Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A passion for fashion?

As a girl, it's intimidating to move to a country rumored to have some of the most beautiful women on the planet! I hoped that some of this legendary beauty know-how would rub off over time, but it's doubtful. Yesterday a student gifted me a gorgeous blue scarf, which I immediately hung around my neck. At the end of class she approached me- no, no, no. You should loop the scarf like this and pull the ends equal here. Oops!

Just to shock my English students, sometimes I'll lower my voice and whisper evil stories of American fashion. And on occasion, university students will actually wear their pajamas to class! Students here love Friends and Sex and the City, and they'd never imagine that this kind of crazy pajama absurdity can happen in the land that brings you Jennifer Aniston and Carrie Bradshaw. But I assure you, students, happen it does.

It's not that Ukrainians are totally obsessed with appearance. In a class last fall, one woman bragged about never having worn makeup, not even for her wedding. Others- male and female alike- eschew trends and prefer comfy clothes. Last night I saw a scruffy kid wearing a Cannibal Corpse backpack. But perhaps I have become obsessed with fashion, for I pay attention to it everywhere I go. I can name the big differences between Ukraine and the US off the top of my head:

Women here tend to wear bangs and high heels and dye their hair with wild abandon.

Men wear bangs too and pointy shoes and rather form-fitting jeans. Not gonna bring up the mullet. It also happens.

Overall, both genders put a lot of thought into their appearance. It's not rare to see people polishing their shoes with Kleenex before entering a building. Ukrainian friends routinely show off more extravagant manicures than friends back home do.

Here- see for yourself.
Two young women preparing to ride the rickety cable carts in Gorky Park. The man is wearing an outfit typical to the older Kharkov male: leather cap and jacket.

Gorky Park during reconstruction.
Summer fashion
Now, down to Odessa in the springtime.
Possibly the single greatest outfit of this collection :p
The Port of Odessa. It's extremely popular to wear sailor stripes while in the city.
Odessa port cruise fashion
The woman is dressed in a very Ukrainian fashion. The man is perhaps a foreigner, for he is wearing a style of jeans not usually seen here.

And the shoes, oh the shoes!!

It boggles the mind to see women walking comfortably in such heels and men climbing stairs with such toes :p

I should also mention that what people wear indoors is different and usually much more casual than what you saw pictured above. When Ukrainians come home, shoes are removed at the door and tapitchki (slippers) are worn. The street clothes come off and on comes a house robe, sweats/track pants, or other very low-key clothing.

What do you think of Ukrainian fashion? If you live elsewhere, is it similar to what people wear in your country?

PS: For my earlier thoughts on this topic, check out Ukrainian style. And a good place to view all kinds of looks is Kyiv Street Style. Enjoy!



  2. if that doesn't load, just watch 25 ways to wear a scarf in 4.5 minutes on youtube. You'll be able to teach some new skills to your students after that:)

    1. MCD, thank you! That's a stellar video! I feel like a pro now : )

  3. The dedication to fashion during winter is awesome to see here. I could barely survive those horrible months but Ukrainians did it with flair. I had many moments that I wished I could have photographed in secret.

  4. By your third winter, you WILL photograph. We're all intimidated to begin with, you know!