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Study Abroad Style Diary: Inspiration is Everywhere

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Study abroad style diary - inspiration is everywhere

So now that I have officially been here in London for a full month (!), I feel like I finally have the fashion authority to make some judgments of my own. The number one thing that constantly surprises me is how fashion inspiration is literally everywhere! As much as I love the urban grit and glamour of my home NYU campus, coming here has opened my eyes to finding inspiration literally on every corner.

Here are some of the biggest inspirations I have found and how you can use them to transform your own wardrobe!

On the Streets

I was a bit nervous when packing to come to Europe, as everything I had heard made it sound like each and every day required runway-worthy looks. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while British students are definitely stylish, that does not mean they are constantly primped and perfectly put together.

Instead, many of the students I have seen abroad have mastered the “just-rolled-out-of-bed-looking-fabulous” style. There is something undeniably effortless about the way they embrace their natural hair texture (which, with the constant rain in London, you kind of have to do), seemingly just throw together an outfit that looks impeccable, put on a trench and some boots, and manage to capture the whole effortless, model-off-duty style.. Here are some examples that illustrate just what I mean:

London street style
Images from lookbook.nu

Of course, since I first noticed how prevalent this “effortless” look is, I have been trying to break it down to figure it out for myself (and for all you CF readers). One thing I have noticed is that mixing unexpected prints is a great way to create a more exciting look without having to buy any new pieces. I know the idea of mixing prints seems a bit scary, but it can easily be done in a subtle way to make a statement without being too over-the-top for a typical day in class.

London style inspired outfit

Product Information: Striped Shirt: Shop.hm.com, Shorts: Topshop.com, Tights: Missselfridge.com, Shoes: Bowsandbandits.com, Sunglasses: Asos.com, Benetint: Benefitcosmetics.com

In this outfit, I mixed a striped shirt with high-waisted shorts for a bit of the popular sailor/military-esque trend. To switch it up and make it stand out, I added these adorable tights with bows along the back and detailed lace up boots. I love that this look can’t necessarily be defined–it is girly but definitely has an edge to it with its strict tailoring.

Now all you need to do is muss up your hair a bit, use a subtle lip and cheek stain to give you that natural, fresh faced look, and voila–you’re instantly the best-dressed whether you’re strolling the streets of America, Europe, or anywhere else! Put on your favorite pair of sunglasses for a bit of extra intrigue and I promise you’ll be stopped by people thinking you’re a celebrity.

Fashion Magazines and Window Shopping

So while I recognize that fashion mags are pretty obvious sources of inspiration, there are marked differences between magazines in the US and UK. For one thing, many of the magazine covers here feature models rather than celebrities. Also, the focus seems to be more on actual designers and runway looks here in the UK than on celebrities or interest stories, which are typical of fashion mags in the US.

As for window shopping, it is an activity that I absolutely suggest adding to your travel itinerary. Some of my best memories from my trip to Paris a few weeks ago included drooling over the gorgeous mannequins in the store windows that dotted nearly every block. The way that the looks were presented and put together was undeniably incredible and there were points when my friend literally had to steer me away before I maxed out my credit card by purchasing the entire window display!

The trends themselves that I have seen in both the magazines and while window shopping also differ from what I had seen for S/S ’10 back home. Shape and silhouette are definitely the definitive trends for this season in Europe, as the most popular trends I saw included embellished shoulders, structured harem-style pants, and body-hugging bandage dresses with interesting cutouts. Below are some examples–let me know in the comments if you have similarly seen these trends all over where you live and if you would wear them!

London fashion

Product Information: Shoulder Pad Dress: Oasis-stores.com, Embellished Shirt: Johnlewis.com, Grey Harem Pants: Topshop.com, Red Cutout Dress: Shopastygal.com, Black Harem Trousers: Topshop.com, Black Cutout Dress: Shopnastygal.com

The Cities Themselves

Lately on CF, a lot of the writers have been showing you how to get style inspiration from music, TV shows, and other innovative sources, but I don’t think I’ve heard cities themselves mentioned! As I was walking through London and Paris, and I quickly found myself envisioning outfits based on the gorgeous architecture around me (yes, this was also possibly a side effect of massive amounts of window shopping).

Here’s an example of how I used the city around me to inspire a going-out look!

Inspiration: Big Ben

Big Ben

Big Ben inspired look

Product Information: Dress: Oasis-stores.com, Earrings: Monsoon.co.uk, Tights: Sockshop.co.uk, Blazer: Topshop.com, Cage Heels: Heels.com

What really stands out to me about the famed Big Ben is the contrast between the straightforward architectural, linear design mixed with the opulence of the gilding at the top.

For this look, I chose a Trompe L’Oeil dress that has the illusion of being extremely structured (but looks like it would be so comfortable to wear)! A stiff blazer, opaque black tights, and cage heels complete the base of this look, mimicking the structural look of the majority of Big Ben. Then at the very top of the look, I added in these adorable clock earrings with bows to add the glitz and fun of Big Ben’s gilded top! Complete your look with shimmery gold makeup to give London’s major tourist attraction a run for it’s money.

Travel Tips and Tricks

  • Plan Ahead–I cannot stress this enough! Book your trips as early as possible, and traveling through Europe will be a million times easier and cheaper. Also, as soon as you book a trip or find out the due dates of papers, add it on to a calendar. This will prevent you from double booking a weekend or planning a trip right before that giant midterm paper is due!
  • Beware of heels!– To wear heels or not to wear heels was a point of contention in many of my “Study Abroad” posts. Personally, I decided that I would bring along my trusty pair of chunky heels that are typically easier to walk in than stilettos and have seen me through some rocky NYC streets. However, my confidence in these heels was not deserved, as I took the fall of the century last Saturday night. If my swollen and bloody knees are anything to go by, heels are not your best bet in Europe. I suggest heeled boots if you want to go for extra height, as they are significantly easier to walk around in from my experience than just plain high heels.
  • Ask for student discounts–I mentioned the ISIC Student Abroad cards in my last post and I still highly suggest purchasing one before coming abroad. Besides the card, though, I have found that many stores offer student discounts that aren’t advertised. So when you go out shopping, always ask at the register if they have a student discount. You may be pleasantly surprised!

What do you think?

Where do you find outfit inspiration in your home or college towns? Do you have a favorite place to look for style inspiration? Have you seen similar trends where you live? What else would you like to see in this “Study Abroad” column? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on on February 11, 2010 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , ,

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24 Responses to “Study Abroad Style Diary: Inspiration is Everywhere”

  1. 1
    February 11th, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    thicker heels or wedges in nyc are a must–total lifesavers, I’m always thanking myself all night when I decide to wear them!

  2. 2
    February 11th, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Well, I heard it’s snowing in London this days so maybe wearing heels knowing the pavement is frozen isn’t the best idea. :P

    By the way, I’ve heard the best places to buy cheap but still cute clothes in the UK are New Look, Primark and Quiz. Have you been to any of their shops? What do you think?

  3. 3
    February 11th, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    OMG..LOVE THIS LOOKS!!!! so chic.

    xoxo
    Nicole

  4. 4
    February 11th, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    you do know that Big Ben isn’t the name of the clock tower right? it’s the bell inside.

  5. 5
    February 11th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    London really is an amazing place to draw inspiration!
    For a more chic inspiration the town centre is the place to look. Just standing on Oxford Street for 15 minutes will inspire you–both the fashion on the street and
    in the shop windows :)

    For a more eclectic style East London is your place.
    Almost everyone has their own style and it’s crazy wonderful.

    p.s. your blog has been an amazing inspiration for me and I’m glad you’re
    enjoying London :)

  6. 6
    February 11th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I love this post and segment of the blog. I think it might be interesting if you wrote about what its like to study at a British Uni vs. an American one. Have you noticed anything different about the teaching styles or whatnot. It would also be cool to read about your experiences traveling around, meeting new people, shopping in London, ect. :)

  7. 7
    February 11th, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    I completely agree with Jem. As much as I love the fashion and how it differs from fashion in north america, I would love to know more about the exchange, academics and your social experiences.

  8. 8
    February 11th, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks so much for putting this up–keep it up! I am moving to London in September for graduate school and have been pouring over the internet to drool over London fashion. I live in Wyoming and I often get discouraged when I wear stylish/creative/some-may-call-strange things here, and so I’m really looking forward to moving to a city where I can totally be myself! Can’t wait to see more!

  9. 9
    February 11th, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Props on designing an outfit based on a clock tower – I’m really impressed, not only by the idea but by the execution. You are one of my favorite fashionistas on CF (nothing against everyone else), chiefly because of your ability to articulate concepts like inspiration/imitation and themes (if that makes any sense.)

  10. 10
    February 12th, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Loved the big ben outfit, very imaginative (:
    I really enjoyed getting to hear a different perspective of London.
    can’t wait to see other articles about cities!

  11. 11
    February 12th, 2010 at 2:52 am

    your site is nice and excellent

  12. 12
    February 12th, 2010 at 2:53 am

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  13. 13
    February 12th, 2010 at 7:10 am

    That big ben outfit is genius.

  14. 14
    February 12th, 2010 at 8:15 am

    The Study abroad segment is by far my favourite on CF!

    Like two of the previous posters, I would absolutely love it if you wrote a piece comparing US and UK unis, study climate and mentality, campus atmosphere and so on, based on your experiences.

    Also, the idea of getting inspired by the buildings and venues of a city is absolutely brilliant, thank you! Doing an exchange in Sweden right now, I’m very inspired by the beautiful old buildings and the fairy-tale like atmosphere of my city in the evening. Now I’ll try to incorporate it into my outfits as well.

  15. 15
    February 12th, 2010 at 8:30 am

    I swear the first pic of that girl looks like the blogger “where she get that” is that her?

  16. 16
    February 12th, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I love your Study Abroad posts! I would love to see a post about study abroad on this side of the ocean, specifically Costa Rica. I’m slightly worried because I generally have a very buisnessy/classic/prep look that I’m afriad will stand out like a sore thumb. Do you have any advice?

  17. 17
    February 13th, 2010 at 7:06 am

    I thought this was really interested as a British girl moving to study in America next year. It’s really interesting to see what you Americans think of our style, and it also makes me realise what I take for granted about being British and what might change when I move to the USA.
    I don’t think people wear heels that often here in the day time, our streets are definitely not suitable for that!!
    I do think though that London is one of the most stylish cities in the world, but you will find fashion varies in the UK from city to city. I’m from Manchester and we have some great fashion up North. London isn’t the only city in the UK, you know!!
    I’d love to see more posts like this because it gives me an idea what my year abroad will be like, just backwards!!

    xxx

  18. 18
    February 13th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Your study abroad posts have helped me so much. I’m planning on going to London for two months in this summer as part of a summer study program and I’m already freaking out on what to wear. Any tips on packing? I’ve heard it rains a lot as well- what do you wear with rainboots?

  19. 19
    February 15th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Can you do a study abroad style diary on Greece? I’m studying abroad there this summer and I want to know how to dress appropriately!

  20. 20
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    This site is very well managed and I like your posts and comments. All this – not only the post about the fashion abroad – is very interesting for me to read because I’m not from US but from Europe. It’s good to know what’s going on on the other side of the ocean :) So well done and keep doing!

  21. 21
    February 21st, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Hey guys! Thanks for the feedback, I’m incorporating a lot of it into my next post!

    Nat: Very true about the snow–unfortunately I can’t blame my fall on the weather conditions, the night I wore heels was a beautiful, clear night! Oops = P

    As for the stores, I have been to New Look and really liked it. Primark I personally did not enjoy, perhaps I just went at a bad time as I have heard positive things about it in the past as well. The other store I haven’t been to yet, have to check that out!

    Amy: Yes, but I figured for identification purposes it would be easiest to label the entire clock tower as it, which is pretty commonly done for tourist purposes I think. Good catch though!

    Sha ‘ mia: I’m not sure! I found all the pictures on lookbook.nu

    Jaime, Lola, Sara: I recently did a series on study abroad sites, maybe those could help you guys! Otherwise I will try to do some research for you. Lola, it does rain a lot here but not hard usually so few people I have seen wear rainboots. Make sure your boots have a thick rubber bottom though so that they will stand up in rain!

    Once again, thanks for the feedback, I love hearing about all of your experiences studying abroad/in London as well!

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