Cultural Experience | Belgium

CT Dialogue :Travel Tips from a Fashionista Abroad.

Fashion blogger Celina Colby of  Trends & Tolstoy : A semester in Europe without breaking the bank.

Q: How many countries did you go to during your semester in Europe?

A: On my trip abroad I went to seven different countries, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, England, Spain, and Belguim. Within those countries I went to 15 different cities.

Q: How did you manage to keep up with your fashion and your blog during your trips?

A: Fortunately it was a relatively seamless process to incorporate the blog into my travels. I was dressing up anyway and my photographer was traveling with me. We were taking pictures of the sites already so we just added in a few extra shots of my outfits. My readers love when I travel so that element was great to include as well.

Q: What are your tips for traveling comfortably, but fashionably?

A: Layer, layer, layer. You’re going to go from a freezing cold plane to a sweltering bus and back again, all while lugging around your bags. I layered a lot of lightweight knit pieces that I could take off or put on as the temperature demanded. Knit pieces with a little bit of stretch are also less likely to wrinkle while you’re traveling. Stick to neutral colors, blacks, greys, and creams are always chic and take minimal effort to match.

Q: Did you plan your outfits based on the countries you would be visiting? 

A: In most cases I did, when we went to Paris I knew I wanted to go all out. I packed a tutu dress to shoot in front of the Eiffel Tower, and a stained-glass print dress to shoot at Notre Dame. It was difficult to be too elaborate when I was living out of a backpack, but I managed to give each country a little something extra. Sometimes all it takes is one good accessory.

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Q: Which  was your favorite place to visit?

A: I loved everywhere we went, but overall Paris is my favorite city in the world. It’s a perfect blend of old and new, class and vibrancy. Not to mention the clothes!

Q: Which European country had the best shopping?

A: Each country was great for a specific type of item. In Florence you should go to the leather market, they have an incredible selection of bags, jackets, gloves, and notebooks, and you can haggle down the prices. In Cologne and Nijmegan there are lots of quirky, interesting stores that sell things you could never find in America. I bought my Carnivale costume in Nijmegan so if you need anything a little dramatic try there. In Barcelona they have a great selection of open-air markets, mostly for vintage goods and knick-knacks. It’s not ideal for clothes shopping but there’s great vintage jewelry and books.

Q: Any specific store or shopping plaza worth visiting? (pic)

A: You should go to the big well-known shopping plazas just for the experience – but don’t buy anything. Walk down the Champs-Élysées in Paris to window shop (and maybe buy some macarons) but the real shopping gets done on the side streets. In Paris I would recommend heading to the 13th arrondissement for thrift shopping. There are tons of vintage and secondhand stores that sell really unique items cheaply. The Marolles Flea Market in Brussels is one of the top ten flea markets in Europe. There’s clothing, jewelry, and shoes, as well as a collection of really cool decorative items and books.

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Q: Do you have a favorite outfit from the semester?

A: My tutu princess dress was definitely up there. I also wore a printed top and leather shorts combo in Brussels that was both comfortable and a little bit chic.

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Q: What’s your favorite travel memory? 

A: A particular moment that sticks out to me is visiting the Prado in Madrid. I’m a lifelong lover and scholar of Francisco Goya’s works, so standing in front of The Third of May, 1808 was one of the most inspired moments I’ve experienced. It was truly an artistic pilgrimage.

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Q: We all know money is tight when you’re traveling, so do you have any good budget tips when it comes to buying your fashionable souvenirs?

A: Definitely stay out of the stores on the main drags. Shopping in the more residential, quieter areas of the city almost always means lower prices. Flea markets and secondhand shopping is also a good route. The strategy that I used to keep myself from over spending was to limit myself to one personal souvenir per place and one gift. Then by the end of your semester you’ve bought gifts for everyone at home and you also have a great collection of mementos.

Q: Were you inspired by any new fashion trends while you were abroad?

A: What I noticed most about European style is that it’s overall very simple and very classic. But the women in Europe never walk down the street without looking 100% confident. Fashion isn’t just defined by your clothing over there, it’s also your attitude and your lifestyle. I like that philosophy a lot, it’s a more cohesive form of self expression than just putting together a cute outfit.

Q: What’s on your to-do list, travel-wise? 

A: I have a trip booked to head back to Paris in the spring and I have two potential trips to Hong Kong and Madrid for business. Next year I’d like to visit Istanbul and when the political situation becomes a little less tense I would love to go to Russia to see where my favorite authors lived and worked. Travel is a big part of my life, I’m always planning my next trip.

If you want to follow Celina’s trends and travels, check out her website!

Jamie Ditaranto

Emerson College | 7 stories

Jamie Ditaranto is a senior at Emerson College majoring Writing, Literature, and Publishing with a minor in photography. She never hits the road without her camera and would rather buy bus tickets than anything else. She will be graduating and on the prowl for new adventures this coming December.


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