Since moving here I've noticed many disturbing changes about myself. These have mostly been outlined in the "You start becoming a Finn when..." entry. Some of them perfectly acceptable (being able to sleep like the dead when the sun is out), others...not so much (thinking the taste of salmiakki is actually acceptable...sigh).
Well over the past several weeks another observation has caught my attention. And it has offended my design sensibilities.
As a general principle, I am someone who does not terribly care for fashion. I have my own sense of style (i.e. I am odd and I don't really care) and it's never really bothered me what people thought about what I wear. If I like it, then I wear it, and that's as far as it goes. Whether or not it's in season or particularly "in" has never really crossed my mind since maybe middle school.
Boy has that changed since I arrived here. I expected that it may change somewhat, since this is Europe after all, and no longer San Diego (where you can get away with flip flops and shorts for a great amount of the year and barring certain clubs and lounges no one will care), but I didn't expect a change of this magnitude. I didn't expect to feel...ashamed.
Me! Ashamed! O_O
No longer can I stroll down the streets in whatever I please. I do actually have to put some actual thought into the clothing I wear past just what I like and what may be comfortable. It's bullsnatch to an extent but however it happened, I've started to buy into it. I can't believe it. I've become one of those people.
Well, to an extent.
Another contributing factor to this feeling of ashamedness is the fact that I have lost some amount of weight since coming here. A combination of needing to walk everywhere, public transportation, a certain lack of car, late nights, and the expense of food, have all caused my sudden loss of muscle mass. Which means I am smaller. Smaller than I was before. Which means my clothes fit differently. Which means they fit less well. Even less well than they did before.
Which in this country, is unacceptable.
Because whoever thought that skinny jeans were a good idea, also decided that Finns needed to wear them. And Finns absolutely love skinny jeans. And skinny pants. Of all colors. Easter colors. Pastel colors. All the colors of the rainbow. Skinny, everywhere. Teenage boys wear skinnier pants than I do. It's that kind of shaming quality.
So I decided to give it the 'ole one-two punch-kick. First, I made room in my limited closet space for clothing that fit. This meant going through my three-month-old newly-shipped clothing stash, and getting rid of anything that didn't fit appropriately or could be deemed appropriately fashionable in my newfound homeland. This ended up being four plastic trash-bags worth of clothing and shoes. To be fair for the shoes it was more about whether or not I could actually wear them comfortably for long distances, since I actually walk places now instead of getting in and out of my car. Anyway, three bags of clothes, one bag of shoes.
I then walked my bags (with the help of German K) to the local donation bin, and upped my karma levels for the next few weeks. Someone might as well make use of my over-sized and as-yet unfashionable clothes. From what I've seen of the second-hand clothing stores here (hilariously named "UFF"), they seem to go with themed clothing as is, so my stuff will fit in quite nicely.
Closet cleared and ready for clothes that actually fit. And hopefully are more culturally acceptable.
This past weekend I was able to drag my butt out and actually get into a store or two. Or eight. Four and a half hours of shopping later, I had achieved one of my goals. I found pants that fit. Pants that I could walk down the street in and not have to wonder if I was somehow insulting people just by being.
To be honest I found four pairs of these pants, over two stores. One pair of black pants (plain, could be dressy or casual), navy blue pants, a ridiculous pair of Yves Klein blue pants (this was one of my goals...I've always wanted a pair of pants in this color), and an even more ridiculous pair of jeans in plastic Easter grass green.
I decided I wasn't cool enough to carry off the hot red pants that every Scandinavian seemed to be wearing this season, and thought green might be a good segway into the fashion world that I was otherwise unfamiliar with. Also, it allowed me to stand a little clearer from hipster territory, which I was falling dangerously close to.
Ridiculously expensive? Sure, in comparison to the States. But everything in Finland is, and I decided I would just roll with the punches in order to not feel sad about my clothing.
And so it is, the girl who otherwise cares little about fashion finally has, at least, pants that fit appropriately. At least according to the Laws of Finnish Pants (LFP). (I think the quote goes, "If you can still stick a salmiakki candy in there, it's not tight enough.").
Stay tuned for more of my adventures into Finnish/Euro fashion...