Understanding Germans – No. 5: Dressing up accordingly

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This is an extraxt from a most awesome article published here:

"Plan made for the day? Insurances in place? Great. Good work! Now it’s time to change out of your Schlumperklamotten and head outside to face the day head on. You’re going to need to get appropriately dressed.

*WARNING! AUSLÄNDER! WARNING!* Outside is this thing called nature, nature is fickle and not to be trusted! It dances to its own illogical, changeable tune. Best dress on the safe side. You need – expensive outdoor clothing! After all, you’re going outdoors, it’s called outdoor clothing, therefore it must be necessary.

At all times, you should be dressed for a minimum of three seasons. Get some of those funky Jack Wolfskin shrousers, the trousers that zip off into shorts. If there is even the slightest possibility you may at some point leave a pavement, be sure you are wearing high-quality hiking boots. The Germans consider anything else an act of ankle suicide."

Aaah well - fashion. A slippery field of discussion. There is some truth in it. I have seen many, many couples in matching rain coats, shoes that look like being made for orthopedical misfits or trousers that make you wonder where the hell did the ass go to! Male just as female trousers. I personally am a big fan of vintage clothing. Man and woman have a body, usually a rather attractive one. The fashion of the 40ies played with that attractiveness. It gave a flattering waistline to mostly any woman and a casually content look to every male. Today, there are sooo many styles, most of them actually the opposite of figure-flattering, that it is more likely for a less talented man or woman to buy something that completely misfits your bodily condition than to come out of a shop with something that you'll be awed for. Most people probably are just happy to find something "normal". Well, and "normal" in itself is contractory to "fancy" or "flattering". So they end up with a windbreaker and no-ass trousers. They can wear it on a bike. For a walk in the woods. For a shopping tour in the local shopping center. And anyway, the time has long past since it was necessary to pull the opposite sex' attention.

Is it that bad really? I must admit, I thought so, too, because over the years I've just seen to many windbreakers and practical shoes. But today, I forced myself to take a closer look and must say, I disagree now. We seem to have changed. I mean the younger generation is always more fashionable than the older one. But I also see many women in my age dressing classy. I wish I could invest in a daily morning visit to the hairdresser, but I think, that is a wish I am not alone with. It's just not feasable. So I have to work with what I got and so do all the others - admittedly, a mirror helps. And sometimes I wonder if my opposite may be renovating at home so didn't have one. But all in all, I see the effort people have taken to look presentable.

And our degree of fashionability also depends on where you head to. There are a number of places where you'd feel awfully underdressed if you dared to walk the streets with a simple sweater from Primark. It is like walking the walk of embarresment, with your assumed poor style skills mirrored in hundreds of real! ray bans or eyed at through these big fashionable horn glasses. Classy stretch jeans feature sky-long pencil legs topped with a kick-ass-cool boot - as if you'd ever manage to look like that. People are so chic, it is actually unreal. Anyway, these neighborhoods exist.

Generally, I think I can savely announce that in any bigger German business center, Germans may not be comparable to Italian or Spanish fashionistas on a normal work day, but our men dress in suits and woman wear high heals. At least 45% of them. Count myself. Further 10% are so damn cool, they wear pulls and sneakers to a bank meeting. And the rest probably looks quite nice when entering office space, but, to tell the truth, being outside, we need to consider weather conditions. At least I don't want my Gucci shoes to be ruined by the wet street and neither do I wish to freeze when it's stormy outside. Maybe I am too practical ;)

There are some male habits though, that I really can't excuse: carrying your purse in the back pocket of a suit trouser. It just destroys any good look the suit would otherwise has established. Or wear socks that are not long enough to cover your leg when sitting cross-legged in a café. Wearing windbreakers over suit jackets with 5 cm of suit lurking out from under below. Wearing cheap ties. Honestly. If you can't invest into a proper tie, don't wear any. And if you wear a tie and are not capable of dealing with spagetti in an Italian way - don't order spagetti! To be honest, I don't think these wrongs are committed by Germans only.

I remember a holiday in Italy where the grandpas walked the city in their finest brown suits (worn over years), lifting a fashionable hat to greet the ladies who accidentially happen to pass by. You won't find that in Germany. I mean the old suits.


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