Signature Style: How to Dress European Chic

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How to Dress European Chic

We were enjoying lunch at the café outside our hotel, beside the promenade in San Sebastián, Spain, when the European chic styles strolling by caught my eye.  I grabbed my camera and snapped away with the beauty of this seaside scene as the backdrop. I want to thank this couple for walking by at this exact moment, looking as though they stepped out of a French film noir. I noted the flowing maxi dress embellished with lace. Simply chic, whether in Europe or anywhere this season, maxis and lace are on-trend.


Many of the women wore flowy pants and heels. Notice the pace is usually brisk!


Family life is a central part of the Spanish culture. We enjoyed seeing generations of families gather strolling by together. Love the color of this maxi skirt!

Another colorful strapless sundress with wedges. I also spotted the ruffled lace mini made more casual by a black t-shirt and flats to the right.


More color!


This family looks like they stepped out of an Italian summer catalog, entitled “La Dolce Vita”, with their brights, stripes and sneaker chic, strolling the promenade on a picture-perfect summer day.


The shoes are fierce!


More colorful skirts. This one is paired with a beautiful scarf. I’m guessing they are with the two guys behind them.


Simply chic with flowing black pants, an aqua blouse, pink nails and sunnies.


Some of the heels were sky-high! Such a great looking couple headed somewhere fun!


Elegant and chic, at every age.

european-chicBright color is big and I noticed that all generations in Europe seem to embrace color.  Be it pops of color in a bag, skirt or even as the crowning glory, color is everywhere. I did my part wearing lots of coral, bold prints and this colorful halter number by Trina Turk. The gold skirt, lower right, had me swooning. I loved the way this woman styled the chiffon maxi with a casual shirt and distressed denim jacket.


I also spotted many neutral and pastel hues, pistachio, lavender, rose and baby blue. Maxis and flowing pants are big in Europe right now, just as they are in the U.S. European men were rocking the pastel shades too. Note that second photo on the right. This man is wearing three pastel shades at once. I wonder why the woman with him is smiling (maybe he just told her a funny joke…or something?).


Essential Accessories

Panama hats were everywhere. As we know, they are the perfect go to for a bad hair day, especially when traveling. I wore mine almost daily on our 18-day vacation through Portugal and Spain. This woman looked casually elegant sitting in a café. Note the bright shade of lipstick and lace cut out details in her crop top blouse. There is a poise and confidence that seems essential to European chic.


Perhaps the second best accessory to your confidence and your Panama hat this season, to be truly European chic, is your pooch. It seems all shades of color are “in” for pooches this season.

I also spotted all heel heights, from stilettos to flats, on the women with their confident strides. Europeans wear chic shoes, no matter what the heel height. I think shoes are the perfect souvenir to bring home as a memory of travels, especially to Europe.  In 2003, I scored a pair of black stiletto mules, in Rome, with the pointiest toes. Comfortable-NO! Chic-Most definitely! I felt like a million bucks when I slipped those beauties on.

On an earlier trip to Italy, I fell in love with a pair of nude ankle wrap heels, with a zipper up the back, in Lucca. They remain one of my favorite pairs to this day and they always remind me of that trip.

Shopping in Spain

On this trip, I purchased an ivory lace jacket, floral print dress, and a watercolor print blouse. It seems I hit most of the euro chic trends in this one shopping excursion.


There is nothing more Euro chic than throwing on a colorful scarf to make an outfit pop.


Euro Chic Men

As for the men, I noticed European men have a range of styles–from ready to board a yacht in Saint-Tropez, to the pastels I pointed out above, to black on black, to sneaker chic with open cuffs as seen here.


…..on a daddy daughter date for ice cream.

Isn’t this just beyond darling (and the ice cream isn’t the only thing that looks delicious;)?

What is the secret to dressing European chic?

It seems to start with the attention to detail and then the self-forgetfulness of it all.  A healthy lifestyle, with regular trips to the spa, creates that glowing skin which needs minimal makeup. Dressing well, with a quality wardrobe of pieces that create a signature style, is essential. It is better to overdress well, than “underdress” poorly. Finally, having confidence and carrying yourself with poise is at the heart of dressing European chic.

–Heather’s observations from San Sebastián, Spain.

Stylemindchic Life Logo Heather LindstromFor more of my series of ‘Summer Travel to Portugal and Spain‘.

My collection of posts in Europe.

How about you? What do you think is the key to European chic?

For travel services Curated Travel 

Heather Lindstrom

European Chic Style

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Oh my! This is a great post Heather. And I am currently eyeing your scraves. They look gorgeous.

I had so much fun putting this post together. Thanks for stopping by! xx

As I have lived in the Spain for the last 13 years (and married to a Spaniard) I am also astounded, more-so by the way the men dress. They are not afraid of color. A man in Italy or Spain would not shy away from wearing a fushia pink polo shirt; and it always looks so classy the way they put it together. I must admit I have to really “up my game” when I am at home in Spain (as opposed to living in the UK). Also to have your hair blow-dried is very cheap, and I know a lot of my friends have a blow-dry 3-4 times per week. That in itself really makes a HUGE difference. Dressing up for their evening promenade stroll (every day) is very normal despite what kind of day they had at work. Lets also not forget when you can have a 2-3 hour lunch break/siesta every day, you can’t help but look refreshed and raring to go in the evening ;-)
Great post Heather x

Vanessa-that was just the ‘inside scoop’ I was hoping for from you. As a local in Spain you understand the whole vibe. I only wish I had realized about the inexpensive blog outs. I ended up not having the right plug adapter and so went ‘au naturale’ curl a good part of the trip (thank goodness for the Panama hat!). You are so right about the siesta being the salient factor in feeling rest and revived for an evening on the promenade, or as we learned in Sevilla, out dining, drinking and dancing until 3:30 am! :)
Love having your viewpoint in the mix!

That first SHOT says it ALL!!!!!!!!
I do hope some day the public over here will catch on!I don’t know about you but I’m so tired of the underwear showing and the tip top of the BUDDY~BUTT crack peeking out on Men and Women when they bend over.Love the MAXI………absolutely adore it!Beautiful that people are out walking their pooches…………..Summer in EUROPE is another world.Lucky YOU for getting a taste of it this year!

Oh I definitely agree Contessa-the maxi is here to stay in my book. Aren’t these a pretty collection of maxi styles on the promenade? You know what they say about crack?….’crack kills’. LOL! No more ‘low riders’ people! Wonderful observations my friend.

Great photos of great styles! I think the European style is all about exuding personal flair with confidence! I love the ladies walking their dogs in the highest of heels!
Donna – Faded Velvet

Aren’t those photos with the stilettos and pooches fun? Thank you Donna. I had so much fun putting this post together and reliving our travels in the summer.

I’m a big fan of the panama hat. Europeans make it look like it’s all so effortless but they do it so very well. Beautiful photos as always. Makes me want to plan my next trip!

For sure Jen. I think you would truly enjoy the whole vibe of Spain. We had been once before and returning this time was even more fantastic. Is your blog still on blogspot by the way? I tried to click on it and the link was gone. Maybe just temporary? Happy weekend!

I love this post, Heather! Your pictures remind me of “The Sartorialist”! Your scarves are gorgeous, as are you “picks” for Euro travel style! I am not doing a favorites post this week, but I am bookmarking this for next week. xoxo

Thank you Sandy! I had so much fun putting this post together. As you can tell it’s one of my favorites. I enjoyed the blending of travel, beauty and style captured in a real life kind of scene. I wish I could do this for a living :) LOL! I would be honored to be one of your ‘favorites’ Sandy. Muchas gracias! ;)

Heather…. great post and love the eye candy. You got some great shots! No question about it… Europeans have great style but they have nothing on you!

Oh Katie-you are so sweet! Thank you! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your travels this summer.

Hi Heather! Okay, I am WAY behind on your posts .. this i wonderful and I like your European style secrets. Style is fascinating to take note of when traveling. The focus on inner peace (sounds silly, but true), enjoying life (which also includes food and wine!), and pampering one’s self (the spa), and finding your own personal style is exactly what it takes to get “the look” :) Your summer sounds like it was amazing with all the travel. Hope things are going well as you settle back into your work schedule.

We are very involved in building our home and I can do little more than that .. so blogging is on hold. I will be back in a month or so when things settle down.

Take care, leslie

I definitely agree Leslie. The inner peace you mention is a great point. The other elements seem to build towards that goal and it shows. I spent my birthday morning at the beach side ‘La Pearla Spa’ to capture that vibe for myself. It was the best way to celebrate in my mind and I’ll have fun putting a post together on that experience. I’m thinking of your building project. I know there is so much to be done. I’ll look forward to seeing more when you start blogging again. Stop by anytime, I love to hear how things are progressing Leslie.

Love that you caught some real street style when you were there. The maxis are wonderful.

I think European chic always requires a little “undoneness”. They don’t like to look like they put too much effort into their outfit even though they did.


I think you hit that perfectly Suzanne. It’s a little undone (but with lots of careful planning and prep). I think the whole vibe is infused into the lifestyle of spa time, salon time, fashion details but then skip the primping and fussing. Confidence certainly looks good!

I can see that we both enjoy people-watching and you found the perfect spot here. The first photo of the couple is lovely and what a backdrop. I was just a child, about seven years of age, when we visited San Sebastian during a family touring holiday of France and Spain. I think it’s time to return! I’m also a fan of Spanish and Italian shoes for both their quality and style.

Miss B-you are so well traveled that I’m sure you would enjoy every aspect of San Sebastian. It probably hasn’t changed a tremendous amount since you were there before. I agree about the shoes. I’m only wishing I had taken more time to find a pair this last trip. Here’s to more people watching!

What a great post Heather! You are the new Scott Schumann who managed to capture real people unlike him who now stages most of his subjects!! I must say that the town you were in is a very chic town so you had a great demogrpahic. It is the area where a lot of old Spanish money goes to – unlike what most people think Marbella is where the Brits go and the chic Spaniards tend to stay away. I think the fact that people purposefully go for a walk makes a big difference in Europe. We don’t get into the car for everything so you bump into people a lot more where in most part of the States you need to plan to meet up otherwise you dont meet people on a highway right? You have a great eye and I think you should do a local Cali version and show us the differences in the people’s wardrobes maybe? xx

Naomi~Thank you for sharing this interesting perspective on Europe and this region. As you can tell I was just fascinated by the whole vibe in San Sebastian. Now I understand more about the demographic. Thanks for the compliment of being the new Scott Schumann (LOL!!). I just go in a groove and enjoyed capturing the shots!

HELLO HEATHER! I just got home from our first district meeting. All week it’s about meetings and Open Houses until 8:00PM – so the energy of school begins and then next Monday, it’s the first day of school. How I love your photos and your topic. I love to dress up for school and these days, minimal makeup to highlight who I am. Confidence is the best accessory as well, and OH THE FUN! The Europeans really do dress beautifully when they go out, and their dogs do make a statement!

I hope your back to school duties are running smoothly my friend. Welcome home! Anita

Welcome back to the new year Anita dear! I’ve been at it a couple of weeks now. I love hearing how you dress for school. Minimal makeup and confidence let’s the real you shine through. I saw that leap the other day (it’s on my pinterest board of blog crushes) fantastic! Yes, those dogs are Euro chic for sure. Good luck with the start up!!

Good Morning, Heather.
Many people have told me that I look and dress European. I guess it’s the Greek and Spanish side of me. I like clothes that flow, and you have shown some lovely ones on here. I LOVE that first picture of the couple, very European. Jess is a big fan of hats, and she would love this Panama hat. You look darling with all your colorful scarves. And I really like that last picture of dad and daughter. Thanks for a peek into the European fashion. I’ve always been into fashion, Heather, and this was so interesting to me. What a great post!


Hi Sheri! I love hearing this about your style. I don’t think I’ve seen nearly enough photos of your fashion on Red Rose Alley. How lucky to have Greek and Spanish genes-pure beauty. I’ve always enjoyed fashion. I bet you were voted best dressed in school, right? ;) xx

This was so fun Heather! I totally agree about over dressing being preferable. European chic at its best. I simply love how these ladies look. Especially the Fedora and maxi skirts. Details make all the difference don’t they? And of course the confidence. I simply loved this post. Now I really must get to Spain for holiday.

I thought you would enjoy this post my very stylish friend. You practically wrote the book on style so I always listen to you. Yes the fedoras and maxis are fab. It’s interesting to see how the trends are really universal right now. I would vote a hearty “yes!” for your travel to Spain. You will fall in love with the place just as we have!

I’ve been looking forward to this post!! Dad told me it was in the works. Love all the maxis and that lace dress is gorgeous and I love her leather bag too. So much fun people watching and getting style inspired in Europe. I am basing my fall wardrobe off of this ;)

I love that Briana!! Isn’t that top photo to die for? Was that you after all? I could see you in so many of these Euro chic styles-you have just the right vibe! xx

Love the maxi skirts! They look absolutely perfect don’t they? And, I’m loving your purchases too, especially the scarves. Looks like you had a fabulous vacation. xx’s

Those maxis are flowy and so photogenic Marsha. We did have a fabulous vacation. It was just the break from work that we needed. Thank you my friend! xx

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