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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Elusive European 'Glow' Exposed

Having lived in London for the past four months studying abroad, I watched my purse (rather than my waist) grow slimmer as the British pound ate at my pathetic American dollar. As weekend trips to Paris and trips to the local Fish N’ Chips became more of a habit than an exciting adventure, I finally was able to focus on the culture (read: style) that surrounded me. I managed to uncover what American women have been questioning for the past century: Why do European women always look so great? After sipping coffee outside caf├ęs throughout Europe (an ideal location for people watching without looking too creepy), I realized that European women looked slimmer and younger because they knew how to dress. There it was, simple and yet so offensive. No matter how many British pounds I spent on that gaudy, large ring, or t-shirt that would look good on a small infant, I was still distinctly American. Perhaps it was my American accent, but I didn’t think so. European women were chic, hip, with it. Princess Diana wasn’t bred a style icon, it was in her blood. It was a great excuse for an American woman fretting over what to wear and I applied it to my general group of Americanized friends: if you don’t look good in it at first, give it up. It’s just not in our cards, ladies.
A fine excuse, however upon reflection and a ticket back home to the states I realized that women didn’t have to fall under this trap. We could be just as good- no- better, than the average sleek, Kate Moss-esque woman, and we needn’t go broke. It was all about how we present ourselves. Simple, right? However in this day and age with so much attention drawn to weight, what men think of us, hair, make up and clothes, we forget about the inner Princess Diana inside us all. A simple smile, a cup of coffee with a good friend, a trip to the gym for a short work-out, can make us look better than the style obsessed European woman. Not to say style is a bad thing, I am a huge fan of it (my Visa bill can attest), I’ve just seen it in excess.
One style secret Europe and America did have in common: Those little maternity style jumpers. Literally, they were legitimate maternity wear meant for the expecting mother (no matter what my friends said as they donned similar tops out to clubs). The TopShop, a hip H&M in London, didn’t even bother to snip off the Maternity Wear tag even though they advertised the shirts to 12 year olds. Meanwhile, an almost new mother was picking the same shirt up (size and all) at the local Pea in the Pod. This look is equally stylish for the slim and the pregnant, and not expensive! It could be quite some time before we see this partnership once more. By concentrating on ourselves, (and picking up a few non- extreme fashion tips) we not only bring out our inner Princess Diana glow, but we can look great and focus on enjoying that cake instead of how we look in our shirt.

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