I like to think of myself as a “fashionista”. That is, I like everything that constitutes fashion- brands, designers, second hand, photography and following trends. Little did I know that the world of fashion was way more complex than I ever imagined. When I moved to Milan in August, I was overwhelmed by the diversity of trends and styles. I was introduced to a life that was completely foreign to me- and I loved it. Shoes were no longer defined by simply heals or boots. Now I had to classify them by their designer and exact style. Of course, the names Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada were not new to me, but the meaning and identity of these brand names was new knowledge. While I may not be a fashion expert, I am definitely a fashion admirer.

What I have learned is that fashion is defined entirely by the consumers and the demand for certain brands or styles. Trends come and go fast, so places especially like Milan are fast changing in the fashion market. I have also come to notice that accessories play a much bigger part in fashion and defining oneself as fashionable. A casual look is more fashionable now than ever for the younger generation. Over sized sweaters and shirts are becoming the norm, and when accompanied by scarves, hats, layers and jewelry, one can create an entirely new look. Shoes also play a major role in accessorizing, or for some people, the clothes are the accessory to the shoes. Especially when speaking about casual fashion, high boots (especially with buckles and zippers) and flats are an extremely popular trend. I have noticed that jewelry is more of an importance to the older generations who tend to have more money to spend on luxury jewelry.

Our generation tends to have a bigger appreciation for small, hipster jewelry such as rings, watches, etc. Major fashion retailers such as Zara, H&M, Bershka, Brandy Melville, Pull & Bear, and Mango are the top suppliers to younger fashionistas. It is known that these retailers take their ideas from luxury brands such as Gucci and Prada after they release their new trends at Fashion Shows, Fashion Weeks, etc. These stores are more popular among the general population because they offer what the high end designers do, but at more affordable prices. Hair is another example of how “hipster” the fashion scene is becoming. Many women have stopped curling their hair, and it is now seen as being beautiful if you have naturally wavy hair. Hair styling is not so much appreciated now.

Now, I realize what I am saying does not apply so much to “going-out” attire, but even today the norm is much less fancy than it used to be, and has become less focused on how much skin you show at the club, but what kind of statement your makeup and ensemble makes. No matter how technical I talk about fashion, the most important aspect that makes someone “fashionable” is originality and sense of style. It is not “cool” to match everything you wear anymore or follow the rules, so to speak. Now-a-days, you can throw together a random outfit and be one of the most fashionable people if others’ admire your style. I rarely see a model or editorial and say, “That is the cutest outfit ever”. I love seeing normal, everyday, girls (and guys!) on the streets who inspire me to create a style like they have done.

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a pair of shoes to make a statement. I saw a girl walking down the street wearing the cutest pair of Parisian flats I had ever seen. When I asked her where she got them, expecting her to say something like “Fendi”, she simply said, “Oh, the best little shoemaker down the street. Only 15 euros!”. Goes to show that fashion is not only more affordable than we think, it is easier to be stylish now than ever because our standards are not so fancy anymore. Just be yourself and you will be surprised by who you inspire! Oh, and ALWAYS wear nail polish! You would be surprised at much more put together it makes you look than without it.