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Global Street Fashion: Inspiration for Your Wardrobe

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Streets around the world are chock-a-block with fashion inspiration if you like experimenting with style and are bold enough to pull it off. Given its fluid nature, it’s not possible (or desirable) to define street fashion. Any attempt to do so will lead to generalizations and stereotyping. There are, however, certain characteristics to it which can be said to be universal in nature.

In general, an edgy creativity and a scant regard for rules define this style. The focus is on individual self-expression, the combinations are unabashed, and inspiration is drawn from multiple sources. Some of it looks jarring and garish, but a lot of it is practical and can impart a much needed dose of spunk to a jaded wardrobe.

With a firm eye on practicality, we bring to you the more sober street style ideas from around the world for you to incorporate into your wardrobe.

If you are largely conservative in your taste, you may want to start with one piece at a time. If you are open to experimentation, now is the time to unleash your inner stylist, fearlessly and confidently!

Let’s tour the hot fashion destinations, in no particular order, and we are sure you will find something to include in your daily fashion.

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NYC.

New York’s street fashion reflects the ingenuity of its inhabitants and their zest for life. The style is bold and unique, with an emphasis on pushing the boundaries of creativity. Is the person standing behind you laughing at your lemon yellow hair? Who cares!

The key to adapting this style is to rein in your enthusiasm or there’s a danger of overdoing it. Bright patterns and colors quickly tend to get all over the place. Contrast is a great concept but it has to be done in harmony for you not to end up looking plain weird (unless that’s your aim, which we doubt it is).

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Style ideas for you

1. Mix up colors and fabrics that you never have before. For instance, match yellow with green — a yellow dress with a green jacket, necklace, shoes, or clutch. Or a pink top with a green skirt. Put on a beige trench coat (wear it like a boyfriend jacket) to harmonize the color contrast.

2. Can you match studs with your running shoes? Do you even have studs in your wardrobe? Try them. If a jacket with studs seems too ostentatious, start with a studded clutch, bag, or boots.

3. Have fun with layers. How many of them do you wear on a daily basis (when it’s not hot)? Fingerless mittens are warm and chic. But you know what’s even better? A lace top with black lace hand gloves. Throw on a colorful poncho. Pull on horizontally striped leg warmers and calf-length boots. The eclectic NY fashionista now has a train to catch!

London.

London street fashion seems to be sharply divided among those who have a strong streak of individuality, those who prefer to play it safe, and those who ape celebrities from popular TV shows.

The style varies drastically depending on the part of town you are in. There are those with strong gothic and punk elements, such as Camden in north-west London, while central London tends to be business-like. East London is where the celebrity influence seems the strongest in the fashion of young girls and women.

For the purpose of this post, we are leaving out the celeb influences and focusing on the creative street fashion.

The emphasis is on fit and bright colors, with undertones of what could have been rebellion in a previous era.

The hair is a very important part of the street style in London. It is mostly straight and parted sideways with a good dose of inspiration taken from gothic colors and styles. You may dye it pink, yellow, or green, or you may leave it as it is. Bows and girly bobs are also much loved.

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Style ideas for you

1. Tapering pants and skinny jeans are evergreen, especially with ballerinas.

2. Vertically striped blazers can bring instant cheer to a dull day. (Stripes also happen to be a hot trend at the moment.)

3. Incorporate vivid and delectable hair accessories such as bows, brooches, and bands into your summer style. Pony tails with hair teased out at the crown are an excellent way to add instant chic to your style.

Paris.

The Parisian chic is all about mixing and matching the serious with the non-serious, the chic with the playful. It’s about being out there, but not too much, having just enough style but not taking it too seriously. One sees a rather calculated understatement in the daily sartorial expression of Parisian women.

Contrary to popular perceptions, Paris is not all about big labels and Chanel-like elegance. Women here are equally comfortable wearing scarves and trinklets they may have picked up in an eastern bazaar. It’s how they do it that’s striking.

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Style ideas for you

1. Think orthodox and then immediately think unorthodox. Like a frilly, girly lace jacket, paired with adidas sneakers, or an Escada jacket paired with floral leggings.

2. If you prefer to dress simple in a brown shirt and black trousers, put on a bright necklace or a yellow watch to amp up the wow factor. If your dress is not eye-catching, your shoes definitely should be.

3. As a rule, include at least one wow item in your outfit, something that makes you stand out. It’s about not getting lost in the mundane, but also not going overboard with chunky pieces or designer clothing.

Milan.

Milan, more so than perhaps any other place in the world, is about labels and high couture elegance. Luxurious fabrics and conservative colors are everywhere around you. Style is in the air. The motto seems to be whatever you do, do it with panache.

That’s the signature of this place, and that’s the takeaway for you, too.

Street fashion in this city is perhaps the least funky of them all (but hey, what do I know, I haven’t been to each and every city in the world!). It’s just so streamlined and classy.

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Style ideas for you

Milan leans toward the conservative side. Missing is the bold individuality and the devil-may-care attitude of NYC and London, instead you have a style that strives to be at par with the established elegance of big names in fashion.

1. Incorporate Armani blazers and Prada dresses into your wardrobe. You don’t need to own many; just a couple of good labels will significantly raise the style quotient of your wardrobe.

2. High heels seem to be a staple of women in this part of Europe. If you do not find them to be too much of a bother, buy an excellent pair of black or red stilettos and practice walking in them. They will lend a touch of elegance to almost any outfit.

3. Experiment with dresses that strike a formal note without sacrificing your individuality. The right amount of chic, and the right amount of sexy. An all-white ensemble will complement beautifully the high-brow Italian blacks in your wardrobe.

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Singapore

The Singaporean street style for women is about femininity and comfort. Practical and stylish, that’s how the women here like their fashion. Tight leather pants and sky high heels are lame, if not ridiculous, for them. They prefer a mix of formal and casual, a perfect reflection of the nature of the city (a finance hub) and its dominant climate (hot and humid). Shorts and pants are more common than other kinds of bottom clothing. Coral and pastel colors seem to be the most popular palette. You will love this style if girly comforts interest you.

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Style ideas for you

1. Include a pair of coral palazzo pants into your wardrobe, and team them with brown or red wedges. Keep the top light and preferably stick to a soft color.

2. Pay particular attention to your hair when you are wearing shorts (the ultimate in casual clothing). Keep it straight and perfectly styled, and wear it loose. Remember, a mix of formal and casual. A chic hairstyle balances a casual outfit.

3. Wear dream catcher earrings with your uber formal work clothing of dull shirts and dark trousers/skirts. The playful effect of the earrings will stop work monotony from building in the first place.

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Sydney

Colorful. Bright. Cheerful. Unconventional. Laidback. These are just a few ways in which one could describe Sydney’s local fashion scene. Much like Singapore, the focus is on comfort and convenience but with a distinct homegrown flavor.

Beachiness is in the air here. What do I mean by that? Shorts, strappy sandals, hats, sun glasses, loose tops. Get the point?

The ease of style almost makes us envious of the life there. Do these people really have to worry about anything (other than prancing around in high-comfort clothing)?

sydney-street-fashion

Style ideas for you

More the attitude than the accessories or clothing items.

1. Flowing, loose-fitted clothes that offer you ample space to move around while billowing gently in the evening breeze. Harem pants are an excellent purchase for summers, as they can be teamed with a vest for a casual day look, and a blazer for a semi-formal look.

2. An oversized white-and-blue striped top that almost eclipses your shorts. Team with brown biker boots. Don’t think you can pull it off? Cinch your waist with a red belt for a crisp nautical look.

3. Buy pretty gladiators in different colors and designs. Think girly shades like coral, pink, yellow, green, etc. Team them with matching tops, but different colored pants (long or short).

A note on hair.

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Why would I include a note on hair in a write-up on global street fashion?

Because I think hair is the most important (and often the most overlooked) aspect of individual style.

Hair, more than shoes or any other accessory, defines a look. Bad hair, or badly styled hair, can bring down the best of the outfits in no time. So make sure you do something nice with it, even if you are only going to tie it up in a bun.

Hair is often unreliable left on its own. Even the untamed, wild locks that we see in celeb pictures are a carefully created style. You will have to take into account all the eccentricities of your own hair and come up with flattering styles.

If your hair is naturally straight, a blow dry will accomplish everything you need for a sleek look.

For curly hair, work with your curls than against them.

For wavy hair, the most difficult to maintain, opt for beachy, wavy hair on hot and humid days as keeping them straight for long in frizzy, sweaty conditions is too much of a task and not really worth it in the end. Besides, wild waves have an unmatched sexy charm.

Practise with different hairstyles till you hit all the right notes for you and which you can turn to in crunch situations.

Whatever you do, make sure your hair is never an afterthought to your outfit.

Conclusion:

The lessons from the world of street fashion are simple, and profoundly so.

It doesn’t matter if you sport Prada or Chanel, H&M or Zara, or trinklets you got from a gypsy shop half way around the world.

The prerequisite to pulling anything off is confidence. Street fashion thrives on confidence and originality. Keep importing that into your life, and have fun!

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