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Cultural Differences

Comparing Fashion

Autor(en): Evan Cooley am Mittwoch, 8. August 2018
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Quelle: Shutterstock

Highschool-Jacke und Lederhosn? An American’s view on the differences in German and American fashion after living in Munich for two months.

As someone who has an infatuation with fashion trends and clothing, I was eager to live 7.000 kilometers away so I could be exposed to fashion that I may not have seen in the U.S. I had a preconceived idea of what I thought European fashion would be; more older style clothing than in the United States, less large brand names, and less ugly sneakers. A few of these proved to be true, but I noticed there were more differences than I previously thought in what people wear on a day to day basis.

Looking from the outside in

Since I had an outsider opinion on German fashion, I asked Germans to tell me what they thought of American fashion. Contrary to German belief; No, Americans do not wear cowboy boots and tall cowboy hats (unless you’re in Texas, but Texas is the wild card of the U.S., so we’ll just leave them out of this conversation).
But a few Germans I asked were comically accurate. Cargo shorts, blue jeans, basketball shorts, and most of all: sweatpants. I’m not going to act all high and mighty and say that I don’t wear sweatpants and slippers to class occasionally, because I absolutely do. There is less of a stigma behind wearing sweatpants in public in the states compared to Germany. Besides a business meeting or a court hearing, anything goes when it comes to sweatpants. Germans seem to take more pride in their appearance compared to Americans. If an American female wore what a typical German wore from their day-to-day life, they would be asked why they were dressed up so nice that day.

Cultural Fashion Differences

An American fashion quality that I loathe is the lack of individual personality. Many Americans (especially college-aged people) dress identically to what other people in their crowd wear. Athletes, people in fraternities/sororities, “hipsters,” all wear the same things that their peers wear. On an American college campus, you can typically tell what kind of activities people participate in just by how they dress. This may be the case for Germans too but if it is, it is a lot less noticeable. So far I have only bashed Americans and praised Germans, but Germans do have downsides to their fashion choices too.
In my personal opinion, most Germans tend to make similar fashion choices. There may be miniscule differences that I am not picking up on, but for the most part people share a similar taste in fashion. Since European fashion has been developed over a longer period of time, there aren’t as many experimental dressers in Germany compared to the states. Experimental choices aren’t always the right choices, but it’s refreshing to see people trying new things.

Brand name clothing

American society places a larger emphasis on brand names compared to Germany. Wherever you go in the U.S., the brand of clothing that people are wearing becomes the centerpiece of their outfit. People think that just because you are wearing a certain brand you have a refined fashion sense. When in reality, the only difference between you and others is that you can actually afford it. Brands like Patagonia, Vineyard Vines, Anthropologie, and Supreme. Germans have a knack for taking clothes with smaller price tags and coordinating their garments together to make a nice outfit.
Whereas in America, you can be praised on your outfit just because you have an expensive pair of shoes that you match with pants and a shirt that don’t work together at all. At least in Germany when I see someone wearing Gucci or Balenciaga, it usually matches the rest of their outfit well.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I don’t think people fully understand a foreign culture until they are constantly surrounded by it. Once you take into account the country’s history and the people within it, your differences are easier to set apart. But two separate cultures having distinct differences is what makes those cultures unique. I’m glad I got to observe how fashion changes once you travel overseas so I can take some of what I learned in Munich and apply it back in the United States.

Platte des Monats

Auf den Ehrenplätzen der Rubrik „Wörter, die es nur im Deutschen gibt“ sitzt seit jeher die feucht-fröhliche „Schnapsidee“. Sie beschreibt treffend wie kein anderes Wort das, was entsteht, wenn drei befreundete Musiker*innen auf einer Geburtstagsparty einen über den Durst trinken und dann beschließen eine Band zu gründen. Aus einer solchen Schnapsidee wurde auch das Bandprojekt Phantastic Ferniture um Sängerin Julia Jacklin, das auf seinem gleichnamigen Debüt den Emotionsreichtum der Adoleszenz in leichtfüßig schwankender und wunderbar wärmender Gitarrenmusik feiert.

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