Any vacation that you’ve taken abroad has probably inspired you to add a few new elements to your wardrobe, if not completely transform it. But as tempting as it may be to layer yourself in a full-fledged kimono or run about in a sari, it’s better to take a more subtle approach to sporting ethnic details. Here’s how to wear ethnic touches and spruce up any outfit:
*Wear the right colors: Black, beige, brick red, burgundy, burnt orange, camel, chocolate, fire engine red, forest green, ivory, mustard yellow, olive green, plum, royal blue, teal, turquoise, violet, and white are all part of ethnic palette. Colors to avoid: baby pink, baby blue, pale yellow, lavender, sea foam green, hot pink, neon green, electric blue, and any other pastel or fluorescent.
*Dress up plain clothes with ethnic jewelry: Take your favorite ethnic jewelry and pair it with a simple turtleneck and jeans. (An intricate Egyptian clavicle juxtaposed against a solid black dress could not be more chic!) The key is to add interest to solid-colored clothes with jewelry. Wooden bangles, beaded necklaces, big stone rings —these are all beautiful ethnic pieces that will bring a spirit of adventure to any outfit.
*Find an excuse to don leather: From thick leather belts to rugged leather jackets to beaten leather purses, leather has an authentic international look. If you are opposed to wearing leather or cannot afford to buy it, choose a convincing look-alike in a synthetic like vinyl. Avoid any look-alike leather item that has a very plastic-y texture. It comes off as cheap and will ruin the international air of your outfit.
*Find comely pants: Ideally, pants should just graze your skin so that they are not too tight but still figure flattering. Slightly loose pants are fine, but steer clear of anything baggy. Plain fitted jeans or corduroys are best and will pair nicely with most, if not all, ethnic-type tops. Avoid “Mom” jeans and corporate khakis because they have too American of a feel to them.
*Wear great shoes: Tall boots, beaded clogs, moccasins, leather sandals, and decorative ballet flats are just a few of the shoes you should designate as your new staples. If you want to wear more understated shoes because there is enough color and excitement in the rest of the outfit, opt for sturdy leather shoes with a clean cut, not a bulky one. Steer clear of sneakers, Crocs, slides, flip-flops, and anything with a skater edge.
Here are a few outfits to try if need some inspiration:
*Solid burgundy trapeze blouse, two wooden bead necklaces, chocolate straight-led jeans, black knee-length boots
*Forest green cardigan, burnt orange camisole, camel corduroys, gold ethnic-style jewelry, gold ballet flats
*Black sweater, skirt with ethnic flair, black Mary-Janes