It would be easy to travel to a new place and observe the style habits of its citizens (in non-pandemic times, that is), but it takes being fully immersed in a new place for several months to see your own style change and be influenced by your surroundings. This is exactly what happened after I spent half a year living in Europe. As a college student, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad, and I'm about to share with you a few key European style lessons that my semester living in Italy taught me.
After travelling the length of Italy—from Milan to Sicily, peppered with a few jaunts to France, Germany and Switzerland—I observed exactly what makes European style so good. I took note of the way my Italian friends always carried their belongings around in a classic leather handbag and invested in similar staple pieces. After living abroad, I took the following six style lessons to heart and promised to never make my old fashion mistakes again.
SKIP: Flimsy Tote Bags
WEAR: Structured Handbags
At home, I was used to throwing all my daily belongings in a slouchy tote bag and running out the door. While in Italy, I quickly learned that opting for something more polished (but no less roomy) made a world of difference in how put-together I looked.
SKIP: All Black
WEAR: Colourful Accessories That Pop Against a Neutral Outfit
Though you may believe that an all-black ensemble is foolproof, I happen to disagree. All the stylish European women I spotted on the street knew that layering colourful accessories over their neutral outerwear creates a multidimensional look in autumn and winter.
SKIP: Items With an Expiration Date
WEAR: Timeless Staples Like Loafers, Blazers and Black Jeans
This was one of the most crucial style lessons I learned abroad. I realised exactly why European women are known for their good style, and it has to do with their reliance on timeless pieces. I took note of their clothing choices and wisely invested in pieces like blazers, loafers and black jeans that I now wear on repeat.
SKIP: Sneakers With Athleisure
WEAR: Sneakers With Tailored Pieces
On the whole, I observed that European women don't dress down as much as their American counterparts. I rarely (if ever) spotted leggings or joggers on the street. Classic white sneakers, however, were definitely a favourite. Europeans simply choose to style their sneakers with more elevated ensembles, and I quickly followed suit.
SKIP: Winter Coats That Add Too Much Volume
WEAR: Sleek Wool and Leather Options
SKIP: Heels Higher Than Three Inches
WEAR: Low- or Block-Heel Shoes
Unlike back home in the States, where I'm used to driving everywhere, I rarely stepped foot in a car while in Europe, so I learned right away that my shoe choices were of much consequence. I favoured lower heel styles like kitten heels and block heels whenever I wanted a little lift.