Living in Europe has affected me in many ways. And one of those ways, though I rarely discuss it, is fashion sense.
But to begin, you have to understand that I have no fashion sense whatsoever.
None. My second semester acting as pledge educator in my sorority, my pledges gave me the “biggest ‘fro with the most mismatched clothes” award. Really, they were lucky they survived their initiation evening.
My point is simply that not a single iota of my being willingly excepts clothing trends. The only two fashions I ever took up and ran with were the grunge rock flannel shirts and boot cut jeans of the early/mid ’90’s. Both items were comfortable and matched everything…how can you go wrong with that? But I digress.
When I really started to gain weight, my wardrobe consisted almost entirely of over-sized, baggy jeans and huge grey t-shirts. Partially because I was so horrified by trying on clothes that I just picked a size I knew was big enough to fit so I wouldn’t have to look at myself in the mirror trying it on, but also because, meh; grey, jeans…always matches, very functional, I had no life and never went anywhere that wasn’t work or graduate classes, so who cared?
As soon as I moved to Belgium, however, I became acutely aware of fashion, trends, and the differences between what I saw in the U.S. versus Belgium:
Men wearing tight pants and t-shirts, women with asymmetrical haircuts and boots all year round.
Thin-soled, very narrow cut shoes (which still kill my feet and fall apart within 3 months of buying them so I refuse to wear anything but my steadfast American-bought Skechers as my everyday shoes).
Both genders wearing scarves as an accessory, even in the summer.
Madness, I tell you!
Early on I refused to give in and pledged never to buy boots that weren’t for snow and a scarf that wasn’t woolen and made to keep my face warm.
And I held out for almost 2 and a half years before caving this past april and buying a pair of casual brown boots to wear occasionally when going out.
I then quickly followed that up by buying a gauzy green scarf to wear for the bachelorette party thrown by my coworkers for myself and another colleague who got married the month before me. I needed something cheap and green and it didn’t even occur to me that by buying it I’d broken the other half of my boot-scarf embargo pledge until I saw pictures of myself.
In boots and a scarf.
Oh the shame.
And so I vowed extra, extra vehemently against the next big trend that came around: skinny jeans.
I hate skinny jeans! They look like a pair of Levi 501s took advantage of a pair of stirrup pants after one too many tequilas.
Seriously, I’ve never seen such unflattering jeans. Even skinny girls with no thighs and flat butts look like tent pegs in these things. And we won’t talk about those of us packing extra weight. Okay, I lied. We will, and it makes heavy people look like weebles.
And so it came about that I swore to myself to never ever buy skinny jeans, no matter how long they stayed the trend here in Belgium.
Until yesterday when I was in C&A, desperately searching for cheap work pants and came across a pair of black pants that fit comfortably and were under 20€.
But as I slid them on I realized they were the dreaded skinny jeans. The fabric wrapped around my calves, tighter than my normally bootcut-clad lower legs are accustomed to. The extra fabric bunched by my ankles, achieving that quasi leg-warmer look that echoes the ’80’s and is one of the main reasons I so detest skinny jeans.
And yet the waist, butt and thighs fit perfectly, especially for all the bending, lifting and standing I do while at work. And the price was right, which can be rare here in the land of uber-taxed and thus uber-compensated labor.
So I bought the bastards and wore them today to work, cringing internally and hoping no one would pick up on my noticeable weebleness.
While in fact, both female coworkers did notice, and actually asked me where I’d bought the pants, since they apparently liked them so much. Proving to me, once again, that Belgium has much more fashion sense than I ever will.
Resistance is futile.