MADRID In Spain, I am a rebel. I go to the supermarket without makeup and have been spotted, repeatedly, wearing gray sweat pants and sneakers on a Madrid city bus.
But I wasn’t always this daring. When I moved here eight years ago, at age 31, I tried to get with the Mediterranean program. The Spanish women looked so chic and feminine in their tight skirts and lipstick, dolled up to buy a head of lettuce. Why not shed my New York cynicism along with those shapeless hippie dresses and reach out to my inner Barbie?
The cute high-heeled mules lasted a month. They hit the back of the closet after a near spill on the cobblestones. The low-slung trousers became a lost cause, too. I grew tired of squeezing my hips into sizes that seemed cut for a child.
Barbie slipped away, the Birkenstocks returned, and I joined the ranks of expatriate women from sensible- shoe cultures who struggle to maintain their morale – or recognize themselves in the mirror – in a southern European world of ever-matching leather belts and bags.
“If I wear my baggy jeans here, I feel dowdy,” Anne McCabe, an English professor from Illinois, confided.
She has lived in Madrid for 27 years and, since her arrival, she has upgraded her wardrobe to blend in with meticulously groomed neighbors – including those matronly women who wear skirts, pantyhose and pumps on a hot summer day.
When it comes to heels, though, McCabe draws the line. “I’m from the Earth Shoe generation,” she said. “I just couldn’t adjust.”
Jennifer Marsella, a 32-year-old teacher from Rhode Island, lived in Rome and Siena, Italy, in her 20s, and she was so overwhelmed by the stylish women that she made a few uncharacteristic purchases: a pair of black satin Versace trousers, one size too small, and big black-and-gold Versace sunglasses.
She blames the costly shopping spree on the passeggiata, or traditional evening stroll, when Italian women show off their expertly knotted scarves and strappy gold sandals, making the rest of us feel scruffy.
I was hoping in my surfing today to come across some kind of culture oriented piece to post about. Something about science meets beliefs, business versus ethics, etc, but then on reading this article I thought that it had a lot to say about everyday culture. None of us are immune to social norms and pressure. There is at least some tendency for us all to fit in. I think that is especially true when you move to somewhere thousands of miles away. In this case it was from America to Europe, but it could have been from Orlando to Chicago. The official uniform for males and females in Orlando is a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Would someone making that move have to limit their Mickey t-shirt to wearing around the apartment in Chicago. I sympathize with the comfortable and practical folks (I love my jeans), but we do sacrifice something in the way of style. I think its odd that we’re kind of voyeurs about style, we like it movies like the Oceans movies, but most people, at least the ones I know don’t want to live that out everyday. Style might be shallow, but it does look good, its something that people enjoy at least some of the time. Otherwise why do so many people dress up on Saturday night.
But what is the alternative to the parade of wispy women in impossible shoes? A South Florida restaurant filled with overweight retirees in shiny pink warm-up suits, perhaps?
Lorraine Wise, a New Yorker who has lived in Madrid for 28 years, prefers chain-smoking Spaniards in high- heeled espadrilles to that.
“People really dress atrociously in the U.S.,” she said. “Knit Bermuda shorts with a belly sticking out is not acceptable here, and maybe it’s for the best.”
That is M’s Wise opinion and I think she might be a little too harsh so don’t hold it against me. It is funny that discussions about how to dress how get a little heated. In real life I never tell anyone what to wear unless I’m asked.
Newsweek has just what the world needs another news blog The Gaggle, where I found this story, We Will Stand With the Speaker for as Long as It Takes … for Him to Clean Out His Desk
What did John Boehner know and when did he know it? The House majority leader is apparently having a tough time with his memory. In less than a week, he’s trotted out three different versions of his conversations with House Speaker Dennis Hastert about the Mark Foley sex scandal.
which lead me to another story, Lobbyists: Sports Tickets and Springsteen—The E-Mail Trail
The folks around Karl Rove are on the hot seat again. The White House has launched an internal ethics inquiry into one Rove aide in response to new e-mails showing that Rove’s office had far more extensive conduct with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff than previously acknowledged.