Euro Style and the Currency of Kindness

I intended to publish this post last week before the troubling events that unfolded in Paris on Friday evening. My husband and I returned Wednesday from an amazing, revitalizing trip through Amsterdam and Paris. Please enjoy my observations on European style with respect to the tragic events on November 13.

Amsterdam and Paris possess distinctly different personalities.  The vibe in Amsterdam is mellow, casual and unassuming. An epi-center of art, fashion and commerce, Paris is a proper city, mature and bustling with focused activity.  If Amsterdam is a student studying abroad, Paris is her chic aunt who works in international finance.

Boasting an average age of 42, Amsterdam is a young city with an even younger tourist population. The city's youthful energy could explain its fascination with 90’s American hip hop culture. Adidas Superstars are the go to shoe (in 1994 we called them “shell toes”); closely followed by Air Jordans.  Both girls and guys accessorized throwback kicks with slim jeans and thick gold rope chains. Girls weren’t as literal in channeling the Beastie Boys, opting to top their look with a leopard print coat or fitted moto jacket. Musically, Amsterdam lives for rhythmic 90s pop. D’Angelo crooned out of boutiques and drifted by on wafts of coffee shop smoke. The ever-present romance set was interrupted only by anything Rihanna.

The Parisian look is chic and sensible. Pinterest is saturated with boards that attempt to illustrate quintessential Parisian style. Most reduce it to a striped shirt, cropped black pants, ballerina flats and a neck scarf.  Parisian style is more nuanced than this. There is an ease about a Parisian woman in her clothes. Unlike American women, she doesn’t fight so furiously against nature; there is no painstaking effort to maintain a blowout, no glossy shellac manicures, minimal makeup. Clothing is sharp and considered, in shades of black and gray, and selected for the activity and environment. In November, this translated to slim pants, flat loafers, boots or American sneakers (with just a hint of ankle between the hem and the shoe), a weather appropriate top layer and an expertly draped wrap.

The capsule collection I curated for our five day Euro trip was perfect. Some highlights: Slim Madewell jeans in black and gray, BCBG layering basic tops, Stitch Fix cashmere open cardigan, two scarves, Nike Roshe Run sneakers and Loeffler Randall Matilde knee boots (recently dyed black), an Elizabeth & James blazer and Joie fatigue jacket. For handbags I carried a Gucci gold crossbody and a Jimmy Choo whimsical Yes! No! clutch (generously on loan from Pilar). My look was a hybrid of the sensibilities of both cities: Mellow meets chic. Everything layered perfectly, was comfortable and allowed me to concentrate on the moment, not my outfit.

Travel affords the ultimate lens to study human culture, fashion and behavior. I return with a renewed appreciation for personal style, which has nothing to do with actual clothes rather the energy of the person who wears them. More than any trend, what struck me was the realization that, regardless of culture or location, humans are inherently kind.

I refuse to allow what happened in Paris on Friday to shade our experience in that amazing city. The French are vibrant and welcoming people and their capital city is magical. I highly recommend visiting Paris with someone you love very soon.  Life marches on. We might as well channel the Europeans and approach it in chic, sensible shoes.