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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An American In Greece

It's interesting how our style is affected by our culture--or our perceptions of the styles of other countries being affected of our ideas of their culture/country. Too abstract? Here's an example:
I often get mistaken as...well almost anything but an American. One night in Japan I remember an old man came up to me and started asking me where I was from; he asked by naming random countries. He went through most of Europe and never touched on America. From what I have gathered from other individuals I have met this is a fairly common misconception--apparently my style doesn't scream American.
To stereotype, I assume this is because I don't wear flip flops (if avoidable), I'm not tan or blonde, and jeans aren't my staple. But really, while jeans are an American classic, not every American dresses like that or looks like that.
The same principle applies to other countries. Aren't all French minimalist, chic individuals who wear a lot of black? And doesn't everyone in London love a quirky mix of layers and eccentricity? Plus, no Japanese girl worth her soy sauce would wear an outfit that couldn't be termed "kawaii!"
While it is clear that these generalizations leave much of any population out, what about how our nationality does affect our style? While my clothes might not scream "American" in a stereotypical manner, being raised for most of my life in the United States has definitely affected my style. On a practical level most of the shops I have access to are American, meaning the clothes will be American made and designed (or at least tailored to the desires of a US American audience). My daily sensory inspiration that I would see around me would be American; also my family is thoroughly US American. In addition, most of my unreachable style icons (starlets like Kirsten Dunst for example) are either US American or at the very least Hollywood tainted.
Of course, being a blogger and clearly spending a great deal of time online my inspirations and icons have shifted from when I was younger and I now fish from a much larger more international pool.
Still the point remains, while I might not appear stereotypically US American to an outside eye and I loathe the idea of labeling any style as tied to a nationality, what can I be other than wholly American?
Outfit details: dress- H&M, bag- the Stadium Swampmeet in Hawaii, shoes- Kenneth Cole Reaction

64 comments:

So Yun Um said...

i do agree with everything youre saying.. its not that most americans dont wear the same clothing as you do cause they do and matter of fact, i think your style is international. there shouldnt be a label to your style cause its you and im pretty sure many girls from different countries wear clothes that are similar to yours. i think u.s. television has brainwashed other countries into thinking that we all dress like people from the o.c.

Brigadeiro said...

What a great post! I think with the increasing 'globalisation', the world is becoming 'smaller', more 'reachable'... (including internet shopping, blogging, television). As we get exposed to other countries' fashion (amongst other things), we may assimilate a little of what we see (if we choose to do so, consciously or subconsciously).

Personally, having lived in so many countries, I don't think I could've ever been 'pinpointed' to any countries' fashion. Even growing up in Brazil, most of my clothes were hand-me downs from my American cousins. Having said that, when asking me 'where I'm from', most people don't really go by the way I dress, but more by my accent (which confuses people at times) and my Asian face...

Songy said...

well.. we cannot deny the influence of living in a particular country or society. =As you said, the Internet does blur the boundaries. It's going to be more blurred as Internet shopping becomes more prevalent.

Lisa said...

what a tought provoking post.

beautiful.

i'm all over the show hoping from continent to continent so i just wear what i love. period.

i hate boxes + set "styles".

you look amazing, as always.

x.

*indie_queen* said...

Show me a picture of you and I would have said you were from the UK to be honest. Couldn't say why!
Everyone knows I am English, when I go away, I must look very English!

Dana (MODAna) said...

I agree
last year for halloween I donned dreadlocks and really ratty baggy clothing, and a huge backpack, and I was a "backpacker" but everyone thought I dressed up as an Israeli because backpackers are predominantly Israeli, anywhere
but I said - I'm Israeli and I know tons of Israelis and we don't dress like this! (aside from when actually backpacking..)

diamondsinchampagne said...

Reading this really made me think of me. I feel foreign in my country of Australia alot of the time, especially in Sydney (which has a huge beach culture). I get strange looks when I wear quite sophisticated clothes out even when I'm shopping, people think it's crazy. I guess the way I look also doesn't opitimise the Australian look (even though my heritage is European). I have porcelain skin, and blonde hair... So many stereotypes, so annoying

enc said...

What's great for you, Rebecca, is that you're in the enviable and unique position to have traveled early in life. You've had a chance to immerse yourself in other cultures, something that blogging—while wonderful—can't offer. Blogging offers a peek, but no real exposure. That said, blogging is like virtual travel for lots of people, and it's a great eraser of boundaries.

Tara Diane said...

As someone who has never even left though country I don't have much of a grasp on international style. My only access to it is through style sites and foreign movies. I definitely think where we come from influences our style though.

ps. Cute dress :)

the Yellow Elephant said...

it's important to be influenced by other cultures. both in thinking and way of dressing. by exploring new places, meeting new people you change and that affects your clothes. i love to see people wearing clothes from where they have been, the clothes tell a story.

Nadine said...

Love the post! I hate such stereotypes: everyone thinks all germans wear lederhosen or dirndls - but it's only a small part of our fashion!

copperoranges said...

when i had a blog a lonnnng time ago and posted the very first picture of myself, everyone made comments like "you are the epitome of southern charm" ... it's very strange to have someone say you LOOK like you're from a certain region!

Mimi said...

The 3rd pic is too cute.You look like an excited little girl that noticed a noise in the court.
The dress is super sweet and again these lovely shoes.

IRIS and PIETER said...

aaaah lovely photo's!
and the outfit is stunning.

indykari said...

I just returned from spending 3 weeks in Europe. It was my first trip abroad and I was wholly prepared to be labeled as an "American tourist." However, several times throughout my trip I seemed to be mistaken for a local. Or at least no one guessed I was American until I spoke back to them. Although I do wear jeans often, I'm not one for flip flops or tennis shoes and I love hats, scarves and necklaces. I guess I didn't fit the "American tourist" stereotype.

I'm still envious when I see street fashion photos from other places. If I dress too far from the "norm" ie. put a hat on, or layer nd add a pair of heels or ballet flats, I feel I'm labeled as overdressed. I've decided I don't care any longer, I wear what I want!

I love your blog, and always look forward to your outfit posts!

Tahda said...

It's truly an eye opening experience to live abroad as an American, isn't it? Even if you don't "look" particularly American. Once people find out you are it opens a can of worms, so to speak.

I hate boxes but I'm afraid putting people in boxes is a universal language. Every culture has stereotypes that other cultures tend perceive as a truth. I have never take these stereotypes seriously. There are unique people peppered through out every culture - that being said there is also a lot of what I would term trendiness or "non-fashion" everywhere.

very interesting post.

yumiko said...

ive noticed, too, when a lot of people tell me i dress really japanese- but then back in japan my style was considered a bit weird!

i love these pictures- especially the second last one.. the bag looks lovely :]

Savvy Mode SG said...

you just have a unique style all by yourself. it doesn't take away the fact you are an American, just a unique styish American.

Brett said...

I'd die w/o flip flops!

kioki says hi said...

So you have that that
dress also?!(i send you a photo of mine with that dress a few days ago via e-mail,but the question is still on.What about that dress in a rainy automn?!)
Maybe you do not look totally american or me greek or that guy that i have from the view of muy window catalan, but i can easily recognise in Spain(or Greece) the brand of the clothes,jaja! Frequently i see combinations of brands rather than combination of clothes! The good thing is the combination itself though,hm..

* Fashion Dreamer * said...

Great post. While I can't see generalisations with terms of countries, I do vaguely agree with the notion of 'style tribes', there was an awesome book on style tribes a few years ago but the name escapes me. I guess globalisation has had a big part in breaking down the geographic constraints of shopping. I've tagged u by the way!

yulanda said...

In Germany, at a party:

Lady: Hi, we [her table] were talking about where you're from. Japan? China?

Me: No, I'm from Canada.

Lady: Really? Funny, you don't look Canadian.

I have a different issue then you when traveling. When I'm overseas (aside from Asia), I'm automatically assumed I'm from Asia (ie. people attempting to hawk their goods to tourists will try greeting me in Chinese or Japanese). When I'm in Hong Kong or China, I get stares from the locals as they try to assess where I'm from because I don't dress like them.

Imelda said...

I love the first picture!
that dress and bag are so lovely!

FashionSqueah! said...

I'm always flattered when people assume I'm something other than Scottish (not that I'm not proud to be a Scot, fried Mars bars and all!) maybe because anything that's not your homeland seems more exotic and interesting...I do get Canadian a lot though, which is a bit odd! Char x

Kira Fashion said...

I dont know, but i like you as you are :)

a kiss!

KD said...

Now I know (or know over the internet) four people who have a habit of phrasing things perfectly: you, Strawberry Kitten, my sister, and one of my friends. I love polka dots!

Sarah said...

The fact that people tend to think you aren't American could also have something to do with your demeanor. When I lived in Japan for a year everyone thought I was European. They said they would never think I was American because I am quiet and polite and they assume many Americans to be loud and obnoxious. It's an awful stereotype of Americans, but if you are on the quiet side that might be why people don't think you're American.

Paloma said...

Nice pics, lovely bag and very interesting post! It's easy to tell that those pics are mediterranean, 'cos there is this thing called idyosincrasy.
American have a different way of dressing up, but you definetly look European, altough still anglosaxon. Anglos seem to feel like more free, less cosntricted to rules, which are especially strong in the South (Greece, Spain, Italy...).
By the way, you really look like a hip Spanish folky singer called Russian Red. She's a whole indie star here!
Kalinigta :)

Paloma said...

Here Russian Red: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=139968313
Evey indie guy here is in love with her!

lacouturiernyc said...

such pretty photos!

xoxo,
La C.

Elena said...

I totally agree with you... Truth is that there are many stereotypes about the way people dress. But nowadays since we all have more or less the same inspirations as you mentioned, things have changed a lot! But I have to add that you look really european! (Kirsten dunst as well!) Lovely shoes and great pictures(as always)!

Hailey @ stylesymmetry.com said...

Maybe with your coca cola purse you'd look american. :-)

A Black Tie Event said...

This was a great post. I think that so many people get stereotyped by their country and it's typical style, but I'm so inpsired by so many different places that I don't think I could fall under any specific one.

I absolutely love the photo of the clothespins! If you don't mind me asking, what kind of camera do you use and what do you do when you edit your photos? Because they always have a really nice color tone to them, and they're always really clear.

Romeika said...

I loved this text, and I agree with you, it's impossible to generalize everything and everyone. Here in DK I've met so many foreigners, and it's funny how most of them didn't correspond to my pre-idea of what they might dress like, like a french girl who dresses dowdy and a japanese who mostly wears jeans and a plain top every day.

muchlove said...

Yes, your environment will definitely affect your style.
When I lived in my hometown in Indonesia (not a big city) as a teenager, I ALWAYS wore tshirts and jeans. I think the overall economy development (shopping malls were a new thing) and our culture (modesty - eg: it was frowned-upon to wear tops that shows off our shoulders) definitely affected our limited fashion choices.
Once I lived in Australia for a few years and having access to retail shops and seeing the everyday style on people, it has changed the way I dress now. I feel I can have a lot more fun with fashion. At the end end of the day, despite the strong influence of Australian/western fashion, I still love wearing Indonesian batik tops/skirts/scarves and I still feel awkward showing off my shoulders.
and I like it that way.

Arabelle said...

true true true. loved this post.

Miss Karen said...

This is such a great post - I think a lot of countries such as America and Australia get stereotyped into very mediocre styles (over here it's flip flops, shorts and a tank top) whereas other countries like Japan and Sweden become known for their cutting edge style. I agree that location is not the defining characteristic of a person's style and that there's good style and bad style all over the place.

hello said...

It's funny how the sterotype of a loud obnoxious american exists in europe. When I have spent time there...I did see them: the baseball caps, loud questionings, blue jean shorts. But I also live in Honolulu, which is America, but vastly different from the mainland because it's largely a mix of asians, hapas, samoans, native islanders, and military. I work at a English-School and most of the students are either from Japan/Europe (swiss, german, french, liechtenstein, spain, italy..you name it.) At the school..the Europeans are very loud and (slightly obnoxious, but i still love them). Locals in Hawaii tend to speak softly and slowly. I think it's just hard to stereotype a country to a style/fashion because of globalization (ie aren't there many american fast food places in Greece? I know there were several McDonalds there when I was in athens). ps. people also always think i'm from asia... even though I'm born and bred here.. it just shows how people still don't consider america to be as diverse as it is...for many people to think an Asian can be American (or Canadian) is out of their mind.

Amelia said...

I love the picture of the clothes-line. I get the same thing about not really looking American. When I was in Denmark and Sweden, American tourists took me as a native and asked me to take their pictures using gestures. It's also kind of funny just in that it doesn't seem to me that there is a single American style. I mean, there's classic American style, but very few people actually wear that today.

Snowshoe said...

when abroad i always took secret satisfaction when people were surprised/ said I didn't seem/look/act American. I actually used to be kind of ashamed to be American because we had such a lousy reputation. That's changed, and I realize it's a part of who I am, but I much, much prefer the international scope of the blogosphere to the mainstream American fashion magazines or other noise like that. I love that how people in the blogosphere, while international, are often rather small town girls. It's so inspiring. (lol, sorry, long comment)

Fashion_Loving_Stylist said...

I loved the post. As an American living in Australia (for 7 years now), my style is a complete mix up. I wear clothing designed in both countries together at any given time and most people think I'm from France (that is before I open my mouth). I hope you are enjoying your time in Greece, I'm enjoying reading about it.

Hadley said...

It used to be that more than anything I'd like to go to Greece. Now it's more than anything I'd like to dress like you in Greece.
You're ridiculously inspiring.

Mikkle said...

i understand where the people are coming from. People here at my school always think i am a exchange student or a mk just because i wear dresses a lot. i think its flattering that they think something about me is exotic or not the norm. looks like ur having a great time!

The Stylish Wanderer said...

I hate stereotypes. There such a foul thing.

When I went to germany a few people thought I was german... so I understand.

Nay'Chelle said...

Great post. Although I would probably say I dress pretty "American", my style isn't very "Portlandian". As in, I don't live in Asics shoes and a north face with a chrome bike bag. However I think where people live still affects there style. As in, I'll wear something pretty put together but still have my Nike messenger bag. I think even though a person's style may not completely fall into the stereotype of where they're from, it adds quirks that are unique to their enviornment.

Oh, and nice dress.

MizzJ said...

Great post. I know a lot of people in Asia will be able to tell western-born Asians like myself simply by their body language and clothing! Makes one feel pretty self-conscious eh? The flip-flops do seem to be a north american thing; I think we seem to dress more casually than Europe or Asia, so it's no wonder people mistake you for European! Take it as a compliment ;)

K.Line said...

Terrific post, R. "Worth her soy sauce" is my new fave expression :-)

Aimée said...

Interesting post. I think there's ways in which we fit in or stand out just in America based on clothing choices. In Phoenix I blend in. Once I'm back where I grew up in rural NY my clothing is out of the norm and draws reactions from stares to comments (positive and negative).

When I was traveling in India and China it was my reddish hair that garnered the most attention. Most often when I travel in Europe I'm mistaken as French which I don't mind at all. I take that as a huge compliment. :)

ana b. said...

i think there are many many factors other than nationality which go into your style. while nationality doesn't necessarily shape your style, it most definitely is a contributing factor to it. i love the mustard shoes.

Juliet said...

I tagged you!

juliet xxx

Wana Sambo said...

whatever they wear...whatever u wear...ur stylish girl!! love your shoes and dress and bag! love everything! you go girl!!

lopi said...

Your photography skills are getting better and better everytime you post!
Hey, if you can make the back of an Athens appartment building (they're notoriously ugly and neglected) look that good, I can't imagine anything you couldn't photograph beautifuly.

Sassy said...

Interesting post. I don't think I dress myself in a Swedish way as Swedes tend to be more modest in their clothing. You know, they don't want to be in the spot light as we are taught that we're not supposed to be that special...Boring...

kristin said...

people like to try and label and group. it's faster than really trying to understand someone or know them for who they are. doesn't make it right though.

that photo with the clothespins is absolutely lovely.

L.J. said...

That is interesting; I have thoughts about it, but never formulated my thoughts so well! :) I have never thought of my style as Norwegian, but I am not sure how other people look at me... Hm... :)
-Johanne

geri said...

love those yellow flats and your photography as always!

ambika said...

I think living in Prague, it was hard not to fall prey to the game of 'guess the nationality.' And the longer you were abroad, the better you got at it.

Interesting to think now about what struck one as being particular to one country or another.

Daphné said...

Great post!This is a lovely dress!

sorin said...

love this set.

loou said...

you look lovely!

fauxfauxreal said...

what people think you look like are often based on their own experiences....so a lot of the time its more about them than you....i think. :-) if somebody refuses to believe there are classic, stylish girls like you from America it will take them a long time to arrive at your country of origin.

lisa said...

Wonderful post. In Vancouver I've been mistaken for Korean quite a few times, and in Paris I had several people ask me if I was Japanese. It's interesting because I see very subtle style nuances between Chinese/Korean/Japanese women and I start to wonder why I'm mistaken for someone with a different East Asian background.

selinaoolala said...

very interesting post, i guess stereotypes are everwhere and most of us europeans only see american style through american TV, which, when i was younger, kids TV shows showed me all crazy patterns and matching stuff, makes me think of 'that's so raven!'. looking at shows like friends makes me think of just casual styles that most might employ. of course through fashion blogging i know there are many different styles!

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