for most gals say over the age of 12, this “trend” should require a permission slip. We are especially worried about the leather which will unforgivingly jut out over the thighs. Could work if, like our model, you’re a size 0 Barbie look-a-like. But if you’ve got an ounce of extra padding on your hips, you could unwittingly make your bottom half look like a lampshade at a fire sale.

#3 -Psychedelic Prints. Could definitely make a statement- depending on your line of work. Not sure it would go over well in a law firm but if you work for… say a head shop (which of course is the average couture house’s target buyer) you could earn points with your boss and customer’s alike by enhancing their drug induced buying experience.

#4 -Draping, Grecian Style :

For all aspiring Greek demi-goddesses use caution when using draping. Remember that draping is one of the most difficult things for a couture designer or tailor to master. So its a fair bet that a T-shirt factory in China will not do your figure or your wardrobe justice with their mass produced designs. Also, ALWAYS remember our Fashion Code mantra “Extra fabric= extra girth”. This is never more true than when swathing excess fabric across your figure. So use draping, if you must, but always with the restraint of a Venus de Milo.

And last, but DEFINITELY not least. Our favorite…

#5 – Thigh High Leg Warmers (worn with a short skirt)

Oy, we’re having junior high school flash backs. Not that we had the long legs needed to wear them then. We could just claim prepubescent fashion ignorance, cold legs, or grandma made me….

But unless you are too young to vote or drink (legally) and are thinner than May-Kate Olson, our advice is to leave the legwarmers back in the 80’s with Jane Fonda where they belong. Your friends, family and even complete strangers with no fashion knowledge will thank you.

So, before wasting any more time and money on trends that only look good on paper, remember to ask yourself this essential question… “Do I share the same body proportions as the model, mannequin or movie star I’m trying to emulate?” If not, there’s more than a fair chance that the style they have on won’t look the same on you. Learning what looks good on your unique figure is the secret to riding out the fashion industry’s storm of marketing madness, and knowing when to give them the boot (especially if it’s an ugly, expensive, trendy one).

Before the Fashion Code

Itʼs really no wonder that most of our closets are stuffed with a whole lot of “nothing to wear” when we realize that weʼve been basing our fashion purchases on what models are wearing in the magazines, store catalogs, and on TV. Consider this – the average American woman is a size 14 and only 5ʼ4”, and the average model is a size O and 6 feet tall!!

Thatʼs right, the average model is 7 sizes smaller and 8 inches taller than the average American gal….Yet we see things on a model and think it will look the same on us…but it just isnʼt so.

That doesn’t mean tall skinny girls get to have all the fashion fun.   The Fashion Code has cracked the code to looking sleek and chic for any woman – regardless of her size, shape or age.  Itʼs all about knowing how to play up your assets and camouflaging the rest using fashionʼs best kept secret.

What makes us different than every other fashion blog out there is that weʼre the first to use an actual “science” for beauty thatʼs been around since fig leaves were in fashion. In fact, itʼs been used by everyone from Da Vinci to Valentino and for good reason – Thereʼs an actual science behind what our minds recognize as “beautiful” – who knew?

If you’re starting to have flashbacks to your high school science class, don’t worry. This is not a blog about relativity. Itʼs all about making your butt look smaller – and thatʼs a class I definitely donʼt want to skip.

To show you how all this works check out the following photos…

Before and After The Fashion Code

Notice how just a few simple changes in our modelʼs accessories and the length of her cardigan make her look like sheʼs spent a month with her own private coach from “The Born Loser”? She also looks just as stylish as the model wearing the exact same outfit as her (in the photo at the beginning of this blog).  See, didnʼt we tell you there was light at the end of the tunnel? (and not that horrible fluorescent fitting room light either).

Sheʼs dropped 15 pounds and 15 years off her look by simply knowing the secret to dressing for her body and not a modelʼs in a magazine. Itʼs amazing how something as simple as an Ug-ly boot can really turn your legs into tree stumps or a family sized purse can make your thighs look like theyʼve doubled in size.

Everyday, millions of American women  fall prey to these unflattering trends when they head to the mall. They figure if its the latest, it must be the greatest. Hundreds or thousands of dollars later they still have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear!  So, we think itʼs high time to share some style tools and rules that allow us to look great regardless of what we ate last night or which gene pool we were born into.

We aren’t anti-fashion. In fact, weʼre the biggest fashionistas youʼll meet and we wonʼt hesitate to wrestle you to the floor for those sample sale Jimmy Choos to prove it. But as fashion stylists weʼve found that the biggest style killer is not dressing in your bodyʼs own unique proportions – so knowing which trends and styles to avoid is key to looking like the style maven we know you are.

Think of us as your own personal stylists who are here to help you start shopping smart and learn the simple science of style. Donʼt worry. No pen-pack required. Weʼve figured it all out so you donʼt have to. Which will leave you more time to ponder the more liberating “problem” of deciding which great outfit to choose from in your closet full of everything you love to wear.

We look forward to adding you to our exceptional group of “friends and fashionistas” at The Fashion Code blog – where youʼll discover whatʼs real in the world of fashion and how to make it all work for you.

xo, Ruth