Secrets of the world's most fashionable women

Women in the world's biggest fashion cities swear by dark, neutral colors

Ann Hoevel | 1/2/2014, noon
Walking the streets of the world's leading fashion capitals -- New York, Paris, Milan, Tokyo -- one might expect to ...
Lloyd's sister, Jessica, models a grown-up, schoolgirl-inspired look with a DIY satin bow tie and a vegan leather pleated skirt. Isaac Harris/www.breakingfad.com

— For example, layers of pale neutrals, including such business-appropriate colors as beige, khaki, camel, blush, white, pale blue and cream, are not only beautiful in their own right, Lloyd said, but go together as easily as the utilitarian, darker options.

"They are really a staple in a woman's wardrobe. Urban women love to look fashion-forward, but we're also really busy, and these colors are easy to put on," the blogger said.

Sarah Owens, Street Style expert for trend predictor company WGSN, studies fashion from the runways and the streets. In the same way that catwalk trends tend to trickle down into mainstream fashion, street trends tend to "bubble up," she said. Somewhere in the middle is how the majority of urban women dress.

The dark palette city women prefer is available to shoppers through both high and fast fashion. Although runway fashions and magazine spreads might be dominated by color and pattern, Chen said, designers know that their customers value practicality. They often create commercial collections of their runway lines that feature simpler silhouettes executed in black, navy and beige, she said.

Secret No. 3: Punctuate with strong color

Lest these ladies be thought of as one-note dressers, Chen points out that there are a few bright colors that regularly punctuate big city fashions.

"What we're seeing a lot here in New York and also on the runway is a bright, electric blue," she said. Shocking blue is a great color to break up a dark wardrobe with because it's a strong statement color, but at the same time, it could be considered neutral, Chen said.

"It's not girly; it's not too muddy or earthy; it's just a strong fashion color," she said.

A strong red is also a New York favorite, especially on lips, Chen said.

For the upcoming spring and summer seasons, dark forest green has become another power color, as evidenced by the recent collections by Marni, Bottega Veneta and Gucci. "Everyone here at the (Lucky magazine) office is going crazy about forest green," Chen said.

Lloyd, who calls New York home now, spent her formative years in Atlanta, where clothing tends to be more colorful, she said.

"Women in the South have been peacocks for many years," she said. "Southern culture has always been very strong, so they're not necessarily going to look to a city like New York for their fashion choices. They'll make their own."

It's a fashion sense that makes perfect sense to Owens. U.S. cities with Latin American influence like Miami are more willing to experiment with vibrant color.

"Those places in warmer regions, like Brazil, Ibiza, when I go to Mexico and cover Fashion Week there as well, everyone is in head-to-toe color," she said. "Cities like New York and Tokyo are a little more grounded in their seriousness and their sophisticated color combinations and palettes."

Of course, the tonal differences between cities go beyond color. When Chen lived in Los Angeles in 2013, she looked forward to wearing all her "wildly impractical" shoes, since she would be driving to work instead of walking.

"That said, when I was in LA, I didn't wear any of those shoes," she lamented. Turns out, that city's style was way more relaxed than she expected.


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