It would be easy to travel to a new place and observe the style of its citizens (well, in non-pandemic times, that is), but it takes being fully immersed in a new place for several months in order to see your own style change and be influenced by your surroundings. This is exactly what happened to me after half a year of 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 traveling 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. But 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.
Though you may have taken to heart that an all-black ensemble is foolproof, I happen to disagree. All the stylish European women I spotted on the street knew that combining various neutral tones, from beige to tan to khaki, creates a multidimensional look that's just as polished as all-black.
SKIP: items with an expiration date
WEAR: timeless staples like loafers, blazers, and straight-leg jeans
This was one of the most crucial style lessons I learned from abroad. I realized 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 straight-leg jeans that I now wear on repeat.
SKIP: sneakers with athleisure clothing
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 track pants on the street, although classic white sneakers were definitely a favorite. Europeans simply choose to style their sneakers with more elevated ensembles, and I quickly followed suit.
Instead of piling on bulky layers like puffer coats, I noticed how my European friends wore slimmer coat silhouettes that allowed them to remain polished despite the winter chill.
SKIP: heels higher than 3 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 favored lower heel styles like kitten heels and block heels whenever I wanted a little lift.