E is for Elegance


A regular evening on the town (family member in Bucharest)

When I visit Romania — and we take a stroll downtown — I look severely underdressed, a fact that amuses me a great deal.

I’ve lived in Southern California for the past twenty-two years, where dressing up is for special occasions. Otherwise, I’m more interested in comfort — jeans or comfy slacks, and since we have long and hot summers, shorts and slippers during the weekends.

But that’s a fashion faux paus in European cities. God forbid one goes out in slippers, or just any old t-shirt over a pair of classic jeans.

Ha. Ha.

When I accompanied my niece to a Bucharest hair salon, the stylist — who knew my niece would bring her relative from the U.S. — looked around our group and asked:  Which one is your relative from America? I pointed to another family member and said: I’m the driver.

But seriously, Europeans, especially urbanites, love their fashion.

I still remember a time when I wouldn’t have left the house without proper makeup and spiffy clothes. I would have never ventured to the local coffee shop, as folks do here for a run to Starbucks, in sweat pants and some plain t-shirt.

Sure, in Romania fashion awareness is a condition of the youth. For the most part. And times are changing. I see more and more casual wear than ever before. More comfort-minded people. But even as casual wear enters the Romanian consciousness, fashion is, and will probably always be, the go-to style.

Me, well, I thank my lucky stars I don’t have to worry about style anymore. It’s exhausting.

~~ With this short post, my dear friends, we close the first A-Z week. I greatly enjoyed reading your comments and your blogs. See you on Monday, when we have F for Frigarui (Romanian kebab).



36 responses to “E is for Elegance

  1. I’m sticking with my jeans and flip flops!

  2. True in Prague as well years back, but it is now very cosmopolitan and you see all manner of comfy clothes.

  3. Frigaruri – sounds a delicious Monday word … interesting about dressing up isn’t – the French are known for it, as too the Spanish .. and in South Africa they used to get dressed up to go to the Mall .. I can’t say I worried … but! … we do tend to want to blend in ..

    Cheers to the driver! … Have a good weekend break – Hilary

  4. There were times in my life when I was excited to start a new job where I was expected to dress up. The excitement usually died after the first week of shaving my legs daily. :-)
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

  5. Great post! I’ve had a couple of friends/family travel overseas (mostly to the British Isles) and they echo exactly what you’re saying here. People dress up over there for the most part, making an effort to do more than sweatshirt and jeans. That’s nice in theory, but sometimes there’s nothing more wonderful than just a plain ole t-shirt.

  6. I’ll stick to jeans, too. But I don’t mind donning spiffy clothes from time to time, especially when I go out. I can always change into my most comfortable clothes when I get home. :-)

  7. This part of Canada,similar to where you are,the fashion is more laid back for the most part. I am in not only the geographical ” comfort zone” but the chronological one as well. Loving your posts.

  8. I’m all for the comfort. Since I retired, I seldom dress up.

  9. Ooo. More food ideas. I’ll bring a plate and fork. I read a blog earlier this week on fashion in Italy. Seems the Europeans are much more self-conscious about it. Here in MN, we’re just trying to stay warm!
    Play off the Page

  10. In the few big European cities I’ve been, I noticed the same. The women are all so stylish compared to here in the U.S. It’s kind of nice, though I’m used to dressing for comfort, too. Yum, can’t wait for Monday!

  11. Ah, but it makes for such fun people-watching! :D

    Of course, I’m one of those people who loves to dress up… although I do not chase the current style. I’m all for dressing however makes you feel comfy and not giving a whoop what anyone else thinks about it.

    ~Tui Snider~
    @TuiSnider on Twitter
    My blog: Tui Snider’s Offbeat & Overlooked Travel
    I am also part of the #StoryDam team, a friendly writing community!

  12. Since I’ve retired I really don’t care what I’m wearing. Decades ago when we visited Paris I certainly did notice the level of appearance.

  13. Have really enjoyed your a-e. For me, this is what #AtoZChallenge is all about because I would never have read about Romania otherwise :)

  14. Yeah, agreed, shorts and sandals all summer, please. Dressing up is too much work.

  15. Such a breath of fresh air, your posts are. Casual is my middle name. I hate to dress up. Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog.

    Best regards,

  16. I don’t think I’d know what to do with myself if I had to live in a place that expected me to wear makeup all the time. I very rarely wear it these days, and probably last wore it with any frequency when I was 22.

  17. I found quite a difference between style expectations just from the west coast (where I grew up) and the east coast when my MIL said, “You aren’t going like that, are you?” We lived for 7 years back east, and I was so happy to get back to the west coast where we can run to the grocery store in jeans and flipflops! Lovely post!

  18. It is so interesting the differences between countries, and even within countries. I did notice a difference between West Coast and East Coast cities here in the U.S. I definitely was also aware of this emphasis on fashion in Paris and London–I was in Budapest some years back, and now that I think of it, I noticed it there too. Thanks for this post! :)

  19. Thanks Sylvia, and thank heavens for more laid back dressing when going out and no need for the full works when going about the day. Special occasions require dressing up, the theatre, out for dinner etc which is always great to do, dress up, put on the glad rags..

  20. I’ve always loved the way West Coasters interpret fashion with a casual twist — it isn’t sloppy, but it is skewed to comfort. Great post and beautiful blog.

  21. Hello, Sylvia

    What a great topic. I can vicariously live a moment in Romania through you. Elegant dressing may be important to some but I’m of the opinion that true elegance surpasses fashion by simply being the person one is. By the way, nice casual eye-candy which explains well what I mean (I know he’s a family member of yours, but still… :) )

    Thank you.

  22. I, too, enjoy my jeans and t-shirts, shorts and tank tops. I feel that if you are wearing what you feel comfortable in, you have more self confidence in yourself. For me, wearing a dress, pantyhose, and heels, makes me feel uptight. Great post. See you Monday!

  23. helldoesntownme

    I have always loved fashion though friends have described me as “comfortably elegant.” I am my mother’s (Portuguese) & father’s (German) daughter. Even the family I lived w/ after my parents were killed were French & English & we were also required to dress appropriately. I feel like a child in a t-shirt and jeans or a full skirt. Jackets are my friends even in the summer.

    Attending the opera or theatre in NYC used to depress me because so few people dressed for the occasion. Here in Houston, most do dress for such events but women here don’t accessorize. I’ve learned to tone things down a bit but still wear one or two interesting pieces so I’ll feel I’m dressing to the standards I was taught.

    Look forward to the post on Romanian kebabs. Drusilla (http://lovedasif.com/)

  24. Being stylish IS exhausting! lol

    I couldn’t imagine spending the time to get all dolled up to go down to the grocery store. Or grab a cup of tea. Or just leaving the house.

    It would be very cool though, to see people walking around looking so put together.

    Carrie~Anne at That Dizzy Chick

  25. It is true. The Europeans believe in dressing up when going out! We were considered ‘trashy Americans’ some years ago when we visited Switzerland. Won’t make that mistake again.

  26. I always find it interesting how underdressed we Americans can be when we travel abroad. I’m not very fashion conscious even by American standards, so it’s always a challenge to me to make sure I don’t stand out in that way.

  27. Thanks for tips.
    On the A to Z Challenge Maggie@expatbrazil.

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