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What is it about European women...

What is it about European women that make them better dressed than US women? I do hope no one takes this in offense. The thing is I read and hear this comment EVERYWHERE. While my first trip to Europe is up and coming (end of Aug, YAY) I too have known a few European/Foreign women who just dress well. For some reason when I thro on a shirt and nice Bermuda shorts or capris and think 'Ok, this time I am going to look put together.' It turns out my foreign friend out dresses me in jeans and sneakers! I was just wondering if any other women felt the same? Also if anyone has an answer to this question? (Or if not an answer at least a thought(s).)
What is it?

Posted by
1035 posts

I don't know if I agree with the premise to the question. Yes, women in Paris, Rome and Milan dress better than women in Peoria. Then again women in New York dress better than women in Liverpool. I think part of it is when you are in Europe you see women heading to work, church, out for the night, etc.... Situations that require more formal attire than a march down the Champs Elysees for the average tourist. Nobody beats Paris, but LA, Manhattan, Scottsdale, etc give Europe a run for the money. There are parts of Europe, not going to disclose for fear of being yelled at, where women definitely do not dress well. Same for USA.

Posted by
3696 posts

I agree that as a whole European women seem to portray more of a sense of style than a lot of American women. Even when dressed casually they somehow seem to know how to throw a scarf around their neck with their jeans and tank top and look chic! When I was in Copenhagen all those gloriously tall Danish women looked fabulous no matter what they did. Just born with it??? I don't think it can be learned....

Posted by
276 posts

I've thought a lot about this as well. Of course not all women in Europe dress better than women in the US, but on the whole, I agree with Stacy. Europeans, even those in small towns, generally seem to take more pride in their appearance (not to be confused with vanity). I think part of it is the formality of Europeans; it's as hard to imagine many of the people I've met in Europe just throwing on some sweats to go the grocery store as it would be to imagine them immediately calling their elders by their first names. Another part of it may be that European women don't give up on themselves the way American women often do. I also don't mean any offence, because I'm guilty myself. From what I hear from other women as well as from watching marathon episodes of "What Not To Wear" (while recovering from illness I had a lot of time on my hands:P) it seems many women feel like, "I'm not as young/thin/pretty as I used to be, so why bother? Better to be comfortable." It doesn't help that in this country there seems to be an either/or mentality...you're judged as either "hot" or "not" with very little in between. This may be more perception than reality, but that's the way it often feels. Whereas in Europe, women are often admired for style, grace, etc in addition to "hotness". Of course men enjoy looking at a pretty young thing there as much as here, it's just that other qualities are appreciated and valued too. When a woman feels appreciated for more than just looks, she's more likely to take pride in herself, which, strangely, makes her more likely to take pride in her appearance as well...or not; just my opinion:) As for that effortless way European Women have of throwing on just the right accessory to pull the outfit together? Maybe it's carefully taught, maybe it's genetic. :)

Posted by
104 posts

Yes it is my first trip and I was raising the topic as I noted because it seems that I hear/see/read this a lot and wanted others opinions. Penny - "judged as either "hot" or "not" with very little in between. This may be more perception than reality, but that's the way it often feels. Whereas in Europe, women are often admired for style, grace, etc " I just dont think you could be more right. I too feel this way, and I always hated it, even when I was a 'hot' one. It seems our culture is to focus only on youth. Where they have a different view. Just some added thoughts. Thank you for all the responses. :)

Posted by
8512 posts

It's really hard to generalize but I think Penny has hit the nail on the head. Many different kinds of beauty are recognized and people feel less shame about their bodies. Sexy ads have women with all different color of hair and facial types. Women in bedroom scenes in films have small breasts. So when it comes to clothes, people prefer a fit that's closer to the body (not tight but fitted) with more darts and closer cuts. The funny thing is these clothes are made in the same factories overseas as ours. Finally, polyester blends aren't popular; clothes coming out of smaller washing machines have to be ironed anyway. People still iron a lot. Despite this I think we are capable of taking a nice fitted t-shirt and fitted jeans or slacks out of our dryers, putting on a necklace and earrings or scarf, good discreet make up and looking great.

Posted by
711 posts

I've been reading these to my wife, and was going to post one of her responses. After Kents admonition, I feel that it's better if I do not... ;-)

Posted by
1437 posts

Yeah... I think it's the sweater sets... or the shoes... or the jewelry that isn't costume-jewelry-made-in-China... or the silk scarves... or the leather gloves & handbag... Although I would never, ever trade my microfleece from Land's End... or my walking boots... or my elastic-waist jeans with the hidden pockets... or my RS daypack... {giggle} The simple truth is: it starts in the CRADDLE!
Have you wandered into the baby clothing stores over there?? WOW!!!

Posted by
712 posts

I also think Penny made some great points. You go to Super Walmart and see women of all ages dressed in ill-fitted clothing or ripped pajama bottoms or some other fashion taboo, but only it's not taboo. It's accepted. Meanwhile, an Italian woman goes out in the evening to get gelato wearing decent clothes. I don't know if it's a matter of European women dressing better as it is American women not dressing well enough (in general, not trying to streotype). But rather than allow it to intimidate me, I look at it as a chance to up my standards and take greater care to look appropriate, something a person should never stop doing anyway. It's not a contest or fashion show, but it does feel good to look good.

Posted by
6476 posts

LA? Really? Have lived here for 21 years. Sure there's the fashion seen on the TV shows but the real (as opposed to the reel) LA is casual with a capital C. Jeans with holes, flip flops and a ratty tee for both sexes is the norm. Cargo shorts at the moment because it's August. Dressing up might be switching out for a pressed blouse or shirt. Don't ever believe we all dress like the Kardashians.

Posted by
492 posts

I agree with all the above but I also notice their great posture. They don't seem to slooch and hold their heads higher. There seems to be a more natural grace or sensual carriage. Their body language speaks of more confidence. I noticed it years ago on my first visit to Rome when the girls would climb on a vespa in a skirt and look amazing.

Posted by
276 posts

Sorry, Kent, if I seemed to be man-bashing! I don't blame men, I think the problem stems more from Hollywood and Madison Ave. and spreads throughout our culture - including women as well as men. No hostility, promise:) Karen is so right about posture. The first time I noticed the difference in carriage between European and American women was in my college dorm; there was a girl from Greece who, though not at all classically pretty, had amazing confidence and walked like a goddess. Guys' jaws would drop as she walked by. I always wanted to be able to walk like that, not obviusly sexy, just graceful and poised, but felt that I could never carry it off. How do they learn that?

Posted by
12040 posts

I'll show this to my wife (Belgian) and see what she has to say. Important, though as Eli noted, not to generalize about the people you see going to and from work in large cities and to assume that is the norm. Although I don't see nearly as revolting as you can observe on the "People of Walmart" website, go to any strip mall outside the cities (yes, they exist in Europe, and they even have -gasp- big box chain stores!), and the image of the elegantly dressed European will quickly crash and burn back to reality. In my experience (the caveat being that I've never been to Spain or Italy), Belgians, and more specifically the Flemish community, are the most formal dressers in Europe.

Posted by
104 posts

Just to add to comments made about the whole men vs. women thing... I meant our culture as a whole. While I do feel men are not as frequently or as 'harshly' judged, they still are. The hot or not comment was meant both ways from me. Funny about the wal-mart stuff. I once read something that said they believed European women wear leather pants to the grocery store. Lol I think our culture it more of a relaxed one in appearance. Perhaps its because we are so unrelaxed in other areas where they are relaxed? I like the comments about poise. I think that would help. Can these things be learned? (Poise, dress, etc.)

Posted by
40 posts

Stacy, I noticed this when we were in London in March 2004 (we stayed in the Bayswater area and toured all-the-usual sites, plus did a lot of walking in the City proper and along Oxford Street). We were there during the week and saw a lot of locals coming and going from work or in the pub on the way home. The women were always very stylishly dressed: trouser jeans or slacks, pencil skirts, beautiful blazers and shirts, gorgeous high heel boots, leather totes and purses, not a hair out of place. Same for the men: I was drooling over their fabulously tailored suits and French cut shirts. My husband and I got a kick out of the lovely business wardrobes worn with dreadlocks, piercings, and visible tattoos. LOL we noticed the ONLY people wearing tennis or walking shoes and relaxed-fit jeans were the tourists! All in all the business people wery very classy dressers. The trip definitely inspired me to spruce up my own "business casual" look. We noticed the exact same thing in Luxembourg this past December.

Posted by
2193 posts

Aside from visiting an ASDA or other Walmart type place in the suburbs like Tom mentioned, you'll likely find American-looking people (not in a good way) at amusement parks. As for women in Europe, I must say that the most fashionable and beautiful women may be found in Spain IMO. Iceland is the next runner up. Then France (Paris in particular) and Italy tied. But Spain is far ahead of everyone else!

Posted by
712 posts

Randy you do realize that your "50+ pounds overweight" comment would spark a controversy. I'm not disagreeing with you necessarily, because huge beer guts and rolls of unhealthy fat are not an appealing look, regardless of where you live. The American "fast-food", processed foods, ride everywhere lifestyle versus the European lifestyle with lots of outdoor activities and walking everywhere and higher quality foods that lends to a leaner body type does lend a lot to the fact that the majority of them look better than the majority of us. However, let's not begin the concept that anyone overweight cannot look as good as something who is thin. There are some fashion designs that look better on something with curves and "meat on their bones". And let's also realize that thin does not automatically equal healthy or attractive. But that's a topic that has been discussed everywhere by everyone so no use digging up a dead horse, but when I saw your post just had to speak on it. I know you are not trying to offend anyone because it is a reality that we are just an unhealthy, overweight country (myself included), but I strut down a European street with head up just as well as a local - probably not, but let me think so! :-)

Posted by
6476 posts

Reading replies to the post "What to wear on plane," on the General Europe message board answers your question. NOT being critical of the responses as I too choose comfort over style. Merely noting a European women would never pose the question. Not in their thought pattern. The function of style and dress is a fact of life. Like breathing. Not so in the states. Comfort rules. When was the last time you wore heels to work? Guys, how often do you wear a tie these days? Maybe on wall street or as a police detective but you get what I am saying. Visited a friend's grave the other day and nearby was a funeral. About 40 people in attendance. Except for one elderly woman not one of the 20 plus female in the group wore a dress. No skirts either. Capris, and jeans mostly. Even two pairs of shorts with flip flops and these were females in their 50's. No one in black either but it is 85.

Posted by
1806 posts

@Stacy: The well-dressed Euro women just seem to know how to accessorize without over doing it. A plain tank top and jeans is always going to look more chic with strappy sandals, a bold "statement" necklace or bracelet and a well-made handbag than it will with $5 plastic flip flops from Old Navy and cheap metal earrings from Forever 21. But not every European woman looks like she just popped out of the September issue of Vogue just like not every American woman trots around town in Walmart sweats. @Randy: Europe is catching up fast with North America in terms of the number of overweight people. True, some European countries not as quickly as others, but make no mistake about it, with more convenience foods sold at groceries, loads of fast food joints springing up in the cities, and kids who enjoy laying about using XBox, morbid obesity is just around the corner. I don't believe you are trying to stir up any controversy by inferring the overweight are all a bunch of fat slobs who let their appearance suffer because of the extra pounds. I've seen the photos on your travel blog from your recent Australia/New Zeland trip and your own wife could be described as "zaftig", "Rubenesque" or "pleasingly plump" and I'm sure you don't think she looks like a slob.

Posted by
711 posts

Hi guys,
I've been reading this thread with amusement since Stacy posted it. It's truly a fascinating read. As a guy, I'm not going to comment, but I would like to caution against continuing the overweight vs. style issue. I can see this going to a place that Stacy didn't intend, and someone's feelings being hurt. We all love Europe, and we love to read about it, but let's keep everyone's emotions in check and their feelings in mind. Just a thought...

Posted by
104 posts

Thanks for the comment Darren. Your correct. I did not mean to go in the weight direction. I would not want anyone to be offended. I just felt that the comment had been made more than once over a number of years that European women seem to have some "je ne sais quoi" about them that lends a different air about what they wear and how they carry themselves. Someone posted about accessorizing, man is that true! I try different combos of stuff, but its a no go.
I will completely admit being a Floridian the flip flops are a big deal, can't live without them. lol I love that this topic has taken off. Neat! :)

Posted by
251 posts

Stacy,
I agree with your post. When I was a student in Paris(a zillion years ago) I wore mostly jeans and so did most of the other students. I felt so grubby compared to the stylish French women. When I returned to Europe last year I carefully selected outfits that I felt were both stylish and comfortable. I still felt intimidated by those classy Europeans- they just know how to put an outfit together!

Posted by
1035 posts

Claudia -- I'd say easily half the women in my large workplace wear heels. I wear a tie. Plenty of us still do.

Posted by
9363 posts

Claudia - I'm retired now, but I never once wore heels to work. They don't make steel-toed heels (or allow heels at all in my industrial workplace). Not every woman works in an office.

Posted by
1806 posts

@Claudia: last time I wore heels at work? Today. I work in a very corporate environment, and when I'm in the office I'm in a pant suit or dress with heels. But I also regularly have to go off site and climb around buildings. So I've got flats in my desk drawer as well because I'm not going to climb a 20 foot ladder then walk across construction debris in 3" Jimmy Choo heels. And unless it is a business trip that requires me to walk off an airplane and go straight into a meeting with my boss or a client, I'll stick with comfy layers and slip on flats for all my flights. Some people do take comfort to the extreme - shorts, jeans or sweatpants at a funeral service - extreme. Shorts, sweats or jeans on a 7 hour flight crammed into coach class - not so extreme.

Posted by
492 posts

My daughter lived in Florence and had an Italian boyfriend. She's a nice dresser but one day her boyfriend came to pick her up and looked at her purse she had chosen and asked if she was going to carry it with "that outfit".

Posted by
8179 posts

When my daughter and I went to Ohio 3 years ago, she and I were both rather appalled at how the teens were dressed. Not so much the style, but the complete lack of care in their appearance. Greasy hair, stained and dirty clothing, as well as pretty inappropriate outfits. This was at the mall, the grocery store, county fairs, etc. No way would a teen here go out of the house looking like that. Younger adults were almost as bad. Put it this way, never, ever have I seen a woman with curlers in their hair on the streets of Europe, but I have in Columbus. The fitness centers here are packed and there is one on practically every corner. Many people walk or ride their bikes to work. Even in a finacial center like Frankfurt, only about 32% of the people drive a car to work. Sure people are dressed up when they go to work in an office, but even on the weekends at fests or out hiking or whatever, it is often dressier. Have to say, I do see some awful fashion here in town, and there are some scuzzy folks running around, but on the whole, it is simply dressier. I think you would be hard-pressed to find obese people in shorts for example, though it is common in the US.

Posted by
711 posts

@clauida:still wear a tie quite a bit. My wife wears 4" heels almost every day, even when she was pregnant and comfort becomes paramount (well, maybe not everyday then...). I still see both ties and heels quite a bit.

Posted by
104 posts

Karen - Oh my how funny that is! (Laughing) I could see it tho. :)

Posted by
9 posts

A couple o f years a friend and I rented a wonderful apartment in Paris. We wore comfortable clothes but made an effort to wear clothes that worked well for us both in practicality and reasonably flattering to us. Nothing fancy..just basics. Subdued colors. We never felt out of place. We chose not to wear jeans altho I love them because denim limits you. Black jeans and the right top will fit in more places than comfy beat up blue. You don't have to spend a lot of money and go "dressy" to look put together, in my opinion you need to know what works for you both in the circumstances and for your own looks and body type.

Posted by
8512 posts

Just got back from an overnight in a Dublin airport tourist hotelkinda Ibis or Travelodge quality. No one was well-dressedIrish, English, French, German, Dutch, American, Russian. We all looked like travelers. I also have to point out that most of these tourist attractions are in high rent districts, so you are seeing wealthier citizens. Go on over to the 18th, 19th, 20th or the suburbs and you won't see as much chic. Rue Cler, Beaune, hill towns in the Luberon, and the Loire are not where the average French person can afford to shop and relax. If they can afford to leave on vacation at all, try the camp grounds, the number one destination for French vacationers. It's like that skinny, rich lady who wrote a snotty book that French women don't get fat False just as many rich upper-class women in the US are skin and bones, nipped and tucked in the US as in France. But that's not the average French woman, nor the average American woman. Or Elaine Sciolino's (NY Times bureau chief and reporter) new book on "Seduction". Her cohort in France is limited to a small group of extremely powerful insiders, who live near all these tourist attractions, and live near her, some whose nobility titles she conveniently omitted, who run the corporations and governmenthardly "the French" or anyone most of us would ever run into. They're chic though. Time to give this rant a rest.

Posted by
104 posts

Kat- "in my opinion you need to know what works for you both in the circumstances and for your own looks and body type"
You know that's a good point, I honestly think that could be a large part of my issue. Even here in the States I feel like dressing for me is hard. I have a curve about me and I am kinda short. So I find it hard to find things that fit just right. And I don't care what people say you just can't have EVERYTHING tailored! I don't have the money to do that sometimes for nice dresses, let alone jeans or pants, or tops. Good point tho, very good point. Thank you! Bets – Thank you for giving a different perspective, that really made me think. Tho I have been warned to stay out of the 18th and I will. I still understand. It's like when people come here and visit only New York or Disney and then form an opinion about ALL Americans or America. Excellent. Thank you.

Posted by
4374 posts

I must be visiting an alternative Europe - I've never seen such crappy outfits as I have in Paris! Filthy ballet slippers, 3 layers of t-shirts too tight, filthy-looking jeans, and those stooopid heavy yarn mufflers (NOT 'scarves') around everybody's necks - In 85 Degree Weather - and tied in that same 'slipknot' fashion. Ugh. Or, ugh-ly! Same for the men. I think the exotic factor comes to play in that they - French, German, Italian - look 'exotic', as in different from yourself. Heck, they look more confident because they're SURE of their metro/bus stop and aren't exhausted from that night train 2 days ago LOL! OK - Italians have the edge, but they aren't too smart about it sometimes. I've seen more Italian tourists in spike-heeled boots trying to negotiate the cobblestones of Bruges, etc. Of course they really couldn't, but Gosh Darn It, they looked GOOD trying LOL! There are plenty of well-dressed people in the USA, but I'll hardly ever see them - I don't hang out at the courthouse, at the HQ of General Electric, or spend any time in the halls of Congress. They get into their cars inside their garages, drive them to their employers' parking lots/garages, drive to lunch, then go back to their garages. But in Paris/Munich/Rome/Milan I see government employees, accountants, and department store managers walking to work, taking the metro/bus. The rest of the people shopping at Monoprix look like me...except obviously French/German/Italian.

Posted by
4374 posts

Oh - and Welcome, Kat! Isn't it time to go outside and flip your fried eggs, chocolate-chip cookies (saw those in Tyler), or whatever you've got cooking on your sidewalk?!? 8^O

Posted by
711 posts

@bets - "time to give this rant a rest" No way! While I'm not really contributing to this "rant", it is definitely one of the most entertaining posts that I've followed in sometime. Keep it coming! My wife and I are having a blast reading through these.

Posted by
104 posts

Darren, I'm so glad this has been entertaining for you and your wife. You know, I didn't think anyone would want to respond for fear of not being PC. Or something to that effect. Glad you have enjoyed, I hope others have too. I think it is interesting to hear the opposite of the statement. Maybe it isn't generally true. As I too have seen some things that are considered the height of fashion and are just plain awful! Take SJP (Sarah Jessica Parker). At times she can look amazing and well put together, but other times I wonder what the heck is she thinking...like Bjork. Somethings I just dont get.

Posted by
361 posts

Two things: 1.) they have Class and 2.) Don't belly up to a fast food stall with their huge feedbag purses.

Posted by
712 posts

Do American women get points for shaving our armpits? Sorry, but I don't care how "sheek" you are dressed, if you lift up your arm to hail a taxi with a thick growth under your armpit, it's not attractive... Did I just open up another can of worms?

Posted by
712 posts

Oh and by the way Stacy, you are so right about the reaction to certain "high-end" outfits. Sometimes it's cute and other times it's like "what in the world...???" I have that reaction alot while traveling in Italy. Certain styles are cute while others leave me questoning... "does she REALLY have that on?", "do those patterns REALLY match?". In the states you would see her on Fashion Police but over there you second guess yourself because since it's Europe, whatever hodge-podge outfit she has on MUST be the latest in fashion, right? I SWEAR I saw a man in Hammer-pants one time, but it's Europe, so I wasn't sure if he was really (REALLY) out of style or if it was coming back and US hadn't caught on yet... as usual. I just read in your initial post that your first European trip hasn't happened yet, so I will be so curious to see if you feel the same way once you are over there!

Posted by
3696 posts

@Jerry... Seriously?? Are you trying to alienate all the women who post on this forum? Edit... at least the American women?

Posted by
221 posts

I can relate to Stacy and some of the other posts. I have German women friends in their 60's and they are sexy as all get out, I think another thing is they make it a priority to get dressed up to go out and they carry themselves with confidence. Posture goes a long way, our mothers told us to stand up straight and it says a lot about how you feel about yourself. I think Europeans in general are more relaxed about their bodies and it shows in how they carry themselves.

Posted by
10344 posts

"I think Europeans in general are more relaxed about their bodies." What would be the basis for this statement? I'm not disagreeing with it, just interested in what might be the evidence or reasons for thinking this is so.

Posted by
263 posts

I'm a late comer to this topic....as a male, I do think European women dress and look better than women in my small town. Saying that, women in this town think nothing of going to the store in sweat pants, usually with words written on the bottoms. I never know if I'm supposed to read the rears or not. And as a male, I think European men are much better dressed than American males. Really, what do some of these people think when they get up in the morning? Cut off sweat pants? And biker shorts are not for everyone...my family, for example, banned me from wearing them. Yet many people here have not realized it. And could we all display some decency and avoid obscenities on shirts. Just sayin....

Posted by
104 posts

Love the arm pit comment! LOL You know as I think about how I dress, it is not like some of the things I have seen on this post. While I DO NOT put on dress and heels to go to Wal-Mart I also do not wear cut-offs or sweatpants. I am normally in jeans (sometimes shorts) and flip flops and a t-shirt. But hey I'm in Florida. I do not put on make-up everyday. I work in a home office (not my home), where my boss has three big dogs and kids running around. I also do not see clients or vendors. I have a boyfriend of 7 yrs, who for some reason tells me I look good in everything. Now what about my everyday life says, "Hey get up and be dressy today." ? LOL I'm thinking that this or something similar must be what American women are thinking. I could be wrong but its a mentality, or so that's what I'm reading. Well and maybe a posture.

Posted by
1035 posts

"....women in this town think nothing of going to the store in sweat pants, usually with words written on the bottoms. I never know if I'm supposed to read the rears or not." Now that is funny. I think it is perfectly acceptable as long as your wife/girlfriend is not within range.

Posted by
171 posts

I will admit that my personal style could best be described as utilitarian, but I sometimes think that all the scarves, jewelry, bags, etc., are just fussy-looking. I have never really noticed that European women dress all that different from American women. I've seen just as much bad hair, goofy t-shirts, and schleppy outfits all over Europe as i do in Chicago. I really don't see the point of wearing a scarf in warm weather as an accessory. Scarves with a tank top...why? Are you trying to stay cool or warm? "Statement jewelry"? What sort of statement does wearing big hunks of plastic around your neck make? Wearing multiple t-shirts and/ or strappy tank tops just looks uncomfortable to me. Fashion is a silly game and all too often, a total waste of time and money.

Posted by
712 posts

@kpf: I understand where you are coming from as it seems the mountains of accessories and "the shoe has to match the bag which has to match the stripe in your shirt which has to match your eyeliner and underwear" is a bit excessive. However, one of my pet peeves is when people see a person dressed ina stylish way and assume it's "fussy" or that it was a waste of time or money. For one, dressing nicely doesn't need to cost much. I personally love the Goodwill, thrift shops and Gabriel Brother's (for your PA/WV/OH people). Second, I can wake up and be showered and fully dressed, including make-up, hair, and all the suitable accoutrements in less than 30 minutes. Dressing stylishly doesn't need to be fussy if you know how to do it. If you don't, oh well - to each his own. But I wouldn't assume that a person who is well put together spends too much time in the mirror or too much money at the mall. Not so. @Stacy: I know exactly how you feel that there may seem like there is nothing in your life that requries excessive outfitting. But I work at a mental institution where most people don't know who they are, where they are and least of all, whether or not I look cute (and no comedy intended there - that is meant is a very serious way because it's sad situations). But I like to look nice for myself. I like to wear jewelry and make-up and do my hair and all that for myself. I feel better when I look better. And when I feel better, that shows iteself in how I treat others. So perhaps the ladies in Europe feel the same way. It's already been said they have a healthier lifestyle, so perhaps "looking good" is part of that plan too.

Posted by
2283 posts

kpf -- Loved your post. Of course, what do I know. I just found out I'm living in the third least fashionable city in the country. Monique -- Thanks for doing your part to keep our city out of the fashion toilet, but apparently it's not enough. I must apologize, because it's probably me that's holding us back. :) I haven't worn heels to work since 1982, and even then they were only 2".

Posted by
1806 posts

@Jerry: Recent studies of European women have shown a direct link between their willingness to accept small portions of food when dining out and their willingness to accept a man with small genitals into their beds. Perhaps you should look into moving to Europe...

Posted by
712 posts

@Carroll: LOL awww it's not your fault! Our city has great taste: some people just don't consider a complete black and gold wardrobe as fashionable - and that's their loss hahaha.

Posted by
361 posts

Sorry Terry but it is a poignant observation, wish it weren't so....

Posted by
8512 posts

Ceidleh!!!!
What is it about American women... that they don't put up with bllsh*.

Posted by
361 posts

Ceidleh, Your comment ( a personal attack on me) only bolsters my first point about European women, they have Class---if the shoe fits....! Ciao!

Posted by
1806 posts

Jerry: you certainly showed how much class you have by your sad assertion that all American women have no class when compared to the lovely ladies of Europe. If you can dish it out, then you should be able to take it right back without whining like a pathetic little boy. Bets: we may dress differently at times, but I think our European counterparts are just as outspoken as we are. If Jerry doesn't like women who speak up and voice their opinions, maybe he should move to a rural village in Afghanistan where the women have to silently suffer under their Burkhas listening to moronic comments from guys like him all day.

Posted by
104 posts

Well I by no means meant to start a fight. I thank you all for all of your comments and thoughts. Enjoy your upcoming trips! I know I'm going to enjoy mine.

Posted by
711 posts

All right, so someone made a GENERAL comment about European and American women. No matter how it may infuriate you, I would hope that we would rise above these personal attacks and keep our attacks general as well. Leave Jerry out of the attacks (after all, his was not directed toward anyone in particular) and direct them toward all men. I'm ready...

Posted by
2846 posts

The original question was about who dresses better and why, and I believe the quick answer is "scarves" which European women do very well. Also consider that when we visit there, they are dressed for work/profession, while we are dressed for leisure. Not everyone takes their nicest clothes for travel. But then the focus shifted to the question of "class" and Jerry's tasteless comment about bellying up to the fast-food bar and feedbag purses. I assume this actually applies to very few American woman, but the comment was offensive to all, and totally inappropriate. As for "class" or style, maybe there is an element of the exotic. I have French friends who feel inferior to American women for our easy friendship with the opposite sex. They feel the battle is on at all times, and they have to be prepared. And I have noticed when I travel in Europe, particularly France, I and other American women attract attention and are praised for our "style" and simpatico elements over the local women. Only because we are viewed there as new and exotic. So it is all a matter of perspective.

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3696 posts

@Darren....not all men feel that way...at least my son had better not...if he does I didn't raise him very well. I thought this was a fun post about fashion. Can't we get back to that or just let this end?

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711 posts

Personally, I believe that I look AWESOME in pink... And when I'm in Magenta? Let's not get me started... ;-)

Posted by
141 posts

Yay! Glad to see the post back on the right track. I was thinking the same thing, Monique, this morning about European men in addition to women - do they look more pulled together or am I just looking at Europeans as being more fashion conscious because I am specifically looking at their clothing - and a different culture - and ignoring the clothes on those who don't seem as pulled together? Is my fascination because I am acutely aware that I am not wearing what I would normally wear back home because I'm living out of a suitcase for 3 to 4 weeks? Do I feel that they are so much better dressed than I am because they are, as a practical matter, better dressed than I am dressed? How would they look to me in the USA wearing the same thing stuffed into a suitcase for 3 - 4 weeks? I agree with you on not sacrificing too much fashion sense while traveling. For me, I get great personal satisfaction when I feel like I look pulled together. I just can't pack like RS and be happy. Yes, I said it. The same style of shirt, shoes, and pants, day in and day out, would kill me. I'm not knocking it; hey it works for him and he appears happy - but it would kill me. Maybe we need to get together and design or put together a practical travel fashion line - comfortable yet chic multi purpose shoes, non wrinkling crisp blouses, light jewelry, light weight but non wrinkling skirts/pants . . . .

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141 posts

Just another thought . . . I could not help but think/wonder to myself on each viewing of Midnight in Pars, how the heck can Rachel McAdams be walking about in those shoes on cobblestones? Two conclusions: (1) no wonder she wasn't fascinated with Paris, her feet must be killing her, (2) this is just a movie, not real life.

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3696 posts

@Monique...I definitely agree... I travel very light but I have gone on lots of trips to Europe with many very fashionable women, and although I want to be comfortable I do not want to look like a frump. To me, feeling comfortable encompasses having fun with fashion and feeling good about how I look and that I can 'compete' with how fashionable a lot of European women look...and I know they don't care how I look, but I do. (Also, if you have spent a lot of time in Paris and are dressed up the Parisian women do look you up and down, so maybe they do appreciate fashionable tourists, after all it is Paris) Always carry on with one RS rollaboard and I also carry a lot of camera equipment. Lots of costume jewelry, scarves and everything that will mix & match, always skirts. I spend a lot of time planning my clothes...very shallow of me.

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12040 posts

HOLD THE PRESSES, HOLD THE PRESSES! After following this thread for two weeks, I did an informal survey today while grocery shopping at Rewe. Number of women wearing sweat pants: 4. Number of women wearing sneakers: about 12 (didn't get an exact count). Number of women wearing heels: 0. Number of women wearing dress slacks: 0. Once again... if you're going to compare the relative stylishness of women in Europe to North America, please make it an apples to apples comparison, not apples to oranges. Meaning, if you see impeccably dressed people going to and from work in Paris, Rome and London, compare them to the people going to and from work in New York, LA and Toronto, not your fellow shoppers in the suburban Topeka Walmart.

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711 posts

@Terry Kathryn - I totally agree. I would hope that very FEW men feel this way. I know for one, that my mother would stop talking to me if I said something along those lines. So, back to Stacy's original topic...

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3696 posts

I have a really fun blog to share with all who think fashion is fun. She is a young woman who traveled with a photo group we led to Spain & Morocco, and her sense of style is amazing. Anyway, on that trip she started pulling together lots of sketches of her outfits. She is a wonderful, quirky artist and has now been drawing and blogging about fashion ever since. Her blog is called My Closet in Sketches, and is a great fashion diversion. She drew outfits that she wore on our trip as well as little quips about where she acquired these clothes and accessories. Anyway, if you google it, I think it should come up. Just a fun and enjoyable little read to brighten the day. She was also just written up in the current issue of Lucky magazine. She is not selling anything, so I think its okay to refer people to her site. Maybe we can all figure out how to look like those European women on very little money and have fun with it, as that is what I think fashion should be (and comfortable) :) Her tag line is Always an Excuse to Dress Up! Her name is Lauren Friedman and she is originally from Ann Arbor, and now lives in DC.

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712 posts

YAY we're all friends again! :-)
I had stayed away for a few days because I got scared... You know how people say "the grass is greener on the other side"? I wonder if the same holds true in the case of style and fashion. While we sit here trying to figure out what it is about European woman that gives them an"it" factor, on some random European travel site they are having the same discussion, wondering why we American women seem to have a certain "flare". You think that's the case? Back to Stacey's question, I am so tempted to post another question "What is it about European MEN..." They definately have a knack to dressing stylishly. Suit, cologne, scarves, ascots, etc... And they aren't afraid to wear so-called "feminine" colors either (my sister has the cutest pic of Cristinao Ronaldo wearing a baby pink sweater). Do you think the same explanation as to why the women dress better holds for men? - not referring to the weight or class comments, I mean the legit posts.

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712 posts

Oh and one more thing... @Terry - I am so glad to hear that someone else is enthusiatic about fashion while traveling. I am def going to check that out!!! I posted a question on the TO THE BOOT section for my upcoming trip to Italy about health/beauty items and packing, and between that and just reading other posts, it seems like many women are willing to sacrifice fashion for the sake of packing "light". I agree you can't roll up to an airport with an entourage of suitcases, and when you're walking to your hotel, it's a pain trying to roll suitcases on a cobbelstone street or carry them up 4 flights of steps when there is no elevator, so packing light is definately advantageous. But personally, I don't think one should "rough it up" just to avoid carrying a suitcase. That might be one reason why people feel that European women dress better. American women traveling to Italy with only 2 pairs of pants to last 14 days are bound to look less than stylish after a while. My goal in life is to find the happy medium between practicality while traveling and just plain lookin' good.

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8419 posts

Diane, I noticed the shoes too... especially on her much older mother!

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141 posts

Susan - they were amazing weren't they? But then they are in a different league than me - I wouldn't even dream of shopping for expensive antique chairs - and I wouldn't have a driver waiting to take me a few blocks back to the hotel just because there was a small amount of drizzle (oh - that's right, I'm from the Pacific Northwest and we have webbing between our toes - probably why it makes walking in high heels on cobblestones in Paris so difficult!) :-)

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3696 posts

@Stacy... it was definitely a fun post with a few twists and turns. And yes, I see lots of European travelers at Disney as my daughter lives in Lake Mary so we go there a lot...maybe they are dressing down so they don't look like European tourists? They want to blend in to avoid the pickpockets... They want to look American? Have so much fun on your trip....

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1035 posts

Wow, Jerry, you got a beat down. A well-deserved one. When you say American women don't have "class" what does that even mean? And no American women have "class," while all European women do? Beat down.

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8419 posts

Diane, Yes! Shopping for antiques and those expensive chairs! I thought that was too funny. At least webbed feet come in useful where you are! LoL : )

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12040 posts

I just caught this comment while looking for Jerry's controversial statement: "Do American women get points for shaving our armpits? Sorry, but I don't care how "sheek" you are dressed, if you lift up your arm to hail a taxi with a thick growth under your armpit, it's not attractive..." Another one of those outdated stereotypes that refuses die, despite being obsolete by at least 3 decades or more.

Posted by
104 posts

Terry Kathryn – Awesome blog, thanks for sharing. :) Oh, and it is so not shallow of you to plan your clothes. I have been looking for the right pair of shoes for 2 months. LOL Monique – LOL Girl you are killin me! I love that you make good points with style. I don't know about your wardrobe, but your vernacular is very cool in my book! :) I agree about the pack light issue. How can this issue be fixed? Darren – LOL my guy wears pink, I think it's funny sometimes but he pulls it off. Diane – I will tell you, they look just like us when they are here. I say that because I see them at Disney. All kinds of people from all over; they are walking all day and they all have t-shirts and tennis shoes. And I love your fashion idea, I have seen some companies that claim to have fashionable travel clothes but mostly they don't, they are just clothes that don't wrinkle. And as I have posted this I will say I am coming to a few conclusions and they are: 1. We do tend to see people going to work and most dress up, if only a little, better when going to work. 2. Wherever we are and they are – they have access to their full closet and we do not. 3. We, as travelers, are doing more walking which also means more perspiring so we need clothes that are a bit more comfortable. 4. Plus Americans tend to dress up on an occasion basis, as it is our culture and they tend to want to dress up often. 5. American culture is more relaxed in style and theirs is more relaxed in time and practice. Of course I could be completely wrong about all this but these are my observations. I will say this for me personally I can't wait to get over there and do some research. LOL :) My trip is only 1 ½ weeks away!
This was a super fun post and I so hope to meet some of you friendly travelers on our travels. :)

Posted by
263 posts

Beating a dead horse....
I was in DeKalb IL yesterday and saw a young woman who was, to be polite, the wrong size for the spandex pants and tube top. She had the plumbers look going in the back, if you know what I mean. I don't recall seeing anything like that during my recent 5 weeks in France. But to be honest, I thought the older men dressed better there too. But what I loved was looking at the little kids....they all looked like they were out of a fashion magazine. I was not in an area that seemed like the people made a lot of money. And maybe the grass is greener on the other side of the ocean; and maybe people in larger cities dress better than people in smaller cities. I know your clothing expresses your person. I just wonder what a lot of people are saying about themselves. I have really enjoyed reading the comments on this thread. Thanks for keeping me entertained while my purple silk shirt, orange shorts and brown socks dry so I can go shopping for new sandals.

Posted by
1170 posts

I remember seeing women in Oxford and York all decked out on Friday and Saturdy evenings. We were in the UK for 5 weeks so I had quite a bit of time to observe things. I commented to my daughter that in general, the seem to get more fancy than people get for a wedding in the Midwest. Just got back from what was supposed to be quite a posh wedding and I was amazed at how at least half the people dressed, both males and females. There is almost a 'don't give a damn' attitude. As for well dressed Germans...someone commented about some German ladies earlier on. Were they in the States? We were in Mannheim and several towns nearby and I have to say they were as frumpy as some in my neck of the woods. In fact, my sister always complain about how folks dress there. Maybe in cities like Berlin or Frankfurt they take more care. Hadn't noticed anything about the way they carried themselves either. Nothing that made me stare, not like in Paris, or even some areas of Brittany. In Washington DC, folks going to and from work, out to dinner etc. Were better dressed than Midwest. But the worst dressed woman on my recent trip to Gent was a European woman wearing tights, and I guess deciding commando was okay because it was black! She looked like mid 40s, overweight and should have checked her outfit out first before leaving her hotel. I think in general, Americans tend to be very casual dressers, but this might be regional as well. I saw some fleece all over Europe but it was still tasteful and not baggy. I did see two English girls wearing pj pants, with nice tops and Ugg boots. They actually had nice makeup on, and the pjs were not baggy. In other words, some of our more tacky wear has caught on, but the add their little something to it which does not make them look like they just got out of Walmart. You guys gotta admit that we win the crown for tacky, trashy models in Walmart, lol

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12040 posts

"We were in Mannheim and several towns nearby and I have to say they were as frumpy as some in my neck of the woods." Glad you could provide independent verification, Eli, to some of the things I've been saying, as Mannheim is my neck of the woods. That's just the sort of "apples to apples" comparison I thought this thread was thus far lacking. Go up to Wiesbaden, though, and it's a whole different world... of clothing.

Posted by
57 posts

Tom, Thank you very much for your apples and oranges comment. I had been trying to figure out how to say something like that. Because with the possible exception of people just off work and stopping to get something needed for fixing supper you don't find dressed-up work-dressed people in Walmart or supermarkets. Other sorts of work-dressed people fit right in because you can't always tell the difference between more casual work dress and some people's everyday wear.

Posted by
57 posts

Tom, Thank you very much for your apples and oranges comment. I had been trying to figure out how to say something like that. Because with the possible exception of people just off work and stopping to get something needed for fixing supper, you don't find dressed-up work-dressed people in Walmart or supermarkets. Other sorts of work-dressed people fit right in because you can't always tell the difference between more casual work dress and some people's everyday wear.

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712 posts

@Tom, Part I: I agree that we shouldn't compare the Euro business woman on her way to work with a mom of 6 in Anytown, USA shopping at Piggly Wiggly. But the comments of many still hold true and apply. When is the last time you saw a Euro female wearing pajama bottoms or sweatpants with the phrase "Naughty Girl" on her rear shopping at an Il Centro grocery store or at San Lorenzo market as one might see at Walmart? Point well taken, but comparing "apples to apples" (working Euro woman with working USA woman or Euro homemaker running errands with USA homemaker running errands) one could still come away with the impression that Euro women may dress better. @Tom, Part II: From the beginning, we've discussed if European women dress better than American women, and I assumed that everyone, like myself, knew that Stacy didn't mean ALL European women dress better than ALL American women. We subconsciously realized that we can speak in generalities but not really mean that we are referring to every single female of either Europe or America. So my reference to armpit hair was not implying that ALL European women don't shave, (although I have seen enough to support that if I so desired to argue it...) So let's not suddenly act as if speaking in generalities is brand new on this board.

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2930 posts

I thought I'd add a few of my personal observations. My first trip to France was a long time ago. I'll leave it at that. I do recall that the women my age at the time (age 21) looked more sophisticated than I did, a college student from a small school in Maine. However, I would never have squeezed myself into jeans as tight as they wore(and I was sized 3 in those days) or worn their heels, which appeared uncomfortable. I will say I only brought my best casual clothes, so I was well dressed in the American style. I still travel with my best casual/business casual clothes, because I want to show a certain respect to the country I am visiting and have a little self respect for myself. I too work from home. I change clothes before I leave the house, something I learned from my travels and from our foreign exchange student from Berlin whom we housed one year. Whenever she arrived home, she would immediately change to 'house' clothes. My daughter spent her junior year abroad in Paris, and her first year after college working in a French elementary school. She definitely picked up a 'flare' for dressing, and I don't mean expensively, from France. She has lived in England for the past 3 years, and has only lost a small bit of that flare. On the side, she gets very upset when she sees young Americans, who are studying in London, walking around or on public transit in their sweats or their pajama bottoms. She feels it shows a laziness and lack of respect for the people around them. On the other hand, you'll never get me out of comfortable shoes.

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1170 posts

Wray, good post. Those pj bottoms or baggy sweat pants drive me nuts here, so you can imagine when I see them abroad, and they're Americans! Thank goodness my kids took after me and I took after my parents. They taught me how to dress for the occasion and look smart. I too wear house clothes at home, which I learned from my parents. Tim, glad I could give you some apples, lol

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12040 posts

"When is the last time you saw a Euro female wearing pajama bottoms or sweatpants with the phrase "Naughty Girl" on her rear shopping at an Il Centro grocery store or at San Lorenzo market as one might see at Walmart? " I've never been to Italy, so I can't comment on what people wear down there, but amongst teenagers, I see the European equivalent of "Naughty Girl" sweats quite often in Germany, and sometimes outside of the cities in the Netherlands. Don't see clothes like that in Belgium, though.

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3696 posts

Well, this post is just going on and on.... and now I have to add more. I love Germany and I am German, however, not to offend those living there, when I hear the words 'fashionable European women', my mind does not jump to Germany. Sorry... I think of the women in Paris, Milan, Copenhagen, Nice, St. Tropez.... we do know better than to try and put a whole group of women in one class and label them! However, I have seen lots of fashionistas in Munich, so I guess we will never figure it out, but I still know that I feel a 'fashionable European woman' has the appearance of a sense of effortless style that I seem unable to attain.
Glad we do have so many men who care about style, so it does matter!

Posted by
1437 posts

Time to rejoin the fun ;-) Do you know in which "fashion division" we North Americans have much, much better sense than Europeans?? Awww, c'mon guess!! .... speedos for men. Thankfully, most of our men have abandoned them, or they have simply been XX'd out of existence!

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12040 posts

"What, you don't consider butch short, purple and pink-dyed hair on women between the ages of 12-80 to be stylish? " During the communist era, that was the only hair coloring available in Poland. At least they had an excuse. Why are women still wearing that in never-communist NW Bavaria?

Posted by
104 posts

Monique – "So let's not suddenly act as if speaking in generalities is brand new on this board." You so crack me up. You know generally speaking I think people generally speak in generalities. LOL Terry Kathryn - I agree with you on the places when thinking of fashion...well and NYC. And no it seems this post lives yet another day. :) Diane – TO TRUE! Eww on the Speedos.

Posted by
101 posts

Check out the book "Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl". It seems to come down to a supreme sense of self-confidence in all things, most particularly in body image and decisions/choices made in all aspects of life. Which eventually translates into choices as basic as wardrobe. Choosing quality vs. quantity and a few well-chosen accessories.....for their closets and their lives.

Posted by
8996 posts

I thought only the person who started the topic, or the webmaster could delete threads. Do you have powers we don't know about Kent;)

Posted by
10344 posts

"Do you have powers we don't know about Kent;)" Nope, no special powers; I meant delete my own post. Now I can, 'cause we're over 100. Possibly, everyone has exhausted themselves on this topic and are now ready to give up?

Posted by
340 posts

Stacy, I see you are from Orlando and I am also from Central Florida. We just returned from Europe and I always feel the same way when I am there, too. My son (26 years old) made the observation, "Why do they dress and look so great here and when they visit the US they look so goofy?" Being from Orlando, you will know what he meant. You can almost always spot a tourist because they dress oddly. Is this because they are trying to "fit in" and look American? If so, what a sad comment on us! Regarding how elegant European women look whether in jeans or dressed up, my husband said, "They carry themselves with such an air of confidence. The women look great because they act like they look great, whether they really do or not." So, perhaps it is 90% attitude and 10% "je ne sais quios". Either way, it appears effortless.

Posted by
104 posts

Loretta – I have that book. So funny, I plan to bring it with me for reading and note taking. Lol And I think you have a point with the quality not quantity. I so do find it hard for me to find quality pieces that fit well. Lise – Yeah they do look like they try to fit in. The men in Capri pants never do tho. Lol Maybe it feels good for them to be able to relax and not worry about looking so good and dressed up, like a real vacation from life. Just a thought. :)

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12040 posts

"You can almost always spot a tourist because they dress oddly. Is this because they are trying to "fit in" and look American? If so, what a sad comment on us!" No, it's because tourists tend to dress similarly no matter where they're from. Next time you're in Europe, observe a tour group from a distance. With out hearing their voices, unless they obviously come from Asia or Africa or they're flashing the tell-tale Blue Book Sign, it can be very difficult to distinguish groups from North America versus Europe.

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11450 posts

I live in a tourist town. Its easy to spot tourists,, and its not like they are from other countries all the time,, or if American they may just be from over the border,, and we wear the same styles and brands as they do.. so its not just clothes or styles. Tourists look like tourists,, they are not rushing off to work ,, they are "wandering" and " strolling" ,, they tend to look around them all the time( when I am walking somewhere downtown I am just walking,, not gazing about) ,, they do tend to wear comfier clothing them many downtown folks who may be in business attire,, those lovely Keens are a huge tip off.. lol

Posted by
3696 posts

Okay... so I have nothing relevant to add but I think I am #99 on this post, so someone else can push it over the top... I guess we do like the fashion discussions!
Oh, except that I did just watch again the movie Henry & June and now want a whole new wardrobe...great film, great clothes.

Posted by
104 posts

Give up? We got over 100 comments hear surely someone has something left to say... I know I normally do. Lol If it does die out, I would be fine with it. I have so enjoyed it. I was having a private convo with another and we agreed that it helps in making friends and travel buddies. :) But I am surprised with the post, it got over 100 posts! That is so cool. The only one I have seen do that. :) Thank you all for your input. :)

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104 posts

You know I was wondering...Darren are you and your wife still reading? Any thing to add? :)

Posted by
712 posts

...now you know you just cannot put this topic to bed unless I say something else hahaha :-) @Stacy: you are looking for Darren. Meanwhile, I miss Jerry. Jerry if you're out there, I miss you! Come fan the flames with another controversial comment :-) @Kent: I agree that we have really milked this topic! But I think it's something new and different that sometimes lacks on this website. I mean, someone asks "should I bring Euros or withdraw from an ATM" or "what will the weather be like in Paris on October 11th", like how many times can that be answered and in how many different ways (although I admit I recently posted the 1 trillion-th question about cell phones)? But with a topic like this, we go beyond the practicalities of travelling and really start focusing on WHY we travel: to experience the differences in opinion, culture, habits, etc... If we ALL wore sweat pants with "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me" written on the butt there would be nothing to talk about. How boring! @Everybody: I am so upset I was not the lucky 100th post!! :-)

Posted by
711 posts

Yep, still here...
Not much to add, I've just been enjoying the reading. Each time someone describes a well dressed European woman, it instantly transports my imagination to Paris, and that's where the magic is. I don't have much to offer on fashion, but I do love the imaginary transportation.... That and some of these comments are pretty darn funny!

Posted by
711 posts

I don't know what it is about this post, but everyone seems to gravitate back to it, even when some wish it to die. And here I am, still posting... @Monique: Can you find those "DYWYGWHLM" sweats at Squirrel Hill? Curious how far they've permeated into the gentrified regions...

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1437 posts

"presumption disparity (n): The gap between expectation and reality, e.g., what you consider a European woman wears and what she actually wears when on vacation." ;-)

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104 posts

Spoiler Alert: Just watched the movie You Again. It is too funny! In a scene, right before dance class, between the mom and the aunt (Gail and Ramona), Ramona insults Gail's clothes and it was just too funny not to post. (As an additional spoiler: They were friends in high school and had a falling out and had not seen each other in 30 yrs. Gail is an all American Mom and Ramona is a world traveler, who is constantly speaking short French phrases.) Ramona: Is that what you're wearing? Gail: Yes, why? Ramona: You know what I love about your look, is it's so sporty. So American. (Of course a lot of it was in the way it was delivered by the actors.) In light of this post I BUSTED out laughing! The others in the room didn't get it, but it was so very funny. If you haven't seen the movie, the whole thing is hilarious and this was just a small bonus. :)

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712 posts

@Darren: I'm still gasping that someone from CO knows about Squirrel Hill :-) and yes, it sometimes seems that upper-middle class youths are attracted to those styles, or in addtion, any style that makes you look poor (holes in pants, ripped shirts, etc...). I've seen homeless people dressed better. Shows that money really isn't a factor when it comes to dressing appropriately.

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16 posts

Yes, it has something to do with putting a beautiful scarf around your neck -- even if it doesn't quite "match" what you're wearing.

Posted by
104 posts

Terry I do hope that is the case. If so I am in, I own like 20 scarves. I keep trying to decide which one/ones I will take. Funny I watched a video on youtube a walk through Paris streets and I saw all kinds of men wearing white tennis shoes. I was upset by the double standard. (Not really, I'm jk. I love shores, nice ones! lol But the thing about the video is true.) :)

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12040 posts

Observational report: I'd written earlier about the importance of making apples-to-apples comparisons, and here is one. I'm staying in Oslo, and what better way to compare the relative dress habits between European women their American counterparts than the hotel breakfast room? Minus the obvious business travelers, there is one group of Americans staying in this hotel. Most of the people in the breakfast room, while not dressed up, are at least wearing clothes that you might don for a casual get-together. The clothes of the American group? Sweat pants and shirts, T shirts, flip flops, etc. And no, they're not Canadians because their clothes display the logos of US universities. One observation among the thousands of US tourists currently visiting Europe certainly doesn't imply a trend... but I must admit, what I saw supports what many of the replies on this thread have been saying. And no, I'm not making a value judgement, or implying they should dress nicer at breakfast. Just reporting what I see.

Posted by
1806 posts

Just this week one of my relatives who lives in Milan Italy was over here in the US. She had to go shopping for several young Italian women in their 20s who asked her to pick up some clothing for them because this particular brand costs less in the US than it does in Milan. I asked my relative what was it that they all wanted brought back? Juicy Couture yoga pants and hoodies with "Juicy" embroidered on the butt and on the hoodies. And 2 of them wanted some Converse canvas sneakers. So even in Milan, one of the fashion capitols of Europe, there is evidently a demand for the same crap worn by American women. As for apples to apples comparisons, I think it's also important to compare North American women to European women of a similar age. You can't compare a 20 year old American wearing a tee, Old Navy jeans & flip flops to a 40 year old Italian wearing Gucci and Prada. And let's not forget that the US television show "What Not To Wear" is a spin off of the original "What Not to Wear" that was created and produced in Europe and that the entire premise of the show is to round up some woman who dresses horribly and unleash 2 stylists on her to show her just how bad she dresses before they make her over. They definitely weren't at a loss finding women to makeover for either the US or European show as both versions have lasted way longer than just 1 season.

Posted by
28131 posts

120. Informal count today. On the Underground in London (Sunday - Central Line): Jeans, men and women - at least 90%. Women wearing Leopard skin print tight tight tight trousers - one Women popping out of a tight leopard skin top (actually popping out) - one (a different person) Percentage of English speakers on Underground trains - perhaps 10% (based on the 90ish% I observed speaking to each other in other languages, mostly Spanish, and the languages of the tour books they were carrying) Number of men/women wearing chinos - 1 (female)
Number of obviously American tourists - zero Other sightings - across from St Paul's during the pealing of the bells prior to the 1130 service, at Paul (the French patisserie) 3 obviously American middle aged couples, at different times - based on their accents - who were all dressed better than almost every one else around them, understated but elegant. On the upper deck of a bus towards Notting Hill - a 20 something woman with a tiny dog wearing a Texas A&M baseball cap over her blond pony tail. She got so fed up with the family of 6 Spanish tourists shouting in the front two rows that she gently reminded them that it is impolite to speak louder than a quiet voice on the Underground or buses. I expected a Texas accent. What came out? A refined West London voice. We spoke to her. She'd never been to the States, let alone Texas. She got the hat from a shop because it looked nice and she liked the colours. Who knew..... anyway....

Posted by
712 posts

I thought the original "What Not to Wear?" was based solely in Britain (as in, not Spain, France, Italy, Germany, etc...)? I might be wrong... I think in every culture you will find well dressed people and not-so-well-dressed people. That's just the reality. However, are the hoodies and sweats and other slovenly looks the exception or the norm? While in Europe, young girls may wear the Juicy or Pink by VS, it seems to be the exception. Most people are not dressed that way. Whereas here in America, it seems to be more the norm. Just an observation. C. is right regarding age comparisons. Although looking like a bum has no excuse regardless of what age you are, older and more mature women should have a better sense of what is appropriate than their younger contemporaries. As we all know, that is not always the case (sigh) - but it's a good point she made.

Posted by
296 posts

People who are in better shape (less fat) tend to look better no matter what they're wearing. And Europeans tend to engage in more physical labor/sports vs Americans. After all America's #1 health woe? Obesity. A real disgrace is it not?

Posted by
711 posts

@JERRY: I want to point out that you are not the infamous Jerry of earlier notoriety. However, your comment may elicit some responses. Good luck. I have a few comments to make, however:
I have seen some stunning women who are "out of shape". While your preference may be slimmer, that may not be the view shared by all. If you think that Europeans engage in more physical labor/sports than Americans, I encourage you to visit Boulder. I realize that this post is a generalization, but your comment is a bit too generalized, as well. I've been to Naperville, and I agree, some of you guys aren't the fittest. But that doesn't mean all of you conform to that generalization. After all, even in Boulder, we have some "less fit" folks waddling around...

Posted by
1525 posts

I've often thought that when you said the word "married" to a man he pictures BEING married and when you say it to a woman she pictures GETTING married - explaining the diffrence in the level of interest/concern in planning a wedding. ( add here the shouldn't-really-be-necessary caveat that not all people conform to stereotypes) Which brings us to this thread and the difference between how men and women perceive the issue. ( add here the shouldn't-really-be-necessary caveat that not all people conform to stereotypes) It seems to me that when men ask themselves the question "does she look good" they are really asking if she, as a person inhabiting a body, looks appealing. The clothing, accessories, make-up and jewelry are essentially irrelevant. In fact, sometimes they just plain get in the way (and no, I am not suggesting that all men want to see women naked, necessarily - that's not the point) Meanwhile when women talk about looking good, they seem to be talking about dressing up a living mannequin to be put on display. ( add here the shouldn't-really-be-necessary caveat that not all people conform to stereotypes) Now, before you tear me apart, please consider that I am open to the idea that I am wrong (due in no small part to the fact that I am in a poor position to truly understand what motivates women, just as women are in a poor position to truly understand what motivates men). But I thought it might be useful to attempt to highlight the fact that men and women often approach these things from COMPLETELY different perspectives, yet we somehow seem to expect the other 50% of the population to completely understand where we're coming from. That seems unlikely. ( add here the shouldn't-really-be-necessary caveat that not all people conform to stereotypes)

Posted by
2193 posts

Some of you may be interested in GQ Magazine's latest ranking of worst-dressed cities in the U.S. I see several hometowns from the list right here on this thread.

Posted by
712 posts

@Michael: I know Pittsburgh is on that list - oh the irony!!! But as I already discussed via PM with another poster from The 'Burgh, it's not our fault that a complete black 'n gold wardrode isn't considered "tres chic" :-)

Posted by
9110 posts

.... or even très chic as us rednecks say, but we ain't got the refinement that the yankees do.

Posted by
712 posts

@Jerry: Jerry - how dare you try and be Jerry! Not only that, but now that we've finally gotten passed those types of comments and have really started to understand and express each other with anyone being offended, "thanks" for regressing this conversation back 100 posts. If you really wanted to share, you shoulda popped up with that comment 2 weeks ago. To humor you though, I do agree that certain styles look better on the svelt, but it's not a argument that should be used in this context because 1) it's not true in EVERY case and 2) this conversation is heading toward the direction of sloppily dressed versus well dressed, a factor that is not weight dependant. I also agree that being a size 16 (on a good day!), I (personally) should not ever ever wear tight tight tight leopard print pants (see Nigel's post...) @Randy: although your post was about how men and women view things differently, I (being a woman) 100% totally understand and agree with you. I think you explained that very well. Most men can recognize either extreme, even on a female with a decent body, but the finer details that can really make a person considered "dressed well" (not extravagant, just "well") normally would go unnoticed by a male. Same as when men know the color "red" but are clueless as to what "magenta" is. But that's ok - we love your guys anyway! And it does go a lot toward me (personally) not getting too offended when a man goes back (BACK, as in 100 posts back JERRY!!!) to the weight issue.

Posted by
1549 posts

I've ignored this post until I saw it go over 100. Curiosity got the best of me. Haven't finished reading all the humor yet.... but definitely entertaining. But for the record, I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt, dress, heals, or hose. Certainly not in the past 12 years since we've lived in Northern California. But then the wine industry is pretty casual. My husband of 25 years always said his goal was to never have a job where he had to wear anything other then shorts or jeans So far success.
That being said, we will travel to Europe packing light with our quick-dry travel clothes. We won't be mistaken for Europeans, but we will be comfortable yet presentable.

Posted by
263 posts

Was at my volunteer job when another volunteer whispered, "that lady's about to fall out of her top." Which put me in a difficult position: do I look to verify the statement? Do I look because I'm a guy? Do I take the high road and not look? The bigger question became, what was the lady thinking when she got dressed that morning? Maybe that's the difference. Maybe all women have a switch that says "uh uh" when looking in a mirror, but it just gets short circuited on some. And since we have more people in the US, we must have more women, which makes inappropriate dress more noticable here because more people have that short circuited switch.

Posted by
1806 posts

Ah, yes! The GQ Top 40 Worst Dressed American Cities List and we made the #1 spot (Whoo Hoo! Now where's our trophy?). Please...like those yahoos who came up with this list over at GQ are seriously going to stand behind their proclamation that people in Bristol, CT, Wasilla, AK and Provo, UT are (slightly) better dressed than those in Manhattan which came in at #5! GQ doesn't even seem to know what a city is - they rank both Manhattan and Brooklyn as "Worst Dressed Cities" when each is a borough that makes up just part of New York City. To illustrate the rampant "bad fashion", GQ dredged up stock photos from movies (The Anchorman, The Hangover, Goodfellas), B-List celebrities (Billy Ray Cyrus from 1991) and photos of people at football stadiums (what guy do you know who is going to wear his best Calvin Klein suit while he paints his face in team colors and sips beer up in the nosebleeds when the wind chill factor is 10 below?). Could they not find an actual photo of someone dressed poorly to support their claim for each of these cities (fuzzing out the faces, of course, to protect the fashion victim)? And if places like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago all made it to the Top 5 Worst Dressed American Cities list, then what are the Top 5 Best Dressed? No one in Boston that I know seems particularly upset over the nod from GQ. We all know most men who actually buy GQ only do so because it won't cause as much suspicion as it would if they are toting a copy of Blueboy in their commuter bag.

Posted by
2193 posts

Certainly, there are parts of NYC, LA, and Chicago where fashionable people are found, and they're among the best-dressed in the world IMHO. But I've spent quite a bit of time on business in these fine cities over the years, and I must say that my own observation suggests that GQ really didn't miss the mark. When you consider these cities on the whole, they're no different than Topeka. But you need to compare apples to apples like Tom suggested about 2000 posts ago. Don't compare Greenwich Village to the slobs at ASDA. And don't compare the slobs at the Walmart in Warsaw, MO or Naperville, IL to the Annex area in Toronto. As for GQ, I'm pretty sure they know what they're talking about vis-à-vis men's fashion. I don't think I'm too far out on a limb to suggest that, on the whole, the U.S. is the worst dressed country in the developed world. Britain is next. But really, this whole thread is one huge, ridiculous generalization. And I'm not sure anyone should get fashion advice from the Rick Steves Helpline (as much as I like the Helpline). It's akin to Ryan Gosling's character in Crazy, Stupid, Love asking Steve Carell's character for fashion tips. Actually, it's worse than that. BTW, I bet Ryan Gosling's character reads GQ. :)

Posted by
69 posts

I think the problem for the average American is that they can't afford designer clothes, which tend to be very high quality, so they're stuck with "clothes for the middle class" that are becoming cheesier and flimsier with each passing season. The price of fabrics has sky rocketed, so a lot of the clothes in American stores are made out of cheap materials and it's hard to make them look good no matter what. Maybe Europeans have greater access to higher quality clothes at affordable prices. I don't know.

Posted by
3696 posts

Just spent a week in Vegas (convention for my daughter) and since this post is still going, I can't even begin to describe the fashion/unfashion that I have witnessed here.....

Posted by
104 posts

131 Well, I didn't mean that we should be getting fashion advice from Rick Steves...lol Just kiding Rick what you have workd for you. I have enjoyed the post and different opinions and ideas from people. I am only 2 days away from finding out myself! :) So excited for my trip. I keep hoping that my post will still be strong when I get back so I can report my own findings and observations. Ok Darren and Monique I'm counting on you. LOL :) J/k I have been surprised to see how many have kept up the thread (pun intended lol). Also good to see some new people. I like the post about not comparing men dressed for a football game to the average male. And then the person who wrote about her husband making wine and it being a casual business, which to be honest I had a second thought on. Isn't wine making a bit of culture and refinement? I would say yes and that it would lend to well dressed people, but not while making wine. :)

Posted by
711 posts

@Stacy: You're confusing New World and Old World Wine attire. California is pretty cas' with visors and golf shirts. Birks, too. Burgundy? A little more refined (attire, that is) with a sweater draped over the shoulders, perhaps. As always, exceptions to every rule abound...

Posted by
36 posts

I don't think the underlying premise is accurate in that it does not take in several important factors. Dress, for either men or women, is a function of several perceptions of the person. These include self esteem, economic status, social norms regarding who, what, when and where (this introduces much variance, particularly for men, i.e., no tux at a swim party), and whether the person in question really give a hoot about what others may or may not think. Another factor which I and my fellow psychologist encountered in Milwaukee is the prevelence of sexual abuse as a child. There seems to be a lot, or was, since sexually abused children now have contacts for help. The point is that sexual abuse (of women or men) leads to a
disgust of self and body which may show up in obesity and "poor" dressing. Another factor for women is that of the opinion of other women. The fatal flaw is for two women to meet at a party wearing the same dress. Figure that one out. Regards. Ross

Posted by
712 posts

@Stacy: have a great trip!!! I leave in exactly 1 week, 1 day, and 12 hours, so I'll try to keep hope alive on this post for the next few days! @Catherine: I agree with you to a degree, but I'm still a firm believer in money not having much to do with being able to choose what's appropriate and decent and going with it (unless you are clearly living in poverty obviously). So if you wear Walmart brand jeans while shopping instead of Versace brand jeans, you still made the conscious effort to wear jeans versus dirty sweats and an oversized hoodie that makes you look like Eminem in "8 Mile". So the price/quality factor can only go so far. But I do agree that cheaply made clothes are ill-fitting by nature and do go a lot toward making a person who tried to look nice just end up looking kinda sloppy. @Ross: ...that's deep.

Posted by
104 posts

Darren: Good point about the wine makers. Monique: Thank you! I also wish you excellent travels! :) Ross: Excellent, and yes deep, points about the status of clothing with regards to emotional level. When I first started reading your post I thought anthropologist. Well, I am off tomorrow evening. I keep hoping that Irene (hurricane) will not interfere with take off. It would be a bit of a bummer, tho of course I would rather be safe. :)

Posted by
1437 posts

About ill-fitting clothes... I routinely get my (and my husbands') clothes adjusted by a local seamstress. Most of my friends never bother. It's a necessary service that I began appreciating when I lived overseas. Even my $20-on-sale JC Penney jeans :-)

Posted by
712 posts

LOL @ Stacy because I am in the packing phase too and I know how you feel!
Thanks for starting this great thread. Come back and tell us... what everyone was wearing :-)

Posted by
104 posts

Well, today's the day. I am so excited and nervous. I tried my best to pack things that do not scream American. I know they will spot me as such because I will have a big smile and will be looking around like I am on a new planet! LOL I packed a good amount of black but have some color in there too. I also have scarves. (Which I wear anyway.) I am a bit worried that it will be cool/chilly while in Paris. I am not taking too many warm weather clothes. So, I pray for good weather, don't we all. :) Well, happy travels all! See you in a couple weeks.
(I will try to have a good report. lol)

Posted by
28131 posts

Good lucky Stacy Although BeNeLux and northeast France look to be wet tomorrow I'd be surprised if they stay cold and wet the whole time. I hope your outfits work for you.

Posted by
141 posts

Stacy: I had to keep the post current - this post was getting too far down on the wall. . . . I hope your flight was great and you are enjoying a glass of wine in a Paris cafe looking tres chic! To Monique and others - my fingers are crossed for you and I'm sending lots of good wishes your way for a smooth flight and not too much disruption because of Irene. For those not flying - my thoughts and prayers are with you as well. I'm counting down - 137 hours till my plane departs. Looking at the weather differences in Paris and Nice - I'm glad I'm packing a black trench coat. Generally if I pack for cooler weather, it will be hot- so Stacy you should be fine.

Posted by
1549 posts

Stacy and Monique, Perhaps we'll cross paths in our travels. Only 7 days 18 hours before our trip and our packing has started tonight. I'll provide some feed back upon my return on how the "wine" world attire of Italy compares to the California wine industry attire. I was at a company event yesterday and saw hawaiian shirts, shorts, jeans, t-shirts, khakis, capris, polos, logo shirts with winery names, etc. But no suits, ties, or dresses. hose, or high heals...

Posted by
12 posts

Kent: "I think Europeans in general are more relaxed about their bodies."
What would be the basis for this statement? I'm not disagreeing with it, just interested in what might be the evidence or reasons for thinking this is so. Perhaps all of the topless/nude people on the beaches or parks? lol

Posted by
104 posts

Well I'm back. :) (Bitter sweet. I have the travel bug big now.) I had a wonderful time, with few mishaps. (Understandably as it was my first time and as we all know it takes time to know things. Darn I guess I'll have too keep going back until I get it right! lol) Paris is SO beautiful, even in the rain. Yes, I got lost. It was never a big deal, it was actually wonderful. Florence and Rome were very nice, but to me they are no Paris. lol Each place had its own special thing about it and I enjoyed them each differently. Now, I know you all are ready for the report. I have been thinking about just what to say and here it is....... I didnt find them much different than us. :-O Shocking I know. I was shocked too. I found that the few things they have different can be acquired here. First off because they walk there butts everywhere and carry everything doing it, YES they are typically more fit. This doesn't mean they are all super thin. They wear clothes that are simply more fitted to their body. And they have a confidence doing it. Honestly that's it! I know I will have nay sayers. Bring it on. :) In good fun of course. This was my big observation. Ok so I did see a few butt billboards, not from Americans, but honestly that style is moving out here (thankfully). Also understand I took into account when I saw that people were going to or coming from work. A side from the clothes my trip was magical and I so cannot wait to return. Thank you all for reading...heck I'm thinking about starting a blog. lol Stacy :)

Posted by
104 posts

P.S. Sorry I forgot to mention that they wear nice shoes all the time. Yeah. Heels are a big deal, high ones and they walk everywhere. I guess I did see plenty of flats too. But no white tennis shoes on women. Seriously not one. Not even on women working out! They were black or grey or some other color, not white. The men seemed to have a different shoe code. They wore tennis shoes. I only saw a couple of white. Oh and for men and women the two big deals are to roll up or cuff the bottom of your jeans and Chuck Taylors. Tres chic.

Posted by
711 posts

Welcome back! I saw this thread reappear, and I figured that you must have returned. Paris truly is magical. Jeannine (my wife) just mentioned to me that other day that she would love to take a quick getaway (week or so) to Paris. Who am I to argue? Just need to find cheap airfare... Fortunately, Colorado is beautful this time of year.
I'm glad that you had a great time.

Posted by
8419 posts

Good to hear how your trip went Stacy... I'm so glad you had a good time. I was really happy to hear how much you enjoyed Paris. My favorite place. I see rolled or cuffed jeans here (San Francisco) too. One question though... what is a "butt billboard"? = )

Posted by
711 posts

"pretty in pink", "don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me", etc. written across the butt of their pants. Hot, huh?

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you Darren and Susan. Yes I seriously fell in love with Paris. I did not want to leave. Not just because I was on vacation, there was something else. I know it sounds crazy but I miss it. I can barely wait to go back. So much left to see and do. :)

Posted by
263 posts

Welcome back.....I agree with you on the clothes. They do walk a lot there, much more than we do. Perhaps the people in Europe, male and female, wear clothing that is similar to ours but conforms to their bodies better. I also love Paris but don't know when I'll see it again. Thanks for the update.

Posted by
11973 posts

I think there are a couple of things working. One that hasn't been mentioned is the size of European closets. They are tiny - our walk-in closets would be a room in many European apartments. Because there is no space to store gobs of clothes, European wardrobes are necessarily smaller. American women probably have more clothes in their laundry at any given time than Europeans have in their entire wardrobe. Because the overall wardrobe is smaller, each piece is important. Compared to our having ten white tops, mostly bought on sale that we don't really like that much - a European woman has one or two that cost more and they like very much. So European women dress in nice clothes that are carefully picked, and look and feel great doing it. American women only dress up occasionally, and look and feel great then - the rest of the time they throw on something from their closet that they don't look or feel that great in. Anyway, that's my theory. :)

Posted by
11973 posts

I think there are a couple of things working. One that hasn't been mentioned is the size of European closets. They are tiny - our walk-in closets would be a room in many European apartments. Because there is no space to store gobs of clothes, European wardrobes are necessarily smaller. American women probably have more clothes in their laundry at any given time than Europeans have in their entire wardrobe. Because the overall wardrobe is smaller, each piece is important. Compared to our having ten white tops, mostly bought on sale that we don't really like that much - a European woman has one or two that cost more and they like very much. So European women dress in nice clothes that are carefully picked, and look and feel great doing it. American women only dress up occasionally, and look and feel great then - the rest of the time they throw on something from their closet that they don't look or feel that great in. Anyway, that's my theory. :)

Posted by
104 posts

Brad is right the closets in the placed I stayed were very small.