Can our geographic location affect the way we dress? No matter how many times we lampoon the stereotypical socks-and-sandals-wearing Czech guy, could it be true that a certain amount of “when-in-Prague” abandon may just give the expat wardrobe its shape (or lack thereof)? We put theses questions to men and women of a variety ages, occupations, and walks of life who live or have lived in the Czech Republic for a significant amount of time.
BTW: If you like the clothes featured in this article, they are available at MOLO7 a new e-shop devoted to showcasing young and progressive Czech designers whose original, non-convential styles for men and women are an antidote to mass production not to mention as funky as they are affordable.
How has living in the Czech Republic influenced your personal style?
My taste in shoes got much edgier. The first time I stepped into that giant Bata in Václavské nám, I just about lost my mind. Odd shapes, funky heels, nonfunctional straps and buckles, and bold colors are what I still look for in a shoe. You just don’t see unconventional shoes like that in Montana where I grew up.
-Margaret M (US) freelance publicist
Lack of options plus high fashion prices has lead to a more conservative style without a lot of variety.
-Jason P (US) editor
I wear more contemporary, but less revealing clothing while in Prague. In California I dressed in mostly vintage or thrift store styles, but here have found no place for it.
–Marina L (US) writer
I wear tighter pants (trousers) and more form fitting clothing. Trying to abide by some current fashion trends with skinny ties, etc.
–Brett I (US) business development director
My personal look in Prague rarely went beyond trying not to look too American, and trying to stay warm in the winter. I found the lack of good-quality staples annoying. I became addicted to the sales at Promod, despite the fact that their sizes seem designed to shame any woman unfortunate enough to have American hips.
-Erin S (US) editor and publisher
I had lots more fun with scarves than is allowed in the US without looking to pretentious.
-Flanna S (US) singer/songwriter
I think living in Europe has taught me to want more really well-made quality clothes that can be mixed and matched versus having an entire wardrobe of the only-wear-once-stuff-to-the-back-of-your-closet clothes.
–Heather O (US) fashion blogger
I’ve somehow cobbled together a style of my own that hints at a European influence. On my recent trip back to the States, a few people noted that they could tell from my sartorial look that I wasn’t from around “there”. I chose to see this as a positive observation!
-Tinu A (US) program manager, digital conent
The biggest influence Europe had on my fashion sense was that I could indulge in my love of coats, jackets, hats and scarves – clothes which I could wear rarely if at all at home.
-Ryan S (AU) writer and teacher
I had a Bohemian phase, where I was really into wearing fabulously embroidered vintage bohemian shirts and blouses. I don’t wear them as much these days, but it definitely influenced me.
-Karen F (US) designer
-Not a particular “look” but more of an air. Just being exposed to the elegant way so many European ladies have about them, I like to think, in my most glamorous-feeling moments that, I’ve got that going for me also.
-Hannah M (US) poet, graduate student
Your stance on man bags (aka the “European carry-all” or “murse”)?
If the bag is merely to carry your wallet/keys then it’s definitely a man bag. Any self respecting man should be able to carry his essentials on his person.
–Andy H (UK) designer
My current squeeze (Slovak guy) actually felt self conscious about it, so he asked me to make him a fancy canvas bag. He now carries that around so he can always go grocery shopping in style.
I carry a leather post bag, not a man purse, but a shoulder bag. Not interested in anything smaller that an A4 size bag, as that then looks like a purse.
I would find it delightfully hilarious [if my man had one]. It would give me a place to put more of my stuff enabling me to carry a smaller purse.
–Gail W (US) counselor
I think a man bag is practical and stylish. Sure if he is using a sparkly clutch it’s a bit off, but I think a messenger bag is totally acceptable and much better than a backpack or Billa bag.
My bags have never gotten so small that a laptop couldn’t fit into and they always have an over-the-shoulder strap. I guess you could say I’m not taken by the murse and doubt I will ever use one.
Love-to-hate Czech fashion faux pas?
T-shirts with randomn meaningless slogans. (These can be easily found in New Yorker.)
Those annoying fur collars on women’s coats! Totally Russia 1984 style and so faux pas!
Whale tails! And black underthings under white/pastel clothing.
-Jacy M (US) writer
REALLY bad jeans (tight, hideous wash, faux distressing) plus REALLY high-heeled REALLY ugly boots (pointy toes, pointy heels, faux leather). In January.
Middle-aged women with purple hair. If you were going for red you missed it.
The current back-to-the-80s style of clothes, that only fits snugly on 14 year olds. Also Justin Timberlake hats, leather bracelets or anything else I would have been beaten up for in high school, and rightly so.
-Stefan L (DE), teacher
Man with sports jacket and ladies tights.
For women: dressing up like a hooker. For men: white suits. It’s Central Europe, not Fantasy Island.
Probably the biggest faux pas in my book was when people over 45, who clearly had access to international media, chose to look like they hadn’t opened a magazine or turned on the TV since 1972.
These weird cargo-style pants that have a mix of checkered and solid panels. Wearing mini skirts/tight dresses to work.
Biggest fashion faux pas? Mowing the lawn in speedos with gumboots. (This was not my faux pas.)
Mullet hairdo, those men’s summer pants that are half calf…skirts too short for words.
Awful color coordination.
Ill fitting jeans. Tight clothing at inappropriate times.
Favorite Czech designer or boutique?
My friend sent me two really cute tops over the summer from some kind of Czech Etsy forum that had a well-hand-made vibe to them (they both featured circular patches with animal scenes; I wear them often)!
Zuzana Vesela – without question! She makes incredibly feminine clothes tailored for a woman’s body. Favorite design stores, Dusni3 (multi-brand store), Kurator, Natalie Steklova Shop & Cafe, Space.
Kurator, which I just discovered. Prices are way out of my league, so that is just for aesthetic satisfaction. What is encouraging is the pop-up second-hand boutiques boom.
-Natasha K (RU), writer
My favourite store used to be Pull and Bear here, until they went the way of New Yorker with bad-sloganed clothes. Nowadays C&A, although not a Czech store, are best for those fashion staples we all need.
Has it become easier to find stylish/well-made clothing in Prague?
Way easier – but still outlandish prices. Wait to go to States and buy similar style they have in Europe.
Quite the opposite. In the US I am a L and here I have to go to specialty stores for obese women. I wear clothes that fit me not ones that reflect my style at all and I’m really unhappy when I leave the house.
No, price is still a big barrier. Lack of a major department store (Macy’s, etc.) is a huge drawback.
Clothes in Prague are expensive and the loss of Hlavní nádraží Megasekáč was a big one.
I moved here in 1994, so it goes without saying – YES!
I have been here 10 years and there are now more places to find unique fashion to create your own style, but there are still the stallwarts (New Yorker/Kenvelo) churning out the generic, mass-produced rubbish.
Yes! I remember when I first moved here prices were astronomically high and there was a horrible assortment in stores. I think we are seeing new brands enter the marketing driving prices down and I also think that the amount of Czech designers making one-of-a-kind outfits for [affordable] prices has [given us] quality versus quantity.
Describe Czech fashion in one sentence or less.
On the verge of another fashion planet.
I would say style is not one of the Czech people’s natural senses, like it is for Italians of French. If I see a stylishly dressed Czech, I would maybe just think “she looks French” but not “what a great Czech style”.
For girls: Diverse/interesting; for guys: drab/dull/functional at best.
-Still maybe kinda figuring it out?
Almost German with a splash of New York/Stockholm from eight years ago thrown in.
The freedom to be as homeless or prostitute looking as you please.
Emerging and trying to find it’s way.