Fashion is a form of self expression, allowing us to show the world who we really are. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll find someone pushing the boundaries of style and exuberantly shouting to the world: THIS IS ME!
From New York to Paris to Milan to London, the fashion capitals of the world set the trends that everyone else follows (remember Miranda Priestley’s infamous setdown of Andy’s blue sweater in The Devil Wears Prada)? Each city has its distinctive vibe and style. Explore these fashion cities and get a shot of fashion inspiration to guide your next trip.
London is a city of dichotomies. On one side, there’s punk, on the other, a more traditional vibe. The punk movement was a response to the conservative government and attitudes in the United Kingdom in the 1970s and ’80s. Thanks to Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s shop on King’s Road, Chelsea, teenagers in the ’70s were soon sporting colorful mohawks, studded chokers, moto jackets and Doc Martens. Punk isn’t dead but today’s rebellious style has evolved to a mix of punk with more luxe elements sans the over-the-top mohawks.
While punk is ingrained in the London fashion psyche, the city also has a reputation for made-to-measure fashion. More conservative Brits opt for head-to-toe Savile Row tailoring. Think English country gentleman (tweeds, neutral tones) and you get the picture. The edgy London look really makes it one of the coolest fashion cities.
Like their British counterparts, Milanese gush over impeccable tailoring. But while the Brits are more traditional when it comes to print and color, the Italians relish bright colors, bold prints and sumptuous fabrics. That means no denim and lots of silk, wool and leather.
This fashion capital get its name from the English word “milliner” and Milan boasts a reputation for textiles and tailoring that dates back more than 500 years. Locals curate their wardrobes, choosing fewer but more durable pieces that are handsewn or meticulously crafted, from stitch to seam. Head to the Quadrilatero d’Oro, arguably the most fashionable street in the world, for window and people watching.
Americans are more casual than their European counterparts. Comfort is key throughout the United States but in New York, the fashion capital of the country, it has to have an edge. Sky-high stilettos have long been a New York staple but since the pandemic, many Manhattanites are sporting tennis shoes or more comfortable footwear—think vintage cowboy and kitten-heeled boots, etc.
Denim was invented in America (thanks to a German immigrant named Levi Strauss) so it’s a mainstay of any fashionable New Yorker’s wardrobe. Pair it with a tucked-in oxford and a blazer, and you’re already fitting in. For more adventurous fashionistas, opt for colorful prints mixed with black staples. Walk the streets of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, and you’ll find a melting pot of style thanks to the mix of immigrants and Midwest transplants.
Ah, Paris. We’ve all tried to perfect that classic French girl style: minimal makeup, casual yet refined clothing, a nonchalantly wrapped scarf and a bold red lip.
Paris has been a capital of fashion since the times of Louis XIV, but thanks to designers Jacques Doucet, Madeleine Vionnet and the iconic Coco Chanel, Paris became the capital of fashion in the 20th century.
Parisians mix high-end pieces and basic staples: Think Breton striped shirts, denim and a more lavish wool blazer. Like Americans, Parisians opt for comfort first—hence the love of American jeans—but like the Milanese and Brits, they look for quality that will last. Labels and anything too matchy matchy are eschewed for minimalism. For the boldest and brightest fashion stars, head to Le Marais in the fourth arrondissement for some inspiration.