When I lived in London, you could always spot an Italian, Spanish or Eastern European girl in the winter. Puffer/quilted coat with either trainers or killer boots. A look they pull off with style. Us British girls were in *wool coats, leather shoes, boots. Trainers were for the gym. We froze regularly.
In the 10 years I’ve lived away from the UK, I’m in this no mans land of still being British, not so much British. When I go back to visit, it’s always a culture shock. I feel more at ‘home’ in Barcelona and I even though I didn’t like my time there, even France a little bit. I’ve picked up some Spanish ways, eating late (10pm is early), beach culture (that’s obvious), the 10 minutes late is on time (okay, that’s me in general), a manner of asking for things that would be considered rude in the UK (thank you is used more than please. Please is used differently here. When I use it, I’m that British girl with my Britishness quirks).
I believe that even though fashion is universal, every country interprets it differently and has a ‘look’. I can always spot a British girl on holiday here, flip flops, sandals, skirt or dress looking how the magazines say to dress in Barcelona or a Mediterranean city. I can also spot the 2 types American girls. Younger girls are in running shorts, ‘ice skating’ skirts, flip flops or trainers with a tank top. Older girls looking like how the magazines say to dress while in an European city, but with more polish than British girls. I’ve regularly have this conversion with my German and French friends who say they too, can spot their own country men on holiday here in an instant.
I wore wool coats here or rather until France. I froze a lot. Cycling in a wool coat does nothing for wind chill thank to the collars! I needed a new coat in France and couldn’t find a wool one I liked (plus I’m trying not to wear much wool. A vegan thing!) and crossed over to the dark side. I got my first non down puffer/quilted coat. OMG. Why didn’t I before? They’re so warm! You get to go outside in a duvet! My first step to ‘being European’!
Next was footwear. Up until my achilles injury 2 years ago, during the summers it was flip flops and sandals. Never mind my feet were red (not from sunburn) and slightly swollen at the end of the day, they looked chic. During the winter, non leather ankle boots or plimsoles. Nearly European. Still wore my wool coats! That all changed after my injury. Flip flops or any footwear without an ankle strap or laces were banned, mostly thanks to insoles I had to wear. I got my first pair of Converse hi tops. Converse because they go with everything. Nearly European!
A lot of girls here in the summer and all year round wear Nikes, Adidas, Converse with shorts, skirts, leggings, jeans. There are still plenty of sandal and flip flop wearers, but trainers are more common. After my last physio/osteopath visit we got talking about shoes. I’ve been having some arch problems recently and as anybody who’s visited an osteopath or physio, knows they detest flat shoes, namely flip flops, my beloved Converse and equally don’t like heels. They understand flip flops happen. Gym changing rooms and showers, short trips, but would prefer you don’t wear them. This physio was the one who broke the news I don’t need to wear insoles any more. Yay! However I’m so used to wearing trainers, I no longer shop for ‘pretty shoes’. I look lovingly at them, sigh and walk on as I know what they can do to my feet.
So what’s this got to do with being European. The physio said no Converse, too flat, find a trainer with a slight heel. So I got my first pair of Nike walking trainers. My mother would call them ‘ikey’ and I would agree as I got them with running errands in leggings, black skinny jean in mind, not shorts. They don’t quite go with much at the moment, but my feet are so happy at the end of the day! Denim shorts, Nikes like the locals. I think I’m might be turning European!
Trainers or sandals in the summer? Flats or heels?
*When I was last in London I was surprised at the amount of puffer coats being worn. London is multicultral, and like most countries, how they dress in the capital and larger cities isn’t always a reflection of how the rest of the country dresses. British girls love their wool coats because they look much chicer than puffer coats.