À la Mode

Paired with my confusion over the weather comes my confusion over what to wear. It hasn’t helped that my wardrobe has been limited to one suitcase and one backpack’s worth of clothes and shoes to cover five months and three seasons. Nor does my preconceived notion of what Europeans wear. (Thorough Facebook searching with reveal a certain party theme sophomore year.) Throughout my stay here, I’ve both impressed and bewildered over European fashion. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Believe it or not, snow does not stop fashion. During February when the snow was never ceasing, women did not give their heals a break. While I was sporting big red outdoors snow boots, the ladies of Lausanne would just sling on the pumps and complete whatever trek was needed. Props, ladies.
  • It’s only summer at the beach. A hilarious example of this happened in Paris. blessed with +20˚C weather, my friends and I broke out our summer clothing including shorts, flippy floppies and sunnies. An old woman approached us and asked where are swimsuits were because we looked beach-bound. I misheard the woman though, thought she asked about our bread (pain) not our swimsuits (maillots de bain) and was completely oblivious to her sarcasm.
  • It’s only sunny when it’s summer. People don’t wear sunglasses in the winter because they are a summer item. While there is a direct correlation between hours of sunshine between winter and summer, it can be simultaneously cold and sunny. And as a Californian, it’s practically sacrilegious to leave the house without sunglasses.
  • Legs are not for show. In April, we had a good stretch of nice weather and confusion began about what to where. The Swiss were still walking around like a snow storm was about to hit with parkas, scarves and beanies. I, on the other hand, wanted to wear my cutoffs and tanky toppies. For one of my classes, we were required to write thrice weekly on a forum, practicing French and discussing Swiss and French related topics. Katherine made a post about spring clothing and every European in the class shot her down, one person claiming that wearing dresses and shorts is about showing your legs. Our opinion: actually, it’s about not being uncomfortable in my skinny jeans. Guess we’ll just have to play the cultural card for now.
  • Sweats are reserved for the gym, field and track. Never do you see a Swiss (possibly even European) person in work out clothes. Not even if they are en route to the gym. Nope, you get changed at the gym, field, track. They don’t wear workout attire in public for fear of being judged apparently. Oh and along with this is the occasional man dropping his pants so as to change into his sweats.
  • Here’s what’s à la mode: Longchamps bags, studs on studs on studs, heeled sneakers, American flag scarves, loose fitting pants for women and v-necks for gents.

I wish I could say that my fashion has improved since being around all these well put-together Europeans, but truth be told: I love my plaid, my Columbia rain jacket, my soccer sweats, my cutoffs and my bro tanks. Soon we will all be reunited in a place where it’s socially acceptable for us to be together.

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