Short story of Czech fashion ingorance
When the recessist, anti-nationalist group ‘We don’t want Czechs in the Czech Republic’ was choosing their logo, they decided for a one that purposely underlined all stereotypes about how Czech people are unstylish: In the picture you can find a well humored, beer holding creature with an enormous beer belly (since of course, we love drinking it and we drink it a lot). He is wearing blue sweatpants and a T-shirt, using a plastic bag from a cheap supermarket instead of a proper one and, most importantly, he is wearing white socks in sandals. Specifically this feature became the number one symbol of unstylishness of this nation.
As all the stereotypes, this one of our fashion ignorance has a tiny bit of truth in it. Even when speaking with a person coming from a poorer country, I often notice that he or she is generally a lot better dressed than the majority of my compatriots. What is more, this even applies to our celebrities, for a lot of whom sexy and stylish still means having the least cloth on their body possible, or to a good part of our politicians, that still haven’t outgrown the sloppy tesil suits of the communist rulers.
Notably, this picture comparing the Czech and Slovak presidential couple illustrates quite eloquently that money, region or the past are not necessarily the primer determinants of fashion conscience or ignorance of a nation. Rather, it can be a mentality issue.
Hikers and dissidents
“A miraculous mountain is going to grow in the middle of the Wenceslasz’s square.” By this title, a certain fashion-blogger introduced an article pointing out that even in the city centers, a lot of Czechs look like that they are about to set up on a hiking trip in the mountains.
This one feature is particularly striking: Czechs love wearing sport jackets, blue jeans and sneakers. As they would put it, they like dressing practically, comfortably and of course, inexpensively. Those qualities seem to be essential for the Czech people as they will always rather buy an expensive car and a Chinese soup in a supermarket than spend the money on clothes and fancy dinners.
This having said, I am not implying that bad fashion taste equals a narrow-minded person. During the communist era when the idol was a working man, dressing up well surely wasn’t the top priority of the cultural discourse. But even the anti-communist dissidents were known for wearing baggy sweaters, long hair and glasses almost bigger than their face. Notably our first post-communist president, the worldly respected Václav Havel, is famous for wearing too short trousers at his own inauguration into the office. A lot of us were told that the personality, not the surface is important when judging a person.
Now would be the time to overcome this discourse and say out loud that you can be beautiful in the inside, but the outside matters as well. With the new generation, this new conscience is notably rising – nowadays, fashion blogs are among the most read in the Czech blogosphere and new original shops and flea markets offering not necessarily posh, but still stylish fashion are being opened all over the Czech Republic. So, if we are lucky, the socks in sandals stereotype might vanish in a couple of decades. But even if they don’t, dressing badly isn’t a just a Czech speciality – as everybody who knows The People of Walmart would certainly agree.