Monday, September 17, 2012

Ireland in a nutshell #2

Ireland3 One fundamental difference between German and Irish culture is in the choice of clothes. In Germany, people feel embarrassed when they think they might be overdressed. In Ireland, not being sufficiently dressed up would be a far bigger concern.(*)

Fashion values also differ greatly: A German woman is likelier to think "Oh! My outfit today is wonderfully practical!" - something that might make the average Irish lady shudder. It does explain, however, why you can always pick out German tourists in the crowd because even during city trips, they are ready to face the great outdoors at any time. Their jackets will resist any weather condition, and boast astounding vapor permeability of the material so the wearer won't break a sweat even in the heaviest rain. In the extreme form, Germans carry walking sticks (and no, Dublin isn't known for its mountainous cityscape) and two liter water bottles in the mesh side pockets of their hiking backpack (because shops with beverages might be a rare luxury in a European capital) - unless their backpack has an integrated drinking system: Dehydration will be no reason for worry during their leisurely stroll around Trinity college.

There is a variation on the German outdoor tourist look: There is also a certain kind of Ireland tourist who is less interested in preparing for (urban) nature than in a fuzzy idea of ancient, mysterious, profound Celtic culture. This group is likelier to wear clothes that look mildly medieval, fairly traded and hand-woven, karma-free and felted by moonlight to the tune of a pan flute. They may come with an attitude of more-Irish-than-thou, or may just wander about mumbling about shamrocks and fairies.

In contrast to both, Irish women, when pleased with their attire, will think more in terms of "I look absolutely fabulous!" - shoes will be high-heeled, not comfortable, and dresses as short as possible. During the day, "comfortable" wear may consist of a candy-coloured tracksuit combined with big hair and eyeliner. (German tracksuit wearers are less common, and far less likely to match top and bottom. Irish fashion usually demands wearing the suit as an ensemble.)
At night, all unnecessary material will be dropped to reveal as much fake tan as possible. The picture above is a selection of average evening wear for a regular night of drinks with friends - and it is not, as the sensibly shoed German may assume, a shop that specializes in circus artist attire. There is also no direct connection between body shape and weight and choice of dress: Tight is good. Short is good. For everyone. (As a rule of thumb, every German lady who hears that she looks "fabulous!" will turn around and run to cover herself up.)

(*) Except when going to the supermarket in the morning. I can't imagine many Germans would go buy their milk in their pyjamas.


Melissa M said...

Most of this holds true for the British as well.

There is also no direct connection between body shape and weight and choice of dress: Tight is good. Short is good. For everyone.

Yes. I swear they don't even try clothes on in front of a mirror before they buy them. They just look at them and think, "Oh, that looks good on the size 2 mannequin. Clearly it will also look awesome on size 16 me."

Imogen said...

42 frtocuHoly mo, those frocks are horrendous!

Imogen said...

Oh, heck, I've put the "verification" doodah into the message. hem hem, just ignore me while I remove my feet from my mouth...