I Lived in Europe for 6 Months—I'll Never Make These Fashion Mistakes Again

Anna LaPlaca
·4-min read

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 after 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 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.

Shop structured bags:

Boyy Karl 19 Mini Buckled Leather Tote ($895)

Staud Mini Rey Crossbody Bag ($275)

Who What Wear Jeanie Faux Leather Crossbody Bag ($80)

Medea Short Calfskin Leather Bag ($494)

SKIP: wearing all black

WEAR: colorful accessories that pop against a neutral outfit

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 layering colorful accessories over their neutral outerwear creates a multidimensional look in the fall and winter.

Shop bright accessories:

Paris Texas 60mm Satin New Stiletto Mules ($224)

Acne Studios Fringed Checked Knitted Scarf ($290)

Lack of Color Wave Bucket Hat ($99)

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 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 black jeans that I now wear on repeat.

Shop timeless staples:

Anine Bing Madeleine Blazer ($349)

Sam Edelman Loraine Loafers ($130)

Madewell High Rise Skinny Jeans ($128)

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.

Shop polished pieces I'd wear with sneakers:

H&M Cotton Shirt ($25)

Topshop Tailored Smart Trousers ($75)

Reebok Club C 85 Classic Lace Up Sneakers ($70)

SKIP: winter coats that add too much volume

WEAR: sleek wool and leather options

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.

Shop sleek outerwear:

Mango Pockets Leather Jacket ($300)

H&M Wool-Blend Coat ($199)

Bb Dakota Faux Leather Long Partner Shirt ($119)

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.

Shop low and block heels:

By Far Tanya Sandals ($384)

& Other Stories Squared Toe Leather Sock Boots ($179)

Zara Block Heel Leather Sandals ($70)

Next, discover which 6 staples this stylish 58-year-old will never ditch.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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