Europeans Dress Better Than Americans: Part 2
One of the most popular posts I’ve written on this site was one I did a couple of years ago about how Europeans dress better than Americans. It seems to be something people Google a lot: ‘why do Europeans dress better than Americans?’ Or ‘Americans dress lazy’ or other such terms often lead to that blog post and it still gets people leaving comments on it. It’s a weird topic. The comments section is filled with smug Europeans or angry Americans talking about how judgmental I am or how Europeans are either gay or have really poor hygiene, which has nothing to do with anything. Admittedly, the style in which I wrote that post was pretty harsh, but has my viewpoint changed? Do I still believe Europeans dress better than Americans?
A couple of years on from that original post, I’m not sure it’s as black and white as it once was. I’d say in broad strokes, yes, the original points I made in that post still ring true; North American fashion is all about ‘casual comfort’, they lack good tailoring and it seems most people aren’t concerned so much with what styles and fit actually suit them, as much as they are with convenience.
However, I would say general high street British style (and much of Europe) has become so cheap and homogenised, I think the European fashion edge we once had has somewhat faded. This is without a doubt a result of fast fashion and consumerism. Cheaply made clothes widely available at chain stores have led to people taking less care with their personal style. Somewhere the line was crossed between what you own to simply how much you own. Whatever designer duds we see sauntering down the catwalk during fashion weeks are now reproduced by your favourite high street store within a week and on sale for a tenner. It’s great that it’s all available so quickly, but quick doesn’t equal quality. A perfect example of this would be the peplum trend of last season. I love a peplum – when they’re done well, they look beautiful, enhancing the line of a wonderful waistline. A good peplum is hard to make, it takes time. Unfortunately, when it was announced as a trend and fast fashion got hold of it, any attempt to actually produce a peplum properly seemed to go by the wayside. I started to hate them. They looked awful. But people still bought them because they were cheap on ‘on trend’ rather than because they look good.
Individuality is being lost. Every city you go to now has the same shops. The classic boutique experience is now almost a thing of the past. Independent retailers who offer a much nicer retail experience and can advise you properly about your style choices is such a rare find. The girl working the changing rooms at Topshop won’t tell you that pencil skirt does nothing for your shape – she probably hasn’t been trained on dressing body shapes, which you’d think would be pretty essential training in a retail environment. But that would take time and time being the most valuable commodity that no one seems to want to spend anymore, training probably just doesn’t seem important.
I love going to other countries and checking out the style of the locals. In a humanitarian sense, it seems we are all locals of one place. The internet is merging our cultures and bringing us closer all the time, which is great (or not, depending on which way you want to look at it), but in a style sense, we’re losing what once made us stand out from the crowd.
Interestingly, in the original post I wrote on this, the American commenters seemed to take a stance of how vain it was of me to even bring this up, how no one really cares what they wear and it doesn’t matter. That remains a complete non-argument to me and a downright ridiculous thing to say. You care, everybody cares about how they look. What you wear, how you choose to present yourself is part of an artistic expression of who you are – it matters. I understand not everyone is going to keep up with trends, but saying you don’t care is not realistic and quite simply, not true. And if you don’t, you should – you should absolutely take some pride, time and consideration about how you put yourself together. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.
French women and Italian men still dress the best by far but generally, style is just getting a bit lazy (as the God awful ‘onesie’ trend denotes). As I said in another post recently, it’d do us all some good to slow down a little, take care over the way we shop, really think about our choices. They do matter.