This week’s secret to dressing like a European is……Style.  No, not French style, Italian style, jet-set style, or even the latest style, but something far more important to creating your own fabulous “continental closet”,  and that is… Personal Style.

Knowing and expressing one’s personal style is an integral part of dressing well for a European. In contrast stateside, the concept of creating our own unique “personal look” can be quite daunting – as our culture generally doesn’t recognize it as the essential “key to the fashion closet” that it is. – And that is exactly why this is such a well-kept fashion secret!

We are always fascinated to see how one of Europe’s most watched women, Kate Middleton, looks her very best in a more casual look. Informal attire seems to resonate with her sporty, carefree style, and soft touches of a lace trimmed white t-shirt, a cozy fitted flannel jacket, or a muted cashmere sweater show off her feminine side.

In contrast,  formal attire and eccentric hats tend to make Kate the second thing you notice when looking at her (her hat and stiff dress being the first thing). In other words, although this gorgeous newlywed looks great in just about anything, she looks more comfortable in her own skin when wearing sporty, fun feminine casual clothes as they better express and mesh with her personality. Of course, as a new royal, this stylin’ European will have to follow protocol and won’t always have the freedom to go casual…
….and, to be fair, she doesn’t seem to be the only British royal having trouble wearing hats…

Wearing clothing that represents you and your personality and not simply what’s trendy at the moment can be the difference between an outfit that is blah or bewitching. For example, ever wonder why is it that you can put a frilly lace t-shirt on and look like the sad remains of Kate and William’s wedding cake, while your friend can try the same top and look like a million bucks?  Or why you always look great in a cocktail dress, while your sister looks her best in a rugged cable-knit sweater and jeans? Well, its all about knowing your personality and letting it shine thru in the clothing you wear. Now we’re not suggesting you walk down the street in full ball gown attire if you live for gala dinners, yachts and a caviar lifestyle. What we are advocating is following the following 3 simple steps to help you create your own unique look “a la mode”:

1-Start noticing what you are passionate about in your life. What makes you tic- what rocks your world. Is it trips to exotic far off places? An evening on the couch spent laughing at your favorite comic, or is it your love of numbers and your job as an accountant? Seriously. No answers are wrong here.

2-Know Thyself: Now find ways in which you can infuse hints of your above life interests and favorite hobbies into your clothing. For instance if you absolutely love uncomplicated clean Frank Lloyd Wright architecture its a sure bet that clothing with those same straight, clean uncluttered lines, like a Jil Sander suit, is going to resonate and look great on you. In contrast, if you are a Francophile who adores all that is French, you may find that a beautifully embroidered dress a la Francaise or an elegant fleur de lis pin on the lapel of your jacket is a resounding way to personalize your look. Be creative, but more importantly…..

3- Keep it understated: Remember, just because you’ve discovered that you love the tropics doesn’t mean you should run out and buy a Hawaiian top and bright matching sarong! Take small details that help represent who you are and pepper them into your outfit. Maybe a brightly colored tank top with sea shell inspired beading peaking out under your jacket is all you need. You don’t have to hit them with the latest greatest from all 7 islands. Just a hint is all that’s required to let this secret work for you.

Lastly, before you head out on your next trip to the mall, get clear on who exactly it is you are shopping for. Is it a take charge dynamo, a laid back lover of nature, or a fun loving free spirit? Only you can answer this question, and when you do you’ll start to see clothing as your European counterparts do- not just something to cover your body, but a wonderful way to give voice to what’s best about you – before you’ve ever said a word.

See you next week with style secret #6!

xoxo, Ruth

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