Hustysk Helen svarar: German Fashion Sense

helen hustyskI got this question recently:

“When I am outside walking the in city, I suddenly see Germans dressed in all beige, in beige vests and beige pants as if they were going on safari! This is the city! Why are they wearing camouflage clothes?!”

From this query I sense the deeper question essentially is: why do Germans dress so badly? To begin with, let me give you a list just off the top of my head:

Karl Lagerfeld, Wolfgang Joop, Jil Sander, Claudia Schiffer, Heidi Klum.

It is certainly not that Germany is devoid of fashion sense. At Hamburg-Baumwall, you regularly have people exiting the metro who are amazingly stylish. Nevertheless, it is true that in comparison to Spain or Sweden, Germans are far from excelling in appearance. There are some weird persistent trends (hairstyles for the 40+ lady with red highlights, glasses with curlicues and, of course, paw-chic in the form of Jack Wolfskin).

It is not always this bad. I swear.

It is not always this bad. I swear.

I believe the reason for the lack of fashion effort in Germany is that it is the land of poets and thinkers. And practical people. German children are not brought up to care about appearance to the same extent as other nations, in fact if you are too well groomed, this might easily be negatively attributed to your intelligence (women) or sexual orientation (men).

The German likes to be a down to earth practical person who does know that comfortable sandals look terrible but also knows that they are convenient and it is sensible to wear them. The German also likes to be a thinker, a person who cherishes the inside life, who roams in intellectual spheres where your make up does not matter. Poets, thinkers and pragmatics only give limited importance to looks. It is simply not considered a cultural value in the same way as it is in other countries.

You can extend this to the German outlook on sports (in Sweden people look at you as if you said you do not wash your hair when you say you don’t exercise; in Germany, they do not necessarily expect you to [work out. They do expect regular hair hygiene]). On the other hand, I have the feeling that German culture is a little less tolerant towards poor educational backgrounds and lacking general knowledge.

Do you think I am saying Germans are smart and that is why they don’t dress well? I am not sure. I heard “Dressing well is a form of good manners”. It is yet another field in which Germany and Scandinavia can learn from each other, both ways.

Oh and about the beige brigade – it is a topic that is actually widely discussed in media. There are even films about it (http://www.arte.tv/guide/de/050808-000/beige). Some argue that old people wear beige to reject attention and fit in (“Rentnerbeige-Theorie”). Not acting in professional life anymore, they retire from the spotlights and seek calmness in the discreet color. . I also read that beige makes senior citizens feel alive because it is the color of skin. (Hm, right…) The beige pensioners’ army gives a feeling of belonging and security. Other believe that – practical German alert – beige is simply a color that can be combined with a lot. I don’t know…I’ll have to ask my grandpa.

***Hustysk Helen svarar – we answer your questions about Germany***book your Germanification today and receive a free Brezel***

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