Fact: Europeans have an amazing sense of style. It’s a globally recognized fact that the Italians, French and English know their style and have, arguably, the most fashionable sense of style of all cultures. In any form of design, whether fashion, cars, furniture or of course, art, there’s a certain flair that’s innate with Europeans, that has been honed and passed down over many centuries. This seems to particularly apply when considering the effortlessly chic French style, the bold and opulent Italian fashion, and the sleek and refined English glamour. It’s almost as if being well-dressed is a genetic trait and that the sense of style is a sixth sense. Of course, many other cultures have their own distinct aesthetic and influential fashions, but there’s a reason why London, Milan and Paris are considered to be the world’s fashion capitals.
If you’re not among the French, Italian or English, do not fret. We’ve got tips on how you can channel the European sense of style, regardless of genetics.
The World Famous Italian Style
Versace, Prada, Armani, Valentino, Gucci, Fendi and Etro – these are clearly just a few of the renowned Italian designers who have made Italian fashion so well-loved all over the world. Bold patterns, bright colors and dramatic designs are among the common threads that run through Italian fashion.
When channeling your inner Italian, you can’t be afraid to be bold and audacious when it comes to your fashion choices. Embrace loud colors, unusual patterns, striking prints and rich fabrics, then mix them all up.
Do as the Italians and choose a rich patterned suit, as seen on the runways, such as a matching paisley patterned suit and trousers. If you’d like to go for bold color, opt for an eye-catching yellow suit and trousers, or a rich velvet suit instead. If you’re brave enough, you can even choose an unexpected Mao style suit. Italians are also experts in mixing patterns – wear your paisley print with stripes or layer a patterned suit over a button down shirt with a geometric design.
Italian style, however, isn’t just all about making a loud fashion statement. Italians also know how to be subtle about their style. Wear an elegant pinstripe single breasted or double breasted suit and trousers with a patterned shirt and a necktie in the same color tone. Say arrivederci to plain old uninteresting clothes!
The French Style
Of course, the French are also renowned for their style. There’s a reason why the French are known for their haute couture. One could describe the French style as more of an understated elegance. A look that is seemingly so effortless yet with garments that have so much attention to detail and take hours to make.
Take inspiration from the best French luxury fashion houses and their modern style that often eschews tradition. Wear a slim suit and trousers then add a little twist to your outfit a la Dior. Create a chic yet relaxed look by wearing your suit with a button down shirt that’s untucked, forget wearing a necktie and put on stylish sneakers instead of formal shoes. There’s also no need to stick to basic black, navy or grey suits. For a more unique ensemble, wear a cream suit, a rich camel or if you’re feeling fashion forward, try a pale blue grey or a light pink suit.
To elevate your look as the French would, it’s all about the styling, the details, surprising design elements and the accessories. Instead of wearing a black suit with a white shirt, try a white or cream colored suit with a black shirt instead. You can also forget about the proper trouser length as proven by the designs of Saint Laurent. Wear your suit with trousers that are slightly shorter than you’d normally wear and slide your feet into loafers without socks.
In the words of Yves Saint Laurent, “Dressing is a way of life.” And the French sure prove that to be true.
The English / British Style
When we think of English fashion, we automatically think of refinement, of exceptional tailoring and of regal design. This probably conjures images from bygone eras of gentlemen in coat and tails in ballrooms or in country wear outdoors. There’s a reason why English fashion is so rich in history.
Considering London has Savile Row, a full street synonymous the world over for the finest menswear and tailoring, you know that English gentlemen are discerning in their style and take it quite seriously. When it comes to English fashion, an exceptional fitting suit is paramount. Think traditional ensembles, sharp three-piece suit, vest and trousers, and luxurious fabrics.
Given the sartorial origins of the Prince of Wales check and the neighboring Scottish tartan and plaid fabrics, choose a suit with a prominent pattern, like the Peaky Blinders - Arthur, Thomas Shelby and Michael Gray. Follow the lead of English gentlemen and don a patterned suit, matching trousers, a crisp button down shirt, a necktie in a coordinating color, and even a jumper or a vest, for a sophisticated look that’s suitable for both the city streets and a country estate.
Naturally, due to the infamous English weather, chic outerwear is a must have when following the English sense of style. Wear a chic overcoat for a polished look, a fashionable duffle coat or pea coat for a more urbane casual attire, or a classic trench coat for the perfect city ensemble.
English fashion isn’t all about seriousness and refinement. With the likes of Alexander McQueen, Paul Smith, Burberry and Stella McCartney, English fashion is also known for pushing the envelope and for designs that can be quite tongue in cheek. From Alexander McQueen’s modern interpretation of coat and tails, worn with sneakers, Burberry suits with multiple panels and fabrics and Stella McCartney trousers with ankle zippers, and her patterned suit worn with a graphic shirt and slippers, English fashion can also be quite avant-garde.
Whether you prefer the Italian, French or English fashion, the key to European style is the confidence you walk with when you know you’re dressed well.