By Renée Coppinger, Eurostyle Expert
“All a woman needs to be chic is a raincoat, two suits, a pair of trousers and a cashmere sweater.” Hubert de Givenchy
Even in the most stylish of American city’s, New York, a European woman will stand out in the crowd for her classy, polished and elegant appearance. What American woman hasn’t asked herself what style secrets hide behind these seemingly naturally beautiful, well-groomed, well dressed European women who always seem ready to take on the world? Is it just because these women have the best of the world´s fashion at their fingertips or does it go beyond?
My answer to this question arrived when I moved to Bologna, Italy to do my junior year of study abroad and quickly noticed how women of all ages looked so elegant, at every age. I felt like a fish out of water appearance wise, and my style certainly left a lot to be desired in comparison to the elegance that I was surrounded by in my new daily life. It was an Italian girlfriend that took me by the hand to show me as an “insider” how she managed to look so effortlessly chic all of the time. That year of study in Bologna was the beginning of my journey to understanding and adopting a European woman’s approach to personal style and image, so much so that I became utterly intrigued with Italian style and changed my course of study from Economics to Fashion!
During my 20 years of living, studying and working in Italy, being married to a prominent Italian businessman, regularly traveling to the European Fashion Capitals for business and now living in Spain, I have learned that the key to European women’s subtle, effortless elegance is all about having developed an “aesthetic mindset” in their approach to Style. A European woman’s sense of style stems from having been born and raised in countries rich in history and culture. These women live and breathe the beauty of the world’s most legendary art, architecture and music on a daily basis. Everyday they are naturally inspired to incorporate beauty, grace and elegance into her own appearance, as well as everything else that is a part of their everyday lives, such as eating fresh and well prepared food, enjoying fine wine, fine art, home décor and classical music. They love and need to be surrounded with beauty all of the time, and they themselves are players in the beautiful environment that they are continually inspired to create. This “aesthetic mindset” gives them that “je ne se quoi” style which, in turn emanates a feminine, alluring air of self confidence…. in the way they hold themselves, the way they wear a scarf, the way they carry a handbag , and the way they move gracefully through the world presenting their image to their best advantage. Fashionable European are real women with real lives, who have a created their own personal system to effortless chic, never trying to jump on someone else’s bandwagon of “cookie cutter” style.
Secret #1: European women make the “effort” to look effortlessly chic all of the time
- Looking good is part of their daily life,even when walking the dog!
- They have “city clothes” versus “beach clothes” and never mix the two.
- They leave sweat suits and work-out clothing where they belong, strictly for the gym.
- Looking good is a priority that they fit into their schedules and budgets, the same way they do food and other essentials.
- They never feel selfish or vain because they want to look good all of the time and approach life with the idea that looking good and taking care of your body shows respect for themselves and, ultimately, for others.
- Their beauty regimen is sacred and they go for massage, facials, cellulite treatments, manicures, pedicures and fake tans faithfully, so that they are always ready whenever an occasion arises
- They use make up to enhance their features and never look too made up.
- Their hair is always well groomed but styled in a natural way without using lots of product or trying to copy a runway look.
- They eat healthy diets and exercise regularly, even if only going for a daily walk.
Schedule time and money for taking care of yourself. You deserve to be beautiful and well groomed. Take the time to get or stay fit by doing some form of exercise routinely, something that you enjoy and comes naturally and is fun…take a walk in the park, go bike riding, take dance classes. Don’t get into a hairstyle rut. Find the best hairdresser that you can and don’t believe that only short hair is appropriate at a “certain age” A great hairstyle that suits your face erases years and pounds, no matter what your body type. Retouch your roots every 3-4 weeks. Schedule your hair appointments and beauty treatments routinely, right after your last appointments..Engage the services of a makeup artist to help you apply make up to enhance your features with a natural look for day and evening and update this look a bit every season. Never leave the house without tinted moisturizer, blush, concealer, mascara and a eyebrow touch-up.
Secret #2: European women feel comfortable in their own skin because they know their own bodies and what looks great on them.
- They know that it is not what you wear but how you wear it.
- They know the colors that suit them and what silhouettes enhance their figures.
- They will never buy anything unless it truly has the “wow” factor and makes them feel fantastic.
- They try to enhance their best qualities at any age.
- Femininity reigns with these ladies and they know that body skimming silhouettes are always the most flattering and alluring.
- They dress to be noticed but never showcase any one body attribute specifically.
- They always strive to achieve an overall harmony in silhouette, color palette, materials and accessories resulting in a look of “laid back sophistication.”
- They know what Fashion Brands suits them best and stick to these brands for their more expensive basics.
- They know the art of using neutrals and classic styles with a twist (a particular neckline, trim, sleeve or detail), as a canvas to showcase fantastic jewelry and accessories.
- They know that less is more but the “less” has to be about discerning style and quality.
You can and should be elegant at any age if you are feminine and know your personality and proportions.Focus on what you like fashion-wise and know your body well. Stand in front of the mirror in a leotard and notice your proportions. Embrace the body that you have now (not the one you want to have in the future). You don’t need to diet to look good, you just need to have the right silhouette and correct size. Play up your assets and always bring attention to your face. Bring out the color of your eyes with atop or scarf and use dark colors to give a slimmer illusion and proportion heavier areas.
Secret #3: European women always choose quality over quantity.
- They enjoy the finer things of life and know that they deserve them. They have smaller wardrobes and tend to buy a few designer pieces each season to update their basic wardrobe in the brands that best suit their personal style.
- They always have their key basic pieces updated and ready to go LBD (little black dress), blazer, white shirt, dark jeans, black trousers, trench coat, winter coat).
- They pay attention to the feel and texture of fabrics, look for any sewing imperfections in garments (puckered seams, uneven hems) and prefer natural, luxury fibers and yarns next to their skin such as cashmere, silk, linen, very fine cottons.
- They choose shoes, boots, hand bags, belts only in leather and they buy the best brands and quality that they can afford.
- They invest in quality clothing and accessories that are current classics and are not afraid to wear them often and for many, many years.
If you are making a 6 figure salary and look as if you shop at a thrift store you will lose credibility. Re-examine your wardrobe and budget and decide where you should be spending the most and if you are spending enough. Get used to buying quality items and fabrics… A touch of luxe makes all the difference. Don’t buy “nice pieces” to wear only for special occasions. Enjoy these pieces every day and incorporate high style into your everyday life.
Renée Coppinger, the EuroStyle expert, brings a polished European look to American women entrepreneurs that uplevels their personal style quotient and their business success. After 15 years in the Italian fashion industry, Renee started her own image consultancy and created EuroChic Style Solutions™, a polished, effortless chic fashion solution that brings Europe right to America. Renee can be contacted at www.stylemakersinternational.com