Friday, July 24, 2009

Swedish Fashion Tips

Stockholm is a fashionable city. At least that’s what I’m told. Today made me question all of that.

In a two hour span after I left work this evening, my eyes were assaulted by fashion. Swedish fashion.

First, a girl, maybe 17 or 18, walked by with her friend. They had the standard issue Swedish teenager attire. Black tights under a skirt. Enough make-up to make Krusty look natural. And a striped shirt. Now, that’s really not that strange. Of course, one of the girls had a hat on. Again, not horribly strange. Except that the hat also doubled as a rainbow colored umbrella. It wasn’t raining. Nor was it sunny. While function may be style, this had no function.

Just an hour later another girl walked by. I’m going to put this one in her early twenties. Again, pretty standard uniform. Skirt. Striped shirt. Black tights. But then I noticed that the tights were shiny. Reflection shiny. She was wearing latex. And at that very moment I realized why when I have kids, they have to be boys.

After this realization, I sped past the Linnea Latex, only to be met by the ‘80s in a showdown with the ‘50s. The ‘50s won. Or at least won my attention. Because standing right next to me, waiting for the subway, was what Red would describe as a tall drink of water. I am a tall person. Over six feet tall. This man towered over me. And he was dressed in black. All black. Black boots. Black jeans. Black shirt. Black leather jacket. Black glasses. Black hair. All black.

Since moving here over two years ago, my definition of tight has changed. Tight shirts. Tight pants. There’s American tight and there’s Swedish tight. So when I notice tight pants at this point, they are tight. Uncomfortably tight. And his black pants were uncomfortably tight. For me. And I can only imagine for him.

Lucky for me though, I got to share a subway car with him. Now a guy that cool doesn’t need to hold on to anything in the subway car. Of course, subway cars don’t recognize cool and he was thrown throughout the car. In a pathetic attempt to make it look more natural, at one point he actually tried to break out some sort of dance move. While whipping his leather jacket (which had been draped over both shoulders like Dracula’s cape) off and twirling it into his hands.

It was during his dance move that I saw it. His black shirt. He had tucked it into his underwear. Sticking out of his all black, what turned out to be, façade was a pair of white underwear. And it was at this point that I made my second realization of the evening. I’ll stick to my four year old jeans. My Work Out West t-shirt from high school. My tennis shoes. Because I might not fit in, but at least I don’t tuck my shirt into my underwear.

Welcome to Sweden. Where fashion is all relative.

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  1. wow, pretty amazing city, sweden!
    i personaly have seen a lot of weirdos going around and strange things happen so now i'm totally nonchalant.
    once a girl around 18 was staring at me for 15 min on the train and i can swear did not even blinked. i had no f**idea what to do, i could not miss that cutey and was afraid of consequences... after evaluation of the consequences and pondering the risk of being kicked out of the country just did nothing,you know there is no way you can guess what is on the mind of these people . just sneaky .

  2. I really enjoy your blog tremendously, and loving your perspective on Sweden, as well as your humor. I'm an American who will be moving to Stockholm in a few months - I fell in love with a Swede - and really enjoyed my 3 month stay in Stockholm previously.

    I'm so thankful I can visit your blog for some comic relief during my transition.

    All the best!

  3. Jag tror jag har bott i en delad lägenhet med herr Kolsvart/Dracula. Brukade lämna stora hårbollar och bajsrester i vår delade toalett.

    Han råkade inte ha en Magic The Gathering-kortlek på sig?

    (För att vara helt ärlig så är "min" vampyr inte särskilt lång. Medellång, jättesmal, långt svart (vad annars?) hår som ständigt behöver duschas.

    .. och så brukar han ha på sig svarta nätlinnen. UGH.)

    Vet inte riktigt varför jag delade med mig av det, men oh well.

  4. The rainbow colored umbrella hat is clearly a case of fashion imitating function. I'm too practical to appreciate it. I've actually seen one of them in real life. For a dog. I'm unconvinced that it has a valid function for dogs either.

    Did you laugh at the guy in black? That is just so funny.

  5. Ahhhhhhhh...Swedish fashion, a sideshow. Your description of the female Swedish uniform is bang on, especially for a guy. I'm constantly mistified by the trends here and hover between "oh, how avant-guarde" and "WTF are you wearing?" The one constant is the Swedish young man's uniform (caveat: EMO dudes): Brand name polo shirt with brand name sweater or sweater vest, brand name jeans in the latest style (currently tight with elastic bottoms and low hanging triangle-type pockets) and "nifty shoes". one musn't forget the slicked back hair. Oh the "fashion".

  6. Maybe the girl was just signalling her preferences - you know what rainbow colours stand for?
    -- Wearing all black is so old thing, and yet every generation finds it all over again, as the latest greatest thing. Can't they invent any other colour? Your funny story proved that in every dark angel there is always something white - be it white underwear in this case, LOL! Great stuff, Hairy!

  7. Soo when are ya gonna visit the west coast where all the normal people live?:)

  8. Sweden is a city? I had no clue. Fun post though :)

  9. Poor cool & dark guy. You know, maybe his pants were too tight to sit. Or if he´d sit down they´d do more damage than good. Ouch! Well, to be fashionable or to look cool is tough.

    But it was nice that you got to witness a little dance move in a subway there in Stockholm/Sweden.


  10. @anonymous – damn right. When an entire country is a city it is amazing. Oops.

    The Swedes are sneaky though. Especially on public transportation.

    @peaceloveyoga – thanks, and good luck with the move!

    @simon – he didn’t have a magic the gathering deck with him. Although, had he pulled it out while busting his dance move mid-subway, I would not have been surprised. In fact, I think it would have added to his, umm, mystique.

    And Simon, these are the stories that everyone needs to share. Keep them coming.

    @E – I think it serves even less function for a dog.

    And no, I didn’t laugh. That would be mean. Instead I didn’t stop staring at him with slack-jawed amazement.

    @SwedishJenn – It really is. I just don’t understand. Especially when it does end up being a uniform. Everyone has on the same ridiculous clothing.

    @Smek – well the Pride Festival is coming up, although, I feel fairly confident that this girl just struggled a bit and thought she was being a little risqué.

    The white underwear poking out really did take away a bit of his coolness. Or as you say, revealed the good inside of that bad bad man.

    @anonymous – well, actually all of my family lives down south on the west coast. So I’ve visited quite a bit. And you’re right, it is a bit more normal.

    @anonymous – well duh. Come on now, didn’t you study your geography? It’s almost like Stockholm being the capital of Scandinavia. Oh wait…

    @anonymous – It’s not easy being that cool. You’re right about the sitting down though, it might have done permanent damage.

    p.s. I fixed the Sweden being a city thing.

  11. Going to Stockholm and thinking that it represents Sweden is like going to New York and thinking it represents the United States. The Great City in each country, whether it be New York, Paris, Tokyo - or in this case little Stockholm - always tends to attract the odd and the weird into various subcultures on display. The most of the "normal" people are hidden away in offices at daytime, and 95% (according to a recent newspaper article) leave Stockholm during their summer vacation. A wild guess is that left are an unproportionate number of fringe people, and a large number of foreign tourist, perplexed my "the average Swede".

  12. you're right. however, if we look at the population of Stockholm and the immediate surrounding area, it's about 1.5 million. Over 15% of Sweden's population. Compare that to New York for example, which accoutns for about 6% of the American population. So, yeah, it's not fair to assume the average Swede is a Stockholme, but it is more accurate than many other countries.

    You're right about the summer thing also. However, that 95% doesn't leave at the exact same time. And having lived here for over two years now, this fashion thing is not unique to the summers. Or even to Stockholm for that matter. While Stockholm may go to the extremes, the fashion sense of Sweden in general tends to be, shall we say, different, than what I have experienced in the US. Which is exactly what I enjoy. What I find entertaining. What I write about.

  13. I don't think Swedes has a strange sense of fashion. It's just that you notice all the whack jobs rather than the somewhat normal people. I live just about 45 minutes from Stockholm and here's everyone normal. The tight pants, however, seems to be fairly widespread. :)

  14. wonderful that the underwear reveal the facade is only mm thick

  15. It really was wonderful. I think it was actually better than his dance move. And let me tell you.. that was hard to beat.

  16. Hey Hairy, I tuck my dress and polo shirts into my underwear! But the trick is to NEVER let then poke above your waistband. I know, I are welcomed to totally make fun of me.

  17. well... I think that is hilarious. but as a general rule, if you come out and admit it, I'm not going to make fun of you. Unless of course I see you walking around and notice that your shirt is in fact tucked into your underwear. Then all bets are off.

  18. Dude, you totally made me paranoid! I kept on checking all day to make sure that my underwear was not poking above my waistband! Even though I wear nice ones I am sure that no one wants to see Björn Borg's latest on me.

  19. When I visited Stockholm last summer I saw a bunch of teen girls dressed like Batman villains, including the Joker. No special party they were headed to or anything. I thought it was cute. And it wasn't even the weirdest fashion I saw that week. The adult men in nightclubs won that battle.

  20. @Néstor - I am in your head. Just remember though, as I've written before, never, ever listen to me.

    @T. AKA Ricky Raw - it's true... and I think the summer bring sout the best in people. because during the winter, its harder to be "fashionable" when you're bundled up fighting the cold.

  21. Floridian in FinlandJuly 29, 2009 at 3:38 PM

    This isn't just the uniform for young Swedish girls only, but also in Helsinki and among various cliques of girls in the US. Latex leggings is the worst fashion trend ever. Metallic leggings are equally bad. Sadly though, it's trends like these that remind me that I'm getting older.

  22. Im really bummed to hear that leggings are spreading. its just not right.

    and lets not say we're getting older. we just have a more sophisticated sense of style. or something like that.

  23. hahahahahaha!!!! you basically described 90% of the female populations attire here!

    btw you are TALL!!!!

    i feel so normal here, im a tall girl, but sweden has some giants, makes me feel even short sometimes! :D

  24. and this guy was tall tall. I mean ridiculous. in so many senses of the word.

  25. I can't believe you think tight pants are strange but haven't said a word about "häng", a fashion style where people let their pants hang low to show off expensive underwear:

    Maybe because this is common in america too? :)

  26. I guess I am just used to seeing people with baggy pants. ALthough doing so to show off expensive underwear seems a bit much for me.