Sunday, March 19, 2006
Fashion Failure
The Russian saying goes, "People meet you [judging] by your dress and see you off [judging] by your intelligence.”

Do you know that I just recently realized that I should wear black socks with my black shoes? I knew this was a given for men, but for some reason I didn’t think it applied to me. I just wore my same white socks with all of my shoes. I didn’t really think it mattered because no one really sees, or notices socks- right? I mean my pants cover them up for the most part. However, I realized that this is not true. People can see your socks when you sit down, especially when you cross your legs. I just never really thought about this before. I know, I am a fashion failure, but there is hope for me yet.

M surprised me today by taking me to the mall and telling me I could get some new clothes. Now, I NEVER buy new clothes. There is this once a year clothing exchange at a nearby church where I usually obtain my clothes for the year. So I never shop, especially at the mall. As a child and teenager I shopped at the mall. In fact I was one of those, “Mom, I need your credit card” and off to the mall I would go. Money was not real to me then. However, then came real life and I was locked out of the mall. UNTIL TODAY…

Now I have to tell you that it was quite a shock to my system. Prices have gone way up since last buying clothes at the mall 15 years ago. I mean I have been in the mall for other reasons besides clothes shopping over the past 15 years- like trying out the massage chairs in electronic stores, listening to headphones to sample music in the music stores, browsing the bookstore and other such window shopping, but I never really noticed the clothes I wasn’t buying or the prices of these items. I mean I always considered stores like the Gap to be fairly reasonable. Not anymore. Those days are long gone. Now, they want to sell you wrinkled coats for $80! But the biggest shock to me was the new fashions. O.K. I admit that not shopping from a mall in 15 years has plunged me into fashion frumpiness, along with my white socks, but to put me into the forefront of modern fashion I had to do some adjusting. Wow, when did the hippies come back in to style? Well, it isn’t exactly like the ‘60’s hippie fashion- but it is a modern version of it. That is what the stores are selling. I had to get used to this. I had to take a deep breath and absorb this new fashion. Because I have not been there with each season’s subtle fashion changes- this was a huge change in my mind. I was still thinking 1992 and I am sure I looked it. But those days are over now because I found the greatest store called H&M. Not only did they have the same styles as Bloomingdales, but way better prices. I got a really cool sweater for $9 and shirts for $6. O.K. the quality might not be quite as good, but for those prices, who cares! And after I brought up all of my purchases to the front desk they just took $10 off the total bill- just like that for no reason. This is a great store.

However, even with my new “cool” clothes I am sure I will still look like a washed-up fashion failure to those Russians -with all their black high heel boots, mini skirts and furs.

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Blogger Liv said...
Ok, what I want to know is, if Russia is such an economically stagnant country, how can they be on the top of the fashion circuit? Is it just me that wonders this?

Blogger Elle said...
There is a going theory on Russian women. Under the age of 40 all women look distincly like supermodels. They are gorgeous and dress the part. Somewhere between 40 and 50 they undergo a transformation. Our friend Jose calls it the Babushka machine. Women in Russia are either hot or old haggard babushkas.

So here is my philosophy. When travelling to Russia dress in what makes you most comfortable. Don't even make the slightest attempt to "fit in." They can spot an American a mile away. If for some reason you do happen to physically pass for a Russian they will know you are American the minute you open your face.

Score on the new clothes by the way. I do the majority of my shopping at the outlet mall.

Blogger 6blessings said...
I am with you on the clothes thing. I haven't seen the inside of the mall in years!! I am a total bargain shopper and can't justify outrageous prices, not with a family of 6, hopefully 8 someday. I'm sure when my kids get a little older I'll be reintroduced to the mall, but for now, I shop clearance racks, if I get to shop at all. Congratulations on the new clothes!! Way to go on the bargains!! I'm sure you look great!

Blogger Margaret said...
My agency has advised us to dress well and wear muted colors. No bright pinks!

Unfortunately, I have worked in the software industry for many years which means I get to wear jeans and sweatshirts to work. I don't have many nice clothes and, on an adoption budget, I can't afford to buy many new clothes.

So, I've decided I'm bringing my nicest jeans, casual slacks, sweaters, and my nice heeled boots. That's as dressy as I'm getting. And I'm bringing pink.

Blogger Trina said...
That is so interesting Jen. I love learning about the Russian culture. I have noticed that about Russians. We are very casual people here in America.
Going to Russia, and them having this mindset, would be intimidating to me. I love reading about your journey and the culture. You are educating me like crazy! Ohhhh yeah....Congratulations on your new clothes. I used to be so careful about style, but now I am such a country girl. *sigh*

Blogger Tricia said...
I was at a party last night and there were two russian girls (looked under 30). Both were rail thin, gorgeous, and dressed like they were ready to go a club. (This was a house party for 30-50ish "housewifey" types like me). Funny!

Yeah, I am amazed at what stores charge for worn/tired clothing, like Gap, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters. I am a fan of that type of clothing, but I think I look pretty ridiculous in it. So I have been shopping at Ann Taylor Loft - a very reasonable alternative to Ann Taylor. Of course, anything I buy must be on sale, or I have a discount card or something. that's half the fun of shopping.

When I was in Moscow, I learned a lot. I thought like Liv did. I thought that Russia was supposed to be a struggling country. Not in Moscow. Moscow has about 150 million people and is one of the richest cities in the world. And the are definitely one of the fashion mecca's of the world. I gave up even trying to fit in. They SOOO figured me out. Actually, they didn't think I was American...I was asked if I was German. What is up with that?. I am so with L on that one...dress comfortable unless you have the resources and you absolutely positively want to go "in style". If not, dress conservative, comfortable and well....lets just say lime green might not go over too well there. :) ha ha!! (they love black!)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I like women in white socks with black shoes.I think they look cute.

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