Ask Elle--Where Did I Get My Style?

Monthly, I share advice on ANYTHING that my readers would like to know. I receive questions via Twitter, email and comments. Let me help you!

This month’s question, or questions, comes from Anna-Beth who asks, “Dear Elle, How did you find your fashion-sense?”

Thanks for the question and thanks for thinking I have style! Style can be a daunting process at first, and for me personally, it wasn’t something I always had. While I was usually wearing whatever was trendy at the time, I didn’t really have a personal style. How did I get it? My style came via a man in 2005. Indulge me with a story for a few…

I was traveling Europe via Contiki Tours (which is very highly recommended). I was in Florence, Italy, around Christmastime. While sitting outside a cafĂ© (how European, right?) chatting with my bff, two dashing Italian men approached us. “Are you from Atlanta?” they asked. We were quite taken aback because (a) they were spot on and (b) we’d been mistaken as English several times (while flattering, a Southern drawl is not even as cool as an British accent). But to have someone nail it on where we were from was intriguing. It turns out that these men ran a leather goods shop nearby, often went to Atlanta to sell their coats/jackets, and would we like to take a look? As we walked arm-in-arm, they learned of my Italian heritage (Lake Como, Italy) and acted impressed (ha!) with my speaking Italian.

As soon as we stepped in the store, photos of celebrities, including many American ones, wearing the goods from this shop, surrounded us. Just as I was about to bid these men Ciao, the older man, took my arms and acted as if he was measuring them with an imaginary tape measure. He muttered something, left, and came back with a gorgeous leather jacket. I tried it on and it fit perfectly! He gave me a great deal on the jacket, and just as I was about to put the jacket in my bag, he began to fuss over my outfit. “Here,” he said, handing me a Burberry scarf from around his neck. He then showed me how to affix the scarf the “European way” and then told me how I should dress. I absorbed every word and that is one of my favorite memories of the trip. His name was Mario Romano, the owner/designer of the shop. Sidenote: Italian men are different, shall we say, and this can be off-putting. They are very flirty, touchy, and get in your personal space. As Americans, we aren't used to it and can sometimes find it offensive/creepy. Mario is a stereotypical Italian man, but I didn't find him creepy at all.

It was then that I began to stop and notice style. I scoured magazines for inspiration. I later became heavily influenced by what I saw others wear on the street, and more recently, by fellow bloggers!  As for myself, I tend to be into classic pieces that can be worn many different ways, but with a modern approach.  I cannot define your style for you—find what you like. Inspiration is everywhere. Wear what makes you feel good. Style is attainable no matter your budget. Promise! Next time I'll share exactly how to do this!

What is your personal style? Have you always been stylish? 

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  1. Wow!! What a story! I would love to have my own fashion fairy Godfather :) For me, I think my style is classic, modern. But I have so many clothes in my closet from my heavier days that do not reflect that. I thought the bigger the clothes, the smaller I would look...not! Now, I'm slowly in the process of revamping my closet to reflect what I want my style to portray.

  2. What is the european way to wear a scarf? Please tell me I'm doing it right??? Haha, great story!


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