Are Europeans More Stylish Than Americans?

by Arash Mazinani on April 12, 2011

I was minding my own business browsing the internet on Sunday when I checked out Beautifully Invisible’s ‘links love with a twist. On there was an old post from Bangs And A Bun titled ‘Europeans Dress Better Than Americans: Fact‘. To be fair to her she has spent a lot of time in Canada and the US and has also lived in the UK for quite some time. The article has some valid points in it, in my opinion, however I thought I’d touch on the subject on my own blog mainly because I know that I tend to have quite an equal mix of readers from both the US and Europe and it would definitely be interesting to get your opinion on the subject.

 

I know my favourite designers tend to be European designers… Alber Elbaz, Lucas Ossendrijver, The late Alexander McQueen in terms of mens clothes. I also think that the most flattering look on a guy is the tailored look which flatters the body. I know from my brief visit to the US a lot of guys did tend to wear clothes that weren’t as tailored as you’d tend to see in Europe and I have seen it referenced even in terms as a ‘look’ in comments on thesatorialist “his style is very European”. However I don’t know if it’s fair for me personally to judge an entire country on the limited insight I have on it.

When it comes to women and fashion would you say that European women are more stylish than American women?

I’d love to know your thoughts as I think it’s quite an interesting question. What intrigued me most was that on the original article a lot of comments left were from American’s agreeing with the author. So I’d love to hear from all my readers from the US and also from Europe.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs Bossa April 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Ha, good question. I used to think so, and then I saw The Glamourai…!

There’s a few myths knocking about, I think – that Brit girls are more original and adventurous, that all French women are effortlessly chic, that New York Women are more high maintenance. I can’t wait to see what responses you get – if only to see how us Brits are perceived!

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Arash Mazinani April 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I’m definitely excited about the responses too!

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Joy April 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm

This is a tough topic! I’m an American married to a British man, and my husband most definitely has more knowledge of fashion than any American males I know — he also knows how to dress. He has his own sense of style and knows what looks good on him.

Are European women more stylish? Generally speaking, I’d say yes the Europeans win out. But of course that doesn’t mean EVERY European is more stylish… But I do prefer Eureopean styling more often than not. But of course America is a huge country and some parts are more style-conscious than others… There are some *seriously* stylish American women and I do like Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors and others…

I think as American culture evolves, fashion will too.

My head is starting to spin.

I can’t wait to see what others have to say.

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Arash Mazinani April 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Great reply joy I know what you mean about the stereotype that all french women are chic and if you’re italian you’re stylish by default and I know that is definitely not the case. I’m pretty sure you’ll find some horrific sites in all countries. Definitely interesting to hear about your observations on your husband though.

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Joy April 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Arash, I was thinking — in a style-off between Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni (pictured above) my vote is for the American. I think her style has a bit more flair and I also like the colors she chooses… :) I wonder which woman would win if we took a vote?

(Full disclosure: I voted for Michelle’s husband!)

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Anika April 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Joy, you are so funny!

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Ha Ha I have to vote for Carla Bruni. The only reason being from the pictures I have been of them both in the media I genuinely prefer the way Carla Bruni looks. I think Michelle Obama’s style is overrated.. she is well put together but I think Carla Bruni is a little bit more fashionable. But then again… you’ve probably seen more of Michelle Obama than I have, being in the US and all.

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Beautifully Invisible April 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I love that you decided to pose this question to your readers!

My response is a slightly modified version of a comment I left on my own blog regarding this topic:

First, let me say that I have never lived in Europe, so my perspective comes from traveling and my Serbian heritage. I have always felt that Europeans as a whole seem to have a more innate sense of style compared to North Americans. It seems to come more naturally to them, perhaps because, in my opinion, fashion is a larger part of their culture than it is here.

Think about the Fashion Week’s and publications and design houses that come from Europe. A large number of the world’s biggest designers ARE European, and their very existence impacts each of the countries they call home, regardless of how much the residents may or may not care about fashion. What impact does fashion have in a place like Cleveland, my home time? None, unless it is an individuals personal INTEREST or PASSION. What about the countless other cities in the U.S. (save for a few like NYC)? Same as Cleveland. If you visit a city like Paris or Milan you can’t escape it. It is a part of the everyday culture. Hence, it is reflected in the residents and their sense of style. That doesn’t mean that there are no fashionable Americans – quite the contrary, there ARE. But I think it is more innate in Europe.

In my travels, I have noticed a definite difference in style between continents – Europeans DO appear to care about their appearance more. They DO appear to try harder. They wear their sweats and workout clothing to workout in. They know the shoes you have on your feet can make or break the outfit. They put on lipstick or mascara or whatever makes them feel “done” when leaving the house. Do people do that in North America? Of course. But a startling amount DON’T.

I hate generalizing, because obviously this isn’t true of everyone. As fashion bloggers, WE all care about fashion, but your average person isn’t a fashion blogger.

That is my opinion on the subject.

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Arash Mazinani April 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Again great reply beautifully invisible. I did read your comment on your own blog on the links love with a twist post. It’s good to hear your perspective and I completely agree I in no way meant or hope anyone interprets the question as no North Americans have style because as you pointed out that’s completely untrue. I think it’s about the general public’s perception of style and like you said where it lies within European and North American culture.

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Fashnlvr April 12, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I am torn on this one but tend to agree that Europeans are more style conscious. I have never traveled to Europe but have met Europeans here in the States. They always dress well in clothes that fit well. Good shoes, men and women. I worked with an Egyptian man for many years and he was THE best dressed man in the whole building – hands down. I know Egypt isn’t Europe, but it isn’t typical American either. He and I actually used to talk about fashion and how it is perceived. Upon arriving in Egypt to visit, everyone knew he came from America by how he was dressed despite the fact that he IS from Egypt originally. Of course, by the time he left he had caught up on current fashion in Egypt and looked like them.
Where I live there is a depressing lack of style in the everyday person going to the mall or even out to a casual dinner. Even in the office where I work, you can bet almost every guy is wearing a golf shirt and khaki, black or navy slacks. The women are wearing a decent blouse or sweater and slacks, boring or “comfortable” shoes. I absolutely HATE the Crocs that seem to have become attached to everyone’s feet except my own. Personally, I dress to leave my house unless it is a 5 minute run to the grocers on a Saturday that is rainy and I am going no where else, but here in my small city I tend to be the exception and not the rule. I live in the more affluent end of my town but have lived in the less affluent end as well. The more affluent wear more expensive boring clothes than the less affluent, but boring anyway. Boring = tshirt/sweatshirt and jeans with running shoes. I’ve never seen photos of Europeans dressed this way. I have seen them in jeans but they always wear interesting stylish shoes.
Sorry for the mini-booksize comment – I had much to say!!

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm

I hate crocs too they’re vile! Interesting story about the guy you met from Egypt. You don’t need to apologise for the length of your comment it was a great read!

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Joy April 15, 2011 at 3:46 am

Me, three. I swore I would NEVER wear Crocs, nor buy them for my children. And then of course our children asked for a pair each! What’s a mother to do? But then I discovered Crocs are waterproof – great for kids in the summer, at the beach and so on. The shoes have at least one redeeming quality in my view. :)

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Hana April 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm

What an interesting topic and I love reading all the comments! Personally, some of my favorite designers are European (though I do love various designers from America, Japan, etc.) so even that can influence my idea as already I like what some may call an “European look”. On the flip side, I have met people from other countries who adore the “American casual style” so I think what one country may view as stylish is different. I truly believe culture can play an important aspect in what is viewed as stylish.

Take Japan, for example. Many of my American and European counterparts (and no offense is meant in this comment) would be considered less stylish or more casually dressed if they were in living in Tokyo. I have heard people from both countries claim to feel they are undressed in Japan, simply because most women are always in heels and dresses/skirts and a very polished look via makeup and hair is the norm (same with men, men in Japan tend to be very fashion conscious, regularly do their hair and even makeup is starting to be popular with the younger generation). I contribute this to the fact that they have never outright had a feminist movement so a very feminine/girly look is popular both with men (as in they like this look on women) and (as a result) women. I don`t really want to go into the details, but that is just a quick, easy example of how cultural can influence what is perceived as fashionable and can influence what is popular in fashion (which, of course, also will influence what some people wear).

So it stands to reason that as Europe has some of the major fashion houses centered in their cities along with a rich fashion history that more people are aware of fashion itself. I think, when you go into any big city whether it is in Europe, America or some other country you will find more fashionable and stylish people who care more for their appearance. If everyone around you is dressing well, then that can sometimes make you want to dress well. However, whether one place is more stylish than the other…I think that depends on what style you want to immolate. In my experience, Americans prefer a more casual, natural look and seem to think that if you “dress up” you are trying too hard (and this can be perceived in a negative light). Whereas, again in my experience, Europeans prefer a more tailored look with some nice details (paying more attention to fit, shoes, accessories, etc).

I guess, to answer your question, culture plays a large part in what is perceived as stylish and the history of a place and how entrenched it is in fashion can also effect how people dress. So depending on your perspective, both places (or just one place) can be stylish!

(Personally, though, I prefer both Japanese and European style unless I am at the beach…then it is casual American style all the way.)

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I think you’re certainly right about the culture and the upbringing of the individual as well. In fact it’s good point you mentioned Japan because I remember reading an article on another blog a while back where the author talked about what he learned from his visit to Japan. One of the main things was that he noticed that everyone is really particular about the attention to detail, they love layering their casual clothes and the result is that they always look really well put together.

Thanks for your comment :-)

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chouchou April 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

omg, that’s not an easy question! even though many fabulous fashion comes from the US, i think that the people in europe dress better. they have their own style, they put some of their own ideas into their unique look. but this is excludes of course NY, san francisco, and probably some other big cities in the US.

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for commenting Chouchou :-)

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Fashion Limbo April 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Well, I have to say that this is a bit of a sticky subject, and Bangs got a lot of negative comments from offended US readers. All I can say, is that while I do feel that Europeans tend to be more stylish, it’s hard to generalise, as Europe is a HUGE region and it includes a lot of fashion-faux-pas countries (not mentioning any for fear of getting beaten up, but let’s just say that I’ve travelled quite a bit through the continent and my eyes are still hurting by what I saw hehehehe.

Times are indeed changing, fashion brands are expanding enormously, and more and more european labels are catering for US markets. While it may be easy to qualify a country as stylish or not, it’s becoming harder to identify individuals by what they wear.

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Good point Jessie there are far more countries in Europe that are probably a bit :-s… I guess when you hold up the good countries to the big cities in the US that would be a better comparison.

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Kim April 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Actually, I think it doesn’t really matter where you’re from, it all depends. It’s not because you’re an American you automatically dress better or worse, they tend to say that European women have more class but I think that’s all a generalization. So no, I don’t think European or American women dress better, they all can look ultra fabulous if they have the style gene (which is something you just have in you, no matter where you’re from)

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Great points kim, thanks for your comment.

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Fabienne Jach April 13, 2011 at 6:16 am

Interesting topic and replies, Arash. As a Citizen of the World, (I don’t know how else to refer to myself!), my observation is the same as those opinions stated above. However, as a European born in the Middle East who became Americanized then traveled to Europe, the most striking thing to me was the innate formality permeating European culture, from language to dress.

Americans are more casual by nature, whether it be in approaching a stranger on the street, interacting with a sales clerk or having conversations with elders. Europeans are very formal. I think the casual nature of America is very much reflected in our style of dress.

Perhaps it could be said that delving even further into the history of the founding fathers of American would shed light on the rebellious nature that built this very young country, and that same rebelliousness has found different expressions, one of them being letting go of formality.

I’m sure there are plenty of social factors contributing to this. While I believe that there are very fashionable Americans and incredibly unfashionable Europeans, my observation is that often Europeans have a different, more formal relationship to style and fashion and therefore contribute differently to the overall impression.
xo, f
The House in the Clouds

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Joy April 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Well said, Fabienne! Interesting commentary on our culture/history.

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Anika April 13, 2011 at 6:48 pm

My thoughts exactely! Am loving the discussion here, Arash :)

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Glad you’re enjoying the discussion Anika :-)

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Fantastic reply! Really well put together and well explained.

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GRIT & GLAMOUR April 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I’ve been to Europe, and as a woman who is first-generation Greek American, I have to say that European women on the whole are more stylish than American women. That’s not to say the the U.S. doesn’t have style or amazing designers, but even as I girl I was very aware of how much more formal and pulled-together Greek women were versus their American coutnerparts. European women are less sloppy than American women. And we all know French women are reknowned for their effortless, classy style.

I remember years ago, being in Lillie Rubin (so wish it still existed), and falling in love with a full-length emerald silk gown. The saleswoman asked me what occasion it was for. I told her I didn’t even have one yet, but that I eventually would, and bought the dress. She remarked that she wished she had somewhere to wear a dress like that, to which I responded that I wish I had enough money to have a new frock for ALL my occasions! I ended up wearing it to a Greek wedding in NY and a wedding in Caracas, Venzuela.

Anyway, this is not a judgment, it is an observation. I do think American women are a little too relaxed in their appearance and social graces. They could learn a thing or two from the lovely ladies across the pond!

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Great story V again it seems to be a bit of theme running through the comments that it’s something to do with the culture in the US that influences those as opposed to European culture where fashion is more.. accepted in a sense.

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Madeleine April 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I don’t take many breaks these days from thesis writing. But I’m glad I did today. What a great question! I agree European style is amazing.
The problem with American dressing, generalization, is we have to dress for an occasion. So nice pumps are saved for a date night or a pretty dress is saved for a wedding. I think we need to learn to celebrate out clothes and style and just wear it and embrace it versus saving it in a closet.
Casual and comfort, those are the favorite term and very much over used. I want to get rid of casual fridays, it ruined style. People also confuse comfort for lazy. Lazy people are dressing in crocs and sweatpants. I’m sorry but jeans that look like sweatpants not OK! But it seems Lazy, casual comfort is our new motto.
Seriously, they can achieve comfort without going to the PJ extreme. Comfort is about fit and fabric, silhouettes. A beautiful white cotton dress can be incredibly comfortable and chic when styled with amazing accessories.
-Madeleine
P.S. So I am totally pointing fingers because as I have been writing my thesis I lounge in sweatpants & t-shirts. But I only leave the house to work out at the gym. But don’t worry when May 11 comes around my sweats will only make an appearance to the gym. Still- Shame on me.

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm

To be honest I fall victim of what you mentioned sometimes.. keeping certain items for special occasions when really I should just get it worn. I tend to do this with any designer pieces, generally the more I pay the more I want to preserve it ha ha.

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Jenna April 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm

It’s OK to think we’re less stylish on the whole, Arash! I would have to agree totally.

Europeans are undoubtedly more stylish than us Americans. It’s something in the whole aura. Plus, there are just so many US-dwellers who really don’t care about fashion or think runway trends are ridiculous or don’t know how to interpret. The ones who take time to develop a style are few and far between… that’s at least my opinion. Coming from an American. Awesome post…

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Arash Mazinani April 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Thanks for commenting Jenna!! Great to hear from you I hope you’re doing well!

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Jamillah April 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Oh I totally read that post on Link Love w/ a Twist and the discussion in the comments is sooooo crazytown interesting. I would agree with Kim and Yvonne on this. I really like both European and American sensibilities. I think there is something special about putting a lot more care into your style a la Europeans, but I also think it’s really beautiful to not feel like you have to do that a la Americans. I like that I don’t feel like I neeeed to wear makeup and that on the occasion when I put on lipstick it’s totally special for me. Stylish is such a subjective thing I think it would be hard to pin down. I think the history of fashion in Europe is extraordinary and the innovative fashion of Asia is inspiring and the relaxed feel of American style is comforting :)

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Arash Mazinani April 20, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Totally true about style being a subjective thing. I think I just wanted to see how my readers would compare to those that responded on bangsandabun’s website as a lot of people were agreeing with her.

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Sarah {Raving Fashionista} April 14, 2011 at 1:49 am

I’ve not yet been able to make a venture over-seas, but I know I’m personally more often drawn to the things I see in UK online shops, as opposed to what’s offered here in the US. I love Top Shop and Miss Selfridge, and I spend HOURS browsing ASOS, and still can’t help but pout that River Island won’t ship here (unless it’s something they offer on ASOS of course). I prefer to browse the UK e-bay shops over US ones for clothing, and am always thrilled to find they’ll offer US shipping.. I’m sure if/when I do make it to Europe I’ll find a hundred other shops that leave me drooling far more than these and I better have a good spending allowance saved up. I think it’s hard to make an overall judgement like this, but based on where I find my favorite style photos inspirations, I may just have to agree that Europeans take the win here.

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Arash Mazinani April 20, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Ha Ha I used to work for River Island, didn’t realise they didn’t ship to the US. Thanks for commenting Sarah :-)

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Madison April 15, 2011 at 8:23 am

It’s really nice to see the other blogger’s responses, glad that you continued the discussion… When I submitted this to B’s link love the post really resonated with me & I thought it was still a good question that “Bangsandabun” brought up, even though it was an older post!

Having lived and grown up all over including Europe/UK/USA myself — fashion (depending on location) can be very interesting.
I think that both cultures offer something differently that has been, and can be adopted by everyone across the globe. Though, I shop both American & European styles, most of my shopping has been from European places. I do believe that many Europeans in general seem to care more about their daily style, which to me is evident in many cases. But, it’s really infused in their way of life, apart of their culture.

In the US, it definitely differs from coast to coast, i.e. when I work in my NYC space it’s a bit more office dressy than when i’m in our California workspace, everyone there is much more relaxed & often wear more clothing that reflect the casual style.

Ladyofashion

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Arash Mazinani April 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Awesome insight Madison, I didn’t realise it was yourself that had submitted that post to love link. Really interesting as well to see how the two coasts compare in terms of style as well.

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prashant April 19, 2011 at 12:29 am

I am an indian who have travelled to US , lived in Finland , China and Sweden apart from India , and I hate to say (bcoz I love America, and am going to study there), that Americans are the worst dressers among all these countries, and to be very frank , they difference is huge. Maybe its due to the easygoing attitude, but does not make a good impression of America.

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Arash Mazinani April 20, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Thanks for commenting!

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prashant April 19, 2011 at 12:30 am

Yes, forgot to say , lots of women in t-shirt and jeans, I mean WTF!!!??

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Clarke April 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Europeans design the best clothes by far. Americans, and by that I mean the whole continent, have no style. That goes for cars, clothes, architecture, art, music etc. Even Hollywood steals everything from Europe.

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Arash Mazinani April 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Thanks for commenting Clarke

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Vern December 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Overgeneralized. It’s a 2-way street of influence. Music, for example – rock, hip-hop, R&B, house, techno, jazz all originated in the USA. Styles like rock then get bounced back and forth overseas with the mutual influences.

In dress, American casual style (or rather, non-style) is sadly influencing Europe, with the slovenly jeans/t-shirt/sneakers look spreading like an evil virus everywhere.

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Arash Mazinani December 31, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for commenting Vern.

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Joy April 19, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Tom Ford (who is the subject of a recent post here) is American. Is his style classic American, or has he borrowed too much from Europe?

But then doesn’t he live somewhere in Europe now? So I guess Mr. Ford doesn’t really count for the purposes of this discussion, particularly because he’s hardly “average!”

I’d have to agree that American cars are ugly. I drive a Volvo and would only drive American if forced (I know, I’m not a good American).

But I would never say that ALL American style is horrible — that’s just not true. Of course individuals have tastes and preferences, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who love American designers and all things Americana…

I know a bunch of people in the U.K. who LOVE Levis for example. I personally can’t stand the jeans – go figure. :)

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Arash Mazinani April 20, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Yeah Tom Ford is a Texan I think but he is rather special.. I wanted to get the feel of the general public … it was a bit of generalisation in terms of the post but it was still great to everyone’s opinions.

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Verychiclist April 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Arash,
This is an interesting topic…I thought about it, this is a general question, sometimes it depends by the place where you live…that is, many New Yorkers women have style to sell and much to teach to lot of Europeans…but outside big cities, people wear only casual clothes…they wear in a a comfy way…and that’s right, cause they don’t need to dress up…
Sure style came after in Usa than in Europe and in Usa there are not great traditions in hand made and tailored clothes, these were born in Europe, and also in Europe people are more educated in what’s the beauty since the past.
So if we have to give an answer in general I’d say Europeans are the most stylish, we could also debate France vs Italy…:-)

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