Steam up Your Wardrobe

Steam up Your Wardrobe

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It’s a given when any representative of our nation visits the U.K. (with the obvious exception of Madonna, but hey — she married one) that this U.S. ambassador, be he or she an actual ambassador, there on business or sigh, yes a tourist, that person is looked upon as a fashion don’t. Unfortunately, England isn’t the only country hating on American fashion. There’s France. Or the entirety of Europe.

So why are Americans a fashion faux pas in any foreign land they happen to visit? It’s our cliché, down home, apple pie and ice cream persona. Think about it — where are the fashion capitals of the world located? In Europe (with the obvious exception of New York City). European fashion is known to be cutting edge, gritty and in your face, where even sitting in the local café requires runway-worthy clothing.

It’s time American women took a stand against apple pie and baseball games and made a play for a place in the fashion world. So where do we start? Let’s go with the most basic of European looks: the coffeehouse chic.

“What is coffeehouse chic?” you may ask. Imagine any foreign film you’ve ever seen: there’s a woman (alone or with one companion, debating the archetypes found in Dostoyevsky), smoking a cigarette, dressed all in black, wielding an espresso like a weapon and sporting the just-been-washed-two-days-ago coif. This may not sound like the most fashionable look, but to the eyes of an outsider, a woman exuding coffeehouse chic has an air of that indefinable je ne sais quoi setting her apart from her sisters. And that’s something we all can afford to emulate (excepting the cigarette, of course. But that’s much less taboo across the pond).


Stand Back, Johnny Cash

He may have been known as the man in black, but we know one thing for sure: that man took color coordination to new heights. But color coordination is not the goal of the coffeehouse chic. The opposite is true. Black is classic. It is always in, always mysterious, lending polish to any ensemble. However, I do not recommend following Johnny Cash or the European example to the tee. Instead, never be afraid to wear black. When in doubt, wear black. Outfit not stylish enough? Add some jet beads or ebony boots. Black equals automatic style upgrade.

Coffee, Please

We’ve covered most of the bases of coffee in this issue, but let me say, the caffeine-enriched brew is essential to a fashionable lifestyle. But not because of the drink itself. Think of it this way instead: people who frequent coffee shops are usually unique, outspoken, influential, educated or motivated. These are the people the truly chic woman wants to meet, speak to and discuss classic novelists with. Getting a cup of joe at the corner may result in a mind-blowing, life-changing three-week conversation. But there’s only one way to find out.

But Dirty Hair?

Yes. Even dirty hair. Not necessarily dirty…we’re talking more of a “two days gone” level of dirty hair, which isn’t bad. Americans are slightly obsessed with hygiene, so most women wash their hair every day. (Europeans are much more laid back about this.) But why two-day dirty? What’s the point? Wearing their hair in public this way is a nonverbal way of expressing confidence. “Yes, my hair is slightly dirty. I still look hot.” So says the Euro-woman. We should follow her example. Besides, it IS healthier to wait a day or two between washings. Too much washing strips your hair’s natural oils, leading to bad hair days we’d rather avoid.

C’est la Vie

You’ve guzzled some espresso, donned some black and said no to smoking. Time to incorporate that je ne sais quoi to your persona. Unfortunately, this is the hardest part. It all goes back to the dirty-hair-confidence concept. Maybe it’s because all the countries in Europe are old men compared to America’s relatively awkward teenager stage, but the fashionable inhabitants of those countries seem to be a reflection of their homeland’s ripe years. Or maybe it’s because they’ve accepted something about life in general: C’est la vie. That’s life. When we experience a setback, our Puritan roots kick in and we automatically assume we’re at fault for the occurrence, whether that’s true or not.

The European coffeehouse chicster, however, knows that life is life, and all she can do is sip her coffee, read her book and acknowledge the unpredictability of life, while knowing at the same time she can handle whatever life throws her way. Incorporating a little of that confidence and acceptance into your own life will affect everything about you, down to your closet. C’est la vie.