Yes, I know what you smart-asses from the outer territories are thinking: zee problem? Singular? Well, you know what: **** ***** ***! After this short outburst, likely brought on by the current state of political affairs, I am only too thrilled to recall that this journal focuses exclusively on clothing and accessories. As I lack a sense of humour (all Germans do, as you are well-aware) I will skip the rest of the introduction and we will delve right in to the topic at hand. Why are we Germans so infamous for our poor taste in clothing?
Adolf Loos said it best
The Savile Row tailors I have had the pleasure of talking to describe their German clientele as very conservative. This is almost certainly true. If we spend money – and, in this case, it is quite a hefty sum – , we do not like experiments. We leave that to the overly dramatic dandies of the world. We try to fly under the radar. It is considered to in poor taste to flaunt one’s wealth. It is considered nouveau riche and unmanly. Our cars do the flaunting for us. Yes, enthusiasm for spending a lot of money on bespoke suits, overcoats, shirts, and shoes is not high. Why spend more than, say, 500€ – for my British readers: that’s about £501 at current exchange rate – on a suit, if 99,9% of the population cannot tell the difference anyway? Never mind the fact that the 0,01% who can tell will be outraged and will demand satisfaction. A new Hugo Boss suit can be purchased every half-year – a necessity since the seat warmers in our Mercedes-Benz always add a less than charming sheen to the seat of our trousers (black, of course). To summarise reason 1: Lack of enthusiasm, both personally and from our environment.
The oh!-so-vain Germans live in constant fear of the great beast that is Stilbruch [the stylistic faux-pas!]. This fear renders them stiff and arrogant. The irony being that that this makes them anything but elegant – the highest honour which can be bestowed on a German. This goes hand-in-hand with another shameful German trait: They are smart-asses and want to educate everyone on how to wear a suit. It is frankly tacky and inelegant. Reason 2: Vanity is not a good look.
One of the great artistic minds of the 20th century Adolf Loos once described another troubling German archetype: Those who try too hard. He [the German] can only express his individuality through strange cuts in his clothing. He pursues the most extraordinary inventions in clothing (not to speak of the adventurous ties). At their core, they are all the same. […] [T]hey all smoke five cigarettes a day, […] say the same sentences in the same situations (one need only ask the prostitutes), drink the same amount of beer every day to get ready for bed […] (and they all harbour the same fear of theirs wives). As such, he longs to show his individuality through his dress and despises the uniformity of the Englishman. It is equally amusing and frightening how apt Loos’s observations remain to this day. At the very core of our being, we are not truly open to individuality. We would like to fit in. We desire above all else to follow the rules set in stone by the prophets of style, oblivious to the idea that clothing is not a masquerade. Its purpose is to cover the body and, beyond that, it affords us the opportunity to dress correctly for a given situation. This is a practice which is self-evident and a sign of respect. Individuality comes not from the packaging but, rather, from the core. Reason 3 – and likely the most important: We do not understand the purpose of dress.
Is there a solution to zee problem?
No. (German sarcasm) However, isn’t it fun to play with stereotypes? DC/MM