In the three short months I have been here, several of my friends have been interested in what Berlin has to offer and how I am adjusting to my new surroundings. In particular, many have asked me about the fashion in Berlin, a topic both I and a number of my friends hold close to our hearts! Those who know me well know that I am a fashion addict, and for those who are only beginning to know me through reading this blog, I am a fashion addict! I am completely enthralled by clothes, especially shoes! My two years working in retail, in a shoe shop of course, has only heightened this obsession, leading me to becoming the proud owner of over one hundred and fifty pairs of shoes! Collecting shoes is a hobby of mine akin to those of you who may collect stamps for example. Therefore, when I answer my friends German fashion related questions, people are shocked to hear me answer that in Berlin I do not wear high heels, overly short, tight, or glamorous dresses, minimal make-up and I definitely leave my pale skin untarnished of tan!
For readers of a non-Irish background I should explain here the typical fashion of an Irish nightclub, or at least a Cork City based nightclub, one which I can truly comment on through experience. Generally girls on a night out in Cork City wear extremely high shoes, tight clothes, and short skirts, masses of make-up and gallons of fake tan. Note that this is not all girls but upon entering Havanna Browns nightclub on a Saturday night this is what you will encounter. I am not condemning these ladies choice in clothing either as I truly believe that fashion should be about expression and identity and this is my problem with fashion in Cork City that only this way of dressing seems to be acceptable.
I find the fashion style and attitudes towards fashion itself in Berlin completely different. Currently, the city owns a grungier, laid back, funky style. Fake tan is non-existence as are high heels (I have actually witnessed a girl being refused entry to a nightclub because her shoes were ‘too fancy’). Of course with high fashion profilers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Heidi Klum on the scene, Germany was always going to be a top player on the catwalk, but looking at the everyday style in Berlin it is safe to say that the people no longer obtain the conformed style of the post-wall era and now dress to stand out, and most importantly dress to express themselves.
I am very happy living amongst the Berlin fashion scene as it has allowed me to find a style that I am comfortable with. I was certainly never very comfortable in short dresses and tight clothes which I often felt obliged to wear on a night out at home, and fake tan does not suit my snow white skin. I do miss my high heels though!! Sorry Berlin but this is a love you can never come between. However, as a fashion lover the aspect I am most happy about in Berlin is its acceptance of one and all. Every style and form of dressing is widely accepted and celebrated in Berlin from the ditzy boho look to the hardcore punk look. Nobody bats an eyelid and nobody cares what everybody else is wearing. This is important for me as somebody who lacks self-confidence and is trying to create her own identity and style. It is refreshing to be able to create and try-out various styles without having to deal with un-approving stares. This happens in my hometown and is something that bothers me very much. In Ireland, fashion is viewed more as a social status and while various styles are accepted it is only if they are in ‘fashion’ at the time. God forbid somebody wore a trend from one year ago and I have seen people being bullied and jeered at for wearing, as an example, gothic clothing. This is not acceptable in my eyes and can almost be a form of bullying especially when teenagers are taking into consideration. This is a time in their lives when their identity should be encouraged and nurtured and not trodden on! I feel that unfortunately this attitude has become from our short period as the ‘Celtic Tiger’ we lived beyond our means and attempted to build (fake) lavish lifestyles for ourselves, and I feel that it is time we went back to basics. All fashion styles should be celebrated and not condemned!
Hopefully in time I will have the confidence not to care so much but until then I am happy to live in open, fashion friendly Berlin!
Please leave comments expressing your opinion as I would like to know if people feel the same in their part of the world or if they completely disagree!!