They say one should never judge a book by its cover, yet we walk up and down streets critiquing and judging each other on appearance alone. We sit and snicker at the girl trying to pull off 4-inch heels on her walk to class. How unpractical are those? What about that guy with his pants tucked into his socks wearing high tops? No comment. We look toward magazines to tell us what is “in” and those who try to challenge those trends are deemed odd.
By the time fashion week rolls around, we eagerly turn on our televisions to see what radical styles are hitting the runways in New York, Milan and Paris. Each designer seems to come up with something more absurd than the next. I, for one, have watched these shows wondering how a designer could put a garbage bag on someone and actually think it looks good. But just as I began to criticize their judgement, I thought, “What is style without making a statement?”
In the ongoing competition of Europeans versus Americans, I must say that when it comes to style, they have us beat.
As Americans, we tend to be stuck on the uniform idea. We shop at stores in the mall, buying the clothes that adorn the mannequins. We wear black because it is classic. We pride ourselves on wearing cute, practical clothes. We only dress up when we have to because dressing up for something as casual as class seems silly.
According to Cathrine Skreiberg, an international student at Augustana, there is a big difference between European style and American wear.
“It is very easy to dress to fit in here. In my hometown, Oslo, Norway, you have to be updated on fashion to be cool. The more ahead of the fashion the better,” Skreiberg said.
In Europe, fashion is truly an art. The biggest difference between European and American style is that Europeans use fashion to express new ideas while Americans believe fashion is meant to be functional.
Eclectic, bright, playful and edgy best describe European looks, whereas words like commercial, simple, polished and easy are used in association with American fashion.
So, do Europeans really do style better?
Personally, I believe Americans have just as much style potential as Europeans—we are just lazy. We let commercial stores influence our choices to a point of no return. For me, I lack a creative outlet. Since I draw like a three-year-old, sing worse than a whale with a cold and can’t play an instrument to save my life, fashion is my only form of creativity.
I pride myself on trying new, inventive clothing combinations. The best compliment I ever got from a friend was this: “I go shopping and I see weird things and I find myself thinking the only person that could make that look good is you.”
So what is style without making a statement? I want you to think about that the next time you look into your closet. Try something new. You never know who could be checking you out.