Saturday, 11 June 2011

Something in the Water

I am sorry, German people, I do so love you and I really don't like making personal remarks, but, um, your clothing - what is going on? I mean, I know you've got Jill Sander, but it seems to me that she's the fig leaf - or the exception that proves the rule.

I'm not actually sure how to put this but perhaps I should start by telling you that it would be almost relaxing to live in your country, simply because so many of you dress so badly. Incredibly, I realised, while strolling the streets of Munich, that even I, for once, looked (very nearly) chic.

I know it's rude to say so, but your colour sense, your understanding of materials, proportion and, well, everything is all too often abysmal.

Look at this man, for instance - the picture is blurry I know, which means also that you can't see his pony tail or his mandala medallion (and the bicycle, unfortunately, is hiding his Crocs [which sold better in Germany than anywhere else, apparently]), but even so - a grown man, in public, in that shirt?

Let's get down to brass tacks: there are people in Munich who make Canberrans look smart. Actually, that's an outright lie. No-one makes Canberrans look smart - but, on the other hand, they never look as if they've ever thought of making any effort. They rarely look even faintly flashy, whereas, sadly -  and bafflingly - you lot often do. Rather than ignoring the question of fashion, you give the impression that you've thought about it quite a lot and, after much thought, what you've decided is  that you will wear everything and anything that catches your eye. Where Canberrans purchase new things only very reluctantly, you, it seems from the dazzling quality of your garments, go out and buy stuff at the beginning of each new season. You've given the matter careful consideration and you've spent lots of money and then,fresh from one too many sessions at the Bräunungs Institut, you've emerged onto the streets in get-ups incorporating purple and orange polyester, gleaming white shoes and plenty of gold trim.

I don't understand it: you are so brainy and you've produced wonderful music, your trains are formidable, your literature and philosophy is pretty tip-top, yet no-one except you lot - and all those poor sods who only emerged two or three decades ago from under the Soviet yoke and still know no better - would contemplate even for a millisecond purchasing garments such as these (available in Munich now, at quite surprisingly high prices), unless they were planning to attend a fancy dress party dressed as a lunatic:

(Leaving aside the absurdity of lederhosen in a day-to-day situation, it's the little knotted kerchief that strikes a note of sheer farce)
To paraphrase the most frequent comment made about me by teachers in reports throughtout my school career: 'you could do better if you didn't try.'


  1. Lederhosen or not-lederhosen, a blousy tucked-in shirt combined with straight tight trousers does not work anywhere, in any country, on any human being, except perhaps a pirate, with plaits in the beard, and those plaits on fire, to distract visitors and guests from the fact that you look like a mushroom.

  2. unfortunate that you saw some bad styling in Munich - it's normally a pretty smart city - but Germany is a country of two halves - the 'proles' (their word, not mine) tend to dress appallingly (leather waistcoats, black t shirts with red indians and wolves on, cowboy boots etc) whereas the schickeria normally wear that expensive eurotrash preppy fashion (chinos, deck shoes, ralph lauren sweaters etc) You must have been there on a bad day! Try Hohenzollern strasse and Maximillian strasse for the full eurotrash boutique 'beautiful people', and gartnerplatz in glockenbach for the edgy street fashion! like this:

  3. Umbagollah - How did you know I look like a mushroom. Who was the bastard who let that secret out?
    Worm - 'expensive eurotrash preppy fashion (chinos, deck shoes, ralph lauren sweaters etc' yes, yes, yes, I saw all of that (ugh) - and the richer Austrians like all the same stuff too - but, leaving aside the whole horror of actually choosing to buy clothing with little men swinging polo sticks emblazoned upon it, (how much does one pay to be a free billboard anyway?), many of the members of both nationalities seem to me to go for slightly more harsh jarring colours than, say, (to pick at random), the French or the Italians, and both wear deck shoes that are a little too brightly new and have, often, tans that glow in the dark, and a lot of the women tend to choose lipsticks that are a little too sugary pink, with a touch of apricot mixed in for added clash, and the hair colourists they use don't want anyone to ignore the fact they've been at work and the men have a fondness for blazers a la that slightly orange British MP from the party whose name I can't remember that wants to get everyone out of Europe and gold-coloured objects do seem to appear more regularly about the person than they might than in some other places. With the other lot, so expertly described by you - leather waistcoats, black t shirts with red indians and wolves on, cowboy boots - my impression is that a grey ponytail tied back with a rubber band is pretty much de rigueur to complete the picture. Maybe that is more particularly Austrian - I don't have as much experience of Germany as Austria. I should also point out that two of my very best friends, with whom I've just spent many happy hours, are German and dress beautifully - ie they don't think about it that much and wear nice, well-made, unflashy things - so I'm not saying every single German looks terrible, simply that the look on the street is very distinctive and strikes a non-German as somewhat odd on first arrival. Part of the problem is that France is their neighbour, rather than England. The contrast would not be so stark with England.

  4. A friend of mine appeared in lederhosen just last weekend. I was too stunned to comment and had to ask his ex-wife later if it were a joke. Apparently not. He is of German heritage.....

  5. Hi, Nurse - Presumably you now know why she is is ex-wife?

  6. Another mushroom. They are the Elves of Plants, according to Emily Dickinson.

  7. And delicious, when cooked well