Thursday, 6 December 2012

Winter Coats

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....)


  1. You are so right about Britain. When I was last there in January, I was so cold going out, that I wear wool coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and boots. And was teased by my hostess for being a "weather wuss." She went out with a jacket - unbuttoned. Given the fact that she didn't like too much heat in her place, when we returned from an outing, I couldn't warm up in her cold place!

    France and Germany, here I come!

  2. I think good Winter Coats are vital on winter trip. I just bought a great new jacket from Burlington Coat Factory and it is really perfect in the cold weather. I saved about $75 on it and I know it will come in handy for my upcoming trip to London-- particularly after reading about your experiences there.