Just like American women who are feeling the credit crunch, British and European women have been forced to curb their spending habits. Yet, the difference is, British and European women will go to great lengths to avoid looking like they are on a spending diet. For them, it is still possible to have a stylish, ultra chic wardrobe during a recession – it just takes patience and a bit of smart shopping, knowing where to go to find the best fashion on a scant budget.
Europe is known for high-end fashion designers as Prada and Gucci, but the EU has also given the world, including the US, many mid-range fashions that are affordable for women with a more humble budget. So, even if you’re not a savvy British recessionista, you can still find affordable and chic European clothes in the United States.
Whether you’re going for a more street style look or just want to add a few pieces to your already Euro chic wardrobe, check out my top picks for budget-friendly Euro fashion right here in the US.
Bistro Chic Top 5 Picks for European Styles in the United States
- Topshop – This wildly popular British chain is full of casual women’s clothes in the latest styles, from street style to funky and fresh, by top designers, including model Kate Moss. Although known all over Britain and Europe, Topshop is just now making it’s way to the US with the first store opening in New York city in Fall 2008. If you’re not headed to New York anytime soon, check out Topshop US online.
- MNG by Mango – This Spanish clothing chain is based in Barcelona but has stores all over the world, including many major US cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, and, of course, New York. This mid-range store offers fun and flirty styles in the latest Spanish and European fashions. The store even offers an exclusive clothing line by Spanish actress Penelope Cruz.
- Zara – Along with Mango, Zara is one of the most popular women’s stores in Spain and in Europe. And, thanks to the chain’s worldwide popularity, Zara can now be found in major US cities like Chicago, New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and Orlando. Like Mango, Zara offers great casual and professional staples, like soft sweaters, slouchy pants, and designer t-shirts, all with a Euro-Spanish twist.
- H&M – The Swedes sure know how to do retail in a BIG way. In the 1980’s, Sweden brought us Ikea -the ginormous big box store full of trendy home goods. And, nearly a decade ago, Swedish fashion giant H&M took the US by storm, opening its first store in New York in 2000. Now with stores across the US, H&M has become a standard in young women’s fashions. H&M offers many (and I mean MANY -the stores are generally much larger than typical boutique stores) of Europe’s fashion trends, but with a mix of American favorites like jeans, trousers, and oxford shirts.
- Anthropologie – Without question, this is one of my favorite stores to browse and to shop. Although this chain is actually based in the US (run by Urban Outfitters, Inc) the store sells high-end casual women’s fashions reflective of the British and European styles of today. The clothes have been described as having a romantic whimsy about them, but with a British and bohemian flair. Although more expensive than clothes you’d find in the other stores I’ve mentioned, Anthropologie’s very unique and feminine styles (especially in the lingerie section) are truly inspiring, as is the jewelry, and well worth the extra money. Anthropologie also offers a very nice selection of home furnishings, decor, and books all with a British/European feel. Don’t miss the sales at this store, you’re sure to find a few reasonably priced “gems” to add to your wardrobe or your home.
On a side note, if you’re lucky enough to have one of the above stores in your area, keep tabs on the store’s sale events and bargain seasons. Getting to know the sales staff doesn’t hurt either. They may be more likely to tell you when the next big sale is coming.
Even when shopping at the affordable stores, be cautious about buying extremely trendy items (aka this year’s jumpsuit), that you may wear for one season (or 2-3 times) and realize you made a huge mistake. Instead, look for classic styles updated with a European touch. And, there’s no need to invest in an entire wardrobe. Just adding a few new pieces to a Spring or Summer wardrobe can make your old standbys look new again.
Still wondering if you can afford new clothes this season? Remember that British and European women know that even on a downsized budget, there’s no need to sacrifice style. And in times of recession, having your own distinct style (or any style for that matter) can make all the difference in the world.