Monday, September 24, 2007


Alright, I'll admit it: I packed totally inappropriately. I'm sorry, so sorry, but I just couldn't bring myself to go out and buy the clothes I really needed for my life here. I did acquire jeans (something I swore I'd never do) and a few warm sweaters, but beyond that I could not. The hiking boots I knew I'd eventually need, the piles of hoodies, I just couldn't. You see, Slovenia is very much like the Bay Area, where I grew up. They are both full of hills and flatlands and small towns and suburbs unto slightly bigger urban spaces, but all featuring large wide open green spaces at nearly every turn. I believe that striking similarity was part of the charm of the place, the feeling of being at home, of course the languages are different and the culture is different but it's very very much the same. Unfortunately, the one place where I so desperately wish the two would diverge is the least likely: fashion.

Yes, you got it, people here dress like people in the Bay Area aaaaaaand I hate the way people dress in the Bay Area. Smart dressing there was all about layers, undershirt under t-shirt under sweater under hoodie. Blech! I have always been a fan of clean lines and I strive to wear clothes that are ever-more flattering to my figure. The bulky bulges and unsightly creases caused by layer upon layer of clothes never struck me as appealing, and so I would often find myself out with friends and either freezing to death or sweating profusely. I didn't care though, because I looked good.

My efforts to look stylish and well-put together got an even bigger boost when I moved to New York City, a fashion capital where even a short trek to the post office was cause to put on high heels and an extra layer of lip gloss. I occasionally spent days just poring through my clothes, trying new ensembles, seeing what worked, posing, posing, posing in front of the mirror. Oh, and I won't even tell you how many fashion blogs I subscribe to...So, naturally, it is much to my dismay that I have put myself in a situation where my pretty dresses and artfully created cardigans have no place. I can scarcely bring mself to look at mine when I open my closet here. For some reason, mouthing the words "I'm sorry" won't cut it, so I avert my eyes.

Yesterday the Captain and I went hiking and he took a few photos of me. Damn those digital cameras! The more I looked at the photos of me, sitting on a rock in flat sneakers, a hoodie, unflattering jeans the more irate I became. As the Captain extended his hand to me to come up to the top of the rock we were climbing, I folded my arms and refused. Not only was I deathly afraid to go any higher but I simply wasn't that girl. He folded his arms and a few minutes of stand-off ensued. Eventually he went on without me as I requested and I stood there and sulked. A few minutes later as he came back down the hill and helped me crawl down, he told me he was proud of me for coming so far up and facing my fear. Later that night as we sat outside in the garden drinking and laughing with our friends from the hood, the temperature began to drop and my body slowly turned into one solid ice block. I stood up and went inside and put on a layer of long johns underneath my clothes. So, it turns out we're gonna have to add an 's' and make that fears, I was facing fears.


alcessa said...

Funny, this. I used to get berated by the Slovenian fashion policepeople for not making enough effort as to my looks and clothes and all. I used to wear jeans and T-shirts most of my student life and that didn't go down all too well with the rest of the Slovenian world. :-)
I still wear casual things, in Germany, but here, no one cares or seems to care. This is the land where sandals with socks were invented, so.
So in my opinion, in Slovenia you need to look good and dress well to be taken seriously. And even if people seem not to care, it is probably still a better idea to stick to your fashion habits if you can and want to. It probably holds true for hiking, too: you'll need expensive sport labels to impress. Forget the layers, it's high quality fleece, Gore Tex and whatnot :-)
(It is quite interesting to read about different experiences in the same field and maybe I am not right or not for 100 %. But I do think you could stick to your style and be respected for it.)

Camille Remarkable said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence! :-)

After writing this post, I went straight to my closet and put on one of my more ostentatious ensembles. The Captain (who is on holiday from work this week) walked into the kitchen outfit and spied me in that outfit and immediately started a project I'd been nagging him about for days: cleaning out his closet!

steve said...

The deeper you go into the Balkans the more you'll find women who’ll wear something that looks good no matter how uncomfortable it is. From Zagreb to Beograd it doesn't matter if it's toe crippling cold outside a woman will walk out dressed only in a potato sack if it's fashionable. Unfortunately a lot of these young women are fronting since they buy expensive Italian designers but don’t have any employment whatsoever, talk about hood rich… But anyway I guess it’s not that woeful in the magical European Union right? BTW great blog.

Camille Remarkable said...

Thanks for commenting Steve! Yeah, alas, I guess EU membership is a more valuable and coveted label than all the Versace the Beograd babes could buy.

Thanks for the compliment and for reading!

Tina. said...

I agree with Alcessa. After returning to Slovenia for holidays this summer for the first time in three years, I was reminded of one of the reasons why I love living in the U.S.--nobody cares about what I wear. I can go out to run errands in my worn-out jeans and a dirty t-shirt, and nobody will blink an eye. Even at the university where I teach we have no dress code (part of it is that I teach in the English department, where things are mole laid back anyway), so I sometimes, a lot of times, teach in my jeans. And I love it. Of course that also means that my students come to class in their pajama-bottoms and flip-flops, but as long as they are there and participate, I don't care.

In Slovenia, though, I quickly (re)learned that it's all about how you look. Our first day there, my husband and I (jet-legged and cranky) put on our t-shirts and jeans and walked over to a neighborhood cafe for some coffee. At first, I couldn't figure out why everyone was staring at us, and then I noticed how dressed up and made up all of them were. Ah, well.

It's not that I don't like to dress up, I do. But not every day. And I'm all about comfort.

By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog, Camille. I hope you don't mind that I added you to my blogroll.

Camille Remarkable said...

Hey Tina

I am just back from a day in LJU and yes it was WAY more styley than here in Radovljica. Nonetheless, it's still nothing like the insanity of NYC, not in the least.

Thanks for reading, Tina. I appreciate it. The Captain thinks no one reads and that I am just writing to myself. This'll show him!

earnestessa said...

Camille: I like your blog A LOT, too.

Camille Remarkable said...

Thanks so very much for reading! I am having a good time doing it!