Looking around, it’s hard to pinpoint what might characterize “Czech” style. I’m not suggesting it’s non-existent, just that the nation’s fashion sense is as varied as anything else.
Formal attire is worn on occasions when at home we might not bother. I once went to the symphony back home in my ratty jeans because I didn’t own a suit. I’ve been told this is not acceptable here. Going to see a classical music concert, the opera or theater carries an expectation of formal dress. It is not uncommon for students to dress quite formally for their oral exams at university, too.
This means a suit, tie, dress pants and dress shoes for a guy and blouse or formal dress for a woman. It doesn’t have to be an evening dress, unless you’re going to a ball in which case it’s almost always the rule. One thing is for certain: denim is a no-no.
One item which seemed very popular a few years back and can still be spied in business environments is the mobile phone case. You know the one. It’s made of leather and sits horizontally on a person’s belt. When I first started working here it seemed de rigeur amongst business people, so much so one expat friend of mine bought one to ensure he looked professional enough for his clients.
A piece of formal clothing which you might want to avoid is anything with an argyle print. A couple of friends told me that the local nickname for this diamond design is the same name for a part of a woman’s body. You won’t cause offense wearing it, but people might chuckle behind your back.
The fishing vest, at least amongst certain age groups, is not only worn when fishing. They can be seen in gardens, on the street and even in pubs.
Another type of attire which is quite popular is military garb. This is particularly popular among the so-called tramp sub-culture: these are people fond of cottages, acoustic guitars and country and western music. It would appear the trend is dying out, though spend anytime at a cottage community and you’ll see young and old in camo gear.
On the subject of cottages, don’t be surprised that during the summertime you see the amount of flesh you’d usually see at the seaside. Again, it is a generalization, but Czechs seem to be less body conscious than most people from English speaking countries. When it’s hotter it’s not uncommon to see woman in swimsuits while they tend to their garden or men going shirtless. This same lack of reserve is not found in the cities or towns.
Older Czech men are also accused of the fashion crime of wearing socks with sandals (read full article here). A couple of friends from Prague also remarked that if you see a younger guy doing this you know he’s from a village.
On occasion, people at work will also wear indoor shoes. When I worked for a large Czech company I saw both younger and older colleagues in suits or shirts and tie with indoor shoes on.
As for younger Czechs, I mean the very young, they will often be kitted out in tights up to the age of five or six during the colder months. When we say tights, we really mean leggings. This website should give you an idea of a typical pair.
Where to put your clothes
Hats and coats really should be hung up on hooks or hats stands or placed in the coat room (šatna). I’ve even noticed that some people are displeased with leaving jackets on the backs of chairs or neatly folded and placed on the coach. Of course, exceptions are made when there are a lot of visitors. You definitely shouldn’t wear your hats inside.
Hopefully, now you won’t make any fashion blunders.