European summer: Here's how to bring the essence of a summer in Europe to life in New Zealand

Stock image of European summer in Italy as background - inset images of products mentioned in article styled as polaroids
Here are our suggestions for bringing a taste of European summer to you. Photo credit: Photo illustration - Newshub; Images - Supplied / Sourced from respective brand websites

In case you haven't noticed, everyone and their mum is currently swanning across Europe in linen and Birkenstocks, while us mere mortals shiver away in sweatpants and mutter "no one cares" as another #EuropeanSummer2023 video pops up on our For You page - which we still begrudgingly watch, of course, in an act of defiant masochism. 

As our continental counterparts contiki their way through Croatia and moan their way through Paris (oh no, all the beautiful art, fashion, and pastries, how terribly disappointing), it's fair to feel more than a little FOMO watching on from little old New Zealand, Land of Sheep and Hobbits. 

But why let them have all the fun? By incorporating a few key elements into your day-to-day life, you can recreate the essence of a European summer at home, for a fraction of the cost. Sure, it's not warm or sunny; but as Crowded House once famously said: "Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you."

With that being said, here are our suggestions for bringing a taste of European summer to you.

A perfect tan sans sun

Sunkissed skin is a sign of a summer well spent and thankfully, it's very easy to fake at home, no matter the season. Despite being in the doldrums of winter, your skin can scream 'I've just come back from a summer in Europe' with a few simple steps - no one has to know your bronze came from a bottle. For a deep tan inspired by the sunkissed bodies of Saint-Tropez, the aptly titled St Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse (RRP$77.99) is a good bet: the result is a streak-free golden glow that looks straight from the shores of the French Riviera.

For a cheaper alternative, Bondi Sands will always be a go-to. Their latest range, the Technocolour 1 Hour Express Tanning Foam (RRP$31.99), works with your skin to develop a tan based on your natural tone. There are four bases to choose from - sapphire, emerald, magenta and caramel - allowing you to pick the shade that will most enhance your current skin colour. Sure, it's a bit too cold to flaunt your fresh tan on the beach, but it's never a bad time for a bit of self-care.

Bondi Sands Technocolour Express Tanning Foam
Photo credit: Supplied

A cup of Italian-style coffee in your own kitchen

Short of a trip to Sicily, you can still enjoy la dolce vita with Dolce & Gabbana's haute couture revamp of Bialetti's iconic Moka Express (from RRP$195). Hailed as the original stovetop coffee-maker, this heritage piece has been serving up fresh Italian-style espresso coffee since 1933, becoming a staple in many a cucina across Italy - and is now infusing a sip of Italian café culture into New Zealand homes.

While you might not be sipping espresso in Capri or Florence, the beautiful limited-edition coffee-maker brings a small taste of the Mediterranean to your kitchen. A statement talking piece, the intricate Sicilian design is inspired by the Carretto Siciliano, or the Sicilian horse-drawn cart: its craftsmanship and colourful patterns have long been a point of reference for the fashion house. For the ultimate coffee connoisseur, the Dolce & Gabbana Perfetto Coffee - encased in a stunning tin of the same design - is also available from mid-August (RRP$35.99). Extra points if you have your morning coffee-and-toast on In The Roundhouse's Mi Scusi plate (RRP$45). 

Bialetti x Dolce & Gabbana Moka Express
Photo credit: Supplied

Birkenstock Boston Clogs. That's it. 

Unless you live under a rock, you'll know that Birkenstock Boston clogs have been the 'it' shoe of the northern summer. It's not hard to see why: the slip-on, backless, buckled loafers feature a supple, moulded cork footbed that makes them both comfortable and functional, while the design is amplified by chic, neutral colourways and luxe fabrics like wool felt, suede and oiled leather.

Birkenstocks Boston clogs
Photo credit: Birkenstocks

Originally launched in 1979, the clogs were a natural extension of Birkenstock's range of popular sandals, but offered appropriate toe protection no matter the weather. It's this versatility and the variety of styles that allow the Boston clog to effortlessly transition from season to season: while our continental counterparts might be rocking soft suede in taupe and beige, over here in Aotearoa, there are fleece-lined, shearling, and smooth leather offerings to fit our current climate. For a casual weekend brunch or shopping excursion, they make an ergonomic but easy slip-on that works well with socks for added warmth. We might not be wearing them with sundresses for our Sunday strolls - yet - but we can still be a part of the trend.

Another comfy shoe that works whatever the weather? A stylish sneaker - we're still loving the New Balance 550s. 

Summer drinks in the sun (or a heated blanket)

Nothing quite screams summer in Europe more than a gin and tonic with a slice of lemon. Although the tipple's popularity peaks in the warmer months, it's still a delicious drink to enjoy at any time of year. For that true dose of summertime nostalgia, you could try mixing a shot of the citrusy Lighthouse Gin (RRP$65) with Fever Tree's Mediterranean Tonic Water for the ultimate after-work beverage: the refreshing zing will have you reminiscing about days spent in the sunshine and warm summer nights in no time. 

You could also try your hand at a Pimm's cocktail, a versatile drink that screams summer at the beach but is equally as enjoyable snuggled up by the heater. Mix 60ml of both Lighthouse Gin and Pimm's with 90ml of dry lemonade and 118ml of dry ginger age, and garnish with orange wedges and a cucumber slice. For those after a taste of Paris, combine a zesty gin, champagne, lemon juice and a simple sugar syrup for a tasty French 75. You can always cosy up with your tipple of choice and a heated throw (the Sunbeam Feel Perfect Sherpa Fleece Heated Throw Blanket via Andoo is a great bet) to mimic that feeling of the summer sun beating down. 

Lighthouse Gin
Photo credit: Supplied

Surround yourself with evocative scents

Smell is the most evocative of the senses, so to truly bring a sense of summer to your dingy Auckland flat, it's important to surround yourself with scents that elicit thoughts of a European getaway. Glasshouse Fragrances has a number of gorgeous scents for both the body and home that capture the essence of sultry summer nights and warm afternoons by the coastline. While Sunsets in Capri blends notes of jasmine, peach, lily and musk, Midnight in Milan presents an intoxicating mix of saffron, rose, dry amber and cedar (from RRP$34.95). Other eau de parfums include Diving Into Cyprus and Forever Florence, while home fragrances span Marseille Memoir, A Place in Paris, A Tango in Barcelona, Secrets of the Sistine, and Lost in Amalfi.

Glasshouse Fragrances eau de parfums
Photo credit: Glasshouse Fragrances

Another perfume sure to capture the scent of a summer in Italy is Versace Dylan Purple: vibrant yet elegant, the fragrance blends sparkling bergamot with fresh orange, juicy pear, freesia and creamy cedarwood, the fruity accents teamed with notes of musk. Yes, you might be stagnating at your desk, but at least you smell like you've been living it up on a luxury yacht.

Versace Dylan Purple
Photo credit: Supplied