The nine most obvious fashion faux pas as seen with the eye of a European-Californian

When I first moved to California in 2004, many things changed in my life. One of them was my wardrobe. I replaced my Doc Marten vanilla-colored patent leather ankle boots (I’m still in love with them) and my black heels with a pair of ugly running shoes and a few cheap flip-flops. My high-waisted dark rinse jeans were replaced by some low-waisted capri pants. I bought several tank tops and tennis dresses. I just wanted to be like all the other Californians. I needed to abandon my essential style, as it turned out, to get it back in a new form later. That was when I learned about the most obvious fashion mistakes.

We hear a lot about fashion faux pas that should be avoided at all cost. Some people follow them as if they were rules; some ignore them. I am probably somewhere in the middle, and I try not to judge too hard, even as things are changing in fashion. After all, we all change, and our style changes. There are rules that you can follow, but most of them are suggestions. I learned about them by making mistakes and finding out later that what I thought at one point was a good idea, was not so great after all.

I must admit that I still watch the latest fashion ideas or trends with a raised eyebrow, and certainly cannot adopt all of them. But that's fine. I realized that the most important things are the process of learning, and not being afraid of making mistakes once. But try not to repeat the same mistakes, as they become second nature.

In the following list, you will find my suggestions next to the no-no. Sometimes you will see that the difference is just slight, but the outcome can be crucial.

Have fun, experiment, and enjoy yourself!

The best part is yet to come!

My (not complete) list of fashion faux pas:

1. Plastic flip-flops:

Yes, let's start with a painful one. We all know how comfortable these flip-flops are. They come in all colors and brands, but let's face it, they never elevated my look no matter how expensive, comfortable or fashionable they tried to look. The only place I wear them is at the swimming pool – not going to the gym in them, but taking a pair with me and putting it on between walking from one pool to the other or from the dressing room to the sauna. Even if I live in California, I try to opt out of flip-flops and replace them with my favorite leather Greek or designer sandals, which are much more comfy, safer for driving, and look nice with almost everything.

See our pre-loved shoes collection here: shoes

2. Leggings

Personally, I think wearing leggings as the main wardrobe item at any event is one of the biggest fashion mistakes any women could make. No matter how perfect the shape of your body and your legs, you will only look cheap. Leggings are only acceptable with a tunic dress or blouse that covers your bottom. I don't wear leggings, and I think they belong in the same category as flip-flops, running shoes, and moccasin boots. I much prefer regular footed-tights with skirts, skinny jeans or pants. Leggings are made to be comfortable. If you want to dress up, you need to make some compromises, and leaving unintentional pieces behind is one of them. There is no elegance in them whatsoever. There are some “good” examples as well that also has to do with the occasion, - such as going for horseback riding or to the gym - so, decide it for yourself.

See instead our jeans and trousers here: jeans and trousers

3. Runners

Yes, you can guess, next on my list is running shoes. I believe it is more obvious why, as their name has the answer. They are designed for running and workout, but not to wear as a street style. But don’t get me wrong; I love sweet-looking fashion sneakers more than any other shoes. What I am talking about is those overly designed and colored and pumped running shoes that meant to protect your feet.

Since I was born in Europe, I still remember that wearing very expensive running shoes was considered to be a status symbol, especially in Eastern Europe. (Two major brands were considered 'cool': Reeboks and Nikes.) Of course, one reason might be that these shoes cost one-third of one's salary at that time. My parents never bought me even a single pair of those poison expensive imported runners, so, I guess I learned to live without them – and I did just fine. I had a regular pair of sports shoes for the physical education classes (that was very similar to the ones Keds or Converse offer in these days), and my Dr. Martens boots to wear with jeans or skirts. Even today, when these colorful creatures are much more accessible, I have difficulties relating to them. OK, I admit, I have a pair for walking with my dogs. But I try not to wear them with jeans, pants or, God forgive me, going out to a restaurant.

Note: I do love fashion sneakers. I always have at least one pair. My current favorite besides my Converse is from Prada and Tommy Hilfiger.

Update: If you watch the latest runway shows, you know already that fashion sneakers are back, and they are back with double the power. Again, it’s a matter of choice: how far would you go to look trendy, and obvious? Or would you rather stay stay and classy?

Check out our shoes collection instead.

4. Mocasin boots

Let's go over the footwear then if we already started this way. The next thing that I am very much picking at is the mocasin boots and slippers. Again, don't misunderstand my words; when they have their places (can I list at least one?:)), I am fine with them but definitely not as fashion items. When they became trendy, I tried to own a pair, but I felt like I was putting on my ballet booties (that are similarly ugly but because they are made out of special material, they keep the feet warm). But those other ones were not even warm, and I did not feel that they performed the task of a well-made pair of shoes: keeping your feet protected, stable, comfortable, and not lastly, stylish. So please, no mocasins. Even worse than these boots only are the boots plus leggings combination. In general, the problem with the four above mentioned items is that they convey the message that you simply do not care in the morning to come up with something more original.

Check out our wonderful shoes instead.

5. Moderation

Not caring about fashion or caring about it too much: Like everything, the middle way is the right way. Sometimes we all go this or that direction a bit – otherwise, we wouldn’t learn. I saw many women during my first year in California who spent thousands of dollars on their look: new purse, new outfit, hairdresser, nails, etc. In Europe, every woman knows how to cut hair, how to do facials, how to trim eyebrows, and how to do nails. We don't need to rely on salons that we don't even know. And we don't shop because that's the only program you can add to your calendar for the weekend. We shop when we need something, or we shop when we find something by accident and cannot leave it. Remember, fashion and style are meant to be for you, and not the other way around. Use them as your best buddies, and you will have a lot of fun! But know when to let them go. Know when you need to change – to reinvent yourself – and you will be fine.

Check out our elegant and fun dresses and skirts.

6. Extremes & Carelessness

Too tight, too short, too small, too much, too big: Yes, don't go to the extremes. Even if you saw a cat-woman outfit at the latest fashion show, remember that not all runway items are made for everyday wear. Some of them are meant to be a piece of art or a statement which will end up in a fashion museum. Be tasteful, and use your common sense. Your clothing needs to be comfortable, practical, good-looking, and to highlight the person who is wearing it. If you like skinny pants, wear them with a button up shirt that could be even your boyfriend's shirt. If you wear a bodice, combine it with high-waisted boot cut jeans. The same for too loose. I like big pullovers, but they look best with my skinny jeans. Men appreciate the women much more who do not try too hard, but always show a little.

Check out our tasteful outerwear.

7. Moon-Walkers and Platforms

Platform heels with (or without) neon tights: I never had them, and do not desire to have any of them. I guess the message is obvious if someone wears these shoes – and you do not want to be that obvious.

Try something more elegant, timeless and classic instead.

See our pre-loved designer shoes collection.

8. Fakes

Counterfeit and fake items: This does not necessarily mean that you need to have a very expensive closet with the latest designer items, nor does it mean that you should avoid them. But choose them with moderation and, again, common sense. Can you not afford to buy a Hermes handbag? No problem. For example, I recently found that Furla has very interesting pieces and they are within my budget. Or Longchamp or Mulberry. Or you can choose a pre-owned piece. In this way, you do not compromise quality, and you are still wearing a designer piece. When the time comes, you might deserve a Birkin bag too. But do not try to look different than you are. Those high-end design companies put lots of effort, time, material, and professionalism into a single item. Respect them, and be loyal to their heritage. And remember, purchasing a real luxury item is always an investment. It will serve you for decades, while its fake counterparts will perish very quickly and leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Check out our stylish vintage bag collection.

9. The Right Handbag and 'Brand Obsession'

Talking about handbags and brand obsession, let's talk about the IT LV bags. A few years ago I really wanted to purchase a Louis Vuitton. Having other expenses – buying a house, a new car, and two dogs, while supporting my own ballet studies – I was just not in a position to afford to buy a new one, so I started looking for a pre-owned one online. Every time I felt I was close to getting one, a crowd suddenly appeared around the item, and it was immediately gone. And if there is crowd around something, I am not there anymore. Besides, at that time I did not know enough about the company and their products to be sure that I was not buying a fake. I realized that the problem with LVs is that they became too popular and too accessible. The only thing needed to own one is a credit card and to drive to the nearest mall to pick one up – possibly the most expensive one! Oh, and I did not even mention LVs with flip-flops and sweatpants! Sounds oh so Californian, but it’s not chic at all. Okay, I better stop here. About my search for the right purse, I found that Mulberry and Furla has some nice pieces for not that high, and of course, if you are lucky, you can always find yours pre-loved. Check out our bags.

And you, what is your take? Share your comments at our facebook discussion group (Look for Atrium Anna Open Group) or simply send me an email at

"Beauty of style, harmony, and grace, and good rhythm depend on simplicity." Plato

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