Summer Style Tips – from Brussels with love – Part 1
In the middle of the hot summer heat, check out my first blog of the series ‘Summer Style Tips’, mixing fashion style for men and women, skincare, home styling, and lifestyle. Follow me to get the full experience!
As a style and lifestyle coach, I guess it is to be expected that people ask me – sometimes at the least likely moments of the day and night … – about what trends to follow, what brands to wear, and must-haves / must-dos of the season.
Even though perfectly understandable, I’m always taken a little off-guard by this question. You see, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer up my sleeve. Style and lifestyle are not a straightjacket, a set of trends to follow, rules to abide by, or design labels to have.
Quite the opposite.
For me, style is the ultimate liberation, a never-ending exploration, a way of enjoying the process of defining who you are, time and again.
All I would ever want to do as a coach and blogger, is to encourage you to test new grounds, inspire you to challenge the norm, and help you decide what works for you, independent of the trends of the season.
So yes, with the summer in full swing, I thought I’d share a series of style tips with you, starting with these first five. But I do this in the same spirit, as an ‘amuse bouche’, a style teaser. The best part, is what you make of it!
Oh, and one more thing. I don’t get anything out of naming my favourite brands or places, other than the pure joy of sharing. I am not an influencer and I don’t intend to become one. I want to be free, independent, and 100% genuine. My only agenda is to promote style, good taste, and authenticity.
Perhaps this can be a refreshing change from the sponsored influencers’ content.
Ok, let's dive in!
1. The ugly sandal, done right
Yes, my friends, the cork-soled dad sandals are back, big time: from the runway, to celebrities, influencers, and the Kardashians.
That doesn’t mean we have to like them though. In fact, as a rule, it’s usually a good idea to be suspicious, or at least mindful, of any trend set by anyone in the Kardashian family:)
But – I have to admit – the ugly sandals are growing on me. After the usual, initial phase of total refusal, I am starting to see the appeal: there is something undeniably cool about these sandals precisely because they were never meant to be cool in the first place. Accidental coolness is hard to resist, by anyone’s standards.
Still, there are a couple of things you need to know before you throw yourself into the love-camp.
First of all, Birkenstock isn’t the only brand that knows how to do an ugly sandal.
Why not go for a twist? Manebí, a Milan-based brand reinterpreting the classic Spanish espadrilles, came out with an espadrilles-version of the Nordic sandal. You see, now we’re talking. That’s how to go from ugly to fabulous!
Secondly, you need to know how to wear ugly sandals. They need dressing up, not down. You’ve got to style them, girlfriends!
If you’re going to combine them with a pair of ripped bleached jeans and a tie-dye T-shirt, you’ve missed the whole point. We’re not repeating the 90s, we’re taking a second shot at it.
Let’s do it right this time: think oversized jacket, trench coat, a distinct leather bag, a white cotton shirt, monochrome colours, and minimalist lines.
Oh, and no sock please, EVER!
Men in Birkenstocks?
Sure! If you’ve got the flair and style of the men in these pictures, bring it on!
If you’re not sure about that, I may have a safer bet for you: espadrilles.
Actually, I’ve been saying this for over 20 years now, so I am delighted to see that this year the look is catching on big time. I feel like it’s my little ‘I told you so’ moment:)
Espadrilles on a man are bohemian, distinguished, stylish, and simply hot.
Manebí has a really lovely selection with delicate colours and rough fabrics, but you can easily find alternative options with a quick online search.
Don’t forget to roll up your pants!
2. Jardin Rooftop
Ok, let me guess. You’ve left on holidays and now you’ve realised you haven’t had a chance to visit Jardin rooftop, THE new rooftop in Brussels everyone is talking about. Am I right?
Don’t worry, I was just chatting with them and they are planning to be open (from 12AM to 11PM) in August and September as well (Covid permitting of course).
‘Jardin’ is a temporary project of three ‘Brusseleirs’ who are renting the roof on top of the soon-to-be-renovated Actiris building (opposite la Bourse, across Avenue Anspach). They have set up a cool, speak-easy summer bar with breath-taking views on the gorgeous city hall tower on Grand Place.
On the menu: some surprisingly decent cocktails, beers, biological wine, and burgers.
The bar is open every day, but not when it rains, … logically. Entrance is free. No reservations, except for large groups, but those are not such a great idea in these Covid-times...
Entrance from Rue du Marché aux Poulets.
Don’t miss it !
3. swimsuits: ‘dolce vita’ for men and ‘le style à la française’ for women
Some things in life are a mystery to me. For instance, if you look around you on any beach, you may wonder if perhaps a stylish pair of swim shorts is hard to come by:) And yet, it isn’t! I could give you a list of marvellous swimsuit brands of the top of my head right now. See, it’s a mystery…
But instead of boring you with me endless lists, let me just take you straight up to my number one men’s swimsuit recommendation: Peninsula
I discovered this brand years ago, in Ibiza (but they’ve closed shop on the island since). It’s a Rome-based brand offering swimwear, shirts, bermudas and espadrilles, all hand-crafted in Italy. This is La Dolce Vita revisited, very hard to resist indeed!
You will pay around 100 € for a Peninsula swim short.
Style tip: Don’t be shy to wear a nice cotton or linen shirt on top of your lovely swim suit. In fact, please do!
Strip up the sleeves a little, add a pair of boho-chic espadrilles, and you can be sure to stand out from a distance!
I know I know, this look is as Italian as it gets, but hey, sometimes they just do it better!
And for women?
Ladies, this summer I have a clear preference: Ysé Paris, without a moment’s hesitation.
Why? Well, I don’t know where to start: iconic cuts, timeless appeal, stunning fabrics, gorgeous colours, and body-flattering silhouettes.
Style tip: The high waist bikini bottom is the big trend of the summer, but feel free to skip it. There is a reason why it took about 5 years for this trend to finally catch on. Most of the time, it’s just not flattering, not even on the models!
Instead, why not go for a gorgeous bathing suit? Looks great on the beach, but also with a jeans and jacket. A bit of class goes a long way!
4. SPF50+ fluid face sunscreen protection
I don’t have time to follow a million bloggers. I’m sure you don’t either. But Franciska Bosmans is one of the few people who made it onto my list of go-to references. For skincare and beauty, she’s my woman!
Especially since she’s revealed a little industry secret that has become my ‘Summer 2020 sunscreen recommendation’ to anyone who cares to listen: Garnier’s Ambre Solaire Sensitive expert+ Face Super UV Fluid SPF50+ (God, who comes up with these names??? - in the picture on the left).
What’s the big deal? Well, it’s a perfect copy, only less expensive, of my favourite, trialled and tested facial sunscreen: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Shaka fluid SPF50+ (in the picture on the right). Turns out Garnier and La Roche-Posay are basically the same cosmetic family (this is the sort of stuff Franciska knows), so they offer very similar products, only for different market segments (read: at different prices).
La Roche-Posay is more of a pharmacy brand at 22€, while you’ll pick the Garnier version right off the supermarket shelves at 12€.
Ok, but what’s so special about this Garnier fluid facial sunscreen? Everything! Most sunscreens either offer proper protection, or adapt well to your skin, but not both. Except this one. This one has it all:
· full spectrum, broad, and long-lasting sun protection
· super light texture, absorbs instantly, invisible, doesn’t make your face white, greasy or shiny
· great basis for make-up
· perfect for sensitive skin, even around the eye area
· contains hyaluronic acid, 24-hour hydration, protects against sun spots and skin ageing
When people ask me what’s my skincare secret, this is it: wear SPF50+ facial sunscreen ALWAYS EVERYWHERE!!!
5. Boho never goes out of fashion
This last tip is dedicated to a group of incredible women in Brussels who attended my summer style night 2 weeks ago. Thanks to their amazing energy and enthusiasm, it turned out to be an unforgettable evening of female empowerment, body-positivity, laughter, and joy. Chapeau Brussels!
Anyhow, there was a point in the evening were I expressed a certain apathy with bohemian fashion. After 22 summers spent in Ibiza, perhaps I've seen just a tad bit too many tourists taking the gispsy - hippy - flower power vibe of the island a few steps too far. Sometimes it just feels like too much of a good thing.
But my style night companions rightly pointed out that boho never goes out of fashion. We collectively condemned over-the-top fancy dressing, but we also agreed that when done right, boho is a pure summer delight.
Truth is, Ibiza has always been one of my favourite places on earth, in part (but not only...) because of it's unique, ethnic-bohemian fashion. My wardrobe is filled to the brim with one-of-a-kind Ibiza treasures, and I will never grow tired of them.
So I thought I'd end today's list in Boho style, with one of the many exceptional 'Ibiza' brands, from Paris:): Miss June (in the picture). Now is a good time to check out their online shop, with sales up to 70%.
And ladies, remember, less is more!
Watch out for more tips next week!
Voilà, that’s it for now. In a week’s time, you can expect part 2 of this series. There will be more on fashion, a bit of gin, a touch of home styling, and a tip for pure design delight. Watch out for that!
How can you help spread the love in the meantime? Easy peasy: just share this blog with your network and friends. Because shared joy is double joy, my friends!!!
WHO AM I?
I am a confidently feminine woman, living in Brussels with my husband and two children. I coach men and women from my Brussels and expat network on matters of style and lifestyle.
I like to think of style in a broad sense, covering fashion style, selfcare, home style and lifestyle. Mixing it up is a really fun way of exploring and empowering the different sides of yourself.
I also organise style nights, fashion city trips and private sales, because I love to bring people together. Sharing your style and lifestyle journey with people who are on the same page, is a great way of enjoying the process and making new friends!