What’s Wrong with American Style?
Lately I’ve noticed how much attention American women give the French and Italians for their fashion sense. We venerate European women for their style as if American women have no style at all. Yet America has some amazing design houses including Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Tory Burch, the late Kate Spade, Betsy Johnson and Tom Ford, to name a few.
One of the things that is interesting about American style is that each region has a different style. When you move across the country, you see considerable changes; climate, and topography. But it’s not just the weather that is different, each region has a unique history, and culture as well.
It just feels right to wear cowboy boots in the Southwest, sleek body conscious looks in LA, bright feminine florals in the South and darker more tailored looks in the East, and practical “all weather” gear in the Midwest.
Today I styled up an all American look wearing pieces from Brooks Brothers, my father’s all time favorite clothes. When I was young, he always encouraged me to shop there. I decided to pop in and see what I could put together, and came away with an amazing blouse I’ve been wearing on repeat, as well as a new denim jacket and navy trousers. Can’t get more “American” than that.
The question is, why do American women look to their sisters across the pond and assume they are more fashionable? And why do we want so badly to emulate their style? Here’s a clue: it’s not just about their fashion sense.
Our French and Italian sisters are encouraged to develop their own unique or signature style. While they may follow trends, their aim is always to make their look unique. They want to stand out by creatively and subtly adding or subtracting details to their outfits. They prefer to look for garments that no one else has, they love to mix old classics with modern pieces and they love consignment shops for this reason.
They pay more attention to what suits them individually, rather than wearing what everyone else wears. If they don’t look good in a certain color they won’t wear it even if it’s all the rage.
By contrast, American women often seek to blend with each other. We were just at restaurant where a group of moms came for morning coffee. All were wearing almost identical grey and black athletic gear. Each had her hair pulled into a pony tail. Aside from hair color, they looked alike.
Not so for French and Italian women; they make sure that if they happen to be wearing the same brand of blue jean or the same color coat, they have done something to make their own outfit different or stand out in some way often by adding a bright colored or unexpected accessory.
Probably the biggest difference is that European women exude confidence. I have a friend from France whose hair is screaming for a good conditioning treatment. Instead of smoothing it, she colors it red and plays it up its dry unruliness. She knows she can improve its texture, but likes the ruthless edgy vibe and doesn’t care one hoot what other people think or say about it. That’s what we see a lot of in France and Italy.
In America, we tend to look to others for to dictate style, we prefer to blend in rather than stand out and are far less content with our personal style as the result.
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