Rich fabrics, clean silhouettes and an astutely fearless mindset tend to dictate European male fashion. There's a reason the mere words "European fashion" conjure up images of such smart, no-fuss attire; the styles bestow on the wearer a simple, flattering elegance, and they have enjoyed prominence in the continent for decades. Today, European influence is evident on the runway and on streets all over the world.
The Common Elements
The unmistakable wool coat, the thickly wrapped woolen scarf, the slightly short trousers, the crisp shirt and the slimly cut coat are but a few examples of common pieces typically found in a European's well-edited closet. Of course, there's more to it than just the classics; there are also the fashion-forward, trend-driven elements that enjoy some time in the spotlight each season. One of the most discerning traits of European male fashion is its purposeful design, and a man in need of some Fashion 101 need only peek inside any Euro-inspired closet for a valuable lesson.
Defining European Male Fashion
Attempting to actually define Europe's male fashion traditions would be nearly impossible, but it's safe to say that clean silhouettes and attention to detail largely dictate the styles. The materials and embellishments are as crucial as the fit and structure, and every piece - from swimming trunks to sport coats - exemplifies a strong recognition of the male form.
In other words, a harmonious fit is a crucial element of European fashion. While baggy pants, loose-fitting khakis, oversize T-shirts and the like may be the norm in America, those clothes are relatively unseen in Europe. The preference for even the most basic items - button down shirts, trousers and jackets, for example - is streamlined and sleek, and most tend to show off the figure in some way.
- Shirts are obviously available in various styles and made with many different materials, but in general they are slimly cut, with darts in the back creating a closer proximity to the body. This tailored shape is often favored for its easy sophistication and ability to wear well with everything from jeans to classic trousers.
- Trousers may appear different on the runway from season to season, but the classic European style is typically characterized by a shorter length that ends right at the ankle. This allows the shoes to be visible while keeping the socks concealed. As with shirts, the cut is usually lean and quite streamlined, a style that equates well with the typical European figure.
- Coats pull together a man's outfit like nothing else. Traditional European outerwear is an iconic look that seems to serve as a reference point for European style in general, and rightfully so - nothing is quite as elegant as a fine coat with an impeccable cut. Thick wool styles are winter essentials, while trench coats are perfect for dressing up or down during the spring. Sport coats are staples, worn in neutral hues for any occasion - even the most casual.
Accessories are the finishing touch to any well-planned ensemble, but it's important to steer clear of building an outfit around the accessory in question. The tie or scarf you wear shouldn't dictate the rest of the outfit. On that note, scarves are staples in a typical European male's wardrobe, tied in - what else? - a European knot (which involves folding the scarf in half, pulling one end through the other end's loop and pulling it taut). This look is elegant worn with a smart coat or a knit top in particular.
If anything can be determined from a brief glance at European fashions for men, it's that simplicity reigns supreme. Effortless polish is achieved with ease, due mainly to the construction of the clothing, the materials used and the preference for classic colors. While the uncomplicated approach almost always renders a stylish outfit, this shouldn't be mistaken for being boring. European men will add a small personal touch to their ensembles, lending a sense of individuality to even the most simple, unassuming getup. A pop of color does the trick, as does an accessory of choice. Embracing a trend is one way to add variety to the mix; many designers, such as Giorgio Armani, take chances from season to season by reshaping classic pieces in an effort to shake things up a bit. This is just another way to make the most of the European sense of style - pair the timeless with the time-sensitive for a remarkably fashion-forward look.