Thursday, 6 December 2012
So I'm showing this photo of the Christmas Market to an English friend. "Oh, it looks so cold", she says. I go "Duh? How can you see cold?" "Well, they're all wearing coats and hats!" - Ahhh, yes - so they are.
Germany and France are very much alike in winter: Everybody wears the full Monty: Wintercoats, boots, gloves, bobble hats, scarves (of which more later). Accessorize to the hilts! Even if it isn't very cold, it's an opportunity to show off your newly bought winter wardrobe.
And now picture the scene in Britain - how different it looks. People very rarely wear any form of coat. Instead of boots they wear wellies. I'm always flabbergasted when I hear "Ohh it's snowing, get those wellies out!" For what could be more terrible than wellies in the snow? They're slippery and cold. (And look awful, especially the novelty ones with patterns...)
But this isn't about what I like in fashion - it's intercultural insights we're after. And I think that in Britain, people really refuse to be blackmailed by the weather. They wear what is there, and don't compromise. Just think of the eponymous Midland girls in their micro-minis and high-heeled sandals on a Friday night. And in Edinburgh I once saw a man wearing flip-flops even though we had 3 inches of snow on the ground. I also noticed threre is quite an ageist attitude to the cold in Britain - wrapping up warm is for oldies. Nothing could be less true here on the continent - young women wear the chicest winter outfits which would keep them warm even in -20 degrees.
Britain's attitude is much more utilititarian - if it is too cold to go out in a t-shirt, they just put a fleece jacket on top. I can always spot an English tourist here in Munich as they're the only ones to wear fleeces. And trainers. And never a scarf. ( I know I said I'd come back to the scarf topic but I think it's actually a whole blog post in itself....)